Monday, October 24, 2016

For Peace in Palestine/Israel

200 women including Liberia’s Peace Laureate demand peace agreement on Israel’s Lebanese border / Cholo Brooks, GNN Liberia, 19/10/16

At the culmination of the two-week, cross-country march, Israeli and Palestinian women vow to continue their struggle until an agreement is reached.
Eetta Prince-Gibson Oct 20, 2016 3:56 PM
Women participating in the March of Hope dance at Qasr al-Yahud, October 19, 2016.Abbas Momani, AFP
Thousands finish women's peace march with plea for action at Netanyahu's door
From a celebration at the Dead Sea, to a march through the streets of Jerusalem, to a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s residence, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women Wednesday marked the conclusion of the March of Hope.
The march was organized and sponsored by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan women’s group founded in 2014 in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, which, according to its flyers, calls for an agreement that will be respectful, non-violent and accepted by both sides. “We will not stop until a political agreement, which will bring us, our children and grandchildren a safe future, is reached,” says their website. Organizers say the group is funded mainly by small donations from Israel and abroad, as well as by the Women Donors Network in the United States.
The cross-country March of Hope began on October 5, when some 2,500 women walked the first 5-kilometer segment from Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanese border to Achziv Beach, north of Nahariya. Every day since then, women have participated in 5 to 10 kilometer walks in different locales throughout the country, including one group that walked and biked in segments from Eilat to the area abutting the Gaza Strip.
Wednesday's events began at Qasr al-Yahud, the site where Jesus is believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist. Some 2,500 Jewish and Arab Israeli women arrived on buses from all over the country, from as far away as the Sea of Galilee and the Negev and Arava deserts. They were joined by more than 1,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ann Wright tells about The Women’s Boat to Gaza

Five hours after our Women's Boat to Gaza, the Zaytouna-Oliva, was stopped in international waters by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on its 1,000 mile journey from Messina, Italy, the coast of Gaza came into view. The Gaza shoreline was starkly visible...for its darkness. The contrast of the bright lights of the Israeli coast from the border city of Ashkelon north to Tel Aviv where the brilliant lights continued out of sight up the Mediterranean coast to the area south of Ashkelon -- the coast of Gaza -- shrouded in darkness. The electricity shortages caused by the Israeli control of much of the electrical network of Gaza condemns the Palestinians in Gaza to a life of minimal electricity for refrigeration, pumping of water from roof tanks to kitchens and bathroom and for study -- and it condemns the people of Gaza to a night...every darkness. 

In the bright lights of Israel live 8 million Israeli citizens. In the Israeli controlled darkness in the small 25-mile long, 5-mile wide Gaza Strip live 1.9 million Palestinians. The internationally isolated enclave called Gaza has almost one quarter of the population of Israel yet is kept in virtually perpetual darkness by the policies of the State of Israel that limits the amount of electricity, water, food, construction and medical supplies that come into Gaza. Israel attempts to keep the Palestinians in yet another type of darkness by imprisoning them in Gaza, severely limiting their ability to travel for education, medical reasons, family visits and for the pure joy of visiting other peoples and lands.

The Women's Boat to Gaza, the Zaytouna Oliva, set sail from Barcelona, Spain on September 15 to bring international attention to this Israeli imposed darkness. We sailed with thirteen women on our initial voyage, a three-day trip to Ajaccio, Corscia, France. Our captain was Captain Madeline Habib from Australia who has decades of captaining and sailing experience recently as the Captain of the Dignity, a Doctors Without Borders ship that rescues migrants from North Africa, and our crewmembers were Emma Ringqvist from Sweden and Synne Sofia Reksten from Norway. 
The international participants selected to be on this part of the journey were Rosana Pastor Munoz, Member of Parliament and actor from Spain; Malin Bjork, member of the European Parliament from Sweden; Paulina de los Reyes, a Swedish professor originally from Chile; Jaldia Abubakra, Palestinian from Gaza now a Spanish citizen and political activist; Dr. Fauziah Hasan, medical doctor from Malaysia; Yehudit Ilany, political consultant and journalist from Israel; Lucia Munoz, Spanish journalist with Telesur; Kit Kittredge, US human rights and Gaza activist. Wendy Goldsmith, Canadian social-worker human rights campaigner and Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat were designated by the Women's Boat to Gaza organizers as co-leaders of the boat.

Other participants who had flown to Barcelona but were unable to sail due to the breakdown of the second boat, Amal-Hope, were Zohar Chamberlain Regev (a German and Israeli citizen resident in Spain), Ellen Huttu Hansson from Sweden, boat co-leaders from the international Freedom Coalition, internationally recognized non-violence trainer Lisa Fithian from the US, Norsham Binti Abubakr medical administrator from Malaysia, Palestinian activist Gail Miller from the US and crew members Laura Pastor Solera from Spain, Marilyn Porter from Canada and Josefin Westman from Sweden. Ivory Hackett-Evans, a boat captain from the UK flew to Barcelona and then to Messina from work with migrants in Greece to help find another boat in Sicily to replace the Amal-Hope.

A new group of women joined us in Ajaccio, Corsica, France for the 3.5 day trip to Messina, Sicily, Italy. Besides our crew Captain Madeleine Habib from Australia, crewmembers Emma Ringqvist from Sweden and Synne Sofia Reksten from Norway, the participants were boat co-leaders Wendy Goldsmith from Canada and Ann Wright from the US, medical doctor Dr. Fauziah Hasan from Malaysia, Latifa Habbechi, member of Parliament from Tunisia; Khadija Benguenna, Al Jazeera journalist and broadcaster from Algeria; Heyet El-Yamani, Al Jazeera Mubasher On-Line journalist from Egypt; Yehudit Ilany, political consultant and journalist from Israel; Lisa Gay Hamilton, TV actor and activist from the United States; Norsham Binti Abubakr medical administrator from Malaysia; and Kit Kittredge, US human rights and Gaza activist. 
A third group of women sailed for nine days and 1,000 miles from Messina, Sicily to 34.2 miles from Gaza before Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stopped us in international waters, 14.2 miles outside the illegal 20-mile Israeli imposed "Security Zone" that limits access to Palestine's only port located at Gaza City.
The eight women participants were Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire; Algerian Parliamentarian Samira Douaifia; New Zealand Parliamentarian Marama Davidson; Swedish First Substitute Member of the Swedish Parliament Jeanette Escanilla Diaz (originally from Chile); South African Olympic athlete and university student rights activist Leigh Ann Naidoo; Spanish professional photographer Sandra Barrialoro; Malaysian medical doctor Fauziah Hasan; Al Jazeera journalists British Mena Harballou and Russian Hoda Rakhme; and Ann Wright, a retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat and boat team leader from the international Freedom Flotilla coalition. Our three crew that sailed us the entire 1,715 mile voyage from Barcelona to 34 miles from Gaza were Captain Madeleine Habib from Australia, crewmembers Swedish Emma Ringqvist and Norwegian Synne Sofia Reksten.

While the Zaytouna-Olivia sailed to Sicily, our international coalition attempted to find a second boat to continue the mission to Gaza. Despite great efforts, ultimately a second boat could not be fully crewed due to the delayed timeline and many women who traveled from around the world to Messina were unable to go on the final voyage to Gaza. 
Those participants whose hearts and thoughts for the women of Gaza were carried on the Zaytouna-Oliva but whose physical bodies remained in Messina were Cigdem Topcuoglu, a professional athlete and trainer from Turkey who sailed in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara where her husband was killed; Naomi Wallace, playwright of Palestinian issues and author from the US; Gerd von der Lippe, athlete and professor from Norway; Eva Manly, retired documentary maker and human rights activist from Canada; Efrat Lachter, TV journalist from Israel; Orly Noy, online journalist from Israel; Jaldia Abubakra, Palestinian from Gaza now a Spanish citizen and political activist; boat co-leaders from the international Freedom Coalition Zohar Chamberlain Regev, a German and Israeli citizen resident in Spain, Ellen Huttu Hansson from Sweden, Wendy Goldsmith from Canada; and crew members Sofia Kanavle from the US, Maite Mompo from Spain and Siri Nylen from Sweden.

Many members of the Women's Boat to Gaza steering committee and national and organization campaign organizers traveled to Barcelona, Ajaccio and/or Messina to help with media, ground preparations, logistics and delegate support. They include Wendy Goldsmith, Ehab Lotayeh, David Heap and Stephanie Kelly of the Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign; Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Laura Aura, Pablo Miranzo, Maria del Rio Domenech, Sela Gonza'lez Ataide, Adriana Catala'n, and many others from the Rumbo a Gaza campaign in the Spanish state; Zaher Darwish, Lucia Intruglio, Carmelo Chite, Palmira Mancuso and many others from Freedom Flotilla Italia; Zaher Birawi, Chenaf Bouzid and Vyara Gylsen of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza; Ann Wright, Gail Miller and Kit Kittredge of the US Boat to Gaza campaign; Shabnam Mayet of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance in South Africa; Ellen Huttu Hansson and Kerstin Thomberg from Ship to Gaza Sweden; Torstein Dahle and Jan-Petter Hammervold of Ship to Gaza Norway. Many other local volunteers in each port opened their homes and their hearts to our travellers, participants and support crew. 
Supporters of Palestinian human rights who came to Barcelona, Ajaccio and/or Messina or at sea off Crete to help where needed included large delegations of supporters and students from Malaysia studying in Europe who were organized by MyCare Malaysia, Diane Wilson, Keith Meyer, Barbara Briggs-Letson and Greta Berlin from the United States, Vaia Aresenopoulos and others from Ship to Gaza Greece, Claude Leostic of the French Platform of NGOs for Palestine, along with Vincent Gaggini, Isabelle Gaggini and many others from Corsica-Palestina, and Christiane Hessel from France.

Many others who worked on the logistics, media or delegate committees stayed in their home countries to continue their important work from there, including Susan Kerin of the US on delegates and media committees and Irene Macinnes from Canada on the delegates committee, James Godfrey (England) on the media committee, Zeenat Adam and Zakkiya Akhals (South Africa) along with Staffan Grane'r and Mikael Lofgren (Sweden, media), Joel Opperdoes and Svensson (Sweden, logistics), Michele Borgia (Italy, media), Jase Tanner and Nino Pagliccia (Canada, media). The United European Left/Nordic Green Left parliamentary group in Strasbourg and the European Coordinating Committee for Palestine in Brussels were also there when we needed them, for political and institutional support. 
At each of our stops, local organizers arranged for public events for the participants. In Barcelona, organizers had three afternoons of public events at the Barcelona harbor with the Mayor of Barcelona speaking at the farewell ceremony for the boats. In Ajaccio a local band entertained the public.   FOR THE REST OF THE STORY GO TO:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

From Laura Flanders:
Im so sorry to hear this news. Bea was a model of beautiful, vivacious, radical persistence. She was never bored and never lost for words and was one of the best community-builders I know. Huge love to her beloveds, Edith Isaac-roseCharles Kreloff & Elliot.
It's with great sadness to announce that Bea passed away yesterday. There was no one like her and she'll be missed greatly. 
Bea Kreloff (1925-2016) died August 17, 2016, at the age of 90. She was a painter, teacher, activist, radical lesbian feminist, and co-founder and Director Emeritus of Art Workshop International. Born in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to clothing designer William Magit and homemaker Celia Singer Magit, she showed an interest in art and political activism from an early age. She attended Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, then studied at and worked for The Brooklyn Museum Art School from 1950 to 1958 where she took classes with the painters Max Beckmann and Rubin Tam. In the 1960s she painted and taught privately, and from 1973 to 1985 was Art Department Chair at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Riverdale, N.Y. She taught painting workshops, seminars, and lectured on art at Cooper Union, Marymount Manhattan College, Women's Caucus for Art, The New School University and The College Art Association, among other institutions. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., as well as in a number of private collections. She was an avid feminist, actively involved with the anti-war movement, gay liberation, and women’s issues. Over the course of 35 years, she held painting and drawing classes at Art Workshop International, Assisi, Italy. She was an original tenant of Westbeth Artist Housing in Greenwich Village, where she resided with her partner Edith Isaac Rose, who survives her, as do her two sons, Elliot and Charles, and her granddaughter Samantha. Details of a memorial will be announced in the coming weeks.

Monday, July 18, 2016

We Are ALL Seneca Lake: Environmental Defenders Arrested

Watkins Glen, NY –  “We are ALL Seneca Lake” was the message delivered this morning by prominent environmental leaders Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, David Braun, Co-Founder of Americans Against Fracking, and Rachel Marco-Havens, Youth Engagement Director of Earth Guardians on the driveway of a gas compressor station.
The three joined 50 others at a civil disobedience action against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns that highlighted our interconnectedness in the struggle for a fast and necessary transition to clean energy and the folly and destructiveness of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the Stagecoach (formerly Crestwood) gas storage complex along Route 14 in the Town of Reading shortly before 7:00 a.m.
During the blockade, the protesters stopped all traffic entering and leaving the facility. Shortly before 8:00 a.m., they were arrested by Schuyler County sheriff’s deputies, charged with disorderly conduct, and transported to the sheriff’s department. Watkins Glen police and NYS troopers assisted in the arrest process.
In reference to Con Ed’s recent investment in Seneca Lake gas storage and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s extension of an almost-lapsed permit, protesters held banners that said, “We Will Not be Con-ed“ and “We Will Not be FERC’ed!”
In an address to fellow protesters, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Wes Gillingham, 56, of Ulster, said, “While we stand here in solidarity with the people of Seneca Lake, we are also standing up against the devastation in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and the bomb trains bringing that fracked oil to Albany. We are standing up against the oil and gas money that pollutes our politics. We are standing up against pipelines rubber-stamped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”
Describing the Aliso Canyon gas storage leak near Porter Ranch, California, that prompted thousands of evacuations, Americans Against Fracking’s David Braun, 45, of Oakland, said, “I am risking arrest with you today because of disasters with gas storage that I have seen up close in my home state. Don’t let it happen here. Don’t turn wine country into fracked gas country. Don’t build Aliso Canyon in New York’s Napa Valley.”
Gas storage is the only industry with the power to take down the entire local economy in the case of an accident, Braun noted. “Winemakers don’t poison the air if they have a bad year. Local farmers won’t force thousands to be evacuated from their homes if their crops don’t produce properly. No other industry does this.”
Earth Guardian’s Rachel Marco-Havens, 46, of Woodstock, said, “We must move to renewable sources of energy now. This summer, as fossil fuel build-out escalates, we will continue to escalate our efforts—for the protection of our children and those to come.”
Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Biochemist Martha Ferger, PhD, 92, of Dryden, said, “As a scientist, I know that there is no bigger threat to our planet than climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Storing methane in the salt caverns here at Seneca Lake will make the problem of climate change worse, not better.”
The 53 protesters arrested at Seneca Lake today came from 18 New York State counties plus California and New Jersey.  Eight were from Schuyler County. They are:
Richard Battaglia, 54, Richford, Tioga County
Marie Ely Baumgardner, 69, Burdett, Schuyler County
Michael D. Black, 64, Dundee, Yates County
Thomas Blecher, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
David Braun, 45, Oakland, Alameda County, California
Desmond A. Brown Jr., 22, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Patricia Anne Campbell, 73, Sterling, Cayuga County
Lyndsay Clark, 55, Springwater, Livingston County
Fred Conner, 60, Dryden, Tompkins County
James Connor, 84, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Ann Cain Crusade, 60, Starkey, Yates County
Phil Davis, 64, Hector, Schuyler County
Daryl B. Denning, 66, Corning, Steuben County
Wendy J. Dwyer, 61, Canaan, Columbia County
Karen Edelstein, 55, Lansing, Tompkins County
Wesley Glenn Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County
Richard L. Evert, 69, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey
Elisa Evett, 71, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Martha Ferger, 92, Dryden, Tompkins County
Paula Fitzsimmons, 58, Hector, Schuyler County
Kenneth Fogarty, 76, Guilford, Chenango County
Lyn Gerry, 60, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County
Wes Gillingham, 56, Livingston Manor, Sullivan County
Ryan Goetz, 22, Woodstock, Ulster County
Wayne I. Gottlieb, 58, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Deborah Guard, 65, Schenectady, Schenectady County
Evelyn Hamilton, 69, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey
Margaret Hammond, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ellen Z. Harrison, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Niall Hodges, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Wendy Roe Hovey, 73, Horseheads, Chemung County
Catherine Johnson, 54, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Sharon Kahkonen, 67, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Bill Kitchen, 64, Johnstown, Fulton County
Kim Knight, 32, Covert, Seneca County
Yvonne LaMontagne, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County
Peter E. Looker, 65, Glenville, Schenectady County
Rachel Marco-Havens, 47, Woodstock, Ulster County
Sage Anthony Mannino, 24, Shokan, Ulster County
Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County
Rebecca J. Meier, 59, Canaan, Columbia County
Mariana D. Morse, 67, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Edward Nizalowski, 68, Newark Valley, Tioga County
Mary Ott, 59, Trumansburg, Seneca County
Dianne Marie Roe, 73, Corning, Steuben County
Jane Pfeiffer Russell, 64, Pulteney, Steuben County
Coby Schultz, 56, Springwater, Livingston County
Elan Shapiro, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
John W. Suter, 71, Dryden, Tompkins County
Peter F. Tringali Jr., 64, Brewster, Putnam County
Jan Zeserson, 69, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Kenneth Zeserson, 68, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Women of Korean Jeju Island still protesting the huge Naval Base

    Ann Wright recently visited the island, famous for its diving
fisherwomen. The U.S, military has constructed a huge naval base
 there, despite the protests of local residents. Barbara Hammer
made a film about the women divers.

Ann Wright wrote:

The South Korean Navy filed a civil lawsuit against 116 individual anti-base protesters and 5 groups including the Gangjeong Village Association demanding $3 million in compensation for alleged construction delays caused by protests. 
Samsung was the primary contractor for the $1 BILLION dollar project!! Villagers are very angry--and the village has sent up a City Hall in a tent across from the entrance to the base to express their displeasure. The Vice-Mayor holds city meetings in the tent and sleeps there!
Lawyers for the activists wrote that the navy's lawsuit is "an unjustified declaration of war against the people. When the reckless development of the state and large construction companies threaten the right of citizens to a peaceful existence, the right of citizens to oppose this must be guaranteed as their natural and constitutional right since sovereignty rests with the people. To condemn this action as illegal is to delegitimize the foundation of democracy!!"
Please call South Korean embassies and consulates to protest this blatant attempt to silence criticism of government policies and actions!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Granny Activists Sit In to Stop Oil Trains

SEATTLE (AP) — Hundreds of climate activists on Saturday marched to the site of two refineries in northwest Washington state to call for a break from fossil fuels, while a smaller group continued to block railroad tracks leading to the facilities for a second day.
Protesters in kayaks, canoes, on bikes and on foot took part in a massive demonstration near Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, to demand action on climate and an equitable transition away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
A day before, about 150 activists had pitched tents and set up camp on nearby railroad tracks to block the flow of oil flowing to the nearby Shell and Tesoro oil refineries.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grace Paley Reads at the San Francisco Women’s Building

This audio takes a few minutes to load up.

Grace Paley reads poetry at the San Francisco Women's Building on June 22, 1980 in a benefit for the War Resisters League. In Part 1, Paley reads the poems 2 villages, Connections: Vermont Vietnam, and That country, and a short story, The story hearer. Also performing that night was Judy Grahn (see AZ0456). Part 2 of the recording also contains Grace Paley reading at U.C. Extension, Berkeley on June 19, 1980. Paley reads the stories The used-boy raisers and Enormous changes at the last minute. Part 3 of the recording is a question and answer period from when Paley was at U.C. Berkeley (audience questions not miked). Contains sensitive language

Sunday, May 1, 2016

On Good Friday 1970, the activist priest and poet Daniel Berrigan, whose resistance to the war in Vietnam included the ritual destruction of draft board records as a member of the Catonsville Nine, eluded the FBI and went underground immediately after giving a speech to thousands of students in the Cornell University gymnasium by exiting from the building inside one of Bread & Puppet Theater's disciple puppets. Berrigan died yesterday at the age of 94. This photo documents that day.
"'On the very day he was scheduled to begin his prison term, [Daniel Berrigan] left his office keys on a secretary’s desk in Anabel Taylor Hall and disappeared.' –Anke Wessels, director of Cornell’s Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy 
"Cornell celebrated Berrigan’s impending imprisonment for his involvement in the Catonsville Nine action by conducting a weekend-long 'America Is Hard to Find' event on April 17–19, 1970, which included a public appearance by the then-fugitive Berrigan before a crowd of 15,000 in Barton Hall. Also scheduled to appear were Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, Country Joe and the Fish, and Bread and Puppet Theatre.
Berrigan evaded FBI agents, who were present in large numbers, by climbing into one of the 15-foot tall puppets, walking out of the venue, and into a getaway car.”

From another post:
“I was in solitude all of a sudden in this large gathering,” Berrigan recalled when someone whispered in his ear, “do you want to go out of here?” After a few moments of contemplation, the fugitive priest concurred. He would make his escape from the clutches of the FBI with a little help from the Bread and Puppet Theater. Father Berrigan recalled being told by an anonymous benefactor, “just follow me, the lights will go out, just hold this stick.” He later described his escape:
“When the lights lowered for a rock group, I slipped off backstage. Students helped lower around me an enormous puppet of one of the twelve apostles . . . Inside the burlap, I had only to hold a stick that kept the papier-mâché head aloft, and follow the others, making for a panel truck . . . I climbed in, blind as a bat, sure of my radar, spoiling for fun. It was guerrilla theater, a delight, just short of slapstick. An FBI agent ran for the phone, our license plate was recorded, the chase was on. But our trusty van, hot with destiny, galloped for the woods, and we made it.”
Later, in 1981, Bread & Puppet was inspired by and collaborated with Daniel Berrigan, his brother Philip, and their colleagues of the Ploughshares Eight anti-nuclear activist group to create the production "Swords and Ploughshares."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David”.
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Demonstration at Creech Air Base in Utah

Ann Wright posted these photos of a Code Pink Demonstration.

From Ann Wright: "Some fascinating comments from local residents about our protests at Creech drone base- not all negative!!!!
"At the Oasis Bar, the only bar in town, a resident said he didn't believe protesters would effect any change at the base level, but that he shared a concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes.
“'We do worry,' he said of the base's Reapers and Predators, the two types of drones flown from Creech. 'It was a lot better when it was a Thunderbird (flying).'
"He added that if authorities arrested protesters, they should also prosecute those responsible for civilian deaths. (Yes!!! Ann's comment)
"But even as he identified common ground with some of the protesters, he recognized the economic benefits of having the base there.
"Some Indian Springs residents said protesters should direct their message to decision-makers instead of urging drone operators to disobey commands.
"Another resident said the town had become accustomed to protests but felt they created tension among residents and lowered the morale of drone operators, which she felt was unfair because the pilots merely follow orders."

Ruben Beltran of Indian Springs waves a peace sign during a protest Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, at Creech Air Force Base. Beltran said most Indian Springs residents dislike activists because the base hires civilians from town.
Click to enlarge photo
Indian Springs resident Ruben Beltran holds a poster Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, during a protest session to highlight the environmental effects of war. Beltran was across the highway from Creech Air Force Base as part of a weeklong anti-drone protest.
INDIAN SPRINGS — Ruben Beltran pointed across U.S. 95 to his neighbor, a man sitting on a motorcycle inside the fenced boundary of Creech Air Force Base.
Beltran and the man on the motorcycle know each other, like a good many other residents of this community of about 1,000 people. But they don't know each other in the warm small-town way captured in Norman Rockwell paintings.
“That guy, he hates me," Beltran said.
What divides Beltran and his neighbor is something that also has created fault lines among Americans well beyond Indian Springs. It's drone warfare. Beltran is an outspoken anti-drone activist, an anomaly for a resident of Indian Springs. On Monday afternoon, he was standing at a weeklong anti-drone protest directed at the pilots and civilian staff who commute every day to Creech, one of the military’s hubs for flying drones.
“They don't like people like us here because a lot of people work at the base," he said.
In fact, Beltran said that the town’s connection to the base runs so deep that some of his neighbors who work at the base no longer talk to him because of his activism.
While the installation has been in this small town for several decades, its purpose has shifted over the years, from being a practice site of the Thunderbirds precision flight team to being the base of operations for drones used for 24/7 surveillance or strikes overseas.
Click to enlarge photo
An anti-drone activist calls for an end to targeted drone strikes in front of Creech Air Force Base Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2015.
As a result, the town has been a magnet for anti-war protesters like Beltran. This week, Code Pink, the grass-roots group known for disrupting congressional hearings and political speeches, is expected to protest on the highway by Creech twice a day until Friday. With the town in the spotlight, many residents said they had a dim view of the activists.
Several residents said they supported the base, which provides jobs to the community. And even those who are more sympathetic with an anti-drone sentiment believe protesting at the base is futile in affecting change and see the importance of having the base.
“They feed so many families,” said a resident who used to work as a civilian at Creech.
Accordingly, conversations with residents reveal how sensitive the topic of Creech is in the town. Residents were not willing to be identified because some worked at the base, had plans to apply for a job there or believed speaking about the base could harm their businesses.
Indian Springs, an unincorporated town in Clark County, has always had strong ties to the military. Besides being the home of Creech, it’s adjacent to a 2.9 million-acre test range and is 45 miles away from the Nevada National Security Site. As such, the military has served as one of the town’s principal employers and is integral to keeping the economy afloat.
But the drone missions have brought new attention to the town. Code Pink members have traveled to Creech since 2009 to call for an end to drone strikes, which in their view have been responsible for more civilian deaths than the government has acknowledged and have helped galvanize the nation's enemies. Other groups have come as well. Dozens of peace activists were arrested in March for trespassing and blocking the base.
Click to enlarge photo
Anti-drone activists with the group Code Pink hold signs for cars turning into Creech Air Force Base Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2015.
Some residents said the protests had become business as usual. Asked about Code Pink’s peaceful 15-person rally Monday morning, a former employee of the town’s shuttered casino responded in an unsurprised tone: “There’s another protest?”
At times, though, several residents said the protesters had triggered a backlash. Residents have been known to stage counterprotests at Creech. One resident, who works full-time at the base as a civilian contractor and whose father worked at the Nevada National Security Site, said the counterprotesters felt the activists shed a negative light on the town, a sentiment echoed by several other residents.
“I used to flip them off every time I passed,” said the former Creech contractor. “They’re not always peaceful.”
She said the town had become accustomed to protests but felt they created tension among residents and lowered the morale of drone operators, which she felt was unfair because the pilots merely follow orders.
On Monday, protesters arrived at 6 a.m. so they could catch the attention of pilots on their commute. Some Indian Springs residents said protesters should direct their message to decision-makers instead of urging drone operators to disobey commands.
At the Oasis Bar, the only bar in town, a resident said he didn't believe protesters would effect any change at the base level, but that he shared a concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes.
“We do worry,” he said of the base's Reapers and Predators, the two types of drones flown from Creech. “It was a lot better when it was a Thunderbird (flying).”
He added that if authorities arrested protesters, they should also prosecute those responsible for civilian deaths. But even as he identified common ground with some of the protesters, he recognized the economic benefits of having the base there.
He said he might even apply for a job there.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vera Williams, Grace’s friend and collaborator has passed away

Vera William and Sienna Paley

Sad news that Vera Williams, peace activist, educational visionary, artist, children’s book writer and illustrator died peacefully right after having a retrospective exhibition at the Delaware County Art Gallery. Vera was one of the founders of the “Land” - Gate Hill Co-op where I lived for five years in Rockland County. Her partner Paul was the collaborating architect for the homes-one of the first experiments in “artists housing.” Vera founded the Collaberg School, patterned after Paul Goodman and A. S. Neill. Her many children’s picture books have won every prize for that genre. Vera loved to dance at the Golden Festival.
My four children and eight grandchildren grew up on her books. More More More. Vera kept making them more and more beautiful.

I had a note on FB from Craig Simpson asking if I had any word on the death of Vera Williams. I am very sad to report, having checked the internet, that this giant in the pacifist and women's movement, long associated with War Resisters League,died on October 16th. She was born on January 25, 1927.
Vera was one of my favorite people, along with Grace Paley and others who lived in the West Village, and made up (along with Karl Bissinger and others) the Greenwich Village Peace Center.

Vera and Grace collaborated on one of the annual War Resisters League Calendars, which was also made into a book of poems and short stories.

Publishers’ Weekly Obit:

There is a book about education with the history of Collaburg School with many quotes from Vera… thoughtful quotes about education, responsibility of adults for children’s safety, children and sex and many other things. It’s called Where have all the Flowers Gone by Alice Gerard.

Obituary in the New York Times:

Vera B. Williams, a writer and illustrator for young people whose picture books centered on the lives of working-class families, a highly unusual subject when she began her work in the 1970s, died on Friday at her home in Narrowsburg, N.Y. She was 88.
Her death was announced by her publisher, HarperCollins.
Ms. Williams, who did not start her career until she was in her late 40s, used picture books to express her lifelong interest in social justice issues. Her young protagonists are ethnically diverse, typically urban, often immigrants and rarely well heeled; fathers may be absent. Her inspiration, Ms. Williams said in interviews, came from her own background as the daughter of an immigrant family struggling to stay afloat in the Depression.
Her texts emphasize the joie de vivre of ordinary activities — flying a kite, making music, eating a meal — especially when carried out amid the comforting confines of a community. Her illustrations, known for bold colors and a style reminiscent of folk art, were praised by reviewers for their great tenderness and crackling vitality.
Her best-known picture book, “A Chair for My Mother” (1982), stars Rosa, a Hispanic girl living in the United States. After the family loses its possessions in a house fire, Rosa saves money to buy her mother a comfortable chair in which she can relax after her shift waiting tables.
For its illustrations, “A Chair for My Mother” was named a Caldecott Honor Book, as the runners-up for the Caldecott Medal, presented annually by the American Library Association, are designated.
Rosa returns in two sequels: “Something Special for Me” (1983), in which she must reconcile the desire to buy herself a present with the wish to help her community, and “Music, Music for Everyone” (1984), in which the present she wound up buying pays unexpected dividends.
The daughter of Albert Baker and the former Rebecca Porringer, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Vera Baker was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, 1927. When she was a child, her father disappeared for a considerable period; as an adult, Ms. Williams surmised that he had been in prison, though she never learned the details.
She recapitulated that experience in a picture book, “Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart” (2001), about two resourceful sisters who mark time until their incarcerated father comes home.
During the Depression, the Bakers lost their home; Vera and her sister, Naomi, were sent for about a year to a home for Jewish children. After the girls and their father rejoined the family, they moved to the Bronx.
Ms. Williams's "A Chair for My Mother."
Ms. Williams graduated from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts from Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where her teachers included the painter Josef Albers.
In the 1970s, after her marriage to a Black Mountain classmate, Paul Williams, ended in divorce, Ms. Williams moved to a houseboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. There she began to illustrate children’s books: Her first, “Hooray for Me!,” with text by Remy Charlip and Lilian Moore, appeared in 1975.
In addition to her home in Narrowsburg, which lies along the Delaware River in Sullivan County, Ms. Williams had another, in Manhattan. She is survived by two daughters, Sarah Williams and Jennifer Williams; a son, Merce, named for the choreographer Merce Cunningham, who taught at Black Mountain; her sister, Naomi Rosenblum; and five grandchildren.
The other picture books for which she did both text and illustrations include “ ‘More More More’ Said the Baby” (1990), also a Caldecott Honor Book; “Cherries and Cherry Pits” (1986); “Lucky Song” (1997); and “Scooter” (1993), a novel for older children.
Her picture books brought working-class subjects to the genre.
Ms. Williams also illustrated “Long Walks and Intimate Talks,” a volume of poetry and stories by Grace Paley, published in 1991.
Long active in antiwar, antinuclear and environmental causes, Ms. Williams was a past member of the executive committee of the War Resisters League. In 1981, after being arrested during a women’s blockade of the Pentagon, she served a month in the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va.
In an interview quoted in the reference work Contemporary Authors, Ms. Williams described what was, for her, the indissoluble link between creative work and political activity.
“I don’t make a point of ending up in jail,” she said. “But if you try to put your hopes and beliefs for a better life into effect, arrest is sometimes a hazard.”
She added: “As a person who works for children, who raised three children ... I have to be able to say I did something to try to save our planet from destruction.”