March 21, 6:45 a.m.
Service of Worship and Witness
Embracing the Beloved Community~
Rejecting the Violence of Empire~
Father Louie Vitale, ofm, preaching.
On November 16, 2006, while attempting to deliver a letter to the commander and to speak with enlisted personnel on the base, Father Louie Vitale and Father Steve Kelly were arrested at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, headquarters of the U.S. Army Intelligence and the training place for "interrogators" at such places as Guatanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
Just in time for Good Friday, Father Louie will be released from five months in Federal Prison. On Good Friday, people around the world remember the torture-killing of Jesus of Nazareth, a man who brought a message of non-violent love and community which deeply undermined the forces of the Roman Empire. Crucifixion was a method frequently used by the Romans to put down insurrection.
Todays empire imposes its will on the people of the planet through torture, terror, lies and the bomb. Five years ago the United States began its terror campaign of "shock and awe" against the people of Iraq. Today the U.S. holds the "shock and awe" threat of mass nuclear murder as a continuous act of terrorism over much of the world.
Torture maintains empire. Social analyst Naomi Klein said recently that one of the essential characteristics of torture is that it be public, as crucifixion certainly was. She said the U.S. has learned how to torture in a way that is both public and surreptitious at the same time.
Father Louie has challenged both nuclear weapons and torture for years. He has been a regular at the School of the Americas demonstrations. He helped to found the Nevada Desert Experience, a Lenten witness at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. At St. Boniface Church in San Francisco, he helped to host services for the poor and homeless and initiated programs to promote the development of activists.
The hydrogen bomb was born at the Livermore Labs which continues to be the place where new weapons of mass destruction are designed. People of faith and others opposed to nuclear weapons have gathered there for 25 years on Good Friday to call for an end to these weapons. Please join us. 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, where some will risk arrest in nonviolent acts of witness.
Following the action, there will be a community gathering in Livermore, to share our concerns and activities.
Sponsored by Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
The Ecumenical Peace Institute is sponsoring a new project that aims to provide a new strategy to end the war in Iraq. The Iraq Initiatives Project is urging peace and social justice groups around the country to place ballot initiatives calling for a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military bases on general election (November 2008) ballots in as many states as possible. The Initiatives Project is also exploring ways for people in the United States to support a national referendum in Iraq, in which Iraqis could vote to end the U.S. occupation. If both of these democratic means to end the war happen, it will be the first time in history that the people of an occupied country will vote together with the people of an occupying power to end the war and the foreign occupation. EPI has provided fiscal sponsorship and other help for this exciting new effort.
The Iraq Initiatives Project is contacting national and grassroots groups throughout the country in the second half of January, and will post materials on this campaign on the EPI website. So far, activists from the faith community in the Bay Area, United for Peace and Justice, and the Resolution Peace Coalition have expressed interest in this campaign.
The suggested text of the initiatives follows:
"Shall the President and Congress of the United States end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and immediately begin the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military bases from Iraq, to be completed no later than June 30, 2009; and,
Shall the resources being spent on the war in Iraq instead be spent on caring for our veterans and reconstructing Iraq, and to provide needed social services, environmental protection, health care and education programs, and to rebuild this countrys infrastructure?
Further, shall the state of California [and other states] conduct an extensive study of the costs to the people of the state, both as taxpayers and as recipients of government services, of the war in Iraq; through investigations and local and statewide hearings, and consideration of ways that the amount of tax money spent on the Iraq war, if it had been spent differently, might have benefited the people of California; with this study to be completed no later than January 30, 2009, and its results communicated to the President and Congress of the United States and publicized widely to the people of this state."
A national initiative campaign is an ambitious task, but it can be done. Initiatives are possible in at least 35 states, and in hundreds of cities in states that do not have statewide initiative procedures. If we mobilize, we can create the means for over half the voters in this country to vote on ballot measures to end the war. This campaign can succeed because something like this has been done before. In 1982 the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign won ballot initiatives in 9 states (covering almost 30% of the population) calling for an end to the nuclear arms race. After this victory, popular support for President Reagans nuclear arms buildup dropped from 80% to 20%. With widespread ballot initiatives now, we can increase even further the majority of the American people who are against the war in Iraq.
For more information, contact John Raymond,
firstname.lastname@example.org; or David Raymond, email@example.com; and look for information soon on the EPI website.
Contributions to the Iraq Initiatives Project are tax deductible. Make
checks payable to Ecumenical Peace Institute, and earmark for the Iraq
Henry Norr, a former journalist, has spent a total of six months since 2002 as a volunteer in Palestine for the International Solidarity Movement, the International Middle East Media Center, and the Tel Rumeida Project.
After a hiatus of seven years, the "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians is back in the headlines. Meeting in Annapolis, MD, in November, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to begin meeting bi-weekly and to "make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008." (1)
While everyone would welcome real progress toward peace and justice, there are good grounds to be skeptical about the prospects for the new talks. In particular, there's no evidence that the Israelis are any more willing than in the past to offer the kinds of terms the Palestinians could accept, nor that the U.S. is prepared to put any serious pressure on Israel to do so.
Let's look at each of the players in this latest diplomatic game, as well as some of the important forces left on the sidelines:
The Bush administration is clearly the driving force behind the revival of negotiations. George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, nearing the end of their terms and concerned about their place in history, may see Israel/Palestine as an arena where they can yet accomplish something positive, to contrast with their dismal failure elsewhere. And they may be offering the revival of negotiations as a sop to the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states, regimes Washington is attempting to draw into a regional alliance against Iran.
Rice, who has taken the lead in organizing the new talks, has made a point of communicating some empathy for the Palestinians, even telling reporters that their plight under occupation reminds her of the segregated South she grew up in. On the other hand, as a policy maker she has always been a stalwart supporter of Israel. Besides, Bush has made Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams a founding member of the neocon movement and a man with longstanding ties to right-wing Israeli leaders the White House's own point man on Middle East policy, a position he has repeatedly used to undercut Rice.(2)
Olmert comes out of the hard right wing of Israeli politics, which has traditionally opposed virtually any concession to the Palestinians. On the other hand, he has (as did his predecessor and mentor Ariel Sharon) begun to take seriously the issue Israelis call the "demographic bomb" the likelihood that Arabs will soon outnumber Jews in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories combined. For that reason, he may have some genuine interest in seeing a Palestinian state provided it's tiny, weak, and fragmented and Israel retains control of most or all of Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements.
Abbas has at least one thing in common with Bush and Olmert: political weakness. His Fatah party, as a voice of secular nationalism, once enjoyed overwhelming support across the Palestinian political spectrum, but incompetence, corruption, and failure to make any real headway in dealing with Israel have gradually undermined its standing. His party was overwhelmingly repudiated, not only in Gaza but also in much of the West Bank, in legislative elections in Jan. 2006, and the rival Hamas movement took full control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
These setbacks have left Abbas more and more dependent on the Israelis and the Americans, who don't hide the fact that they continue to support him because they believe or at least hope that they can win his acquiescence to the kind of enfeebled Palestinian state they envision.
Missing from the "peace process" is, first of all, Hamas, despite its broad support among the Palestinian people. Although classified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, Hamas has repeatedly offered to enter into a long-term truce with Israel; clearly, the real reason Bush and Olmert refuse even to talk with the group is not its past sponsorship of suicide bombing, nor its Islamist ideology, but its principled refusal to renounce the Palestinian people's legal and moral rights.
Also missing from the current process, as they have been from previous negotiations, are the more than 4 million Palestinian refugees living outside the Holy Land, in neighboring countries or in the wider diaspora. Finally, although the Bush administration in its early years made some effort to involve Europe, Russia, and the UN in its efforts at Middle Eastern diplomacy, the latest talks are strictly an American initiative.
(2)Jim Lobe, "Rice faces formidable White House foe," Asia Times, February 23, 2007 - http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IB23Ak04.html; Henry Siegmann, "Mecca opens the way for Europe," International Herald-Tribune, Feb. 14, 2007 - http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/14/news/edsieg.php
Three Middle East peace activists are interviewed by Esther Ho, EPI board member who spent two summers in a violence reduction project in Hebron with Christian Peacemaker Teams.
George Bisharat is a professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law, specializing in criminal law and Middle East Affairs. He has lived, studied, and traveled throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with extended sojourns in Beirut, Tunis, Cairo, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He is the author of the 1989 book, Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank.
Cecilie Surasky, Director of Communications for Jewish Voice for Peace, has worked as an independent videomaker, a commercial talk radio host, a newspaper columnist and a communications consultant to NGOs. She is a key media practitioner and strategist for social justice movements.
Harry Scott was Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon from 1962 to 1965. During that time he travelled to Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey. He has been an ADC San Francisco Chapter Executive Board Member 5 years after 15 years as an Executive Board member of the National Association of Arab Americans San Francisco Chapter which merged with ADC. He was president of the Hayward Demos Democratic Club in 2003 and 2004 and remains active with that group. Harry is a member of the steering committee of the East Bay Coalition to Support Self-Rule for Iraqis (EB-COSSI).
1. What do you see as the likely outcome of the peace conference in Annapolis?
GEORGE My guess is that the conference will initiate another round of negotiations stretching over a period of months. Unfortunately, I don't believe that these negotiations will produce a just and therefore durable peace.
HARRY Unfortunately, the goals of the Annapolis Peace Conference were flawed, and, therefore, the results of the follow-up negotiations will be flawed and no just peace will happen. The exclusion of Hamas and Iran revealed the misguided intent of the conference. A fair negotiation is between equal parties. There will be no fair follow-up discussions, since the Palestinians are in the weak position. They continue under illegal occupation by the Israelis, who demand that the Palestinians take action against militants before they will make substantive moves to free the Palestinians from Israeli oppressive apartheid actions.
CECILIE Very little in the short term. On the one hand, after seven disastrous years without peace negotiations, which have resulted in unprecedented death and destruction to Palestinians more than anyone, we welcome the re-start of negotiations. Without some kind of diplomatic process, there is little for non-governmental actors to influence. But many of the preconditions for effective negotiations have simply not been met. The conference itself was motivated more by a desire to isolate Iran than a commitment to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Having a process is a good thing, but for real progress, a lot more work needs to be done.
2. What steps do you feel need to be taken for progress toward peace in the area? What are the pitfalls?
GEORGE I don't think peace is really achievable unless and until each of the parties recognizes and accepts the other as equal, and as entitled to the same array of rights as any other group of human beings. On the contrary, the current negotiations seem founded on principles that negate the rights of many - in particular, Palestinian refugees, whose international legal right to return to their homes will not be truly remedied, and Palestinian citizens of Israel - 1.4 million people - who will be consigned to face de jure and de facto discrimination in a Jewish state in perpetuity.
HARRY Without equality of the two conflicting parties, Israelis and the Palestinians, there will be no steps toward peace with a just outcome for the Palestinians, who are the oppressed people. Peace without justice is meaningless. Israel as the oppressor must take the necessary first steps: (1) Free all the political prisoners they hold (which should result in freedom for the Israeli soldier held by Hamas).
(2) Stop the expansion of the illegal settlements with the objective of dismantlement of all the settlements and exclusive connecting road network which excludes Palestinians. (3) Show a willingness to commit to a just resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem by acceptance of the Right of Return for Palestinians as embodied in UN Resolutions 194 and 242. (4) Stop the illegal occupation of Palestine to include demolition of the checkpoints. (5) Remove any Apartheid Walls that are on Palestinian land.
CECILIE The first thing that is needed is for the Palestinians to have full representation. The status quo, where the Palestinian Authority speaks for only part of the people while Hamas is excluded cannot possibly succeed, any more than it could if a large portion of the Israeli public was excluded. Further, it is absolutely crucial for there to be some kind of reasonably even-handed outside mediator. The United States, which reserves that role for itself exclusively, has never been an honest broker. Yet both Israelis and Palestinians look to the US to push the other side into more concessions, simply because no other entity on earth can accomplish that, at least not with regard to Israel. It is precisely for this reason that American activism on this issue is so crucial. The Israeli and Palestinian people both are willing to compromise and want to settle this conflict, but the political systems of both parties are completely vulnerable to the opponents of peace in both camps. Finally, international law must be the guiding principle of all the talks, and Palestinians human and civil rights must be given equal weight to those of Israelis.
3. What are the prospects for Gaza?
GEORGE Although Israel, with US backing, would probably prefer to continue to isolate Gaza to continue pressure on Hamas, this puts considerable political pressure on PA President Abbas, who cannot afford to be seen to be leaving Gaza behind. So some amelioration of the blockade of Gaza seems likely (in fact, it has already begun with the announcement that Israel would permit Gaza to export some agricultural products to the EU).
HARRY Bleak. There is no solution for Gaza as long as Israel continues to maintain its sanctions and blockade inflicting suffering on the Palestinians in an effort to destabilize Hamas, the ruling party. The U.S. and other members of the international community must pressure Israel to allow Gazans to conduct normal trade. Hamas has had frequent ceasefires with Israel. Opening the borders could lead to the halt in the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza.
CECILIE The prospects for Gaza are very, very grim. The economy is in tatters and the conditions are worsening every day. (See JVPs latest update on Gaza at http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_934.shtml) The people of Gaza are being used as pawns in struggles both between Israel and Hamas, and between Fatah and Hamas. This situation demands immediate international intervention. Unfortunately, the constant flow of missiles and mortars from Gaza, most of which land harmlessly, but which occasionally injure or even kill innocent civilians and frequently cause panic in the border towns gives Israel the excuse it needs to strangle Gaza and the world the excuse it needs to look the other way.
4. What role is the United States playing in the Israel/Palestine conflict?
GEORGE Let us be frank - the U.S. is Israels ally, and acts as such at virtually every turn. Even a pretense of even-handedness was abandoned years ago.
HARRY The Bush Administration is playing a duplicitous role. President Bush claims he supports a Palestinian state; however, he has bowed continually to Israeli actions that prevent the attainment of that result. The U.S. Middle East Policy is conducted as if Israel were an "ally" in spite of the fact we have no treaty of alliance with Israel. How can the U.S. broker a peace conference when the Bush administration foreign policy is biased in favor of Israel? Furthermore, the administration manipulated the Palestinian internal struggle for power in favor of one party, Fatah, over Hamas. The U.S. refused to accept the democratic election victory of Hamas, and then armed Fatah in Gaza in an attempt to overthrow Hamas, which actually led to the Fatah military defeat.
CECILIE Unfortunately, the US continues to play a very counter-productive role. It does not act to prevent Israel from expanding its hold on the West Bank and has not raised any objections to Israels actions in Gaza. Yet, the flow of military aid and consistent diplomatic protection of Israel continues. The US removes the immediate incentives for Israel to truly pursue peace while also perpetuating the idea among Palestinians that there is no hope in diplomacy, negotiations and compromise. Sadly, US policy has been heading consistently in the wrong direction with each administration since Jimmy Carter.
5. Is there anything ordinary citizens of this country can do to make a difference? If so, what agencies can we turn to for help with the task?
GEORGE Citizens should make their concerns known loud and clear to public officials - especially members of Congress, but, since we are in an election year, also to presidential candidates. Polls consistently show that Americans favor a neutral, even-handed role for our government in the conflict. However, our politicians continue to respond to the active pressures of the Israel lobby, rather than to the sentiments of their broad constituencies.
HARRY The American public must become educated to the situation in Palestine and Israel. They must realize that the just solution to this conflict is in the best interests of the people of this country. Discussions and forums should be attended to learn the facts of the conditions, what action needs to be taken, and to urge them to take action. Americans must be informed of the role that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) plays in influencing our Congress to pass legislation in favor of Israel which is not in the best interests of world peace and this country. Only if enough constituents contact their U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives will they stand up to AIPAC. If they do not hear from the public they will continue to take the wrong path. Groups that are working for a more balanced U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East include the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, (ADC), Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU), the Council for the National Interest, (CNI), the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), and the Middle East Childrens Alliance (MECA). Locally this kind of work is being done by the coalition, Middle East Policy Advisory Committee (MEPAC)
CECILIE For the sake of all involved, Americans must demand a realistic resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that treats the rights of both parties equally and seeks just and practical solutions to the real issues between the two peoples. More Americans who truly care about the people in Israel-Palestine must get involved in this issue because a disproportionate number of the people working to influence our government are pushing it to ignore the Palestinians, and the Israeli people, and focus only on the desires of the right-wing Israeli government. Working with Jewish Voice for Peace and groups like it, and bringing that message to our representatives in Congress and to Presidential candidates is our best hope.
Attacking Iran Would Bring Disaster, Not Freedom
. . . for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.
. . . the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth.
Human rights violators will use this opportunity to silence their critics by labeling them as the enemy's fifth column. . . .
Shirin Ebadi, Iran Human Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Laureate, wrote in the lndependent (UK), February 19, 2005
The Bush administration has been promoting a war against Iran for quite some time. My earliest email for the Dont Attack Iran listserve is dated February 3, 2006. The commencement of a drive for war against Iran was well underway at that time.
I. The propaganda campaign
In the winter 2007 Planted by the Waters, EPI laid out and rebutted some of the propaganda campaign against Iran. Topic headings included:
Iran is Not a Nuclear Threat.
This fact has recently been confirmed by the National Intelligence Estimate released in December which found that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. There is every indication that the White House had this report for most of 2007. In spite of the release of this report, neoconserative groups continue to insist that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and are working with exile groups with ambitions to achieve power in Iran.
About the Improvised Explosive Devices
We quoted Professor Stephen Zunes discussion, pointing out that these devices are easily made from readily available materials and are similar to weapons used around the world in various conflicts.
Irans President Did Not Say "Israel must be wiped off the map"
We went into detail using a translation of the actual words: "Ahmadinejad would seem to be anticipating a regime change, not calling for war." Even so, it was not a good thing to have said. We also pointed out that the Iranian president does not have the power to declare war.
In spite of the NIE report, the Bush administration continues an aggressive stance toward Iran. The principal current justification is an assertion that Iran bears major responsibility for the resistance to U.S. occupation in Iraq. The other justification is that Iran is supposed to support terrorism. Since attacking a civilian population for political ends is the definition of terrorism, most practitioners of modern warfare must be considered terrorists. "Shock & Awe" fits that definition exactly. To single out the military of the country the administration has in its cross-hairs is clearly an attempt to raise war fever.
II. Sanctions -- international and unilateral
It is not clear what will happen now with the UN sanctions against Iran which were based on Irans continuing to purify uranium for purposes they steadfastly maintained were peaceful.
Recently the California legislature passed legislation requiring the state's two public pension funds to shed billions in Iran-related investments. California Retired Teachers newsletter reported that"CalPERS and CalSTRS could end up unloading more than $10 billion in holdings in foreign-based energy, nuclear and defense corporations with business ties in Iran."
The bill in question, AB 221, consists in large part of statement and restatement of Bushs accusations against Iran:
1. "support of terrorism"; no specific groups are named or instances of terrorist activities listed.
2. "proliferation of WMDs"; we know that one is not true.
3. "egregious violations of human rights"; the allegation is unspecific, lacks details.
A particularly tricky part of AB 221 is the requirement that CALPERS and the teachers retirement system divest, not only from companies which do business with Iran but also from those mutual funds including companies doing business with Iran in their commingled funds.
The sanctions proposed in AB 221 are clearly designed to destroy Iran's basic economy, by targeting companies in the oil production industry. If successful, this will result in massive suffering by the Iranians. Perhaps there will also be some harm to the teachers and other public servants whose retirement funds are to be tampered with. Legislation of this sort is being promoted in other states.
III. Contra Type War and beyond
The NIE [report] released today has been suppressed by the Bush Administration since February. . . the U.S. continues its covert war against Iran, using Kurdish and other minority group organizations to blow up buildings, kill soldiers and civilians. All factions in the White House continue to seek the overthrow of the Iranian government. . . Reese Erlich quoted in Baltimore Sun.
This has been going on for a long time. 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.
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 Husseins dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIAs Directorate of Operations. The MEK, still labeled a terrorist organization, is carrying out remote bombings in Iran. Also enjoying U.S. support are a collection of ethnic minority groups with a history of kidnapping and murder.
IV. The Confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz
If it werent being taken so seriously the picture of a "confrontation" between three massive guided-missile U.S. attack vessels and five small, open Iranian speedboats at the entrance to the Persian Gulf would be laughable. Looking at a map, it is clear that the Strait of Hormuz is a very narrow piece of water separating Iran from Oman. At its narrowest point it is only 34 miles across. There is only a 2-mile-wide navigable channel for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile-wide buffer zone. This area is clearly a place where Iran is going to want to keep an eye on U.S. military vessels.
The initial account released by the Pentagon is beginning to fall apart under scrutiny. It is a fortuitous coincidence that the history of the Gulf of Tonkin allegations are in the news at this time.
EPI encourages its members and friends to continue to resist war propaganda,
seek alternative sources of information and most importantly
to maintain pressure on our Congresspeople and Senators
to prevent a "wider war". This is going to be our job in the
The Surge Fraud
General Petraeus "surge" has won acceptance from a wide range of the political spectrum, especially amongst presidential "front- runners" in both major political parties. The basic hypothesis of the surge is that violence in Iraq between opposing sectarian groups has been reduced by the addition of U.S. troops. The function of this hypothesis is to support the alleged need for a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq until the "civil war" can be suppressed by the "legitimate" Iraqi government.
Many on the ground reports and analysts conclude that the reported reduction in violence between Sunnis and Shiites is in significant part the result of the fact that formerly mixed cities have divided themselves into homogeneous neighborhoods. David Enders reports: "A reason all factions blame the U.S. [for discord] is that from the very beginning of the occupation, the focus has been on sectarian quotas and playing one group off another." "The Shia and Sunni Muslims have not been enemies and would not be so in the future. They are brothers and would not stand against each other...Shia and Sunni Muslims have been living together for centuries..." Majlis [Parliament] Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel 2007/06/17 forwarded by Sherry Al Mufti from Iran Broadcasting Website. The ceasefire ordered by Mukdada El Sadr is not generally recognized as one factor in the reduction in violence.
Civilian deaths are frequently the result of U.S. attack, in bombings or by shootings on the streets. The 40,000 pounds of bombs dropped on the outskirts of Baghdad are reported to have caused numerous civilian deaths. Al Jazeera reports that 300 families have fled their homes. Violence reduction is clearly not the intent of the "surge". As in Vietnam, any dead Iraqi will be counted as an insurgent, including children.
What Do They Mean by "U.S. Out Now! How"?
This was the title of the cover story for the November/December 2007 issue of Mother Jones Magazine . Inside was a lot of opinion, largely from military men and thinktank talking heads. Six peace activists were concentrated on one page, not many among the other paragraphs. No Iraqis name was to be found on any page. Much of the discussion revolved around the possible deleterious consequences of U.S. departure from Iraq.
Alternatively The Nation Magazine gave voice to Iraqis. "The occupation and puppet government in Iraq created this conflict," says Nadia Mahmood [leader of The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq ]. "They supported the militias and opened the door to terrorist networks. The US is not supporting political freedom. They just seek to loot our resources, and it's time to go." But she emphasizes that if the US exit is to lead to peace and a secular order, the civil resistance will need support from friends abroad. "The victory against US forces in Iraq will not be a local victory--it will be an international victory."
Dollars and Sense, Sept/Oct 2007 gave three pages to an interview with visiting Iraqi labor leaders working against the "oil law" designed to expropriate Iraqi oil and trying to promote labor rights in Iraq.
An old story from Vietnam Days comes to mind. Somebody asked a soldier, "How can we leave Vietnam?" The answer: "Ship or plane, either is good. "
Working for the end of empire
The peace movement needs to be both confessional in its approach and be willing to work with Iraqis who are working together to build a society which serves their needs such as Muslim Peacemaking Team, CPTs new partner.
Unions and women's movements need our support.
There is an active civil resistance in Iraq that opposes the occupation, the torture regime it protects and the Islamist and Baathist insurgencies alike. This besieged opposition--under threat of repression and assassination--is fighting to keep alive elementary freedoms for women, leading labor struggles against Halliburton and other contractors, opposing the privatization of the country's oil and other resources and seeking a secular future for Iraq. . . The Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC) was formed in 2005, bringing together trade unions, women's organizations, neighborhood assemblies and student groups around two demands: a secular Iraqi state and an end to the occupation. The Nation Magazine
Where do we go from here? We go to the streets of our own cities to vigil, demonstrate and sometimes commit civil disobedience to end U.S. empire. We go to Livermore on Good Friday, to Oakland on Tuesday noons when we can, San Francisco on Thursday noons and the many vigils springing up around the country. The fifth anniversary of the attack on Iraq is this spring. A list of demostrations and events is in the calendar. Get to as many as you can manage. Dont forget Good Friday at Livermore. And call your congressperson and senators often. Tell them to stop paying for the war, to bring the troops home, dont attack Iran and let Lt. Watada resign from the army.
AND Get involved with the Iraq Initiatives Project (see above)
Living Graveyards are held at theOakland Federal Building
third Tuesdays, noon - one
[The article begins with the history of Columbus arrival in the Western Hemisphere, the deaths of most of the indigenous population from new diseases; the military occupation of the devastated region; the introduction of slavery and the destruction of African civilizations; the rebellion of slaves in America, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Haiti.]
. . . Nothing can atone for the misery and degradation imposed on the 25 million or more people transported into slavery or the millions more slaughtered when they fought to avoid capture. Nothing can atone for five hundred years of racist victimization, nor the five hundred years of brutality and dangerous behaviors, beaten, inculcated and burned into the psyches of the enslaved and their descendants.
The inhabitants of Ayiti, now almost all African, like the people of all the enslaved islands and lands of the Americas, were engaged in an unending struggle to destroy slavery.
. . .
In 1804, after ten years of warfare, the rebel slaves and their free allies defeated the armies of Napoleon (twice), and of Britain and Spain. Dessalines declared Ayiti independent and free and declared the country a refuge from slavery anywhere.
He also pronounced the first known declaration of universal human rights, giving legal equality to all human beings, men, women and children.
It was a hundred and forty four years later, in 1948 that the world caught up with Ayiti in producing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
. . .
In Ayiti, aka Haiti, these rights and the Universal Declaration do not apply.
Rather like the captured Islamists in neighbouring Guantanamo Bay, a little to their northwest, the Haitians all 8 million of them, live in a concentration camp.
The Haitian version is designed to stifle their freedoms and liberties and engineered to prevent them from being led by leaders of their own choice. Nearly four years after US Marines were landed there for the third time in a hundred years, the freely elected president of Ayiti is in exile in South Africa. He was kidnapped from the presidential palace by US Marines led by the US Ambassador to Haiti and transported, as "cargo" with his family to the Central African Republic the American idea of hell on earth. From there he was rescued in a mission led by the black US congresswoman Maxine Waters and TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson. They chartered a plane and headed off to the Central African Republic themselves to bring President Aristide and his wife Mildred back to the Caribbean. It took them hours of negotiating with the country's dictator to get him to release the Aristides.
President Aristide came to Jamaica where the government felt constrained by tradition and popular sentiment, to welcome him, but found itself unable to resist US pressure to get him out of the Caribbean.
Aristides sin was to want to fulfill the mission of his ancestors, to build a paradise on the dung heap left behind by Haitis colonizers and exploiters. Nearly four years later a Haitian president is in office but Aristide's and his people's enemies are in power.
The country is ruled by the US Ambassador, and is policed by a so-called United Nations force MINUSTAH whose second commander, a Brazilian General, killed himself after a friendly chat with leaders of the Haitian elite.
MINUSTAHs only distinctions are killing a large number of women and children in their pursuit of so-called bandits who seem to be mainly pro-Aristide youth, and the rape and other sexual abuse of young Haitian children, some as young as ten.
A Dread of Black Freedom
From the earliest days as an independent nation the Americans have feared and dreaded Haiti. As an asylum for escaped slaves, it threatened the slave system in the American south. And after France extorted billions of dollars in gold from Haiti in compensation for the loss of capital (slaves) and land, in Haiti, the US lent money to the Haitians to pay the debt and ruined them with the interest. As I have said before: while arms never subdued Haiti, it was defeated by the power of financiers in a sinister preview of the modern tactics of the IMF and the World Bank.
Despite all the harassment, the 10,000 murders of activists and leaders, the Haitian people, united in the Fanmi Lavalas, have continued to support their leaders and their culture. A few months ago one of their leaders, Dr. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, was kidnapped after a meeting with some Americans. He has not been heard from since. A few weeks later another leader, Dr Maryse Narcisse, was kidnapped but released when there was a tremendous howl of Haitian and international outrage that apparently embarrassed the powers that rule Haiti. And so the Haitians survive, without rights, at the mercy of a United Nations corrupted and intimidated by the power of the United States, Canada and France acting in concert.
The United States, Canada, France and Haiti all signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
They all agreed that " disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind" and they promised to make the world a more civilized place.
The spectacle of these three self-styled democracies combining to crush the rights and hopes of 8 million poor people is obscene, but perhaps not as revolting as the fact that Haitis relatives and friends in the Caribbean, Jamaica and the others, but especially Jamaica, can sit and watch the Haitians sojourn in Hell as if they were watching a Disney fantasia or a Christmas Pantomime.
Copyright(c)2007 John Maxwell
reprinted with permission
the entire text can be found at
Saturday, Feb 9, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Stop Recruitment! Stop the War! Laney Forum, Laney College, Oakland. contact Mary Prophet (510) 527-1222, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7 Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, Washington DC www.christianpeacewitness.org
5th Anniversary of Attack on Iraq:
March 13-16, Winter Soldier hearings in Washington, DC, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Look for local support events. http://www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier
March 15, 11:00 a.m. Walnut Creek BART, march to downtown park, Mt. Diablo Peace Center, www.mtdpc.org
March 15 Direct Action & rally: Chevron Richmond Refinery, www.actagainstwar.net
March 18, noon - 1:00 p.m. Living Graveyard, Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street. www.epicalc.org
March 19 Direct Action in SF focus on financial district www.actagainstwar.net
March 19 evening USLAW sponsored town hall meetings in each Congressional district. In planning stage, check www.uslaw.org for confirmation & details.
Public Hearings on "Complex Transformation" plans to "modernize" the U.S. nuclear weapons research for the 21st century; www.wslfweb.org & www.trivalleycares.org
Hearing Dates and Locations:
~March 18, 2008 6 p.m. - 10 p.m., Holiday Inn Express, 3751 N. Tracy Blvd., Tracy
~March 19, 2008, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., 6 p.m.- 10 p.m., Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue, Livermore
March 21, 6:45 a.m., Good Friday Worship and Witness, Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, see page 1
March 28 - Death Penalty hearing, Santa Clara, University of Santa Clara Law School, Room TBA, Death Penalty Focus, www.deathpenalty.org
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.
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.
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 http://www.couragetoresist.org/
& the Lt. Watada support site http://www.thankyoult.org/
Christians are encouraged to note that this year Holy Week coincides
with the fifth anniversary of the attack on Iraq, March 19, and to make
use of peace related materials from their denominational sources.
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.
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