Planted by the Water
from the Board President
by Janet Gibson
Ive been a public school teacher all my life and know how important it is for the public to be knowledgeable about and provide support for our public schools. Much of what the Bush Administration has promoted in education ("No Child Left Behind") contains elements which ultimately undermine public education and support the movement for "vouchers" and the privatization of public schools. This is just one more good reason why many hope for a change of national leadership this fall. It should also stimulate retired seniors and others who have the time, to find a local school and become a volunteer.
Within the Bay Areas affluent middle class school districts are individual schools whose socio-economic base is unable to sustain the parent involvement so evident among high scoring, distinguished schools. In schools where parent income is high and available time is low, PTAs no longer organize magazine or cake sales. Parents voluntarily write $200 or $300 checks to supplement their childs education with extra field trips, music, and art.
But low income families have limited finances and resources. This is where individuals and community groups can make a real difference. Volunteers are desperately needed for reading and math programs and "one on one" tutoring. Seniors can use their experience and expertise to contact local businesses to contribute ("Adopt a School") to the enrichment activities of schools in less affluent neighborhoods. As the saying goes: "Sometimes help is only a call away." But who will make the call?
Of course we need to work for better state and local funding, but, in the meantime, individuals of good will can help "level the playing field" in public education.
Growing Resistance to Iraq War
by Carolyn S. Scarr
"Learning curves" are a strange thing. While it took years for U.S. opposition to the war in Vietnam to reach noticeable numbers, the Iraq war was broadly opposed in the U.S. as well as abroad in the months before the invasion in March of 2003. That opposition has continued and widened.
Two United Methodist Conferences passed anti-war resolutions this year, California-Nevada and before it Northern Illinois. Leading into detailed proposals for governmental and church action, the California-Nevada resolution begins with a confessional statement, including:
"We have been silent in the face of national arrogance and greed that places our nation above the family of nations (the UN) in our actions; this is evidenced by our governments abrogation of numerous treaties and the Charter of the UN itself, and the decision to privatize Iraqi oil allowing foreign corporations to control Iraqi oil;
"We have not resisted enough as our nation took up preemptive and unilateral war against Iraq, while all rationales for the war have proven false;
"We have failed to make connections between massive poverty and humiliation across the world, particularly in Arab countries, and acts of despair and terror;
"We have failed, in sum, to be the Church, to be agents of Gods peace and reconciliation on earth, to live by the rule of love which casts out all fear, and to be faithful witnesses of a justice-demanding God. We are sorry and we repent, asking Gods forgiveness."
Organized labor has been at the forefront of anti-war efforts. San Francisco Bay Area labor leader Clarence Thomas was part of an international delegation of labor leaders who visited labor leaders in Iraq. Iraqi labor struggled under Saddam Hussein. One of the first acts of the Coalition Provisional Authority instituted by U.S. invading forces was to re-institute the same anti-union measures which had been part of the Hussein code. Nationally labor is organized as U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW). Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice is working locally, including in their efforts fund-raising for workers in Iraq. They have an excellent film about the international delegations trip, with interviews of Iraqi labor leaders.
Military families and veterans groups have been speaking out from the beginning. Military Families Speak Out, Mothers Speak, Iraq Veterans Against the War and other newly formed groups join the ranks of Veterans for Peace and other established groups. A number of returning soldiers are speaking wherever they can be heard. Their politics varies widely, but the common thread running through the GIs stories is their awareness that the U.S. is conducting a war of invasion which the people of Iraq will continue to resist until the U.S. leaves. The phrase continues to haunt me, "The flies have conquered the flypaper," from John Steinbecks classic novel about the Nazi occupation of Norway, The Moon is Down.
What Is To Be Done?
Different people can do different things. Vigils are being held all over the country. The Oakland vigil (noon on Tuesdays at the Federal Building) is available to those who can take off time during the work day. Other vigils are held at other times and locations.
Education: Get speakers into congregations, schools and other community groups. Show films. EPI has a good collection of Iraq related material, including videos.
Keep on top of current information: In this electronic age, a number of websites give us first hand information as well as good analysis of what is going on. Most of the sites below include links to other useful sites.
Foreign Policy in Focus http://www.fpif.org/
A young woman in Baghdad maintains a blog with her observations http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/
Al Jazeera, a leading Arab news agency, in English, gives information not commonly found in the U.S. mainstream news http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage
Occupation Watch http://www.occupationwatch.org/ in addition to news coverage, they have a good list of links.
Political action: Dont stop at voting. Get in touch with the local staff people of your congressperson. This kind of work is best done in coalition. Work to form coalitions which include faith-based and secular organizations. When you visit their offices, congresspeople and their staff want to know that significant numbers of people in their districts are behind you. The newly formed coalition MEPAC, of Jewish, Palestinian and other peace groups is a good example of this kind of work which is focussing on Israeli/Palestinian issues. East Bay Coalition to Support Self-Rule for Iraqis (EB-COSSI), of which EPI is a founding member, is an Iraq-focussed coalition which bridges the faith-based/secular gap to do educational and advocacy work.
Work with young people to help them stay out of the military. (see related article in this issue of Planted.)
Make the connections.
The Iraq war is not an isolated instance. Although not a new phenomenon, it is probably the most blatant and dangerous example of U.S. preemption and arrogance since the 1950s.
For perspective, when you hear someone say, "Weve never done this before!" remind yourself and perhaps mention out loud that the invasion of Iraq is part of a long history of U.S. interference in the self-rule of people in other countries. In Hawaii the U.S. overthrew a government which was widely recognized internationally and permanently appropriated the country. The "Spanish-American" War was in actuality a war fought to acquire the Philippines and islands in the Caribbean where people were successfully fighting to end Spanish colonialism. The U.S. moved in as Spain moved out. This pattern was repeated in Vietnam the U.S. attempted to replace France as the colonial power.
There was, in addition, the repeated practice of replacing independent governments with client rulers: Greece, Iran, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti, Congo, Chile . The list goes on. Latest in that list is the most recent coup in Haiti where the democratically elected President Aristide was overthrown in the coup of February 29 of this year. Thousands of people of the Lavalas party have been killed. Many are imprisoned without charge. (More about Haiti in another article in this issue of Planted.)
What do we need to work for?
A withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Impartial observers invariably report that there will be no peace in Iraq so long as the U.S. military remains.
A recognition that Iraqi people are capable of self-rule and have the right to exercise it. If they need and want international help in the short term to assist in security, the Iraqis can ask for it from nations of their choosing. In light of the fact that in large areas of the country the Iraqi resistance has fought the U.S. military to a standstill, it seems unlikely that they will need it.
The lifting of the odious debt burden run up by Saddam Hussein while he was "our son of a bitch". The end to all debt based on "reparations" under UN Security Council Resolutions passed after the Gulf War. The renunciation of any financial claims based on actions of the U.S. occupation or its Iraqi agents.
International cooperation in rebuilding the country, whose infrastructure has suffered tremendously from decades of war and siege.
Thats a start.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Each week at the Tuesday noon vigil in Oakland a new flyer is distributed. About 300 copies are handed out; some of the regulars in the area mostly federal employees and other local workers have come to know us and look forward to receiving an alternative perspective on what is happening in Iraq. Below are excerpts from the texts of three recent flyers.
The war is a fraud.
Award winning Middle East Correspondent, Robert Fisk, starts his report in the Independent on August 1, saying:
The war is a fraud. Im not talking about the weapons of mass destruction that didnt exist. Nor the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida which didnt exist. Nor all the other lies upon which we went to war. Im talking about the new lies.
For just as, before the war, our governments warned us of threats that did not exist, now they hide from us the threats that do exist. Much of Iraq has fallen outside the control of Americas puppet government in Baghdad but we are not told. Hundreds of attacks are made against US troops every month. But unless an American dies, we are not told. This months death toll of Iraqis in Baghdad alone has now reached 700 - the worst month since the invasion ended. But we are not told.
.looking back through my notebooks over the past five weeks, I find that not a single Iraqi, not a single American soldier I have spoken to, not a single mercenary - be he American, British or South African - believes that there will be elections in January. All said that Iraq is deteriorating by the day.
What, indeed, are we to make of a war which is turned into a fantasy by those who started it?
Oil Prices, Oil Exports, Oil Pipelines
An Explosive Relationship
Iraqi resistance fighters are bombing the oil pipelines and pumping facilities. Gas prices go up. A recent Christian Aid report, "Fuelling Suspicion: The Coalition and Iraqs Oil Billions" sheds light on the reason why the Iraqis would want to prevent the export of their oil.
"The U.S.-controlled coalition in Baghdad ... has not properly accounted for what it has done with some $20 billion of Iraqs own money. UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of May 2003 said that Iraqs oil revenues should be paid into the Development Fund for Iraq, that this money should be spent in the interests of the Iraqi people, and be independently audited. But it took until April 2004 to appoint an auditor leaving only a matter of weeks to go through the books. Now the CPA is not going to be around to be held accountable....
...Bremer left Iraq with a set of edicts basically turning Iraqs economy over to big foreign business. Appointed "Prime Minister" Allawi, the CIA asset, will maintain that state of affairs if he can. Iraqis who want to control their own country and benefit from their own resources are clearly striving to keep their oil safely underground until they can throw the bums out.
We are not worth more.
They are not worth less.
September 11, 2001 Terror attack on the United States left thousands dead and many more injured.
September 11, 1973 U.S. organized coup against Chiles democratic government led to brutal repression and human rights violations, book burnings, dogs trained to sexually molest females, a powerful secret police, and more than 3000 executions. Tens of thousands more were tortured and/or disappeared.
More than a year of U.S. war against Iraq has left more than one thousand U.S. military men and women dead, many more grievously injured. The U.S. economy is deteriorating. Schools, hospitals, and even our roads are getting worse as public money is being used to enrich military contractors.
More than a year of U.S. war against Iraq has left over thirty thousand Iraqi civilians dead, many more grievously injured. Fourteen years of sanctions have left one and a half million Iraqi civilians dead, half of them children under the age of five. Conditions which were bad under sanctions are worse now and deaths from dirty water have doubled.
More than fifty thousand U.S. troops died in the Vietnam War.
Three to five million Vietnamese died in the Vietnam War.
We are not worth more.
They are not worth less.
(Vietnam Veteran and peace activist Brian Willson)
Update on Israel/Palestine
by Esther Ho
Building of the enormous separation barrier, also known as "the wall," still dominates the oppression of the Palestinians in the West Bank, and the assault on Gaza is massive beyond belief.
Land confiscation in the Hebron district to make way for the barrier has been escalating. According to Abdel Hadi Hantash of the Hebron Land Defense Committee, the Israeli military seized l,059 acres in that region in 2003 and destroyed 97 homes in the past two years. This bulldozing of fields, orchards, vineyards and homes is referred to by Palestinians as "shaving the land."
In order to point up the folly of shaving the land, several of the women of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron had their heads shaved this spring and summer. Inspired by that protest, several more persons in CPT training in Chicago shaved their heads on July 23. They erected a mock security wall across the street from the Israeli Consulate in downtown Chicago and later delivered locks of their hair to Consulate officials. (http://www.cpt.org).
Responses to the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the separation barrier is illegal and must be torn down have been varied. While most of the world expressed agreement with the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon declared his intention to pay no attention to it, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the ICJ ruling. At this writing the U. S. Senate is considering a similar resolution and thousands of messages opposing such a resolution are being conveyed to senators. Perhaps more surprising is the warning to Prime Minister Sharon by Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that the ICJ ruling could lead international forums to take anti-Israel actions that could include sanctions.
The assault on Gaza has been so massive that even persons who have read regular reports about the pervasive damage to Palestinian homes, lands and persons are astounded when they see photos taken by the few internationals who have been able to enter Gaza. For information on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza village of Beit Hanoun and action that can be taken to relieve the suffering, we recommend accessing the Middle East Childrens Alliance website at http://www.mecaforpeace.org/
Two recent actions suggest directions for progress in the monumental stalemate of Israel/Palestine. The first is a resolution by the Presbyterian Church USA to investigate divestment from companies who profit from the harming of innocent Palestinians or Israelis. A Jewish Voice for Peace supports this action and offers a petition on its website http://ga3.org/campaign/pcusa commending the Presbyterian Church for its action. We recommend using this petition (as long as it remains on the website) to send your encouragement to the Presbyterians, who have been under attack for taking this stand.
A second encouraging development is the release in Tel Aviv on July 29 of a comprehensive report on Child Recruitment in Israel. New Profile, an Israeli group which supports both selective and complete conscientious objectors to war and works against militarization in Israel, prepared this survey and analysis of diverse forms of compulsory and voluntary child recruitment. The authors state that such recruitment often violates international law and always violates the Israeli societys commitment to protect its children from involvement in armed conflict.
The phenomena discussed include military training, military use of child labor, children required to wear a military uniform or bear arms, and forced use of Palestinian children by the Israeli military in life threatening situations. The entire report can be accessed at http://www.iansa.org/regions/nafrica/documents/.
A parallel report, prepared by Defence for Children International Palestine Section, which surveys the recruitment of Palestinian children, is due to be released in the near future.
In addition to the excellent websites listed thus far, we recommend these additional sites for on-going news, action hints, and commentary on the situation in Israel/Palestine: http://www.tikkun.org and http://www.shalomctr.org.
New Coalition on Palestinian Issues Meets with Barbara Lee
The Middle East Policy Advisory Committee (MEPAC), a recently formed
coalition of 20 organizations, including the Ecumenical Peace Institute, who are working for justice in Palestine and Israel, met with Representative Barbara Lee on September 20. Members of several of these organizations gave a graphic overview of the situation in that area and explained that the purpose of the coalition is to advise Congress in accordance with international principles and thereby restore international confidence in US foreign policy.
Because of her opposition to H. CON. RES. 371 which condemned the World Courts finding that the wall Israel is building in the Occupied Territories is in violation of international law Congresswoman Lee has been under attack by AIPAC (the American Israeli Political Action Committee), which claims to represent the Jewish community in the United States.
Representative Lee told the group of 20 some persons that she had visited Israel and the West Bank and was aware of many of the injustices occurring there. However, she was very appreciative of the information provided and of the coming together of these groups. She strongly recommended that the coalition outreach to people in the districts of the other Congresspeople who had joined with her in opposing the resolution and to encourage them also to develop coalitions to support actions which will bring them under fire by the powerful lobbying of AIPAC.
Members of MEPAC
Initiated by members of Tikkun, the MEPAC coalition consists of representatives of the following groups : Americans for a Palestinian State Political Action Committee, Arabs Building Community, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America, Interfaith Peace Builders, International Solidarity Movement, Jews for a Free Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, Middle East Childrens Alliance, National Lawyers Guild, Northern California Interreligious Conference, the Presbyterian Church (USA), St. Joseph the Worker Social Justice Committee, the Tikkun Community, Tri-City Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice (a coalition of more than 800 local and national groups), the Unitarian Universalist Church, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a coalition of 150 groups).
Readers of Planted are encouraged to thank these Representatives, particularly the one in whose district you reside. If you are acquainted with persons who understand this issue and live in the districts listed, please suggest that they thank their representative.
Stories from Palestine
American media carry stories showing the deaths, the injuries, the fear and grief of Israelis who suffer attacks by Palestinians. Everyday attacks by Israeli settlers and the Israeli military on Palestinians receive almost no coverage. The story of the attack on Chris Brown received slight mention in the San Francisco after concerted effort by his friends in the area. Chris is a member of the Mennonite Church in San Francisco.
CPTers Kim Lamberty and Chris Brown badly injured by settlers in the south Hebron hills from CPTnet, September 29, 2004
Some EPI folks met Christian Peace Maker Team member Chris Brown from one of his presentations in the area. He has been working in the Hebron area for some years, and relates his observations of the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli powers-that-be to his own experiences under apartheid in South Africa.
At about 7:15 am on the morning of Wednesday September 29, 2004 settlers attacked Christian Peacemaker Team members Chris Brown and Kim Lamberty as they accompanied children to school. The children, from the village of Tuba, have experienced harassment from settlers in the past as they walked to school in the village of al-Tuwani.
The five settlers, dressed in black and wearing masks, came from an outpost of the nearby Maon settlement and attacked Brown and Lamberty with a chain and bat. All of the children escaped injury by running back to their homes.
The settlers pushed Brown to the ground, whipped him with a chain and kicked him in the chest, which punctured his lung. They kicked and beat Lambertys legs. She is not able to walk because of an injury to her knee and has a broken arm. The settlers also stole Lambertys waistpack, which held her passport, money and cellular phone.
Lamberty and Brown were taken by ambulance to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva for treatment. Hebron Team Support person, Rich Meyer, reports that the two CPTers told him they are receiving excellent care from Israeli doctors.
Children from four small Palestinian villages walk to a central school in the village of al-Tuwani. Because settlers have harassed the children since school began in September, and the Israeli police would not intervene to prevent the attacks, the villagers have sought the protection of international accompaniment. A coalition comprising Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Israeli group Tayush and members of Operation Dove, (an Italian Christian organization that undertakes accompaniment work similar to CPTs work), set up a presence in the village of al-Tuwani beginning on September 12, 2004. The three groups initially committed themselves to six weeks of accompaniment after members of these organizations witnessed settler attacks on children each time they made exploratory visits to the area.
Christian Peacemaker Teams, Operation Dove and Tayush plan to continue accompanying children to school in al-Tuwani.
September 30, HEBRON, WEST BANK - The Christian Team (CPT) in Hebron has replaced its two members, Chris Brown and Kim Lamberty, who were attacked and injured on Wednesday morning by Israelis from the Maon settlement outpost. This morning children from the South Hebron village of Tuba were able to reach school safely in Tiwani. A police jeep outside the settlement helped to ensure a peaceful journey. The District Coordinating Officer (DCO) has confirmed the childrens right to use the "settler road" to go to school.
Unfortunately an Israeli army patrol entered Tiwani today warning villagers that violence (for which they blamed CPT) would occur if children continued to use the road.
Esther Ho, EPI Board member and CPT member reports from her contacts with the Hebron CPT team that the children were not escorted home again, via the shorter road but were required to walk 10 km (6 miles) to return home. The Israeli military did not allow team members to accompany the children in either direction. Chris has been discharged from the hospital.
Three Teenage Girls shot by Israeli snipers in Gaza
Palestinian 15-year-olds among growing number of children hit by Israeli snipers during Days of Penitence
from an article by Chris McGreal in Jabaliya refugee camp
Wednesday October 6, 2004
Islam Dwidars classmates were still taking in her shocking death - the teacher weeping outside before facing the girls, her closest friend recounting how they walked to school together each day - when the news arrived about Tahreer Abu El Jidyan.
The two 15-year-old pupils at Jabaliyas school were both shot in the head by Israeli soldiers inside their homes just a few blocks and several hours apart. Islam died almost immediately after the bullet smashed through her forehead as she baked bread with her mother in their yard on Sunday.
Tahreer is still on life support at a Gaza hospital after an operation to remove shards of shattered skull from her brain. She lies motionless, with little to suggest she is alive other than gentle breathing. Doctors do not expect her to survive.
Tahreers mother, Intisar, was at her bedside yesterday.
"Oh Tahreer, my heart. I wish I were lying in this bed, not you," she whispered to her child.
"She was sweeping the floor in front of the door," said Mrs Abu El Jidyan. "I was standing talking to her. We knew the Israeli soldiers were around, we knew they had snipers in the buildings on our street but we didnt expect what happened. They just shot her in the head. Her brains spilled out. She said: Mum, Im hit. She praised God and she collapsed."
.....another teenage girl in the Gaza strip.... Palestinian medics said Israeli soldiers fired about 20 bullets into 13- year-old Iman al-Hams, including five into her head.
The military said she had entered a forbidden zone in Rafah refugee camp, and that she dropped a bag that soldiers feared was a bomb.
The Palestinians said Iman was walking to school when troops entered the camp and that she dropped her bag as she ran away in fear.
The bag was not found to contain a bomb.
Kevin Pina has been covering events in Haiti for many years. Additional articles, reports of ongoing events and suggested opportunities for support for the people of Haiti can be found at http://www.haitiaction.org/, the website of Haiti Action Committee.
EPI Board member Pierre Labossiere is closely associated with the Haiti Action Committee. Pierre will be happy to speak to groups. Call the EPI office, 510-548-4141 and leave a message.
Victims of the storms over Haiti
by Kevin Pina
September 28, 2004, The San Diego Union-Tribune
A political storm hit northern Haiti long before Tropical Storm Jeanne came along. On March 20, Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue flew into Gonaives where a huge and boisterous crowd of thousands welcomed him.
Latortue embraced gang elements and the former military that helped overthrow the democratic government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as "freedom fighters." Since then, Latortue and his government have done little to take control of Haitis third largest city and have allowed gang leaders like Buteur Metayer and Wilfort Ferdinand to run it like a private fiefdom. This has had serious consequences since Tropical Storm Jeanne arrived to stake her claim to Haitis misery. An estimated 1,500 Haitians were killed, and more than 300,000 were left homeless after winds and rains from Tropical Storm Jeanne lashed the island nation over the weekend of Sept. 18 and 19.
The political storm took many victims as well and left Haiti ill-prepared for the devastation brought about by Jeanne. One of its first victims was the Civil Protection Office following a rampage led by the "freedom fighters" against suspected Aristide supporters. This politically benign institution had been established in cooperation with the local municipal government by grants provided by the United States Agency for International Development and administered through the Pan American Development Foundation. PADFs own Web site confirms that, "PADFs emergency response and reconstruction efforts are complemented by community training in disaster preparedness. Mitigation training promotes the development of civil action plans that enable communities to identify priorities and reinforce key infrastructure.
Last year, 23 local civil protection committees were formed, and over 5,000 people were trained in disaster awareness, leading to safer communities." Unfortunately, with Washington, Paris and Ottawa ushering in a man-made disaster with the destruction of constitutional authority in Haiti, all of the tax dollars USAID invested in preparing for natural disasters like Tropical Storm Jeanne were wasted as well.
Tropical Storm Jeanne is exactly the type of disaster USAID and PADFs programs were set up to manage. There were components that monitored incoming tropical storms and provided an advanced warning and preparedness network designed to plan a response before disaster struck. Plans included advising communities in advance of approaching storms and preparing for them by storing large supplies of drinking water, food, medical supplies and portable tents for those displaced from their homes.
When Tropical Storm Jeanne hit, these structures no longer existed and the trained and competent participants in the program had long been driven out of the area after their offices were pillaged and burned. Nowhere was this more evident than in Gonaives, where many associated with the Aristide government and the Lavalas Party were reportedly dragged through the streets and burned alive.
Instead of reasserting control of the state and rebuilding the necessary infrastructure that was destroyed following the coup of Feb. 29, Latortue followed a policy of benign neglect and accommodation with thugs in the region that has led to needless death and suffering in the wake of Tropical Storm Jeanne. In all fairness, the fault does not lie entirely with the U.S.-installed government. The Bush administration shoulders much of the blame for the current situation with an ill-conceived regime change that has replaced what they considered a failed state with an even more failed state.
The United Nations also bears a large responsibility for the armed gangs and elements of the former military currently hampering relief efforts in northern Haiti. Like Latortues accommodation of the gangs in Gonaives, the U.N. forces have stood by while the former military has taken over several towns in the north. The official excuse of the United Nations has been that they do not have enough forces on the ground to challenge the former military from seizing control of the region. It seems that by the time there are enough forces in the region, they will wake up to find themselves bunkmates with the very people they claim to want to keep out of power. This does not bode well for the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince should a natural disaster ever strike the capital to combine with the current political disaster as it has in Gonaives.
In the end, the United Nations and Latortue have become victims of their own failed policies and ultimately the failed policy of the Bush administration in Haiti. The ones who will suffer the most as a result of these failures are the very people they claim to have come to this island nation to help.
The disregard for institutions destroyed during the latest regime change and the lack of planning and response for natural disasters is only a symptom of a political storm that is far from over in Haiti a storm that is being fed by poor political judgment. Sadly, this has resulted in more needless suffering for the people of Haiti during this latest crisis.
Pina is an independent journalist and filmmaker. He is associate editor of the Black Commentator and currently resides in Haiti.
The Draft, Recruitment and Conscientious Objection
by Marilyn Jackson
There has been talk recently, with the increase in U.S. war activity, about the possibility of reinstating the draft. Having family or friends in the armed forces is how most of us come in contact with war in a personal way. During the Viet Nam war, I worried and prayed every day for my two older brothers, one whose number never came up but who did less well in college because he figured hed be drafted anyway and the other who became a conscientious objector. It helped that he was involved in Lutheran youth groups and knew a lot of ministers.
Some have called this an urban legend but two bills proposed in recent years to reinstate the draft include women and make it harder to evade. Though the house bill, H.R 163, introduced by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), was just defeated in the pre-election frenzy, S. 89, introduced by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC), may or may not be voted on soon and who knows what will happen after the election? Rangels and Hollings rationales for the draft included that it would prevent war if all had to contribute their sons and daughters equally. Also, minorities and others less privileged are disproportionately represented in the military we have now.
This logic is limited, however. Besides curbing freedom of choice, the draft would still reflect a stratified army because the better educated would do better on test scores and get safer placements. Having an easy source of soldiers might also make it easier to send troops when and wherever the powers that be decide to. For some, gender equality on the battlefield is the final frontier of eliminating sexism. I think that eliminating war through nonviolence, including education, dialogue and negotiation is the way women will lead to a peaceful future.
Some say the draft would not be reinstated without vigorous debate. The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), in their Summer News, 2004, says the Selective Service system has been poised to reinstate a draft for 24 years. However, with the increase in wars, the subject is worth a second look.
Every young man in the U.S. upon turning 18, is required by law to register with the Selective Service. If you dont register, there are consequences, including potential fines, jail time, loss of citizenship and more. Other strategies include waiting a few years. Check with the CCCO for more details (see below).*
If a parent or young adult is concerned about a potential draft down the road and wants to become a conscientious objector, it is a good idea to begin now to get a portfolio together. You need a record showing that you do not believe in war. Your file can include a statement about your beliefs, a record of books read on resistance, organizations you are affiliated with and events participated in, as well as letters of support from teachers, friends, and clergy who know you and about your beliefs.*
The military mentality pervades our culture in families, schools and workplaces, etc., through attitudes about compliance, discipline and the ability to question authority. It seems harder than ever to question the executive regime in the U.S. today. The ability to question and dialogue is fundamental for a democratic society. Even more importantly, we need to ask, "What are peaceful, nonviolent cultural behaviors that lead to peaceful interactions at home and abroad?"
Bushs education bill, No Child Left Behind, ironically puts children in harm's way by requiring school districts to provide lists of students with contact information to recruiters, unless the parents have filed forms requesting that their childs information not be shared. The ease of obtaining relevant forms varies. Some schools have chosen a policy whereby a childs information is not shared with recruiters unless the parents request that it be shared. Parents can lobby their schools to resist the influence of recruiters. Below is a form letter from the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors for a parent or student to submit to their high school to request their name not be provided.
*For more details, contact the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, based in Oakland, CA, 510-465-1617 and Philadelphia, PA, 215-563-8787; http://www.objector.org/ccco/whoweare.html; email
Dear Administrator of ______________________ High School:
I, ________________________________, am writing on behalf of my child, _____________________, to request that you do not make my childs name, address or telephone listing available for military recruitment purposes as is provided for under Paragraph 2, Subsection (a) of Section 9528 of Public Law 107-110. I look forward to your prompt response to this letter.
Sincerely, (sign with signature, your name typed or printed, and the date)
Dear Administrator of ______________________ High School:
I, ________________________________, am writing to request that you do not make my name, address or telephone listing available for military recruitment purposes as is provided for under Paragraph 2, Subsection (a) of Section 9528 of Public Law 107-110. I look forward to your prompt response to this letter.
Sincerely, (sign with signature, your name typed or printed, and the date)
Ecumenical Peace Institute has a range of volunteer openings for people with a range of talents and interests. And time. Many of these jobs are occasional and take only a few hours here and there.
Good Friday Worship & Witness at Livermore
Internal Human Rights Day (December 10)
One-time events demonstrations, witnesses, actions
Good opportunity for outreach and education
Work with your own faith group or get acquainted with other traditions.
Mailing parties spend a couple of hours in pleasant company folding and bending. No spindling or mutilating.
Tuesday Vigil to End the War in Iraq, Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, noon till one.
We hand out about 300 brand new flyers each week, providing information not usually found in our news. Weve been at it over six years. Some people who work in the area have become "regular customers".
If you want to get more deeply involved, perhaps do more concentrated, every-day work, get in touch and we can see where our needs and your skills intersect.
Calendar & Announcements
Sunday, October 24, EPI Autumn Gathering
Saturday, October 30th, 7:00 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, Berkeley concert, teach-in, and benefit for the School of the Americas Watch. Francisco Herrera, Jon Fromer, Nico van Aelstyn, Carlos Mauricio.
Friday, Nov. 5, EBSC Annual Dinner. St. Johns Presbyterian Church, 2727 College, Berkeley. Doors open 5:30 p.m., Dinner at 6:00 p.m. Admission $10 - 30 sliding scale. RSVP Meggin Eastman at EBSC, 510-542-5296
Sunday, Nov. 7, 5 - 9 p.m. East Bay Peace Action Annual Gathering. Social hour & potluck dinner 5 p.m. Program 6:30. Program Jon Rainwater, Exec. Director California Peace Action "Post Election Analysis & Strategy "Berkeley Friends Church, 1600 Sacramento Street. RSVP 510-524-6071
December 11 - 12, EBSCs annual Crafts Fair. Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 - 4:00. First Congregational Church in Berkeley. Beautiful fair trade crafts from around the world. Reasonable prices.
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.
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.
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 _______
Please mail any contributions to EPI, PO Box 9334, Berkeley, CA 94709.