The majority of U.S. citizens as well as of Iraqis, including most of the elected Parliament, want the U.S. to leave Iraq. The Declaration of Peace is a commitment to take nonviolent steps for a comprehensive, concrete and rapid end to the US war in Iraq, including:
• Withdrawal of US troops and all coalition forces — and no future redeployments
• Closure of US military bases
• Support for an Iraqi-led peace process, including a peace conference to shape a post-occupation transition and an international peacekeeping presence if mandated by this peace process
• Return of Iraqi control over its oil resources and the political and economic life of the nation
• Reparations and reconstruction to address the destruction caused by the US war and thirteen years of sanctions
• Establishment of a "peace dividend" for job creation, health care, education, housing, and other vital social needs
• Increased support for US veterans of the Iraq war, and
• No so-called "preventive" war against Iran or any other nation
This comprehensive and concrete withdrawal plan must be established and activated no later than September 21, 2006 (International Peace Day)and completed no later than March 19, 2007, ending four years of war and occupation in Iraq. Signers of the Declaration of Peace will take every nonviolent step possible to meet this goal before these deadlines.
More than 180 national peace and justice organizations and coalitions have endorsed The Declaration of Peace. New organizations are joining the Declaration campaign every day. The Declaration of Peace is organized around a pledge by which one commits to actions ranging from calls to congressional offices, to joining in marches, rallies, demonstrations, and, for some, nonviolent civil disobedience if a plan for a comprehensive withdrawal is not established and activated by September 21, 2006.
The focus of the Declaration of Peace is on Congress, demanding that Congress adopts a "bring the troops home now" position and establishes a concrete, comprehensive withdrawal plan no later than September 21, 2006, International Peace Day, just days before Congress adjourns for the November elections.
On July 30, several leading Democrats in Congress sent a public letter to President Bush, asking questions about Bush’s Iraq plans. A key paragraph of that letter:
"We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel." (emphasis mine) makes it evident that the leadership of the Democrats in Congress do not have a true withdrawal in mind. This "more limited mission" will be just another way for US personnel to stay in Iraq — the US military entered Vietnam initially on a "training" mission after having established a proxy government under Diem. Furthermore what would "force protection of U.S. personnel" be in the absence of U.S. personnel supposing we withdrew forces? Unnecessary if we bring home all troops immediately.
Declaration of Peace activists have been calling and visiting members of Congress, asking them to sign the Congressional Pledge which includes a commitment to work for the passage of:
H.R. 4232, McGovern’s End the War in Iraq Act
H.Con.Res. 197 , Barbara Lee’s resolution against establishing permanent bases,
H.Con.Res. 438, by Rep. Thompson of the Napa area,
and S.Con.Res. 93, by Senator Harkin
Several members have already signed the Declaration of Peace Congressional Pledge. We can only hope that they have the will to distinguish between what the Declaration is calling for and what the Democratic leadership are describing in the letter, signed by Reid, Pelosi, Biden, Lantos, Murtha, others.
A local organizing committee is planning for events to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area between September 21 and September 28, including gathering in public witness, in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. We will endeavor to keep you posted. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to be sent emails about events we will send you information as it develops.
On Tuesday, Septzember 26, the day of the weekly Iraq vigil, sponsored by EPI and other groups, at the Oakland Federal Building, it is planned to take flowers to Barbara Lee’s office as an expression of our gratitude for her leadership in the efforts for peace.
The DisArmy Proposal (an idea in progress)
The Bay Area Declaration of Peace organizing group has proposed that we have a DisArmy. The DisArmy would be a project that would carry the momentum of Declaration of Peace forward. The mandate of this non-military would be to uphold the Declaration of Peace, and to work for a demilitarized and "disarmed" world.
The DisArmy would be announced and briefly discussed at all Declaration of Peace events. There would be a "recruitment" table somewhere for people who want more info or who want to sign up. The launch of the DisArmy would be on September 21, and recruitment begins at that time.
A Commitment to Take Action to~
End the US War in Iraq
Bring the Troops Home Now
Establish a Comprehensive, Concrete Withdrawal Plan
Oppose Future US Military Invasions
The Declaration of Peace Pledge:
Yes! I join with the majority of US citizens, the people of Iraq, and people around the world in calling for a comprehensive end to the US war in Iraq. I solemnly pledge to:
_____Call on the Bush administration and Congress to immediately withdraw all US troops from Iraq, with no future redeployments
_____ Urge my Congressional representatives to adopt a "bring the troops home now" position, and to establish a concrete, comprehensive withdrawal plan no later than September 21, 2006, International Peace Day, just days before Congress adjourns
_____ Participate in marches, rallies, demonstrations, and other peaceful strategies to establish this plan
_____ Engage in nonviolent civil disobedience, as conscience leads me, if this plan for a comprehensive withdrawal is not established and activated no later than September 21, 2006.
mail to: Declaration of Peace, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland, CA 94612
To save processing time, it is preferred that you sign up on line at http://declarationofpeace.org/
by Paul Larudee
Paul is a Bay-Area-based volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement. This report is based on emails of August 5 and 16.
It has been extremely sad to see and hear the news coming out of Lebanon this month. We hold our breaths and hope that the recently negotiated cease-fire will continue and will not break on the rocks of impossible political demands made of Lebanon
It is important to remember the historical context of the month of devastation. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon. The stated goal was the destruction of the PLO. That invasion was concluded with a partial Israeli withdrawal after considerable Lebanese resistance, which was the foundation of Hisbollah. Since that time there has been an ongoing border war. Israeli troops have entered Lebanese territory and kidnapped Lebanese citizens, including civilians, while Hisbollah has captured Israeli soldiers. Lebanon continues to press its claim on land taken by Israel. During back and forth confrontations, Hisbollah fired rockets into Israel, smaller then the ones they used in the current fighting. There has in fact been a history of prisoner exchange between Hisbollah and Israel. It is likely that Hisbollah expected this to continue in July when they took two Israeli soldiers captive and asked for the release of Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the release of the soldiers. Instead Israel engaged in a massively destructive military response. This response has dismayed many of Israel’s friends and outraged people across the world.
We hope that the work of people of nonviolence, like people of the International Solidarity Movement and Kathy Kelly and Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will be helpful in shaping a just and peaceful relationship between Lebanon and Israel.
The name Lebanon literally means "the land of milk". It is one of the names given to a mythical earthly paradise in ancient times, usually located in one’s neighbor’s land, which typically justified the conquest of said neighbor, along with the assumption that your neighbors are barbarians and therefore a lower life form.
Of course, such justification is no longer permitted today under the Geneva conventions. Merely coveting one’s neighbor’s land is not enough, even if your neighbors are barbarians unworthy of life itself. Today we use word "terrorist" instead of barbarian, but even terrorists have rights, at least until John Woo, Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales get their way with international law. A "terrorist threat" is therefore required as a security pretext for Israel to take land that it and its founders have coveted since at least 1918, when David Ben Gurion first described Lebanon’s Litani river as Israel’s future "natural" border to the north.
Yesterday the original meaning of Lebanon’s name came to mind as I sat on the transmission housing of a shared taxi on the way to Beirut from Damascus airport for five hours, watching the relatively barren Syrian countryside, which contrasts with Lebanon’s mountainous beauty and verdant hillsides. The tour was necessitated because the only remaining route into Lebanon was the longest possible one; all the rest had been closed by Israel’s bombing of the bridges. This one had no major bridges, so even if it is bombed, a rough detour is probably still possible.
Today I will join a team of international volunteers recruited by Adam Shapiro, one of the co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement, and including his Palestinian wife Huwaida Arraf, Kathy Kelly (founder of Voices in the Wilderness) and other experienced nonviolent activists, who are in the midst of discussions with the local Lebanese committee of counterpart activists on nonviolent strategies that we will employ in the coming weeks and months to confront Israel’s occupation and to express the solidarity of many Americans and other peoples with the Lebanese and their rights, and to show that some of us oppose Israel’s actions enough to come here and do what we can to stop them.
Beirut, Lebanon, August 5, 2006
By the time we returned to Siddiqine yesterday morning, someone had cleared the dead cows and hopefully adopted the new calf barely standing the night before. Other than that, there is little in the way of good news.
Large areas of Siddiqine, Bint Jbeil and many other villages and towns are completely devastated. We spoke to one driver whose car was piled high with foam mattresses. He said he was from the local village but couldn’t figure out where his house had been. I filled my camera with frame after frame of destruction, but soon realized the futility of it all, and limited myself to shots that had a unique and often ironic twist to them, such as the suggestion box framed with destruction in a recently beautiful new school where our team member Maryam had taught. I asked her a few questions while the camera was running, but the references to details of life before the invasion brought tears to her eyes where there had only been surprise. Why hit the schools?
Huge craters cut many of the roads and pulverized some areas of the towns. At least half the houses were uninhabitable, but many did not exist at all. There was talk of a special type of bomb or artillery shell that made a strange crater that was deep but not wide. Were these "bunker busters?" I took some pictures of unexploded ordnance on the ground, including a huge shell with the number 500 on it and some Hebrew writing. Thankfully, I found no signs of cluster bombs, but brought back some shrapnel that is as heavy as lead but not as soft. Is it depleted uranium? That is associated with "bunker busters", and it’s my understanding that while the shrapnel is not particularly dangerous to handle, it turns to dust and burns when it strikes hardened steel, creating a cancerous long term environmental disaster. I hope my worst fears are unfounded.
In the village of Aita al-Shaab we found a family sifting by hand through the remains of their house. They found what they were looking for: the bodies of the grandparents, several weeks old and not all in one piece. They were no longer human beings, but rather masses of putrid, rotting flesh falling off the bones, leaving an unmistakable stench that was only partially mitigated by some coverings that the family had placed to try to preserve a shred of dignity.
In her grief, the daughter of the elderly couple launched into an indictment of George Bush and the U.S. relationship with Israel:
"Let the people of America see our children. Let all Americans know what Mr. Bush has done to us, that this is his democracy, his "New Middle East". We don’t blame Israelis. We have always known what they are. I have a two-year-old baby who can’t stop saying, ‘They broke my house. I want my house.’ Can the American president answer this child? Have the American people no reaction to the gifts of Mr. Bush to the people of Lebanon? He cares more about a dog than for the killing of an entire nation. Does he want to kill the people of the Middle East to create a ‘land without people’? We are the Middle East, and without us there is none. Heaven without angels is not heaven. I do not blame the Israelis. I blame Bush, who proclaims democracy and humanity and freedom and dignity, to be imposed upon the entire world with steel and fire, while he professes to believe in God. That’s what I want to tell Mr. Bush. I’m looking for my Mom and Dad underneath these ruins. To me they are everything, and even a grain of the soil of this land is more honorable than Mr. Bush. He cannot rule our country even under fire. Even if we are dead, we will be free. His great technology is useless. Is this the way to use technology? Let him learn how to use technology for good. He cannot rule us this way. We are honored to give our blood for our country, even our souls and our houses. We live under the sun of freedom, while he [Bush] has no honor. We’ve been looking for my parents for 22 days, but of course this is of no interest to Mr. Bush. Let Americans know that the hunger that they suffer is so that Israel can have the weapons to destroy Arab countries. I hope that Americans learn the reality of what is going on. We will stay here. This is our land. We are not afraid of them and their weapons."
As we continued to survey the region, I had expected to see some of the 30,000 Israeli soldiers that were supposedly deployed there. My experience in Palestine made me think that there would be checkpoints and controls everywhere and that I would find myself face to face with Israeli troops throughout the trip. I was therefore surprised to see only three soldiers atop a tank on a hill above the road during the entire day. Even when we drove right next to the border, there was no evidence of troops on either side. This is occupation? What controls are the multinational force going to take over?
Of course there was plenty of evidence that they had been there recently. They had painted graffiti, broken into some of the homes, put their cigarettes out on the furniture, eaten the food, smashed nearly everything that could be smashed and vandalized wedding pictures and pictures of the Virgin Mary. (Just to show you the misconceptions westerners hold about religious attitudes here, the house belonged to a Muslim man who simply liked to venerate this Christian icon of his fellow Lebanese.)
A blurring of borders occurred on our last stop in the village of Dhe’ira, on the way to the coast. The people of this village are part of a larger tribe, similar to Bedouin, whose community straddles the border with Israel. More than half live on the Israeli side, with families split down the middle. In many cases, the parents or grandparents live on one side of the border and the children on the other. However, no Lebanese are permitted to go to Israel and no Israeli citizens may come to Lebanon. There, in a bucolic setting of tobacco fields, a taxi driver, Bilal, invited us to his home after showing us some of the damage done by the Israeli invasion in his community. His own home had been untouched, and his hospitality was a welcome respite from the horrors we had witnessed during the day. Even the physical act of washing hands and face from the dust and the smells seemed like an act of purification. We thanked Bilal and made our way back through more destroyed villages to the coast and then north to Tyre.
Beirut, 16 August, 2006
Two days ago, driving toward the village of Qana, we saw men at work, creating neatly aligned rows of rectangular cement structures that would soon be ready for burials. On foot, we entered Qana, thinking we should at least identify the site where a massacre had taken place when, on July 30th, an Israeli bomb hit a building that sheltered children as they slept. It took five hours for ambulances to reach them. Statistics differ, but the most recent Human Rights Watch report estimated that twenty-three were killed...
Turning a corner, we saw men arranging white plastic chairs for guests who came to mourn with family members in the funeral tradition. The men sat in front of one home. Women were next door.
Farah and I approached four women sitting quietly and tearfully in a small outdoor patio. They invited us to sit with them. For much of the time, we sat silently. Each time a neighboring woman arrived, the women would stand and embrace one another tearfully. They have borne their pain for eighteen days, since 1:00 a.m. on July 30th when the bomb slammed into the building just across the road from where we sat, the building where their children slept. The funeral was delayed until it would be safe to bring families together and to construct the graves.
Umm Zayneb, the mother of six year old Zayneb, poured out a torrent of words, telling the details of what had happened to Zayneb and entrusting us with her views which we could only barely understand. Our translators were next door, sitting with the men. We could see that Umm Zayneb had suffered injuries. Under her veil, she wore a medical hood and a thick brace encircled her neck. She stiffly shifted her tall, slender body, unable to point across the street to what was once a building where frightened children had huddled together for shelter during the bombing. Surveillance planes must have known that children were in the building. Many times, in the daytime, Zaynab ran back and forth between the house and the shelter. Umm Zaynab said we must be able to see how close she was to her home. Yes, we could see. We listened to the drone of an unmanned surveillance plane still crisscrossing the skies above. Couldn’t they see? What kind of censorship would obscure this information?
"She liked to practice English," Umm Zaynab told us, her words turning to sobs. "She was happy because she could say English words." This sentence aroused a new flood of agony. The brace forced her to contain her shudders. She rocked diffidently, overwhelmed with grief.
Umm Zaynab asked one of the children to bring a stack of newspapers and magazines. "Here," she said, carefully sorting through reports on the massacre at Qana. "This is Zaynab." Photo after photo showed Zaynab held aloft, lifeless, by a strong, helmeted relief worker who shouted his shock and terrible awe. In another, Zainab lies next to Zahara. The force of the explosion seems to have destroyed the internal organs of the little girls, as they slept. Their bodies are not mutilated.
Next she placed in our hands a framed picture of Zaynab, a curly headed little girl with huge dark eyes posing seriously for the camera. One can only imagine her smile.
"Who are the terrorists?" Umm Zayneb whispered, slowly reaching over to point at Zayneb’s picture. Her eyes held mine as she answered her own question. I heard her say "Bush." "She is saying that Zayneb and the children aren’t the terrorists," Farah interjected, understanding more Arabic than me. "She says the real terrorists are the ones who kill children."
... A banner hangs in Qana, addressed to Condoleeza Rice. "Rice, they will not see "our new Middle East."
Kathy Kelly email@example.com is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) On August 17 and 18, she traveled in southern Beirut with three other participants in Voices campaign work who joined international solidarity efforts in Beirut during August, 2006
by Carolyn S. Scarr
"All of Gaul I divide into three parts." Julius Caesar
Spokespeople from the Bush administration is are promoting the idea that Iraq is either on the verge of a civil war or is already in the midst of one. According to a letter from Senator Boxer to Secretary of War Rumsfeld (it’s time to return to the proper name for the department), Generals Abizaid and Pace told the Senate Armed Services Committee that sectarian violence is probably " as bad as I’ve seen it" and may evolve into civil war. Boxer goes on to ask Rumsfeld, "What is your plan for our troops if a full-blown civil war erupts in Iraq?"
Similarly to the hearings alleging Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction as a justification for an attack on Iraq, the Democrats are listening to the administration as if they have a reputation for honesty. When will they ever learn not to trust people who are pushing for war?
My writing of this article was briefly interrupted by a phone call from a good friend who lived through the partition of India in 1949. I had called him to ask him about the British role in that tragic event. Briefly he told me that the ruling conservatives in Britain were aware of a surge toward self-determination in many of Europe’s colonies and therefore practiced divide and rule –– distributing favors and money, and offering social and political identity to set people apart. Enmity between groups was cultivated in order to suggest that the territory was ungovernable without British experience and expertise. In particular, money given to support the Muslim League. The result of this tactic was the division the country, with many people displaced from their homes and much violence.
On a much smaller scale, the United States Congress, at the instigation of Peabody Coal, voted to divide the Joint Use Area which had been shared by the Hopi and Dineh people for centuries, a division opposed by those living in the traditional way of life including the elders of both peoples. Peabody correctly forecast that they could more easily negotiate cozy contracts when they were able to bargain with each group separately.
Some voices in the United States can be heard proposing the idea of dividing Iraq into three parts. Opposing this, Iraqi analyst Raed Jarrar, writing in Foreign Policy in Focus, asserts that the roots of the Iraqi civil conflict is political rather than sectarian, and that the best solution is finding a way to bring the troops home.
Shia and Sunni Iraqis have lived in harmony for centuries. Historically the two sects have lived in the same areas, intermarried, worked together and have had few conflicts based on religious beliefs. Arab Iraqis, especially in contemporary history, have not prioritized their religious or sectarian belonging over national identity. Iraqi nationalism united Iraqi Shia against Iranian Shia for eight years during the 1980s in the Iran-Iraq war.
When Baghdad fell, there was a striking increase in criminal activities and full-scale looting of the public sector, but no signs of civil clashes. But the situation quickly changed as the U.S. administration, led by Paul Bremer assumed control over Iraq. Early on Bremer, attempting to put an Iraqi face on the occupation, appointed members to the Iraqi Governing Council. Aimed to reflect Iraq’s diverse ethnic, political, and religious mix the Governing Council comprised 13 Shia, five Sunnis, five Kurds, one Christian, and one Turkoman. But instead of bringing unity to the political sphere, this reflection of Iraq’s diversity when thrust into the political playing field became the base for sectarian division in Iraq.
This description parallels the Indian history in that the occupying forces under Bremer promoted the development of sectarian-based political divisions, which encouraged Kurdish and Shia hopes of ruling the oil-rich northern and southern sectors of Iraq.
The new political order engineered by the U.S. resulted in deep divisions between Iraqis. Entering into a marriage of convenience, Shia and Kurds were eager to join the government but for different reasons. Shia politicians from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Dawa parties were supported and encouraged by Iran to take a part of the new regime. Kurdish political leaders, who participated in the U.S.-led coalition that brought down Saddam, sought the opportunity to rule the country instead of continuing to be the central government’s victim. And while included in the government, Sunni Iraqis were scattered without strong leadership, were victims of de-baathification policies, and were reeling at their sudden loss of political power.
In the current Iraqi government, there is a distinct split between the members of the Parliament who are almost uniformly calling for the departure of United States’ military and Prime Minister al-Maliki, whose selection was influenced by the U.S., and who during his recent trip to the United States stated his desire for the U.S. to remain. It is not surprising that the Bush administration is saying that Iraq is not ready for democracy, since the Parliament, having been elected on an anti-occupation platform, is keeping faith with its campaign promise and calling for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.
During his trip to the U.S., Prime Minister al-Maliki refused to meet with people in the peace movement. After that rebuff a delegation of Iraqi Parliamentarians, representing leaders of the Shi’ite- and Sunni-based parties and leaders of secular parties including labor, traveled to Jordan to meet with a group of peace activists, organized by Code Pink. They strongly urged that the U.S. immediately develop a schedule for the near-term withdrawal of forces. This is consistent with international polls indicating that the considerable majority of Iraqis want to see the U.S. departure and feel that they can take care of their own security better without U.S. presence. Any truly democratic government in Iraq would have to continue to reflect the majority desire for U.S. departure.
A significant difference from the Indian situation is the extent of intermarriage between Sunnis and Shi’ites. If a shift of population follows the breakup of the country which some Americans seem to be working towards, not only will people be dislocated from their homes, but families will be broken. It is to be hoped that the familial bond and the community bond will be strong enough in Iraq to enable Iraqis to resist efforts to pry the country apart. It is essential that the U.S. peace movement bring an end to the occupation and allow the people of Iraq to build their country according to their own lights.
Indented passages are from The Iraqi Civil Conflict: Another Reason for Bringing the Troops Home, by Raed Jarrar, the director of the Iraq Project at Global Exchange and an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus.
The article may be found at www.fpif.org
by Charlie Hinton
Charlie Hinton is a member of the Haiti Action Committee
The Lavalas movement of President Aristide continues to show its strength and creativity in Haiti, in spite of ongoing occupation and repression. In the presidential elections on February 9, Haitians voted massively for former Lavalas president René Preval, at the same time demanding the immediate return of exiled President Aristide from South Africa. They reinforced this call on July 15, when tens of thousands of people marched in Port-au-Prince and six other cities on the occasion of President Aristide’s birthday to demand his return, the release of political prisoners, and the rehiring of more than 10,000 government workers laid off by the coup regime.
The "international community" did everything possible to rig the elections and limit the vote, refusing to set up voter registration in Lavalas neighborhoods or guarantee the safety of Lavalas candidates, the stated reason Lavalas did not officially participate as a party. But this left the people with a dilemma. If they didn’t participate, they were in danger of the "international community" legitimising an administration that would only repress them further. So they turned out in overwhelming numbers to vote for President Preval, who ran under the banner of a new party called Lespwa, or "hope." There was no doubt in anyone’s mind who won after the polls closed, but after four days of counting, the results showed Preval at less than 50% (and his nearest opponent at less than 13%.)
Haiti’s poor majority took matters into their own hands. They blocked roads all over Port-au-Prince, then marched to the most exclusive hotel in Haiti, the site of the vote counting, and respectfully demanded that all the votes be counted fairly. No one was hurt, not one glass broken. The next day, the electoral council declared Preval the winner, but based on "negotiations" rather than the acknowledgement he actually won a majority of the votes, thereby weakening his legitimacy and mandate from the outset.
The council finally held legislative elections in April, but didn’t promote them, and turned the polling stations into armed camps, further discouraging the vote of Lavalas supporters. The result is a divided Congress, set up to prevent any Preval initiatives that could actually benefit those who voted for him.
A parallel history is now playing itself out in Mexico, with the supporters of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador demanding an honest vote count in Mexico’s presidential election and initiating civil disobedience. The Haiti Action Committee supports the Mexican people in their efforts.
The U.S. government and the "international community," unhappy with Haiti’s electoral results, continue to do everything possible to undermine the will of the Haitian grassroots majority. Although some exiled community leaders are returning to Haiti, more than a thousand Lavalas political prisoners remain in jail, and the police force is riddled with former military and death squad members. [The civil service is largely in the hands of members of the former coup government.] The IMF and World Bank have named Haiti to the HIPC list (Highly Indebted Poor Countries), a fake "debt relief" plan that will only demand increased WB/IMF oversight and privatization of the economy, further blocking any progressive initiatives by Preval’s government.
The military coup and occupation has subjected Haiti’s Lavalas movement to more than two years of devastating assault. Solidarity is urgent if the people of Haiti are to rebuild and democratize. The Haiti Action Committee supports this grassroots movement at this critical time:
• Lavalas has been the major force in Haiti working to better the lives of the Haitian majority instead of the wealthy elites and foreign corporate interests.
• The Lavalas grassroots movement provides an outstanding example of people who stand up for democracy. They provide a model for us in this country if only we would listen, and if only we could be as outraged and as bold.
• A pro-Lavalas government will help to build the movement of independent Latin American countries, now led by Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia.
• Lavalas challenges the legacy of enslavement by demanding that France repay billions of dollars in today’s currency that was extorted between 1825-1947. France, which has refused to negotiate, joined with the U.S. in the 2/29/04 coup.
Since 1990, U.S. "democracy building" has meant two coups against elected governments in Haiti and the most brutal conditions imaginable under military death squad dictatorships. It is ironic that the United States should spend millions of dollars on "democracy building" through the taxpayer funded National Endowment for Democracy, while the Haitian people provide the real example of democracy in action.
But still they rise. Haitians provide inspiration for all freedom-loving people.
Rev. Ama Zenya asks us "Does God Require Violence
Jerry Levin, Christian Peacemaker Team member from Hebron, offered the invocation and read greetings from Israeli nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu.
"My heartfelt greetings to you on this historically significant morning. They are the greetings of a man who survived eighteen years in an Israeli prison, twelve of them in total isolation because I exposed Israel’s secret program to make atomic and hydrogen bombs....
"I am in this struggle, because the message of potential nuclear genocide that Israel has been sending the world is a key element of its policy of terror. The fear of nuclear weapon is one of the significant ways it has been able to hold the world at bay while continuing to maintain its power over and impose its will on the Palestinian people during thirty nine years of occupation, checkpoints, settlements and wall building.
"My answer to that kind of message is that we need to follow Jesus’ message opposing violence and the evil of weapons and militarism. Jesus clear courageous message, that he was ready to die on the cross and be crucified rather than use the sword to kill other human beings, needs to be the basis of the message that all of us need to send to those in power in states that possess nuclear weapons."
An excellent morning of witness was blessed by a stimulating sermon by Rev. Ama Zenya of First Congregational Church of Oakland in which she addressed the thorny theology of atonement.
"The central symbol of Christianity is this ancient means of torture and murder at the hands of the state.
"Why? Does God require violence?"
After an examination of the historical and emotional basis for this theology, Rev. Ama went on to say
"Have you considered that it may not be God inciting or requiring violence, but rather us - human beings?… The crucifixion is for us to come to terms with our own violence. And Jesus offers us a particular and unique way to reckon with it.…the violence that I do, I do to God. …
"Here Jesus testifies that the violent results of our lust for power (expressed in Governor Pilate), our group-think, uncritical mob mentality (as in the crowd), our spite and jealousy (represented in the religious leaders), our dumb brutality and meanness (as in the soldiers) hurt God.…the God who dies for our sins, at our hands, who doesn’t retaliate with violence, whose non-violent direct action reveals the stark reality of our brutality, giving rise – as only non-violence can – to the potential for awareness, repentance, conversion….
"God is hurt by our violence. By my unwillingness to visit those in prison. By my willingness to let my comfort be a higher priority than the life of another human being. By my practice of squelching my unique voice, and abnegating my agency. By my willingness to push over people to get my way, or make my point, or prove that I’m right, or show that I can’t be messed with. By my meanness. By my pettiness. We are hurting the one who has given us life.
"God does not require violence. We have required it, and God is paying the price. Lord, have mercy. Amen."
Rev. Ama’s sermon, Jerry Levin’s invocation and Mordechai Vanunu’s letter are posted on EPI’s website, www.epicalc.org.
Documentary Film and Presentation
Saturday, November 11, 7 p.m.
Kehilla Community Synagogue, Sanctuary
1300 Grand Avenue, Montclair
The Mosque of Paris: A Forgotten Resistance, reveals how the Muslim community of Paris provided refuge for Jews in occupied France.
The program is cosponsored by the Ecumenical Peace Institute and the Kehilla Middle East Peace Committee and the Kehilla Interfaith Trio Committee. It will be presented by Dr. Annette Herskovits who survived the holocaust as a child in France thanks to a clandestine rescue network.
She will speak about the vital role played by Moslems in protecting Jews from the Nazi regime. (The mosque’s rector even provided false birth certificates "proving" Jews were Moslems.)
The 25 minute film about the Mosque is captivating. Afterwards, Dr. Herskovits will share her experience as one of the "hidden children" in France. The program itself is a strong plea for interfaith peace efforts and reminds us of the history of humanity between Moslems and Jews.
Admission is free. We hope many Christians as well as Moslems and Jews will share this evening with us.
For more information on the evening call Sandy Hunter, 510/524-7989.
EPI has moved~
We are sharing a roomy upstairs office at South Berkeley Community Church (1802 Fairview in Berkeley) with Northern California Interreligious Conference (NCIC). Marilyn Jackson did most of the work of finding our new space. Sandy Hunter help in moving and arranged for the assistance of Miguel and Adriana Hernandez who carted over the things we couldn’t handle. Lots of thanks to Miguel and Adriana. Other board members pitched in and offered their particular gifts.
We anticipate that sharing space with NCIC will encourage an increasingly synergistic relationship between the two groups who have always been friendly.
Our new phone number is (510)655-1162
We will continue to get our mail at PO Box 9334, Berkeley, CA 94709.
Volunteers for our
new office are welcome to help us organize, to sort mail and keep up
Saturday, September 9, 7:00 p.m., Haiti Today: Occupation and Resistance, a panel discussion with: Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste –– Haitian political prisoner of conscience; Dr. Paul Farmer –– Founder of Partners in Health; Brian Concannon –– Founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti; members of the Haiti Action Committee delegation to a recent Solidarity Conference in Haiti. St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison Street, Berkeley, Wheelchair accessible. Donation of $7-15 requested (no one turned away for lack of funds).Proceeds to benefit Haiti Action Committee and Fr. Jean-Juste’s Food Program in Port-au-Prince. For more information: www.haitiaction.net, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-483-7481
September 21 - 28, Declaration of Peace week of action, see the article on page 1 or click here
Saturday, November 11, 7:00 p.m. The Mosque of Paris: A Forgotten Resistance, documentary film with presentation by Dr. Annette Herskovits, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Sanctuary,1300 Grand Avenue, Montclair. See p. 7
Weekly Vigils & Such
Sundays, 3:00 p.m. peace walk around Lake Merritt.
Tuesdays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, oppose the continued war on Iraq.
Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Castro Valley Peace & Justice Vigils, Castro Valley Blvd. & Redwood Rd.
Thursdays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. San Francisco Federal Building.
Thursdays, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m., Jackson, Mission, Foothill triangle, Hayward.
Thursday 4:30 — 5:30 p.m. in front of Boalt Hall on Bancroft Ave. on UC Berkeley campus. Teach-In and Vigil on American Torture and the Dictatorial Presidency.
Fridays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. Women in Black Vigil, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph.
Fridays, 5:30 - 7 p.m., corner of Mowry & Fremont, Fremont.
Regarding that Envelope
There is an envelope included in each issue of Planted by the Waters. If each person who received Planted put a check into the envelope and mailed it to EPI/CALC, it would greatly improve our ability to do the work for justice and peace which we are called to do together.
It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit counts.
The envelope in the printed version of Planted is addressed to
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity
People reading this newsletter online are invited to send a check made out to EPI to the above address to help us in our work for justice and peace.
I/We want to help by being part of
the Peace and Justice
Enclosed is my tax-deductible contribution of:
____$35 for annual membership
($10 for low-income subscribers)
___$10.00 ___$25.00 ___$35.00 ___ $50.00 ___ $100.00
I will pledge $_______ monthly, $________quarterly
Please make checks payable to E.P.I.
City________________________ State____Zip ______