Planted By the Waters

Spring 2000

Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
P. O. Box 9334 • Berkeley, CA 94709 • (510) 548-4141

From the Board President
by Janet Gibson

It is not hard to lose faith in electoral politics–or even one's church for that matter –when we feel it has been corrupted to the point of being irrelevant. However, as I look back on almost 40 years of activism, I find that I have been on the losing side of many issues. . . and, yet, I keep coming back for “the good fight.” It has been important to take a long view of history and to realize that the process of standing up for a good cause is just as important as winning it–especially when it brings information to the forefront. There are gobs of local, national and international issues out there needing our involvement. I’d like to mention several.

Affordable Housing:
          The Struggle for a Diverse Community

All over the San Francisco Bay Area, middle income people are being priced out of the housing market in the communities where they work. This particularly affects minority groups and working class families. At the same time, livable housing is often being torn down to make way for high priced “Monster Homes.” Renewed Hope, a group of housing activists in Alameda, California is trying to save the destruction of almost 600 serviceable 3 and 4 bedroom units that were formerly Navy housing. It’s a “David and Goliath” battle with big moneyed interests driving the City of Alameda. For more information contact Renewed Hope at (510)522-2073 or at

National Politics:
          The Struggle for a Meaningful Vote

When neither major political party is able to steer a direction that frees America from corporate control on issues such as nuclear weapons, health care, and world trade, a third party may be the vehicle for reform. The question always raised by a third party presidential candidacy is: will the votes cast for its man (or woman) take away enough votes from a mainstream candidate – in the case of most progressive voters, probably from Gore – to elect a more conservative contender, namely Bush? By election day it may be clear that, without changing the outcome, you can use your vote to express your dissatisfaction with politics as usual and to strengthen a populist movement for future contests. If a third party gets 5 percent of the total presidential vote in November, it gets access to federal matching funds in 2004. In this way, a campaign from someone such as Raph Nader and the Green Party becomes more of a crusade to arouse America than an actual bid for the White House.

International Actions:
          The Struggle for Peace and Justice

People of faith have worked in coalition to right the wrongs that exist in many parts of the world. Through actions, events, letter campaigns, silent vigils, and prayer, individuals and groups have effected enormous change on issues related to East Timor, Haiti, Iraq, Vieques and many more. Often unaware of the powerful impact that a multitude of individual actions are having, we stand in awe when government policies actually change or walls of resistance come tumbling down. To add to my old bumper sticker, I’d say: “Think Globally, Act Locally AND Globally whenever possible.”

This issue of Planted contains articles on many other issues that deserve your concern. It is always worthwhile to put our hearts, our time, and our efforts into causes that bring people’s attention to the momentous needs of our world.


Reclaiming the Dream
by Diane Thomas

For Americans of a certain age, there is no way fully to grasp or express the psychological and emotional impact of the Vietnam War. We lost our innocence understanding what we were doing to the Vietnamese people and we cut our political teeth protesting it. For many of us it was the first vivid example of racism, imperialism and evil in high places. As such, it forever changed us and our relationship to government.

We found out who we were through our responses to the war and to the draft. I remember gathering in a dorm lounge to watch the draft lottery and learning a whole new level about my friends in their reactions. Some were just glad their numbers were high. Some immediately made plans to go to Canada. Some started work on their C.O. files and some burned their 2-S deferments to protest their privilege. Very few in my small, mostly white Christian college had to face actually going. We were safely removed from neighborhoods where the military was seen as a great employment opportunity.

I might just be projecting, but I don’t believe the baby boomers ever really recovered from the war. We did see a brief shining moment of the power of the people to force a nonviolent agenda. But official worry about “Vietnam Syndrome” has kept American triumphalism alive and well. U.S. work for globalization has attempted to reinforce American dominance rather than structure true global community. Yet no less an establishment light than Walter Cronkite said during the recent anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, “Vietnam showed us that we don’t know what’s right for the whole world and we shouldn’t misuse our power.” Is anyone listing to Walter?

Remembering Dr. King, I too have a dream. I see the mass of us who are known as boomers returning in our middle age to the depth and clarity we briefly glimpsed as we grew up. The power we felt then as we opposed and ended the Vietnam war will be something we foster. As families grow up and away and careers lose their draw, as the allure of mountains of things pales -- maybe we can still change the world. Maybe enough of us can choose sustained political organizing and action over golf, cocktail parties and timeshares. The reality has been that our demographic bulge has been able to change society to meet our needs. Maybe we can dig deep enough into ourselves to tap a need for justice, a need to live it fully ourselves and a need to insist on it from our government. Maybe our legacy can be an America that seeks a stable and just world rather than dominance. Maybe.

Good Friday Report
by Carolyn S. Scarr

For a sense of this year's Good Friday gathering for worship and witness, read Joan Wrenn’s poem and sit quietly with it....

Good Friday Images
by Joan C. Wrenn

The crowd gathers slowly
the stage is erected, guitars plugged in,
knee-high grass trampled
earth image waves on sky-blue banner
prayers invoke crosses and peace.

“The Nuclear Ignition Facility
is already seven hundred million dollars over budget
and they haven’t even begun building it.”
We could use that money for education! I murmur.

“Be not afraid
I am with you always
Come follow me
and I will give you rest.”

“The scientists who set off the first hydrogen bomb
wondered if it might keep spreading
and annihilate the planet.”
Yet they set it off anyway.

A rabbi in a black crocheted kipa,
a bunch of yellow roses in his hand,
reads his Bible, awaiting arrest.

Activists kneel before helmeted shinguarded officers
the crowd sings of crucifixion and peace
questions, only questions.
I inch nearer to the scene
drawn yet hesitant
waiting, waiting
for that one clear invitation that never comes.

“Gonna lay down my sword and shield
down by the riverside
study war no more.”

Cameramen twist and bob for angles
a reporter interviews officers
recording their demanding threatening statements
the sober words not quite drowned out by our songs.

“Let peace begin with me
let this be the moment now.”
the inflated glove bobs in the wind
covered by a black veil
willow branches lay half-wilted on the sidewalk.

Men of wisdom
a woman in a wheelchair
a young girl
are led off, arms grotesquely twisted
standing proudly
as searching hands pat down legs and groins
grey hair and white beards blowing in the wind.

The sign never comes yet comes constantly
a child’s dance
an elderly woman rising from her cart
a willow branch neglected.

Almost all have been taken, very few remain
time moves on relentlessly
nuns sing Dona Nobis Pacem
Querimos Paz
I reach across the street for the last willow
and take it to the front into the action.

A priest smiles in welcome
I advance toward the fateful words
the snapping of metal
the groping hands
the collecting of snippets of belongings
into clear plastic bags
a protein bar and a set of keys
gardening tools and baseball caps
a Save the Whales pin and an immunization record.

Uniformed figures remove the willow branches
the bouquet of sunny roses, the Bible
the wind shakes the trees
I stand placidly, gazing straight ahead
hands clasped as if in prayer.

The world inflates with joy
my heart is tranquil
the agony suddenly over
the fear not in the doing
but in the not doing.

And after it was all over
I saw the rabbi again
walking away with a bunch of yellow roses.


© 2000 Joan C. Wrenn

About two hundred people gathered in the large vacant lot at the corner of East and Vasco across from the labs where Edward Teller first created the hydrogen bomb. We gathered for the native peoples around the world where the uranium is mined, the downwinders everywhere bombs are tested, the residents of the communities where development continues, the people of a country where more is paid for the military than everything else combined. As Martin Luther King said many years ago, the bombs are dropping now on our communities.

Scripture was read by Dr. Andreas Toupadakis, the scientist who resigned his position from the Livermore labs after learning that he was to be assigned weapons development work rather than the civilian work that he had been promised. Stopping to wipe away tears, Dr. Toupadakis read the two thousand-year-old story as if it had just happened to his closest friend – the arrest, the torture and the agonizing death of his beloved teacher and companion.

Barbara Graves, long-time Quaker and activist, shared reflections from her years of work for justice, particularly centering on the struggle in Central America:

          "After many years of Lenten reflection [Miguel Descoto’s] understanding of the cross had evolved from a sad, heavy burden one must bear, to a voluntary, life-giving choice to undertake whatever hardships were required of one on behalf of the marginalized and exploited; unto death, if necessary. He saw this as the cross God expects each of us to carry because of our common sisterhood and brotherhood as children of God, our compassionate parent. But when you do that, he said, the inevitable consequence is to invite reprisals, severe ones, from the powers that be. This, Descoto said, is the cross. But it is also the resurrection because it requires the greatest gift of love, and that loving creates a new thirst for life, as though one looks through the cross and senses ones gradual resurrection into new life; as though the cross makes resurrection inevitable. “Finally,” he said, “I had come to understand that I could love the cross; that I could embrace the cross. And this insight became the most important thing of my life. It's what prepared me to say yes to joining the peoples' struggles.”

Our procession to the gates of the lab was lead by a group of children carrying the world in a string hammock. There a liturgical dance, created under the leadership of Carla de Sola, moved to the strains of Sweet Honey's Beatitudes. Many thanks to Carla and to the members of her class at Pacific School of Religion who formed the core of the group and who welcomed into the dancing some novices from the peace movement.

Fifty-one people were arrested at the gates, some holding the branches that were part of the dance. “And after it was all over” we look around us and see that our work continues, “the fear not in the doing but in the not doing.”

Now read again Joan Wrenn’s poem.

Oakland Citadel???

Readers of Planted may already be aware that Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has proposed the establishment of a Military Charter School in Oakland. Decisions are being made by the Oakland School District and City Council and by the state.

Opponents of the military academy are asking the Legislature not to write this plan into this year's budget. With the allocation of the state surplus being distributed, things might move very quickly in Sacramento. Work is also being done to communicate with members of the Oakland School Board and the Oakland City Council. At least one member of the Oakland School Board is not pleased because when the School District previously asked the City for space on the Army base to build a new school they were turned down because the space was being set aside for commercial development. Opponents have a number of difficulties with the proposed Military Charter School. Will marching include the carrying of weapons or mock weapons? Is this school targeted for the students in the District who are struggling academically and behaviorally? If so how can the school achieve high academic, college preparatory standards? Where is the proof that College Entrance officers are going to look with favor on the graduates of this school?

This proposal will take kids at a vulnerable age and guide them into a military service where present participants in the military have to take food stamps to survive. This is not a good career path for our youth. There are other programs that can provide kids with discipline, self-respect, and a sense of community: the Omega Boys Club, the West Oakland Violence Prevention Project, some of the “rites of passage” organizations, the Muslim schools, music programs, sports programs, Barrios Unidos, the Zapata Street Academy. Students need programs where the discipline comes from inside the kids and not through the threat of violence or punishment (like being sent back to juvenile hall). Military programs which promote violence as a solution have resulted in kids using violence in tragic ways. A number of nation-wide studies on “Boot Camps” as a means of instilling self-discipline and reducing violent behavior indicate that they don’t work. This program will drain $700,000 of Average Daily Attendance funds from the Oakland District in the first year and $5 million if it ever builds up to the 12th grade.

The City’s funding of the High School Academies programs has been a steadily cut. Not too long ago the City was supporting the program to the tune of $1.3 million a year from the Redevelopment fund. Last year it was down to $600,000. It is proposed to be cut to $300,000 in the next budget. These lost funds need to be restored.

Many of the decisions regarding this proposal will be made in May. Wilson Riles, Jr. is one of the leaders in the opposition to the Military Charter School. For information regarding the current state of this matter and what can be done EPI recommends you contact him at the AFSC office in San Francisco (415) 565-0201.

Jubilee 2000, Bay Area Activists in D.C.
by Jean Lesher
[Excerpted from the Jubilee 2000/USA Bay Area Debt Coalition newsletter.]

Twelve members of the Bay Area Coalition for Debt Cancellation attended the Jubilee 2000/USA Rally and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., April 9 and 10. 7,000 people formed a human chain around the Capitol building to demand that wealthy nations cancel billions of dollars in debt owed by the world's most impoverished countries. Shofar blasts and trumpet fanfare began the exercise after hours of speeches and music on a cold, windy day.

“In Ethiopia, more than 100,000 children die every year from diarrhea,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, while its government spends “four times as much on debt payments as on its public budget for health care.” Other speakers included Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez of Honduras and White House economic advisor Gene Sperling. Sperling read a letter from President Clinton: “This is wrong. Let us say today that no nation on this Earth should be forced to choose between feeding and educating children or paying interest on excessive debt.”

Congress is considering appropriations of up to $900 million for debt relief. Yet Jubilee 2000 estimates a minimum of $2 billion is needed for substantive help to the 41 most impoverished nations in the world. In comparison, $2 billion is close to the amount of the supplemental Pentagon appropriations request by Congress over and above what the Administration has asked for. . . . Other nations are waiting for U.S. leadership to also cancel their debts and we are dragging our feet.

The Bay Area Coalition sees that an ongoing process of educating our representatives is necessary to build on the momentum of the Rally and to keep pressure on Bay Area legislators to act now on debt cancellation, not just relief, in coming weeks.

Bay Area Debt Coalition Contacts:
          Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakland: Jean and Bill Lesher, 510/524-6645,
          Nicaragua Center for Community Action: Diana Bohn, 510/525-5497,
          Economic Justice Now: Bill Ferguson, 408/946-5096,

ACTION – IMF Promises Relief, Now Make it Happen

One outcome of the actions in Washington was more talk by the IMF and World Bank about an “enhanced commitment” to act faster to cancel the debt. Let’s make sure they’re good for their word.

Please write to James Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank, 1818 H St., NW, Washington, DC 20433, tel: (202)477-1234; Stanley Fischer, Acting Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20431, tel: (202)623-7000. Congress also has a big role to play, with legislation currently pending: please write to recommend the full Jubilee 2000 program to and

UN Resolution 1284
–not an end to the sanctions against Iraq

On December 17, 1999 the UN Security Council, by a vote of two “Yes” and four abstentions, “passed” Resolution 1284. Widely hailed by its proponents as a measure which will lift the sanctions against the people of Iraq and end the death toll of thousands per month, this resolution has been used to deflect the drive to achieve an actual end of the sanctions.

Fortunately for the people of Iraq two key people were willing to dispel the hype surrounding this resolution. At the time of his resignation this spring, UN Oil for Food director, Hans Von Sponeck, told AP that the new policy toward Iraq did not make a clear distinction between civilian needs and disarmament obligations. Iraqi civilians will continue to suffer under the latest UN Security Council resolution. “I do not think this resolution has a chance to come to fruition very quickly ... even if that happens I do not think that this is enough.” UN World Food Programme chief Jutta Burghardt resigned the following day also in protest of the ongoing sanctions. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies has provided a detailed study of what Resolution 1284 really says and does. The following are excerpts from her article, which can be found at (EPI can send you a printed version.)

“So what does the resolution actually say? There are essentially four operative parts: first is the creation of a new arms inspection/monitoring agency, called UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission), to replace the spy-ridden and discredited UNSCOM. Second is a brief reiteration of earlier demands on Iraq involving repatriation of alleged Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and return of Kuwaiti property.

“Third is a set of adjustments to the current oil-for-food regulations, which if implemented would likely result in some incremental improvement in the system's working. And last, the Council indicates its 'intention' to temporarily suspend certain parts of the sanctions regime, under specific conditions, for discrete and limited periods of time. The earliest such suspensions could begin would be about a year after passage of the resolution, and the default position would remain full sanctions in place – an affirmative Council vote to extend the suspension would be required each time a four-month suspension of part of the sanctions expired.

“The resolution does conclude that the Security Council will remain 'actively seized of the matter.' That is an important, if often ignored, statement that the Council as a whole, not the U.S. or any other country acting alone, holds decision-making power on this issue. But too often in the past Washington has ignored this prohibition on unilateral acts.”

          Regarding the suspension of sanctions:

“In a consciously complex delineation of time-lines and requirements in Article 33, the Council 'expresses its intention' after a host of waiting periods and provision of evidence of Iraqi compliance, 'to suspend ... for a period of 120 days ... prohibitions against the import of commodities and products originating in Iraq, and prohibitions against the sale, supply and delivery to Iraq of civilian commodities...'

“The suspension of import and export sanctions could be renewed by the Council by a new vote. Or it could not. Without such an affirmative vote the suspension would collapse, and the default position of existing sanctions would be reimposed. Sanctions would also resume 'if at any time the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC or the Director General of the IAEA reports that Iraq is not cooperating fully with UNMOVIC or the IAEA or if Iraq is in the process of acquiring any prohibited items.' In such a case, presumably after the mere assertion of such violations by the head of either agency, the suspension 'shall terminate on the fifth working day following the report, unless the Council decides to the contrary.' Again, default return to sanctions absent an affirmative Council vote.”

Clearly since the decision to suspend sanctions requires an affirmative vote, the veto of the U.S. with or without concurrence of other members of the Security Council is sufficient to return Iraq to the condition of siege every four months – or whenever UNMOVIC or IAEA reports non-compliance of any sort, no matter how accurate the report.

“The timing imposes even more restrictions. The temporary suspension would only begin after reports by the UNMOVIC and IAEA chiefs that Iraq has cooperated fully with the new monitoring system for 120 days. Working backwards, that four months cannot begin until after the Council receives reports that the new monitoring system is operational – and those first reports can begin only three months after work on the Council-approved plan starts. Council approval of the work plan and preparation of the list of remaining tasks for Iraq to complete, can be determined sixty days after UNMOVIC begins work in Iraq. The new UNMOVIC chairman will submit his or her organizational and staffing plan to the Council 45 days after being selected. And selection of the new UNMOVIC chair must be appointed within 30 days of the resolution’s December 17 passage.

“So – assuming everything runs exactly on time, and assuming no political or diplomatic delays . . . the EARLIEST some economic sanctions might be considered for temporary suspension would be eleven and one-half months, almost a year, after 17 December 1999.

“One year longer means an awful lot more dying babies.”

          Designed to Fail

Denis Halliday, the earlier Oil-for-Food UN director who resigned said in an interview in ZMAG, March 2000: “Von Sponeck and I have exactly the same view [of resolution 1284]: it's designed to fail, this programme. First of all it took a year to assemble that resolution, if you can believe that. Secondly, it gives the Iraqis no specifics: it doesn't tell them exactly what is required, and when, in terms of disarming. Thirdly, if you listen to Scott Ritter [UNSCOM inspector and U.S. Marine], they have no nuclear, chemical or biological capacity left, but of course they have the mental capacity, and they have the scientists – some of them – and they re always going to be there and there's nothing you can do about that. And Dr. Hans Blix, former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, very honestly, has said, 'Look, I can go in there 24 hours a day for ten years and I will never be able to say that there isn't a half a pound of chemical left behind, or whatever; it's just impossible.' And that's why this whole programme is futile. We've got to reopen a dialogue with Iraq, like we've done with North Korea. We need to find out what the concerns of the Iraq government are now, what can be done for the future.”

To continue with Planted By the Waters,
Please turn the page: