REPARATIONS FOR THE PALESTINIANS, FOR NATIVE AMERICANS , FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS [Replay DN! Dec. 21, 1999]
NEWS HEADLINES Story: REPARATIONS FOR THE PALESTINIANS German, U.S. and east European officials sealed a historic agreement on Friday to compensate Nazi era slave workers 54 years after World War Two, offering 5 billion dollars to the former workers and their survivors. The ceremony was attended by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The money from the settlement will come from the participating governments and some of the corporations that used slave and forced labor in the Third Reich. Survivors, most of whom are in eastern Europe, will still have to wait months before they get their share, which is worth about $7,850 for each slave laborer. Some supporters of the former workers are calling for a boycott of companies that used slave labor and now refuse to participate in the fund. The U.S. government has pledged to protect those corporations that have enlisted in the fund from future litigation in the United States in return for establishing the fund. As we come to the end of the century, we will take a look at reparations movements around the world. Later in the show, we will examine the fight for reparations in the Native American and African American communities. Today we begin with the issue of the Palestinians, and the movement to compensate a people who were displaced following the formation of Israel in the 1940s. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says he is unhappy with the progress of talks with Israel and will declare an independent state next year, possibly even before the Sept. 13 deadline for a final peace agreement with Israel. According to Arafat, the main dispute with Israel is still the issue of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians hope to establish a state. Negotiations over a framework agreement are deadlocked over the Palestinian demand that Israel freeze all settlement construction - a demand Prime Minister Barak has so far refused. The two leaders are to meet this week to try to resolve the issue. Guest: Edward Said, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University. Author of "Peace and its Discontents," "Culture and imperialism," and "Out of Place." Story: REPARATIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICANS We now move from the fight for reparations abroad to the struggle here in the United States. In his book "A Little Matter of Genocide," (City Lights Books, 1997) Ward Churchill said that "during the four centuries spanning the time between 1492, when Christopher Columbus first set foot on the "New World" of a Caribbean beach, and 1892, when the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that there were fewer than a quarter million indigenous people surviving within the country's claimed boundaries, a hemispheric population estimated to have been as great as 125 million was reduced by something over 90 percent. The people had died in their millions of being hacked apart with axes and swords, burned alive and trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, scalped for bounty, hanged on meat hooks and thrown over the sides of ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately infected with epidemic diseases. Guests: Ward Churchill, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder, and author of "Struggle for the Land" and "A Little Matter of Genocide." He is of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees. Winona Laduke, of the Ojibwe White Earth Land Recovery Project, and author of "All Our Relations." Story: REPARATIONS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS During the signing of the $5 billion agreement for Nazi slave labor reparations last week, where Secretary of State Albright called the deal the first serious attempt to compensate "those whose labor was stolen or coerced during a time of outrage and shame. It is critical to completing the unfinished business of the old century before entering the new."The U.S. government have put pressure on the German and Swiss governments to "own up to their past and own up to their history." We now move to the reparations movement for African Americans. The question-- Should the government compensate the descendants of slaves?-forces the U.S. to look at 380 years of history and come to terms with a troubling legacy. Some will ask, why shouldn't the great-great grandchildren of those who were kept in bondage be compensated? Meanwhile, other segments of society will ask, why should we pay for the sins of our ancestors? Given the storm of controversy that was created when Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) suggested that the U.S. should issue a formal apology to African Americans for slavery, the issue of reparations should provide a fiery public debate. In every legislative session since 1989, Congressman John Conyers has introduced a bill that would establish a commission to examine slavery and its lingering effects on African Americans and the country as a whole. H.R. 40 is intended "to acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes. Guest: Congressman John Conyers, D-Michigan, sponsor of a reparations bill in Congress. From Detroit.