By Rick Sterling, MtDPJC Board Member and Chair International Affairs Committee
First published, August 14, 2014, in http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/08/if-the-east-bay-was-gaza-how-would-you-feel/
The Palestinian enclave known as Gaza is approximately 25 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is about the same area as the East Bay from Oakland in the north to Fremont in the south. To the west is open water; to the east are the hills (heavily-reinforced razor wire fence for Gaza).
What would life be like if the East Bay of San Francisco was Gaza?
Imagine that is where you were born, where you will spend all your years, where you will die. Your world will be confined to that narrow strip, a lifetime sentence in an open air prison.
* Your family and ancestors lived for many centuries in villages beyond Gaza. In 1948 they were forced to flee their community and find temporary refuge in Gaza. They expected to return to their village. But a week became a month then years and now decades. You cannot even visit your family’s home or village let alone move back there. (Fact: about 80% of Gaza’s nearly 2 million population are refugees or children of refugees. They were driven out of areas now known as Sderot, Ashkelon, etc)
* There are only two entry/exit points for people and two more for goods and supplies in the entire Gaza Strip. But it does not matter because you cannot go out through any of them anyway. Nor can you depart by sea. There are patrolling Israeli Navy warships to capture or kill you if you try.
* You have relatives just 35 miles away in Bethlehem but you have never seen them, they cannot visit you and you cannot visit them. Israel keeps Palestinian Gaza completely separated and detached from the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international agreements including the Oslo Accords.
* If you are desperately sick and need special medical treatment it will be very difficult to get permission to go to hospital in Tel Aviv or Cairo. If you are lucky enough to get that rare permission, you will be pressured to become a collaborator. Most people just die.
* If you are an outstanding student and receive scholarship to study abroad, all your hard work and study may not help because your exit will likely be denied.
* If you are a fisherman, you will be restricted to fishing within three miles of shore. You are not allowed to go into into deeper waters where bigger and more fish are. Israeli Navy gunboats patrol the waters and shoot and kill fishermen who try to go beyond the illegal but enforced restriction.
* If you want to ship goods or work as a dockworker loading and unloading ships, you cannot. Israel does not allow ships to depart or arrive. In 2010, in international waters, Israel killed nine civilians who were trying to bring aid to Gaza.
* If you want to grow fruit and vegetables on land within Gaza but near the border, you will risk being shot, shelled or kidnapped by Israeli soldiers. Israel enforces a “buffer zone” on the Palestinian side of the enclosure around Gaza.
* If you are a Gazan farmer who can successfully produce strawberries and flowers you could earn a good living exporting these to Europe. Unfortunately Israel frequently blocks the export of crops and products from Gaza. More likely your flowers will wilt and die.
* Gaza has no air force or navy or anti-aircraft missiles. On the other side, Israel has the most sophisticated weapons, much of it supplied by United States. Israel drops bombs and targeted missiles at will – killing hundreds then thousands. Israel uses banned weapons such as White Phosphorous and Flechette bombs on civilian homes, UN shelters, hospitals and ambulances.
* You will probably have repeated cases of diarrhea, disease and illness from drinking contaminated water. That is because 90% of the water is unfit for consumption and Israel keeps bombing the power plants necessary for pumping and filtering water.
* You will have a huge problem finding work. The unemployment rate is now at 41%. You will be dependent on international handouts. Israel controls the amount of food permitted to enter Gaza so there is continual shortage leading to nutritional deprivation, stunted growth and anemia.
* You are subject to attacks and massacres every few years. Over three weeks in winter 2008-9 Israel killed over 1440 people, mostly civilians. In 2012 hundreds more were killed. In the last month Israel has killed almost 2,000 Palestinian (80% civilians) while THREE Israeli civilians have been killed.
* Some Gazans protest the prison like conditions by launching mostly home-made projectiles. These unguided “rockets” fired into Israel are largely ineffective and more like fireworks with small explosive. Nearly EVERY DAY of the past month, Israel killed more Palestinian civilians than ALL the Israelis killed by ALL the “rockets’ from Gaza in the past TEN YEARS.
Why are Palestinians designated as “terrorists” when Israel is doing the vast majority of killing?
Is this fair or just? How would YOU feel if the East Bay was Gaza?
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Rick Sterling / email@example.com
Haber is a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Catholic Worker movement. He will present information on a new initiative to increase public attention in explicit opposition to the institution of war and to confront the big picture problem.
Many causes are ramping up participation in the anti-war movement. They include:
Shutting down military bases , nuclear arms programs and weaponized drones;
Stopping human-induced climate change; resisting fossil fuel extraction and dangerous fuel transport;
Ending sexual violence in universities, the military and societies worldwide;
Ending racist incarceration and police practices; police militarization and the use of military force;
Protecting workers so as to address wage reduction, environmental protection and workplace safety;
Standing up against the increasing income gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”
The media leads many to think that war and global violence are inevitable and on the rise. Public opinion is moving in the opposite direction. Steps can be taken to move toward war’s reduction and abolition.
MDUUC – Owl Room at 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 POTLUCK AT 6 PM and PRESENTATION AT 7 PM
Tickets: $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
FREE for Students.
Please bring a dish to share if attending optional potluck
or call (925) 933-7850.
JOIN US – ALL ARE WELCOME!
CO-SPONSORED BY FRIENDLY FAVORS AND DEMOCRATIC WORLD FEDERALISTS
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THE FOLLOWING POSITION LETTER (PREPARED BY JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE, LOS ANGELES) WAS ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF THE MT. DIABLO PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER ON AUGUST 18, 2014
Senator Barbara Boxer
312 N Spring St # 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
As people of conscience, we are deeply disappointed with your unconditional support of Israel’s ongoing and increasingly violent occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, and of the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza. You have continuously supported providing Israel with over $3 billion of annual military aid and recently you voted for Senate Resolution 498, which expressed support for Israel’s attack on Gaza and made no mention of Palestinian deaths and the disproportionate use of force against Gaza’s civilian population.
We are shocked by the brutality of Israel’s assault on Gaza. We are appalled by the massive destruction of homes, mosques, schools and hospitals. Israel has already killed close to 2,000 people in Gaza – an estimated 80% of them civilians. Of these, nearly 500 are children who comprise 25% of those killed by weapons you have voted to give Israel. More than 10,000 people are seriously wounded. Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are homeless and living in fear.
• We call upon you to support the international commission of inquiry appointed by the United Nations to look into possible human rights violations and war crimes committed during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
• We call upon you to condemn violence on both sides and to stop justifying Israel’s use of disproportionate force and killing of innocent civilians because of “its right to defend itself,” which leads only to an escalation of violence.
• There is no military solution to the political issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians; therefore, we urge you to demand that Israel immediately end its blockade and siege of Gaza and commit yourself to joining an international effort to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
• We call upon you to support genuine peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian unity government. If the Israeli government will not participate in talks with that unity government, then no further American aid of any sort should be provided to Israel.
• We call upon you to support the United States providing immediate humanitarian aid and supplies to Gaza. Our tax dollars have played a significant role in the destruction of Gaza; now our tax dollars must be used to rebuild Gaza and aid the civilian population.
There can be no peace in the Middle East until there is genuine peace in Israel/Palestine and that will only come with equal rights and justice for all who live there.
Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Walnut Creek
Estee Chandler, Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Organizer
Taher Herzallah, West Coast Regional Coordinator, American Muslims for Palestine
Shakeel Syed, Board Member, American Muslims for Palestine
Rev. Jerald M. Stinson, United Church of Christ
Rev. Darrel Meyers, Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. Ann Schranz, Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Montclair*
Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen
Edie Pistolesi, Ph.D., Professor of Art, California State University, Northridge
David Klein, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics, Director, Climate Science Program
California State University, Northridge
Anthony J. Litwinko, Friends of Sabeel, Los Angeles
Karin Pally, member, Women in Black-Los Angeles
Sarah Thompson, Executive Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams
*affiliation for identification purposes
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Resolution adopted by the board of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center of Walnut Creek, California in support of granting unaccompanied child migrants refugee status and political asylum.
A. Whereas nearly 70,000 children are expected to show up alone at our border this year, driven violently out of their countries and with their government not willing or able to protect them,
B. Whereas our laws have clear precedents for this humanitarian crisis and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recommends to designate most of the Central Americans fleeing regional violence and gang extortion as refugees,
C. Whereas we receive mounting evidence that these children are escaping Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Guatemala to save their lives, to prevent becoming sex slaves or being forcefully recruited to join drug gangs and become murderers themselves,
D. Whereas 400 personal interviews of 1 hour each that where conducted on the children by the UN Agency of Refugees have revealed that 58% of them have received specific death threats, often by gangs leaving body parts in front of their houses, which have urged their parents to pool their meager resources and send them on their dangerous journey North rather than face certain death at home,
E. Whereas gang violence qualifies as grounds for international protection and the US has granted many claims to children with attorneys requesting asylum, therefore we have a proven legal framework to handle these cases,
F. Whereas the scale of this humanitarian challenge pales in comparison to the 2 million+ Syrian refugees, with 700,000 of them received by Turkey alone, after we encouraged them to do so even when they have a country 12 times smaller than we do and are already 7 times as crowded (per square kilometer, Turkey has 94 people and our United States only 13),
G. Whereas this crisis is regional, it requires a concerted effort by the US to coordinate a unified response with other countries in the region, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, therefore the burden of future migrations can be shared in the region,
H. Whereas this call for help can galvanize the compassion of communities all over the US, with families offering loving homes and schools as the children wait for the courts to decide their future,
Therefore the Board of Directors of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center of Walnut Creek, California resolves:
1. To encourage our Immigration Authorities to expedite the processing of these young asylum seekers so they can be eligible to be hosted by their relatives and by volunteer American families as they wait for their court date.
2. To encourage our State Department to set up safe houses and processing centers within Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to pre-qualify them, as we have done in the past in Vietnam and Haiti, giving high priority to those who have been already targeted by the criminal gangs.
3. To encourage our Government to coordinate their efforts with neighboring countries, for example giving preference to a host country where children already have relatives or friends willing to host them.
4. To encourage our political leaders and fellow Americans to extend compassion towards these innocent children, while embracing the promise represented by each one of them.
# # #
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ERLICH WILL DISCUSS HIS NEW BOOK, INSIDE SYRIA
In doing research for this book Erlich interviewed rebel leaders and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad so as to provide a much clearer understanding of the complex dynamics underlying the Syrian civil war, and why it is so crucial for the Middle East, the U.S., and the world. Through his many contacts in Syria, Erlich reveals exactly who is supporting Assad and why, describes the agendas of rebel factions, the horrific plight of thousands of Syrian citizens caught in the crossfire, the role of the Kurds, the continuing influence of powerful Iran, and the conflicted policies of U.S. leaders.
“Reese Erlich’s reporting and investigative journalism around the world has been highly enlightening, and speaking personally, has been of great value to me in my own work on global issues and current affairs.” — Noam Chomsky
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th
6 PM Potluck ~ 7 PM Speaker
MDUUC – Bortin Hall at 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
Tickets: $10 in advance or $15 at the door. FREE for Students.
or call (925) 933-7850.
Presented by Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center and Friendly Favors
Reese Erlich’s history in journalism goes back over 40 years. He first worked as a staff writer and research editor for Ramparts, an investigative reporting magazine published in San Francisco from 1963 to 1975. Today he works as a full-time print and broadcast, freelance reporter. He reports regularly for National Public Radio, CBC, ABC (Australia), and Radio Deutsche Welle. He is special correspondent for GlobalPost. His television documentaries have aired on PBS stations nationwide.
Erlich’s book, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You co-authored with Norman Solomon, became a best seller in 2003. The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis was published in 2007. Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba was published in 2009. Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, was published in September 2010. Inside Syria: the Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect, comes out in October 2014.
Erlich shared a Peabody Award in 2006 as a segment producer for Crossing East, a radio documentary on the history of Asians in the US. In 2012 Erlich’s radio special on Syria won the Explanatory Journalism award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California. His article about the U.S. use of depleted uranium ammunition was voted the eighth most censored story in America for 2003 by Project Censored at Sonoma State University. In 2002 his radio documentary, “The Russia Project,” hosted by Walter Cronkite, won the depth reporting prize for broadcast journalism awarded by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared Sept. 14, 2010, to be “Reese Erlich Day” in honor of his investigative journalistic work. The resolution read, in part, “Investigative reporters are under attack in the U.S. and around the world. Mr. Erlich exhibits the finest qualities of such reporters willing to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
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Was held on Sunday, June 22, 2014
We had our 2nd annual 5k run/walk on the Iron Horse Trail and Danville Blvd. in downtown Alamo
Proceeds will benefit our educational programs!
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Over 100 runners participated. We had kids, and dogs and loads of fun.
THANKS TO ALL OUR SPONSORS, PRIZE DONORS, VOLUNTEER MONITORS AND PARTICIPANTS FOR MAKING THIS WORTHWHILE!
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
AND THE WINNERS ARE!
Top Female overall: Tori Tyler (27) of Danville 17:08 Top Male overall: Tim Keenan (52) of Walnut Creek 17:13
Women 1—19: Chloe Chapman (12) Walnut Creek 25:27 ; Women 20-29: Tori Tyler (27) Walnut Creek 17:08 ; Women 30-39: Nicole Miller (39) Alamo 24:02
Women 40-49: Lorena Cicciari (46) Danville 27:57 ; Women 50-59: Holly Starr (59) Walnut Creek 24:35 ; Women 60-69: Diane Correa (63) Danville 30:48
Women 70-99: Dee Farkas (86) Lafayette 55:51 ; Men 1-19: Nicholas Ward (17) Danville 18:31 ; Men 20-29: Anthony Ziebarth (27) Citrus Heights 18:58
Men 30-39: Clint Newman (33) Oakland 23:22 ; Men 40-49: Kevin Downie (44) Dublin 18:03 ; Men 50-59: Tim Keenan (52) Walnut Creek 17:13
Men 60-69: Bill Hermans (62) Concord 21:40 ; Men 70-99: Rob Robinson (70) Alamo 27:19
FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF TIMES FOR ALL RUNNERS CLICK HERE
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!
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WE HAVE A GROWING SELECTION OF NOTECARDS
(with artwork from our Art & Writing Challenge kids!)
SERGIO LUB JEWELRY
BEA JOHNSON’S GUIDEBOOK ON SUSTAINABLE LIVING
Click on “WEBSTORE” above for more information.
You can help support the work of the Peace and Justice Center!
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Opposition to attacking Syria wasn’t limited to the traditional crowd–it drew in progressives, libertarians and Americans who simply wanted nothing to do with the civil war.
Protesters in San Francisco against an attack on Syria.
Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes/Flickr
September 17, 2013 |
As I took part in rallies, marches, vigils, conference calls, personal conversations and meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area during the recent crisis over Syria, these are the reasons I heard that Americans opposed even a “limited” US strike on that country:
1 – It won’t do any good. The insanity of killing people with cruise missiles and other conventional weapons to “send a message” that killing people with poison gas is WRONG, was repeated over and over, to good effect.
2 – We’re supporting Al-Qaeda now, really?! I heard this at the August 4 Restore the 4th rally in San Francisco as this crisis started to build. I have the sense that this was mostly a libertarian and right-wing perspective, though Dennis Kucinich came down hard on this as well.
3 – Don’t get involved in someone else’s civil war. People expressed overall wariness not only about Al-Nusra and/or Al-Qaeda in Syria but also unease about the violent and divided Syrian “rebels.” Sometimes an ugly “let the bastards kill each other” or “they’re not worth us getting involved” message was a barely hidden subtext to this oppositional messaging.
4 – Iraq. The US didn’t help that country. Yeah, no kidding. For millions in this country who believed the propaganda in 2002-2003, the lessons from the horror of the Iraq War are finally sinking in. Many people saw a US “strike” as the beginning of Iraq II, and they weren’t having it.
5 – We’re not going to war for Obama. Republicans and Libertarians were the first and some of the strongest opposition; see Bruce Gagnon’s analysis. Some of this opposition was based in a racist desire to thwart our first “black” (really, biracial) president regardless of the issue, but some was principled opposition based on a lack of trust and respect for Obama’s policies overall, including his “dirty” drone strikes and special operations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
6 – It costs too much, and we need the money at home. The Bring Our War $$ Home messaging has been circulating since 2009, and many people across the political spectrum picked up on it. Also sequester cuts happening simultaneously with this latest propaganda push, and the weak economy, added to the force of “we can’t afford it.”
7 – Our military has been stretched and overdeployed for too long. Active duty troops photographed themselves opposing another war – an unusual and brave move link. People didn’t believe Kerry’s/Obama’s reassurances about how limited a US (air) war on Syria would be.
8 – Afghanistan. The US is still engaged in a “hot” war, one that is still sending young Americans home in coffins or wheelchairs. Even if the mainstream media can’t be bothered to cover that war, Americans, especially veterans and military families haven’t forgotten.
9 – Libya. Americans are (dimly) aware that all is not right in Libya and there have been many unintended, negative consequences from the US/NATO air war there.
10 – The UK Parliament voted NO. Last but certainly not least. It’s one thing to say, write, chant “Say no to war” — it’s quite another, and more mobilizing, thing for our country’s closest ally to do so in a public vote of their legislature, pushed by their citizens. The vote being close didn’t even matter – it was an historic NO, and a pivotal moment in this crisis – and the push to “take it to Congress” really took off after this vote.
Final thoughts: This crisis isn’t over, and the US warships, jets and other machinery of destruction are still hanging fire in the eastern Mediterranean, at vast taxpayer expense. Going forward, we in peace/antiwar organizations, from whatever political perspectives, need to amplify these “talking points of the people” and stay ready to take action again.
There isn’t a single “movement” against war, but an informal, multifocal opposition from across the political spectrum. “Yelling at empty buildings” aka the huge marches of the past especially in DC, may be a tactic that’s outlived its usefulness. Americans live on our phones these days, and we found ourselves ready to use them to call Congress. The timing of this crisis was helpful – we were able to show up at representatives’ town halls during the August recess and speak our minds in person. For now, that was enough to avert a war. More may well be needed later in the year, as the military-industrial-media complex hasn’t gone away. But for now, let’s reflect on a rare, and much-needed victory, staying humble and nimble for the challenges ahead.
Janet Weil is a longtime CODEPINK-er and a co-founder of SF 99% Coalition and member of the Peace Center’s Advocacy Committee
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Just a few weeks ago the US government appeared dead set on attacking Syria. Media such as CNN seemed to be pushing for war with discussions where all sides want war.* Meanwhile the powerful lobby group AIPAC was sending hundreds of their members to Congress to press for authorization for war. **
Secretary of State Kerry seemed to be pounding the drums of war more feverishly each day.
Now things look vastly more optimistic. Diplomacy and cooler heads have prevailed, at least for the moment.
OUR THANKS go to…..
The American people for saying loudly and clearly “We do NOT want another war.”
The British Parliament which said NO they will not join an attack.
Our Congressional representatives who listened and spoke out.
President Obama who listened and made the crucial decision.
Let’s hope this will be the start of a new era in international relations and US foreign policy. The credibility of our country is enhanced when the President listens to the American people and the international community and when we respect and abide by international law.
Board of Directors, Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center
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Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center Resolution of Support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on their legal action against the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM Program, the clandestine national security electronic surveillance.
– Whereas our Constitution is the highest law of our land, which no other law can challenge without a Constitutional Amendment, and whereas our Constitution must be obeyed by every US Citizen, specially by our government and its agents, who are publicly sworn to respect our Constitution since they have the highest potential to do harm if they do not, and
– Whereas our Constitution and its Amendments guarantee our right of free expression and privacy, and whereas the secret electronic surveillance program that the NSA has undertaken violates both our First Amendment rights of free speech and association, and our Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, and
– Whereas the National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, after many false denials, has gone on the record admitting that thousands of NSA employees and contractors really do listen to our phone calls and read our emails without warrants to do either one, and
– Whereas listening to the phone calls and reading the email of Americans without the justified authorization of a judge is a felony crime, even under the Patriot Act, and therefore this means that the NSA is committing thousands of felonies a day, and
– Whereas the official “fact sheet” explanation about the NSA surveillance efforts posted on their website was removed after Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall had accused the agency of lying, and
– Whereas we are aware that whistle-blowers are fully protected by our laws when exposing an illegal conspiracy such as this one, therefore we support the granting of immediate freedom from prosecution to the brave individuals that at great personal risk exposed this massive and secret spying ring on the American People. They deserve our highest recognition for making us aware of our enemies within, therefore
– The Board of Directors of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center hereby supports the ACLU in its lawsuit against the NSA’s PRISM Program.
Board of Directors – Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center – www.OurPeaceCenter.org
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