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The Best of Tomdispatch: Susan Sontag

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[NOTE: Today begins a week-plus-long look back at some of the best pieces from 2003, the first year of Tomdispatch on-line. In response to letters from readers, I often comment that Tomdispatch is “the sideline-that-ate-my-life.” Starting as a periodic email sent out to a dozen or so friends and relatives in early November, 2001, it has (with only the addition of part-time researcher Nick Turse) expanded exponentially (as I haven’t) into whatever it is today. Being 60 years old — at least twice the age of most of the people I deal with in the on-line world — I only know that it’s probably not a blog. Rebecca Solnit sometimes claims that it’s a “virtual wire service,” but I prefer not to define it at all. As it happens, however, my non-sideline life as a book editor continues in a parallel universe. Right now, I need a brief chance to wrap my brain around an editing project and I thought it might be an opportunity, given the thousands of new readers who have become regulars at Tomdispatch in the last year and a half, to offer a feast of the most enduring pieces I posted back when. Each will be reposted with a new introduction by me, each (with the exception of today’s) with a new comment — in one case almost long enough to be a piece in its own right — by the author. The five I’ll be reposting in this way were among the earliest “Tomgrams” I sent out. (The “Tomgram” was originally a joke — from the days when this was still an e-list and friends of a friend of mine used to say, whenever my emails hit their e-mailbox, “Look, another Tomgram”) In any case, I hope that those of you who weren’t Tomdispatch readers in 2003, will enjoy this week of “classic” Tomgrams, and those of you who were will meet a few old friends. What could be better?]

Tomdispatch was a nameless e-list send-out for over a year before Ham Fish of the Nation Institute — bless the man — called me one day and offered to put it up at the Institute’s site and support it on-line. In its early email days, while it was still developing from a modest compilation of dissenting pieces (already published out there in the news ether) into the mix of commentaries and original “tomgrams” of the present moment, people — to my amazement — began emailing me and asking to be added to my e-list. I never did anything promotional. It just didn’t occur to me. Among those who jumped on early — and at the time I found this both flattering and unbelievably encouraging — was Susan Sontag. I had, of course, read and admired her work for years. Still, her arrival and continuing interest were a small boon.

I never met her but we exchanged emails from time to time. At some point, she asked if I might be interested in posting a speech she had given, accepting an award in honor of Ishai Menuchin and the Israeli refusniks, those soldiers who had bravely refused duty in the Occupied Territories.

I wrote at the time that her speech focused on what it “means to resist, to refuse your service to your own state, to oppose the mainstream opinions of your own society, and while it is directed at the situation in Israel today, it is — and clearly was meant to be — no less applicable to our own situation, to a country that ‘has made patriotism equivalent to consensus.’ As you might expect of Sontag, it is clear-eyed as to the grim nature of our present moment and what it means to resist when success is hardly at hand, no less in sight — and yet, for me at least (and I hope for all of you), it also offers a modicum of hope and a sense of heart.”

Today, her speech seems (sadly perhaps) not less, but more relevant for Americans. It has, of course, Sontag’s hallmark — a sharp honesty, a willingness to consider a difficult subject in all its complexity and to state just what she saw, even when that might prove unpopular indeed. If you want to experience her willingness to do just this, go back and read her comments in the New Yorker magazine right after 9/11 for which she was roundly excoriated by a unified chorus of commentators.

She wrote in part:

“Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy — which entails disagreement, which promotes candor — has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. ‘Our country is strong,’ we are told again and again. I for one don’t find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that’s not all America has to be.”

That, of course, was the moment when we Americans were appropriating for ourselves — defensively but with a kind of arrogance, as befit an imperial power alone on the planet — almost all the major roles in any future global drama: those of greatest victim, greatest survivor, and greatest dominator, leaving only the role of greatest Evil One to those others out there on the frontiers of terror. Instead of recognizing that history lies behind us all, as Sontag suggested in her commentary, we shut down to the world, both literally and figuratively via George Bush — and that shutting down has never ceased.

On Resistance
Keynote Speech on the occasion of the presentation of The Rothko Chapel OSCAR ROMERO AWARD to Ishai Menuchin, Chairman of Yesh Gvul (There is a Limit), the Israeli soldiers’ movement for selective refusal.
By Susan Sontag

Houston, Texas
March 30, 2003

Allow me to invoke not one but two, only two, who were heroes — among millions of heroes. Who were victims — among tens of millions of victims.

The first: Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, murdered in his vestments, while saying mass in the cathedral on March 24, 1980 — twenty-three years ago — because he had become “a vocal advocate of a just peace, and had openly opposed the forces of violence and oppression.” (I am quoting from the description of the Oscar Romero Award, being given today to Ishai Menuchin.)

The second: Rachel Corrie, a twenty-three-year-old college student from Olympia, Washington, murdered in the bright neon-orange jacket with Day-Glo striping that “human shields” wear to make themselves quite visible, and possibly safer, while trying to stop one of the almost daily house demolitions by Israeli forces in Rafah, a town in the southern Gaza Strip (where Gaza abuts the Egyptian border), on March 16, 2003 — two weeks ago. Standing in front of a Palestinian physician’s house that had been targeted for demolition, Corrie, one of eight young American and British human-shield volunteers in Rafah, had been waving and shouting at the driver of an oncoming armored D-9 bulldozer through her megaphone, then dropped to her knees in the path of the super-sized bulldozer… which did not slow down.

Two emblematic figures of sacrifice, killed by the forces of violence and oppression to which they were offering non-violent, principled, dangerous opposition.


Let’s start with risk. The risk of being punished. The risk of being isolated. The risk of being injured or killed. The risk of being scorned.

We are all conscripts in one sense or another. For all of us, it is hard to break ranks; to incur the disapproval, the censure, the violence of an offended majority with a different idea of loyalty. We shelter under banner-words like justice, peace, reconciliation that enroll us in new, if much smaller and relatively powerless communities of the like-minded. That mobilize us for the demonstration, the protest, the public performance of acts of civil disobedience — not for the parade ground and the battlefield.

To fall out of step with one’s tribe; to step beyond one’s tribe into a world that is larger mentally but smaller numerically — if alienation or dissidence is not your habitual or gratifying posture, this is a complex, difficult process.

It is hard to defy the wisdom of the tribe: the wisdom that values the lives of members of the tribe above all others. It will always be unpopular — it will always be deemed unpatriotic — to say that the lives of the members of the other tribe are as valuable as one’s own.

It is easier to give one’s allegiance to those we know, to those we see, to those with whom we are embedded, to those with whom we share — as we may — a community of fear.

Let’s not underestimate the force of what we oppose. Let’s not underestimate the retaliation that may be visited on those who dare to dissent from the brutalities and repressions thought justified by the fears of the majority.

We are flesh. We can be punctured by a bayonet, torn apart by a suicide bomber. We can be crushed by a bulldozer, gunned down in a cathedral.

Fear binds people together. And fear disperses them. Courage inspires communities: the courage of an example — for courage is as contagious as fear. But courage, certain kinds of courage, can also isolate the brave.

The perennial destiny of principles: while everyone professes to have them, they are likely to be sacrificed when they become inconveniencing. Generally a moral principle is something that puts one at variance with accepted practice. And that variance has consequences, sometimes unpleasant consequences, as the community takes its revenge on those who challenge its contradictions — who want a society actually to uphold the principles it professes to defend.

The standard that a society should actually embody its own professed principles is a utopian one, in the sense that moral principles contradict the way things really are — and always will be. How things really are — and always will be — is neither all-evil nor all-good but deficient, inconsistent, inferior. Principles invite us to do something about the morass of contradictions in which we function morally. Principles invite us to clean up our act; to become intolerant of moral laxity and compromise and cowardice and the turning away from what is upsetting: that secret gnawing of the heart that tells us that what we are doing is not right, and so counsels us that we’d be better off just not thinking about it.

The cry of the anti-principled: “I’m doing the best I can.” The best given the circumstances, of course.


Let’s say, the principle is: it’s wrong to oppress and humiliate a whole people. To deprive them systematically of lodging and proper nutrition; to destroy their habitations, means of livelihood, access to education and medical care, and ability to consort with one another.

That these practices are wrong, whatever the provocation.

And there is provocation. That, too, should not be denied.


At the center of our moral life and our moral imagination are the great models of resistance: the great stories of those who have said No. No, I will not serve.

What models, what stories? A Mormon may resist the outlawing of polygamy. An anti-abortion militant may resist the law that has made abortion legal. They, too, will invoke the claims of religion (or faith) and morality — against the edicts of civil society. Appeal to the existence of a higher law that authorizes us to defy the laws of the state can be used to justify criminal transgression as well as the noblest struggle for justice.

Courage has no moral value in itself, for courage is not, in itself, a moral virtue. Vicious scoundrels, murderers, terrorists may be brave. To describe courage as a virtue, we need an adjective: we speak of “moral courage” — because there is such a thing as amoral courage, too.

And resistance has no value in itself. It is the content of the resistance that determines its merit, its moral necessity.

Let’s say: resistance to a criminal war. Let’s say: resistance to the occupation and annexation of another people’s land.

Again: there is nothing inherently superior about resistance. All our claims for the righteousness of resistance rest on the rightness of the claim that the resisters are acting in the name of justice. And the justice of the cause does not depend on, and is not enhanced by, the virtue of those who make the assertion. It depends first and last on the truth of a description of a state of affairs which is, truly, unjust and unnecessary.


Here is what I believe to be a truthful description of a state of affairs that has taken me many years of uncertainty, ignorance, and anguish, to acknowledge.

A wounded and fearful country, Israel is going through the greatest crisis of its turbulent history, brought about by the policy of steadily increasing and reinforcing settlements on the territories won after its victory in the Arab war on Israel in 1967. The decision of successive Israeli governments to retain control over the West Bank and Gaza, thereby denying their Palestinian neighbors a state of their own, is a catastrophe — moral, human, and political — for both peoples. The Palestinians need a sovereign state. Israel needs a sovereign Palestinian state. Those of us abroad who wish for Israel to survive cannot, should not, wish it to survive no matter what, no matter how. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to courageous Israeli Jewish witnesses, journalists, architects, poets, novelists, professors — among others — who have described and documented and protested and militated against the sufferings of the Palestinians living under the increasingly cruel terms of Israeli military subjugation and settler annexation.

Our greatest admiration must go to the brave Israeli soldiers, represented here by Ishai Menuchin, who refuse to serve beyond the 1967 borders. These soldiers know that all settlements are bound to be evacuated in the end. These soldiers, who are Jews, take seriously the principle put forward at the Nuremberg trials in 1946: namely, that a soldier is not obliged to obey unjust orders, orders which contravene the laws of war — indeed, one has an obligation to disobey them.

The Israeli soldiers who are resisting service in the Occupied Territories are not refusing a particular order. They are refusing to enter the space where illegitimate orders are bound to be given — that is, where it is more than probable that they will be ordered to perform actions that continue the oppression and humiliation of Palestinian civilians. Houses are demolished, groves are uprooted, the stalls of a village market are bulldozed, a cultural center is looted; and now, nearly every day, civilians of all ages are fired on and killed. There can be no disputing the mounting cruelty of the Israeli occupation of the 22 percent of the former territory of British Palestine on which a Palestinian state will be erected. These soldiers believe, as I do, that there should be an unconditional withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. They have declared collectively that they will not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders “in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”

What the refuseniks have done (there are now around eleven hundred of them, more than two hundred and fifty of whom have gone to prison) does not contribute to tell us how the Israelis and Palestinians can make peace — beyond the irrevocable demand that the settlements be disbanded. The actions of this heroic minority cannot contribute to the much needed reform and democratization of the Palestinian Authority. Their stand will not lessen the grip of religious bigotry and racism in Israeli society or reduce the dissemination of virulent anti-Semitic propaganda in the aggrieved Arab world. It will not stop the suicide bombers.

It simply declares: enough. Or: there is a limit. Yesh gvul.

It provides a model of resistance. Of disobedience. For which there will always be penalties.

None of us has yet to endure anything like what these brave conscripts are enduring, many of whom have gone to jail.

To speak for peace at this moment in this country is merely to be jeered (as in the recent Academy Awards ceremony), harassed, blacklisted (the banning by the most powerful chain of radio stations of the Dixie Chicks); in short, to be reviled as unpatriotic.

Our “United We Stand” or “Winner Takes All” ethos… the United States is a country which has made patriotism equivalent to consensus. Tocqueville, still the greatest observer of the United States, remarked on a unprecedented degree of conformity in the then new country, and a hundred and sixty-eight more years have only confirmed his observation.

Sometimes, given the new, radical turn in American foreign policy, it seems as if it was inevitable that the national consensus on the greatness of America, which may be activated to an extraordinary pitch of triumphalist national self-regard, was bound eventually to find expression in wars like the present one, which are assented to by a majority of the population, who have been persuaded that America has the right — even the duty — to dominate the world.


The usual way of heralding people who act on principle, is to say that they are the vanguard of an eventually triumphant revolt against injustice.

But what if they’re not?

What if the evil is really unstoppable? At least in the short run. And that short run may be, is going to be, very long indeed.

My admiration for the soldiers who are resisting service in the Occupied Territories is as fierce as my belief that it will be a long time before their view prevails.

But what haunts me at this moment — for the obvious reason — is acting on principle when it isn’t going to alter the obvious distribution of force, the rank injustice and murderousness of a government’s policy that claims to be acting in the name not of peace but of… security.

The force of arms has its own logic. If you commit an aggression and others resist, it is easy to convince the home front that the fighting must continue. Once the troops are there, they must be supported. It becomes irrelevant to question why the troops are there in the first place.

The soldiers are there because “we” are being attacked; or menaced. Never mind that we may have attacked them first. They are now attacking back, causing casualties. Behaving in ways that defy the “proper” conduct of war. Behaving like “savages,” as people in our part of the world like to call people in that part of the world. And their “savage” or “unlawful” actions give new justification to new aggressions. And new impetus to repress or censor or persecute citizens who oppose the aggression which the government has undertaken.


Let’s not underestimate the force of what we are opposing.

The world is, for almost everyone, that over which we have virtually no control. Common sense and the sense of self-protectiveness tell us to accommodate to what we cannot change.

It’s not hard to see how some of us might be persuaded of the justice, the necessity of a war. Especially of a war that is formulated as a small, limited military action which will actually contribute to peace or improved security; of an aggression which announces itself as a campaign of disarmament — admittedly, disarmament of the enemy; and, regrettably, requiring the application of overpowering force. An invasion which calls itself, officially, a liberation.

Every violence in war has been justified as a retaliation. We are threatened. We are defending ourselves. The others, they want to kill us. We must stop them.

And from there: we must stop them before they have a chance to carry out their plans. And since those who would attack us are sheltering behind non-combatants, no aspect of civil life can be immune to our depredations.

Never mind the disparity of forces, of wealth, of firepower — or simply of population. How many Americans know that the population of the Iraq is 24 million, half of whom are children? (The population of the United States, as you will remember, is 290 million.) Not to support those who are coming under fire from the enemy seems like treason.

It may be that, in some cases, the threat is real.

In such circumstances, the bearer of the moral principle seems like someone running alongside a moving rain, yelling “Stop! Stop!”

Can the train be stopped? No, it can’t. At least, not now.

Will other people on the train be moved to jump off and join those on the ground? Maybe some will, but most won’t. (At least, not until they have a whole new panoply of fears.)

The dramaturgy of “acting on principle” tells us that we don’t have to think about whether acting on principle is expedient, or whether we can count on the eventual success of the actions we have undertaken.

Acting on principle is, we’re told, a good in itself.

But it is still a political act, in the sense that you’re not doing it for yourself. You don’t do it just to be in the right, or to appease your own conscience; much less because you are confident your action will achieve its aim. You resist as an act of solidarity. With communities of the principled and the disobedient: here, elsewhere. In the present. In the future.

Thoreau’s going to prison in 1846 for refusing to pay the poll tax in protest against the American war on Mexico hardly stopped the war. But the resonance of that most unpunishing and briefest spell of imprisonment (famously, a single night in jail) has not ceased to inspire principled resistance to injustice through the second half of the twentieth century and into our new era. The movement in the late 1980s to shut down the Nevada Test Site, a key location for the nuclear arms race, failed in its goal; the operations of the test site were unaffected by the protests. But it directly inspire the formation of a movement of protesters in far away Alma Ata, who eventually succeeded in shutting down the main Soviet test site in Kazakhstan, citing the Nevada antinuclear activists as their inspiration and expressing solidarity with the Native Americans on whose land the Nevada Test Site had been located.

The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.

Thus: It is not in the best interests of Israel to be an oppressor.

Thus: it is not in the best interests of the United States to be a hyperpower, capable of imposing its will on any country in the world, as it chooses.

What is in the true interests of a modern community is justice.

It cannot be right to systematically oppress and confine a neighboring people. It is surely false to think that murder, expulsion, annexations, the building of walls — all that has contributed to the reducing of a whole people to dependence, penury, and despair — will bring security and peace to the oppressors.

It cannot be right that a president of the United States seems to believe that he has a mandate to be president of the planet — and announces that those who are not with America are with “the terrorists.”

Those brave Israeli Jews who, in fervent and active opposition to the policies of the present government of their country, have spoken up on behalf of the plight and the rights of Palestinians, are defending the true interests of Israel. Those of us who are opposed to the plans of the present government of the United States for global hegemony are patriots speaking for the best interests of the United States.

Beyond these struggles, which are worthy of our passionate adherence, it is important to remember that in programs of political resistance the relation of cause and effect is convoluted, and often indirect. All struggle, all resistance is — must be — concrete. And all struggle has a global resonance.

If not here, then there. If not now, then soon: elsewhere as well as here.

To Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. To Rachel Corrie. And to Ishai Menuchin and his comrades.


The Announcement of the award sent out by the press office of the Rothko Chapel follows:

The Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award March 30, 2003, 5:30 p.m. at The Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas

Recipient: Ishai Menuchin

Chairman of Yesh Gvul (There’s a limit)

Keynote speaker: Susan Sontag Author and human rights activist

The Board of Directors of the Rothko Chapel announced that the Board of Directors decided to reinstate the Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award for Commitment to Truth and Freedom. Dominique de Menil established the Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award in 1986 to commemorate the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador who was murdered in 1980. This human rights award honors those who, like Monseñor Romero, are willing to risk their lives to promote human rights for all people. This year the award will be presented to Ishai Menuchin, Chairman of Yesh Gvul, the Israeli soldiers’ movement for selective refusal.

Upon graduating from high school, Ishai Menuchin joined the Israeli paratroop brigade and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He became politically active during the war on Lebanon by joining “Peace Now” and subsequently helped found Yesh Gvul. Since that time, he has played a central role in Yesh Gvul as a leading activist and spokesman for the movement.

Yesh Gvul (there’s a limit) means “that there’s a limit to what we are willing to do, whether as citizens or as soldiers.” It is an Israeli peace group that has shouldered the task of supporting soldiers who refuse assignments of a repressive or aggressive nature. “The role of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in subjugating the Palestinian population, places numerous servicemen in a grave moral and political dilemma, as they are required to enforce policies they deem illegal and immoral.”

After the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985, members of Yesh Gvul decided to channel their activities back into protests against the government’s policy of occupation and annexation in the Occupied Territories. “We in Yesh Gvul regard occupation, in itself, as immoral by definition, even without its ‘unavoidable’ consequences: beatings, tear-gassing, deportations, demolitions of homes, and shooting unarmed demonstrators.”

Monseñor Romero has been symbolized as “the voice not silenced in the midst of oppression, death, torture, militarism and intimidation of many kinds.” Ishai Menuchin took the risk of punishment by the authorities and condemnation by fellow citizens, and had the courage to voice nationally and internationally the moral concerns of many Israeli civilians and members of the armed forces about violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories.

* His Excellency Michael D. Higgins, T.D., Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Ireland, Keynote speaker in Vienna, Austria on the occasion of the fifth Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award

Addendum 1

Archbishop Oscar Romero lived his life amid poverty, injustice and repression in El Salvador. As Archbishop of San Salvador he became the leader of the church of his native land, an advocate of the poor and the “voice of the voiceless,” demanding justice and respect of human rights for all. He was murdered while saying Mass on March 24, 1980.

“As archbishop of San Salvador, I call on the consciences and hearts of those responsible not to continue their unyielding and intransigent position, but to yield and seek a way to break as soon as possible this endless chain of bloody deeds. What matters now is not to show the nation and the world who is stronger or the winner, but who is the more responsible and humane, capable of stopping this growing spiral of violence.”

– Archbishop Oscar Romero

Susan Sontag is one of America¹s best known and most admired writers. Her books have been translated into twenty-six languages and have given her worldwide recognition.

Ms. Sontag has written and directed four feature-length films and several plays. Staging Beckett¹s Waiting for Godot in the summer of 1993 in besieged Sarajevo won her the respect and admiration of all and the recognition of honorary citizen of the City of Sarajevo. She has received many honors, including the 2001 Jerusalem Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition, she has received the Malaparte Prize in Italy and was named a Commandeur de l¹Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

Ms. Sontag has been a human rights activist for more than twenty years openly criticizing human rights violations. She has also led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

“I believe the doctrine of collective responsibility as a rationale for collective punishment is never justified, militarily or ethnically. And I mean of course the disproportionate use of fire power against civilians, the demolition of their homes, the destruction of their orchards and groves, the deprivation of their livelihood and access to employment, to schooling, to medical services, or as a punishment of hostile, military activities in the vicinity of those civilians.”

– Susan Sontag

Ishai Menuchin has earned a M.A. degree in psychology and is currently working on a Ph.D. thesis on Moral Obligations Justification and Civil Disobedience in a Democratic Society. He is a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Political Science, and at the Center for Educational Technology. After the three-year compulsory military service and a further eighteen months as a regular (career) officer, Ishai Menuchin performs the annual service as an officer in infantry units.

Ishai Menuchin is married and has three children.

“I and others who serve in the defense forces cannot by our actions alone change government policies or make peace negotiations more likely. But we can show our fellow citizens that occupation of the territories is not just a political or strategic matter. It is also a moral matter. We can show them an alternative — they can say no to occupation.”

– Ishai Menuchin

Addendum 2


Menuchin, Ishai and Menuchin, Dina (Eds.) (1985), The Limits of Obedience, The Yesh Gvul Movement & Siman Kri a Books. The first anthology that was published in Hebrew on issues of civil disobedience, selective refusal and the meaning of democracy in the context of the war in Lebanon. The contributors are: Asa Kasher, Noam Chomsky, Hanan Hever, Meir Pa il, Richard Popkin, Joseph Raz, Michael Walzer, Adi Zemach and others (Hebrew).

Menuchin, Ishai (Ed.) (1990), On Democracy and Obedience, The Yesh Gvul Movement & Siman Kri a Books. An anthology in Hebrew on issues of democracy, selective refusal and conscience and political disobedience in the context of the Palestinian Intifada. The contributors are: David Hyed, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Ishai Menuchin, Amos Oz, Joseph Raz, Itzhak Zamir and others (Hebrew).

Menuchin, Ishai (1992), Occupation Protest, and Selective Refusal , In- Hurwitz Deena (Ed.), Walking The Red Line – Israelis in Search of Justice for Palestine, New Society Publishers, pp. 77 – 83 (English).

Menuchin, Ishai (1999), Who is Afraid of Freedom (of Information), Shatil. A popular guide for the new Israeli freedom of information law (Hebrew).

Menuchin, Ishai (2002), Freedom of Information as Necessary Condition for Public Participation , In — Cherchman, Arza and Sadan, Elisheva (ed.), Issues of Public Participation, Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House (Hebrew).

Menuchin Ishai (2002), “Saying No to Israel’s Occupation”, In- Carey Roane, Shainin Jonathan (Eds.), The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent, The New Press, pp. 123 — 125 (English).

Menuchin, Ishai and Yovel, Yirmiyahu (forthcoming), Can Tolerance Prevail? Moral Education in a Diverse World. An anthology in English on issues of moral philosophy and education, the challenges of plural societies, religious roots of tolerance and new approaches to tolerance (the anthology will also be published in Hebrew). The contributors are: Mohammed Arkoun, Daniel Bell, Marcel Dubois, Agnes Heller, Will Kymlicka, Ishai Menuchin, Martha Nussbaum, Bikhu Parekh, Bassam Tibi, Yirmiyahu Yovel and others (English).

Addendum 3

The Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award

This award¹s name commemorates the sacrifice of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, murdered on March 24, 1980. Monseñor Romero had become a vocal advocate of just peace and had openly opposed the forces of violence and oppression. It is hoped that the Award will serve as reminder of his integrity and courage.

The Rothko Chapel Oscar Romero Award was first given in 1986 and since then given every two to three years. Anyone of any nationality, race or creed who is distinguished by courage and integrity and may be willing to risk life itself to promote human rights, is eligible. The award may be presented to an individual or an organization. Occasionally, the award may be shared. The award carries an unrestricted gift of twenty thousand dollars.

Past Recipients

1986: Bishop Proaño Villalba, Ecuador Keynote Speaker: The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu Presenter: Mrs. Dominique de Menil (Presented at The Rothko Chapel)

1988: Paulo Evaristo Cardinal Arns, Sao Paulo, Brazil Keynote Speaker: Mrs. Rosalynn Carter Presenter: Mrs. Dominique de Menil and The Reverend Thompson L. Shannon (Presented at The Rothko Chapel)

1990: Bishop Medardo E. Gómez Soto, El Salvador and María Julia Hernandez, El Salvador Keynote Speaker: Congressman Joe Moakley Presenters: Sen. Mark O. Hatfield and Sen. George J. Mitchell (Presented in Washington, DC)

1991: Monseñor Rodolfo Quezado Toruño, Guatemala Keynote Speaker: Nelson Mandela Presenter: Former President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Dominique de Menil (Presented at The Rothko Chapel)

1993: Oslobodjenje (Liberation), fifty year old independent Bosnian newspaper, published by a multi-ethnic team of journalists Keynote Speaker, The Honorable Michael D. Higgins, TD Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Ireland Presenter: Monsenõr Arturo Rivera Damas, Archbishop of San Salvador and Mrs. Dominique de Menil (Presented in Vienna, Austria)

1997: Salima Ghezali, Editor of La Nation, stood against censorship, Algeria Abdennour Ali-Yahia, attorney and former Minister, and a human rights advocate, Algeria Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Ibrahima Fall Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, The United Nations Presenter: Mrs. Dominique de Menil (Presented at The Rothko Chapel)

Copyright 2003 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag died on December 28, 2004, just two days after the Indonesian tsunami devastated coastlines across South and Southeast Asia and I found myself, as the year 2005 began amid scenes of massive carnage, with the modest, solitary task of removing her name from my mailing list. At the time, I posted a lovely piece by Rebecca Solnit, “Sontag and Tsunami” — in part, a tribute to her. But it feels right — or at least good — to be able to offer her speech here one last time as a small bow to her living memory. The speech appeared in print in the Nation magazine. It is posted with the permission of her son, David Rieff (and many thanks to him). It was given on March 30, 2003 (just ten days after the invasion of Iraq began) and posted at Tomdispatch on April 26, 2003, just five days before George Bush declared “major combat operations” in Iraq ended. Tom