Planted By the Waters

Winter 2007

Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
P. O. Box 9334 • Berkeley, CA 94709 • (510) 655-1162

(Each title is a link -- just click on it.)

Frank Beville
by Rev. Lee Williamson

Dismantling Empire,Creating a Culture of Peace
Good Friday Vigil Preacher: Rev. Michael Yoshii

The U.S. v. Iran
markers along the road toward an impending war

It’s the Oil, Stupid!
by Carolyn S. Scarr

IRAQ: Not a Demonstration
by Doug Pritchard

Human Rights Watch and PI Spar re: Nonviolent Action
by Esther Ho

Reflections on the Election
by Jim

Actions and Other Announcements

Vigils & Such

Regarding that Envelope

Several Issues of Planted are archived – just click on the file folder:

Winter 1999
Spring 2000
Winter 2001
Summer 2002
Winter 2002/’03
Spring/Summer 2003
Winter 2003/’04 Winter '03/'04 "Planted"
Winter/Spring 2004
"Planted By the Water" Spring, 2004
Summer/Fall 2004
"Planted By the Water" Summer/Winter 2004
Summer 2005
Spring 2006
Winter 2006

Frank Beville

August 7, 1936 - January 18, 2007

Rev. Lee Williamson shared these thoughts and memories at Frank’s memorial service.

When Frank died we lost a strong and good friend, and we lost a champion for peace.

I met Frank in 1982 when I joined with him and several other great folk to organize (and I use that term very, very loosely) an affinity group which we called Mustard Seed

—— a term we took from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4: "The realm of God is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all plants/shrubs." (Mark 4:31-32a) Frank Beville —— in every way that I know, certainly as a champion for peace —— was far more than just a great plant. He was a giant tree —— a giant tree that was still growing.

John Chamberlin said of Frank: "Frank was one of those guys who didn’t call attention to himself, but whenever I went to a vigil or a demonstration I always looked around to see if Frank was there —— and when he was (which was often) I just felt better." And Frank was always ready with a genuine and big hug … and if you needed to bend his ear, he listened as if that was the only thing in the world that mattered.

Solid is a good word to use in connection with Frank. I can specifically remember times when some in the crowd or group at a vigil, or demonstration, or peace worship were getting unruly and Frank was always there to calm the situation —— to de-fuse it. Solid, steady, clear … dependable.

I didn’t know, but learned from Sherry, that a story that Frank loved to tell —— and did tell over and over —— was of a time when he and I and lots of others were in a demonstration at the Federal Building in San Francisco.

Usually when we did Civil Disobedience we never went limp when arrested. That day I was given no choice. Two big guys grabbed me from where I was sitting and dragged me into the building, across the floor, and tossed me into the elevator. Soon here came Frank, tossed in on top of me. Frank, seeing the treatment I received, did go limp that day to express solidarity with me and protest of such treatment by the arresting officers.

I hadn’t thought about that moment for a long while. Now it will be one of those stories I’ll tell over and over to whomever will listen and even to some who wish I wouldn’t tell it —— again.

That’s what we do —— tell our stories. It’s what we have.

It’s who we are. And Frank had lots of stories.

I wouldn’t even try to count the number of times that I have been with Frank in our mutual work for peace.

I have no idea how many times Frank was out there as a peacemaker when I was not.

But I do know this: when Frank Beville died we all lost a strong and good friend and the world lost a champion for peace.

There is one more thing I know: when Frank died heaven’s spirit was enlarged greatly —— because Frank’s spirit is there.




Dismantling Empire
Creating a Culture of Peace

Preacher: Rev. Michael Yoshii
Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Alameda
and Ehren Watada Support Committee

Good Friday, April 6, 2007
6:45 a.m. gather for worship and witness
Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Road, Livermore

Since 1945, U.S. nuclear weapons have been the trump card in the force maintaining American empire. Yes, we have to say empire. empire, n. 1. A group of nations or states under a single sovereign. All this has to do with nuclear disarmament because if we want to get rid of the weapons we have to get rid of the purpose for which they are made, world-wide military dominance in the service of world-wide economic hegemony. Indeed, we have to create a culture of peace.

The hydrogen bomb was born at the Livermore Labs and Livermore continues to be the place where new weapons of mass destruction are designed. Livermore has just been selected to design the new "safer" nuclear weapons in the "Reliable Replacement Program." It is also being considered for a Bio and Agro weapons research facility.

We will assemble at Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Road, on the southeast corner. After the prayer service we will walk about 1/2 mile to a major gate of the lab. At the gate there will be nonviolent acts of witness.

Following the action, there will be a community gathering in Livermore, to share our concerns and activities.

Our preacher, Rev Michael Yoshii, will have returned recently from a fact-finding mission to the Philippines, to learn about recent extra-judicial killings there. Rev. Yoshii has also been deeply involved in the work to support military resister Lt. Ehren Watada.



The U.S. v. Iran
markers along the road toward an impending war

The U.S. War With Iran Has Already Begun
In a June, 2005, article Scott Ritter detailed a repeat of the pattern in the run-up to the Iraq war: a number of military and preparatory acts. American over-flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, equipment. The violation of a sovereign nation’s airspace is an act of war in and of itself.

Taking advantage of the sweeping powers granted to wage a global war against terror, the administration has initiated several covert offensive operations inside Iran. The CIA has backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. The MEK, still labeled a terrorist organization, is carrying out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.

The U.S. is making alliances with Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan to use the country both as a base of military operations and as a link to the Azeri minority in northern Iran to form special units capable of operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilizing indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran.

Iran is Not a Nuclear Threat

This February’s news is that Iran faces increased sanctions because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

Iran doesn’t possess a single nuclear weapon, and won’t have one for many years even if it were trying to get one, which its religious leaders vigorously deny. If it got a nuclear weapon it couldn’t use it except in desperate self-defense as both Israel and the United States have significant nuclear arsenals and superior delivery systems, so that any offensive use of its nuclear weapon(s) would entail Iranian national suicide. There is no indication that the Iranians are suicidal.

Scott Ritter’s book Target Iran devotes many pages to the recent history of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran’s nuclear program. Inspections, disagreements, hidden agendas, and international pressure paved the road to the passage of the UN Security Council Resolution requiring Iran to stop any enrichment of uranium.

Under the NonProliferation Treaty, Iran was required to allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites according to a well-defined protocol. Under pressure by the U.S. and Israel this protocol was modified at various times.

The IAEA has consistently reported that there is nothing to indicate that Iran is attempting to achieve the level of enrichment required for nuclear weapons, which is far greater than that needed for power plants. Iran is legally as entitled to build nuclear power plants as any other country. The fact that nuclear power plants are a bad idea is exactly as true in Iran as elsewhere, but not more true there.

Ritter notes that Iran’s own uranium is contaminated with molybdenum. This effectly prevents the use of cascading centrifuges to produce highly enriched uranium necessary for bomb production. If Iran in fact has nuclear weapons ambitions they are virtually unachievable. Iran imports a small amount of uranium from China, enough for nuclear power plants and not enough to make a nuclear weapon.

If you want to read some techical details on this subject, visit

About the Improvised Explosive Devices

Professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, Stephen Zunes states: "Displays of a few bomb fragments hardly prove the Bush administration’s contention that 170 Americans [and allies] have been killed with weapons sent by the highest levels of the Iranian government. For one thing, the Iranians back Shiite militias in Iraq allied with the U.S.-backed government, not insurgents attacking American and Iraqi government forces.

"Secondly, there is a huge black market in various explosive devices, so it would not be surprising to find components from any number of countries. Thirdly, EFPs [explosively formed penetrators] like those shown by U.S. officials have been used by the Irish Republican Army and other insurgent groups for decades and can therefore hardly be treated as a nefarious Iranian invention designed to attack American troops. Even the Iraqi government didn’t buy these latest charges by the Bush administration."

Iran’s President Did Not Say "Israel must be wiped off the map"

What Ahmadinejad actually said on Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, was a reference to a statement of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Translated directly to English, Ahmadinejad said: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".

Word by word translation: Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).

Ahmadinejad would seem to be anticipating a regime change, not calling for war.

We don’t have to think that this was a good thing for President Ahmadinejad to have said. Combined with his insupportable denial of the Holocaust, it was easy to misunderstand. However this single sentence has been widely misinterpreted as a declaration of war against Israel, which a more knowledgeable reading shows it was not. The Iranian president does not have the authority to declare war and does not command the Iranian military. Ten days after this speech, Ayatollah Khamenei, who has supreme authority in the Iranian government, said very clearly that Iran "will not commit aggression toward any nations. We will not breach any nation’s rights anywhere in the world." (Scott Ritter, Target Iran, p 182) Regrettably, this kind of good-neighborliness does not make headlines.

Escalating Threats of U.S. Attacks Against Iran

Phyllis Bennis, scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, on 14 February 2007 gave the following analysis and points of action to United For Peace and Justice:

• The Bush administration is significantly ratcheting up its threats against Iran, in the context of arguing about a battle between "moderates" and "extremists" in the region.

• U.S. efforts to control or undermine Iran are long-standing, and are rooted in Iran’s historic role as one of only two indigenous regional powers in the Middle East (possessing water, [oil] wealth and size) who can [challenge] U.S. domination there.

• A U.S. (or U.S.-Israeli) strike on Iran, especially with the nuclear "bunker-buster" bombs being talked about, would be deadly for tens or hundreds of thousands of Iranians, and would be a preventive attack - in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the UN Charter, and other parts of international law, as well as the U.S. Constitution.

• Overheated U.S. rhetorical accusations against Iran are expanding earlier allegations about Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions to claims (including show-and-tell but absent real evidence) that Iran is directly responsible for "killing American troops" in Iraq. Current U.S. policy in Iraq calls for "dual escalations" - not only an escalation in troop numbers, but a geographic escalation, expanding from Iraq to Iran.

• Beyond rhetoric, U.S. provocations include sending a second aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf, sending minesweepers to the Strait of Hormuz, arresting Iranian officials legally working in Iraq, openly backing the anti-Iranian Mujahideen el-Khalq (MEQ) guerrillas, appointing a naval flier as head of Central Command, continuing pressure in the United Nations to expand sanctions against Iran.

• Iran is not a threat to the United States. It does not have a nuclear weapon and is not threatening to attack the U.S; it is a signatory to the NPT and the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program; Iran’s nuclear power program, including enriching uranium, is legal under the NPT. As early as 2003 Iran had proposed a comprehensive "grand bargain" with the U.S., which the Bush administration has ignored. The February 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserts that Iran’s involvement in Iraq "is not likely to be a major driver of violence" there.

• The consequences of a U.S. attack on Iran will be dire. The evidence looks like a repeat of pre-Iraq invasion lies, but "even if" Iran were closer to a nuclear weapon or had sent weapons into Iraq, there is no legal or moral justification for a preventive attack.

• Israeli rhetoric against Iran is largely paralleling U.S. claims; unlike [during] the run-up to the Iraq War, Israel and the pro-Israeli lobbies in the U.S. are pressing hard for an attack on Iran, and any Israeli involvement would significantly undercut Congressional opposition. [Some analysts suggest that Israel will be the first to strike Iran. A counter-attack by Iran on Israel would then lead many Congresspeople to support an attack on Iran to defend Israel.]

• The U.S. efforts to force American-dependent Arab regimes to back a U.S. (or U.S.-Israeli) attack on Iran include imposing a "rising Shi’a threat" framework over regional events and renewing the appearance of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

• The U.S. is more isolated now than at any time since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War; no U.S. allies except Israel are supporting calls for a U.S. attack on Iran.

Bennis suggests the peace movement demand the following

• No military attack on Iran

• A Congressional "Boland Amendment" regarding Iran, to preempt any funding for any attack on Iran

• Diplomatic, not military engagement with Iran

• Maintain pressure against BOTH escalations of the Iraq War - the escalation of troops and the geographic escalation into Iran as central to our work against the Iraq War

• Build people-to-people ties between Americans and Iranians, including work with the Iranian community in the United States

• Support for a WMD-free or Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone throughout the Middle East

Bennis suggests the following as resources:

"Iran: The Day After"

and "Congress: Treat Iran Like the Contra War"

EPI suggests the following resources as well:

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

Middle East Research and Information Project

Institute for Public Accuracy

Foreign Policy in Focus

EPI is working with a coaltion of local activists to try to head off this war. This coaltion is based largely at the San Francisco office of AFSC.

Please contact your congressional representatives —— and Nancy Pelosi —— and tell them that no matter what the U.S. has managed to push through the Security Council, the United States must not initiate an attack on Iran, and must make it clear that it will not support an Israeli attack on Iran.

Those who value peace in the region and in the world have got to head off this war, which will result in widespread death and destruction.



It’s the Oil, Stupid!

The Iraq Study Group, its real goals
Training and Advising Death Squads.

by Carolyn S. Scarr

A campaign slogan some years back was "It’s the economy, stupid." In the push for a "surge" of US troops into Iraq, we are hearing a lot about how Bush’s push is flying in the face of the Iraq Study Group report which was enthusiastically applauded by some in the peace movement. Unfortunately a closer exam—ination leads to the conclusion that, with the exception of the recommedation to negotiate directly with Iran and Syria, the ISG report is a bait and switch operation.

Some opening falsehoods & false impressions of the ISG report:

"The Iraqi people have a democratically elected government"
(ISG report, p.6, also alleged on p. 15)

A government in which the US exercised a veto on their selection of Prime Minister can hardly be considered ruled by the people. A government which continues to "request" the presence of American troops when the vast majority of all the people want them out cannot be considered a democracy.

"Iran should stem the flow of arms and training to Iraq , respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity" (ISG report, p.7)

Obviously the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq was a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Since then the US respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq has been blatantly lacking and the US is arming and training the Iraqi military and death squads. We reported on that in detail, in the spring 2006 issue of Planted, "How the US is Making Iraq into a Third-World Country."

The roots for the "push" instituted by the Bush administration this winter might be seen in the ISG report which states in the section Internal Approach:

While this process is under way [increasing the number and quality of Iraqi Army brigades], and to facilitate it, the United States should significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops, imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units. . . . By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts would continue. (ISG report, p.7) emphasis added

No End in Sight

Phyllis Bennis, leading scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, in her analysis of the ISG report states that "the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) report . . . did not include a call to end the war at all. Rather, the report’s recommendations focus on transforming the U.S. occupation of Iraq into a long-term, sustainable, off-the-front-page occupation with a lower rate of U.S. casualties."

Bennis also reports that "air support" will be a continued role of the U.S. military in Iraq. In my opinion, "air support" is likely to consist of level-the-city bombings, such as was done in Falluja, with the difference that Iraqi military will make up the ground forces for the follow-up attack on the villages and cities so targeted.

Death Squads: Training and Advising

The "training" likely to be offered to Iraqi troops can be seen in the training given to Latin American police and military at the Fort Benning School of the Americas, long known in Latin America as the "School of Assassins" where torture and civil repression have been the central features of the curriculum.

With this in mind, EPI continues to call for an independent investigation of James Steele and Steve Casteel, whose infamous work in training death squads in El Salvador is almost certainly being repeated in Iraq. Reporter Dahr Jamail writes of the presence in Iraq of Steele in an "advisory" role. Christian Peacemaker Teams member Sheila Provincher reported from her observations in Baghdad:

James Steele, one of the U.S. military’s experts on counterinsurgency, is an adviser to Adnan Thavit, the leader of the Special Police Commandos. . . James Steele led U.S. Special Forces in El Salvador in the 1980s, aiding a repressive government’s military that killed thousands of peasants, students, and activists. . . In addition, Steve Casteel, a former top official in the Drug Enforcement Administration who spent years in Latin America, is the senior U.S. adviser in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, which has operational control over the commandos. emphasis added. (Sheila Provincher email 23 Nov 2005)

The "Salvador Option" goes back to the early stages of the occupation of Iraq. Seymour Hersh wrote in a December, 2003, issue of the New Yorker about a program he referred to as the "Salvador Option" in which former members of Saddam’s dreaded Mukhabarat were to be trained by members of Israel’s elite death squads who disguise themselves as Arabs in order to conduct assassinations. This has been equated to the infamous Operation Phoenix which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 20,000 mostly innocent South Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.

On October 19, 2004, men dressed in new Iraqi Police uniforms kidnapped CARE director Margaret Hassan. It is my opinion that it was very likely that these kidnappers were part of the "Salvador option". The Iraqi Police are under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. Every Iraqi resistance group called for Margaret's release. Her work on behalf of the Iraqi people was widely known. No one would have benefited from her death except those seeking to discredit the resistance, and those who do not want the Iraqi people to have someone with international connections working for their benefit. We have to remember that death squads in Central America commonly targeted community leaders, teachers, health care workers, church workers who served the poor, and international supporters of the community.

Remember it’s the oil.

In her analysis of the Iraq Study Group report Phyllis Bennis states that:

While the ISG is eager to have Iraqis take up security issues by themselves, they are not so quick to have Iraqis take charge of their economy or more importantly, the development of their massive oil reserves. The ISG team advocates for the sharing of oil revenues throughout the country, a departure from the current Iraqi constitution that states revenue from new oil fields goes to local provinces. If carried out, this reform would help lessen the pressure for division within the country.

Following this sensible proposal is one much more radical–complete privatization of the oil industry, combined with foreign investment, and technical assistance by the U.S. government. This directly contradicts the ISG’s earlier recommendation that, "The President should restate that the U.S. does not seek to control Iraq’s oil" and guarantees that the U.S. and multinational corporations will be vying for control and power in Iraq for decades. Clearly this section of the report was heavily influenced by commission members James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger, who have sought access to Iraqi’s oil for most of their political careers, as well as by the longstanding consensus of U.S. corporate and government opinion about the importance and claimed legitimacy of maintaining U.S. control of Iraqi oil.

To bring about the IGS privatization proposal, the Iraqi Parliament is being pushed to pass a new "hydrocarbon law". This law was drafted with the assistance of an American consultancy firm hired by the U.S. government, which had a representative working in the American embassy in Baghdad for several months. The draft of the law was vetted by the U.S. government and major oil companies and was shown to the International Monetary Fund before it was seen by the members of the Iraqi Parliament.

In a recent article, Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time:

The new oil law in Iraq...would transform Iraq’s currently nationalized oil system to one that is all but fully privatized and opened to foreign companies... U.S. oil companies and their fellows in the Bush administration may yet prove to be the ‘winners’ of the war in Iraq. Iraq’s national government will still ‘own’ its oil and run a national oil company; however, every function of the company will be privatized – thus forcing the national company to bear the risk, while the oil companies reap all the benefits: 30-year contracts, 75 percent of initial profits, and access to exploration, production and marketing of Iraq’s giant oil reserves.

Since the "new" direction for Iraq is in fact the same old direction of ripping off Iraq’s oil resources by putting in power and maintaining in power collaborative rulers who will do business with U.S. corporations to the benefit of the corporations and the disadvantage of the people, it is clear why the "Salvador option" has clearly been in operation for several years.


IRAQ: Not a Demonstration

by Doug Pritchard

"We are having a demonstration tomorrow [6 January] but it is not a demonstration. It is a meeting-in front of the Ministry of the Interior. We will read out a letter about the Baker-Hamilton Report." This information was the gist of a message from an organizer of the above "meeting" to the CPT’s Iraq team in Suleimaniya, a city in the Kurdish region of northeastern Iraq. Kurds are upset about the USA’s Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton) report. In mid-December, the organizers applied to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for permission to hold a demonstration protesting the Baker-Hamilton report. The KRG initially gave them permission, but on the day of the demonstration, told them that they had to postpone it for a week. On that date, the organizers learned that they could not hold the demonstration at all "because there were Americans around."

Fed up by these delays, the organizers decided to have a "meeting" in front of the Kurdistan Ministry of the Interior building in downtown Suleimaniya. They planned to gather and read out a letter protesting the U.S. report. The gathering was not a demonstration. It was a meeting. But somehow, the KRG police found out and were out in force before anyone arrived. When the handful of people gathered for the meeting, they decided to cancel it "because of the rain."

A few minutes later, two of the organizers shared with the CPTers present what their concerns were with the U.S. report:

1. it only addresses the problems that the U.S. is having in Iraq and does not address Iraqi needs;

2. it encourages a continuation of sectarian governments by involving neighbouring states like Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan who already have proxy forces operating in Iraq;

3. it delays the previously agreed referendum on the status of Kirkuk [which Kurds think they would win];

4. it does not allow for Kurdish self-determination.

They said that most Kurds agree with these criticisms. When asked why the Kurdistan government would forbid their demonstration/meeting to voice this critique, one organizer said, "Our government suppresses us to satisfy the U.S because the U.S. and Turkey do not want Kurdish independence. This is the nature of our government."




Human Rights Watch and EPI Spar re: Nonviolent Action

by Esther Ho

EPI responded to a questionable statement of Human Rights Watch re: nonviolent actions of Palestinians in Gaza. Subsequently HRW responded to EPI’s statement, clarifying its position and acknowledging that errors had been made.

On November 19, 2006 Human Rights Watch issued a statement, "Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks," which appeared to criticize the nonviolent action of citizens in Jabalya refugee camp who were seeking to protect the homes of two families from Israeli military attack.

The Ecumenical Peace institute responded on December 7 to Human Rights Watch saying: "We are deeply disturbed by Human Rights Watch’s suggestion that the voluntary action of citizens to protect homes with their own bodies is a violation of international humanitarian law. In fact, these Palestinians were following an age-old revered practice of nonviolently resisting attack."

EPI’s statement gave the following examples of similar nonviolent actions: "Voices in the Wilderness and Christians Peacemaker Teams traveled to Iraq prior to the current war in the hope of staving off U.S. attacks on essential civilian infrastructure.

"A generation ago Witness for Peace members and others accompanied various projects in Central America and the Philippines to protect labor leaders and others under attack by repressive governments. During the civil rights struggle in this country numerous civilians risked their lives to travel to the South to try to protect those struggling for their rights. Many of them were attacked and several were killed."

"Human Rights Watch is essentially attacking the entire tradition of nonviolent resistance which came into world prominence under the leadership of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela," declared EPI.

The statement concluded with a request that Human Rights Watch "re-evaluate the question of the legality under international humanitarian law of the nonviolent intervention of unarmed civilians in deterring military attacks in populated areas. We are convinced," it stated, "that nonviolent actions such as those of the Palestinians in Jabalya Camp are key to bringing about a reduction in the high percentage of civilians among the casualties of war in Palestinian lands and advance the cause of human rights in areas of conflict around the world."

EPI’s response to Human Rights Watch was prompted by an initial statement by the International Solidarity Movement, which had observers in the area at the time of the nonviolent civilian action and issued a statement condemning the HRW statement.

Human Rights Watch Responds to EPI

On December 20 Lee Anne Hasselbacher of HRW San Francisco replied to the EPI secretary: "We regret that our press release…gave many readers the impression that we were criticizing civilians for engaging in nonviolent resistance. This was not our intention. It is not the policy of the organization to criticize non-violent resistance or any other form of peaceful protest, including civilians defending their homes. Rather, our focus is on the behavior of public officials and military commanders because they have responsibilities under international law to protect civilians.

"It has also become clear to us that we erred in assessing the main incident described in the press release. We said that the planned IDF [Israeli military] attack on the house of a military commander in the Popular Resistance Committee, Muhammadwail Barud, fell within the purview of the law regulating the conduct of hostilities during armed conflict. We criticized Barud for reportedly urging civilians to assemble near the house in order to prevent the attack, in apparent violation of that law. Our focus was not on the civilians who assembled, their state of mind, or their behavior (such as whether they willingly assembled or not), but on Barud for risking the lives of civilians.

"We have since concluded that we were wrong, on the basis of the available evidence, to characterize the IDF’s planned destruction of the house as an act of war. If the planned attack against the house — a three-story building housing three families - was, in fact, an administrative action by the Israeli government aimed at punishing a militant for his alleged activities, the law regulating the conduct of hostilities during armed conflict would not apply and could not be violated.

"An important consideration in this regard is whether the IDF had reason to believe that the house was being used for military purposes at the time of the planned attack. To date, Human Rights Watch has not obtained conclusive evidence as to whether the house was being so used, but eyewitnesses we have been able to speak with, including two journalists on the scene, claim they saw no such evidence. The IDF, moreover, has not responded to our requests to explain what military objective it could have had in targeting not a militant but his home after having ordered it vacated.

"We recognize that it is important to view the planned destruction of Barud’s house in light of Israel’s longstanding policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sharply increased in Gaza since June, of demolishing houses not as legitimate military targets but as a punitive measure. HRW has repeatedly criticized Israel for unlawful demolition of houses.

"Our intention in issuing this press release was to underscore one of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law: the obligation of warring parties to take all feasible measures to spare civilians from harm. This includes the important principle that parties to a conflict, including military leaders and civilian officials, may not use civilians to "shield" against a military attack or otherwise unnecessarily put civilian lives at risk. Unfortunately, judging by the response, we did more to cloud the issues than clarify them in the press release.

"This continues to be a live issue in the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict. In July 2006, Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups documented the IDF’s forcible use of Palestinians as human shields in a well publicized incident during military operations in Beit Hanoun. According to the groups, the IDF blindfolded six civilians, including two minors, and forced them to stand in front of soldiers who took over civilian homes during a raid in northern Gaza. And on November 3, Hamas militants hid behind civilian women when exiting from a mosque where the militants had been cornered by IDF forces after more than two days of fighting. The fact that the women voluntarily went to aid the men does not absolve the militants of their duty not to endanger civilians. Both of these cases took place in the course of armed conflict so that the laws of war did apply.

"We invite readers to visit our website at to see all that we have said on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. We continue to urge all parties to this conflict to respect international humanitarian law, whatever their share of its violations, and most important, to keep civilians out of it as much as possible."

The author is encouraged by this letter of clarification from HRW, as it expresses clear concern about many illegal aspects of the Israeli occupation and urges all parties to respect international humanitarian law. I agree with HRW that it is important to keep civilians out of the conflict as much as possible. However, I would add that because a very large percentage of casualties in modern warfare tend to be civilian and because as nonviolent peacemakers we also value the life and well-being of militants, it is of utmost urgency that we do everything in our power to facilitate a just and peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and other conflicts around the world.


Reflections on the Election

by Jim Forsyth

Jim is a member of the EPI board and an active member of the Demos Democratic Club in Hayward.

We share his reflections which grow out of decades of work in the progressive community on a range of issues. We requested him to write on how we might view the results of the 2006 elections and how to influence the new Democratic majority to do something effective to end the U.S. war of occupation in Iraq and to reshape our country’s focus both at home and abroad. This is not to suggest that the Democrats are the only answer or the only party to work on. EPI remains as always completely non-partisan in its work.

Any discussion of election strategy must take into account the dismal fact that less than one-third of the eligible voters bother to vote at all. Millions of us see no reason to vote, and by not voting cede power to a minority of usually white more affluent sectors of the population. This enables corporate ideologists, the so-called spinmeisters, to seek out those social issues which divide us and appeal to our baser feelings. They have seized control of the Republican party, and because of their immense wealth and control of the media wield considerable power in the Democratic party.

Is the situation for peace and progressive activists then bleak? We have been reading and hearing the inspired speech by Dr Martin Luther King given at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967. After almost 40 years, his words still are relevant, which in itself is disheartening.

But the function of a leader is to instill hope, no matter how great the odds are. And there is hope. It is to be found, as always, in struggle. There are many arenas of struggle and all of them are good and necessary. One is the Democratic Party. And hope is to be found in the 2006 election results, and the victory of many progressive anti-war candidates.

George Lakoff, of the Rockridge Institute of Oakland had a some good comments, excerpts of which follow. (from "Swing voters have both conservative and progressive world views in different areas of life and both are available for politics… They love the land…; many are progressive Christians who take Christianity to be about helping the poor and serving the needy..; many are civil libertarians..; and most care about their families."

"Progressives say "we’re all in this together’ while conservatives say, ‘you’re on your own.’ It was running on these progressive values that won the election for the Democrats." "Success as a [Democratic] party depends on having a clear moral vision and carrying it out. To move to the right is to give up any claim to a consistent moral position at the heart of the party."

So in order to break through the disillusion and cynicism of so many, to bring millions to accept their responsibility as voters, and to make the Democratic majority in the Capital follow through on its mandate, especially to bring the troops home from Iraq, will take renewed energy and activity. The real work starts now, after the election.

Despite formidable opposition in the media and among the politicians, there is hope. The seductive siren song of Bush and Co., based on fear, greed and jingoism, is being exposed as a lie. There is a progressive current, glimpses of a "clear moral vision," present in the Democratic Party, the result of years of struggle, that can lead to a better future. We can hope that in another forty years we will appreciate Dr. King’s words without ruefully thinking that they are still relevant to our condition.


Actions and Other Announcements

Each first Thursday at 1:00 at the San Francisco Federal Building a "die-in" to pressure Nancy Pelosi to take real steps to end the war of occupation in Iraq. The only real way to end the war is to stop paying for it.

Each third Tuesday, 12:00 - 1:00, at the Oakland Federal Building the weekly anti-war vigil is transformed into a "Living Graveyard." Covered with white sheets, participants lie on the city sidewalk, far enough apart to allow for pedestrian and wheelchair traffic. This is legal street theater to make visible the reality of the deaths caused by the war.

Readers are encouraged to support the GI Resisters, such as Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing heavy charges for his outspoken refusal to fight in the illegal war in Iraq. Other GI resisters are also facing harsh treatment. See Courage to Resist

& the Lt. Watada support site

We have not said anything about Haiti in this issue. Please visit the website of our friend, Haiti Action Committee, for information, events, and actions.


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, informational material given out.

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, Palestine focus.

Wednesdays, noon in front of Boalt Hall on Bancroft Ave. on UC Berkeley campus. Teach-in against Torture.

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.

Fridays, from 3:30 to 4:30 corner of Tiburon Blvd. and San Rafael Avenue, Tiburon. Rain cancels.

Fridays - 4 to 5 pm corner of Miller Avenue and Camino Alto in Mill Valley.

Fridays at 3pm -5pm at Camino Alto and E. Blithdale, Mill Valley.

See ongoing local CD and street theater actions on p.7




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 Concerned
PO Box 9334
Berkeley, CA 94709

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
work of Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC.

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 ______




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