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
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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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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Mt Diablo Peace & Justice Center Resolution passed by its Board of Directors on June 17, 2013
Rancho Seco plant (near Sacramento) was closed by public vote in 1989 after 15 years of troubled service and still having 20 years remaining in its operating license.
Whereas our State of California has already recognized the environmental and health dangers of nuclear power generation by not allowing new plants to be built in our State,
Whereas the Rancho Seco plant near Sacramento was closed by popular vote in 1989, and the San Onofre plant near San Diego is now in the process of being permanently retired, and whereas the last remaining California nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo has already served most of its useful life;
Whereas geological studies have shown that the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is located near several active earthquake fault lines, and scientists have discovered that, in the past, powerful tsunami-type waves have impacted the coastline where this plant is located, so that it has become clear we have the risk of a Fukushima-type disaster that may cause us to lose many lives and the use of part of our State for generations to come,
Diablo Canyon plant (near San Luis Obispo), last one still operating. It is located near 2 active earthquake fault lines and this coast had Fukushima-type tsunamis in the past.
Whereas nuclear power plants suffer from generic problems, including steam generator failures, that makes them likely to unexpectedly fail and leak radioactive and carcinogenic poisons into our environment,
Whereas scientific findings indicate that nuclear power plants in California have released radioactive isotopes into our biosphere that has accumulated in our children’s bodies, resulting in increased rates of childhood cancer and leukemia, and undermining their vitality and reducing their chances to lead healthy and productive lives,
San Onofre plant (near San Clemente, between Los Angeles and San Diego). Closed in June 7, 2013 – 17 years ahead of schedule – due to health risks concerns.
Whereas levels of radioactive Strontium-90 in U.S. children’s baby teeth are now at levels equal or superior to the levels that prompted President Kennedy to ban atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in 1963 to safeguard the safety of future generations,
Whereas the 2012/2013 Transmission Plan of the California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) reports that closing the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant would have no significant impact on the reliability of the CAISO transmission system assuming alternative generation is made available,
Whereas the growing ability of existing and new renewable energy sources to satisfy our energy needs have made it no longer necessary to expose the people of California to the health, safety and security risks associated with nuclear power plants,
We the board of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, taking all the above facts in consideration, declare our full support to the work coordinated by Dr. Jerry B. Brown, Director of the World Business Academy’s Safe Energy Project, to accelerate the closing of Diablo Canyon, the only remaining nuclear power plant in California.
Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center
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Our Annual Membership Meeting was held on Saturday June 22 in Walnut Creek. We shared an abundant and nourishing potluck, heard introductions from our current Board Members and from our nominees to the board as selected by our Selection Committee. All present members were given a ballot and were asked to vote for their chosen officers. We are pleased to announce that all current members that were up for re-election after their 3-year term, and all 4 nominees were elected unanimously to our board, which is now 16 people strong, the most powerful board in our history.
Our four newly elected board members are: 1. Connie Loosli from Walnut Creek, an Education Specialist for the Lindsay Wildlife Museum; 2. Pandora Bethea from Crockett, an English teacher at Deer Valley High in Antioch; 3. Rick Sterling from Walnut Creek, a retired senior electronics engineer at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory; and 4. David Seaborg from Walnut Creek, an environmental leader and founder of the World Rainforest Fund.
We also brainstormed in small groups to find the most important issues we should address this coming year, and we had the pleasure to hear from Dr. Jerry B. Brown, an expert on nuclear radiation who is working to prematurely close Diablo Canyon, the last remaining nuclear power plant in California and who recently received a resolution of support from our Peace Center. Our next Annual Membership Meeting will be in June 2014 – The date and location shall be announced next spring. We hope you will come and vote with us. See more images of our meeting at: www.flickr.com/photos/lub/sets/72157634294216746
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