Monday, July 21, 2014



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Urgent call from Gaza civil society: Act now!

12 July 2014


Palestinians mourn victims of Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, 12 July.
 (Mohammed Asad / APA images)
We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account.
With the world turning their backs on us once again, for the last four days we in Gaza have been left to face massacre after massacre. As you read these words, over 120 Palestinians are dead now, including 25 children. Over 1,000 have been injured including countless horrifying injuries that will limit lives forever –- more than two thirds of the injured are women and children.
We know for a fact that many more will not make it through the next day. Which of us will be next, as we lie awake from the sound of the carnage in our beds tonight? Will we be the next photo left in an unrecognizable state from Israel’s state-of-the-art flesh-tearing, limb-stripping machinery of destruction?
We call for a final end to the crimes and oppression against us. We call for:
  • Arms embargos on Israel, sanctions that would cut off the supply of weapons and military aid from Europe and the United States on which Israel depends to commit such war crimes;
  • Suspension of all free trade and bilateral agreements with Israel such as theEU-Israel Association agreement;
  • Boycott, divestment and sanctions, as called for by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society in 2005
Without pressure and isolation, the Israeli regime has proven time and time again that it will continue such massacres as we see around us now, and continue the decades of systematic ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid policies.
We are writing this on Saturday night, again paralyzed in our homes as the bombs fall on us in Gaza. Who knows when the current attacks will end? For anyone over seven years old, permanently etched on our minds are the rivers of blood that ran through the Gaza streets when for over three weeks in 2009 over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including over 330 children.
White phosphorous and other chemical weapons were used in civilian areas and contaminating our land with a rise in cancers as a result. More recently 180 more were killed in the week-long attacks in late November 2012.
This time what? 200, 500, 5,000? We ask: how many of our lives are dispensable enough until the world takes action? How much of our blood is sufficient? Before the Israeli bombings, a member of the Israeli Knesset Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party called for genocide of the Palestinian people.
“They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes,” she said. “Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.” Right now nothing is beyond the murderous nature of the Israeli State, for we, a population that is mostly children, are all mere snakes to them.
As said Omar Ghraib in Gaza, “It was heart shattering to see the pictures of little boys and girls viciously killed. Also how an elderly woman was killed while she was having her iftar at Maghreb prayer by bombing her house. She died holding the spoon in her hand, an image that will need a lot of time to leave my head.”
Entire houses are being targeted and entire families are being murdered. Early Thursday morning the entire al-Haj family was wiped out — the father Mahmoud, mother Bassema and five children. No warning, a family targeted and removed from life. Thursday night, the same again, no warning, five more dead including four from the Ghannam family, a woman and a seven year old child amongst them.
On Tuesday morning the Kaware family did get a phone call telling them their three-story house would be bombed. The family began to leave when a water tank was struck, but then returned with members of the community, who all came to the house to stand with them, people from all over the neighborhood.
The Israeli jets bombed the building with a roof full of people, knowing full well it was full of civilians. Seven people died immediately, including five children under 13 years old. Twenty-five more were injured, and eight-year-old Seraj Abd al-Aalsuccumbed to his injuries later that evening.
Perhaps the family was trying to appeal to the Israeli regime’s humanity, surely they wouldn’t bomb the roof full of people. But as we watch families being torn apart around us, it’s clear that Israel’s actions have nothing to do with humanity.
Other places hit include a clearly-marked media vehicle, killing the independent journalist Hamed Shehab, injuring eight others, a hit on a Red Crescent rescue vehicle and attacks on hospitals which caused evacuations and more injuries.
This latest session of Israeli barbarity is placed firmly in the context of Israel’s inhuman seven-year blockade that has cut off the main life-line of goods and people coming in and out of Gaza, resulting in the severe medical and food shortages being reported by all our hospitals and clinics right now.
Cement to rebuild the thousands of homes destroyed by Israeli attacks had been banned and many injured and ill people are still not being allowed to travel abroad to receive urgent medical treatment which has caused the deaths of over 600 sick patients.
As more news comes in, as Israeli leaders give promises of moving onto a next stage in brutality, we know there are more horrors yet to come. For this we call on you to not turn your backs on us. We call on you to stand up for justice and humanity and demonstrate and support the courageous men, women and children rooted in the Gaza Strip facing the darkest of times ahead. We insist on international action:
  • Severance of diplomatic ties with Israel
  • Trials for war crimes
  • Immediate international protection of the civilians of Gaza
We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign to hold this rogue state to account that is proving once again to be so violent and yet so unchallenged.
Join the growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinians do not have to grow up amidst this relentless murder and destruction by the Israeli regime.
When we can move freely, when the siege is lifted, the occupation is over and the world’s Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice.
ACT NOW, before it is too late!
Signed by:
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (Umbrella for 133 orgs)
General Union of Palestinian Women
Medical Democratic Assembly
General Union of Palestine Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)
Youth Herak Movement
Union of Women’s Struggle Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
Union of Palestinian Women Committees
Women’s Studies Society
Working Woman’s Society
Press House
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Gaza BDS Working Group
One Democratic State Group

Friday, July 4, 2014

Greek Duo

Monday, June 16, 2014

Anniversary of Civil Defense Protest

June 15, 1955 - When the Civil Defense Administration attempted to hold a drill simulating a nuclear attack, 27 activists in New York refused to take cover. They handed out pamphlets reading: "We will not obey this order to pretend, to evacuate, to hide. In view of the certain knowledge the administration of this country has that there is no defense in atomic warfare, we know this drill to be a military act in a cold war to instill fear, to prepare the collective mind for war. We refuse to cooperate." The activists, including Catholic Worker Dorothy Day were arrested, and started a wave of protests against Operation Alert that culminated in the end of the drills in 1962. Photo: Dorothy Day (far right), Deane Mowrer (to her right), Ammon Hennacy (fourth from left), and others seated on a park bench at Washington Square Park, New York City, on July 20, 1956, in protest of the mandatory "Operation Alert" civil defense drill. Police subsequently arrested them. Photo by Robert Lax. From: Read flier that was distributed:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Yuri Kochiyama RIP

From Matt Meyer:

Just a few hours ago, to a standing-room-only crowd at the political prisoner panel at NYC's Left Forum, I was honored to say a few words - sharing my "Organizing Notes 2014." In addition to some sweet victories (Lynne Stewart was the featured speaker), it was impossible not to call out the names of some of our lost champions - Elombe Brath, Fred Ho, Amiri Baraka, Chokwe Lumumba, and Dr. Luis Nieves Falcon. Little did we know at the moment that one of the most exemplary and amazing workers on behalf of the prisoners, and for the liberation of all people, had made her transition. There is surely a grand coalition meeting among the spirits tonight...We will miss you dearly, dear Yuri Kochiyama.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pay Attention to the Struggle against Monsanto

Documentation of a protest in Greenwich Village by Liza Bear.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NYU Holds Graduation in the Re-Designed Park

Grace's partner, Bob Nichols had worked with the Greenwich Village Community for many years to create a Washington Square Park design that would accommodate the needs of the entire community, not just the big institution on one end of the park.
Here is Bob speaking about the park in a tape I made in Thetford.

Liza Bear, a NY artist and filmmaker who has followed the park's history and current "redesign" has posted this note and the following photos.

NYU faculty dodging the puddles. At the behest of NYU admin, not faculty or students, New York City Parks Dept spent $40 million to move Washington Sq fountain 23 feet to the east, relocate the two statues, amputate at least 32 trees, flatten the fountain plaza and generally wreck Robert Nichols' beautiful design developed with the community, so that NYU could hold its graduation ceremony in Washington Square.

Liza Bear's photo.

Liza Bear's photo.

Here is a film by Liza Bear made in 2005 with an interview with Bob Nichols.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Peace Activists Target Lockeed Martin

Peace activists protesting outside Lockeed Martin in King of Prussia. (Credit: Steve Tawa)
Peace activists protesting outside Lockeed Martin in King of Prussia. (Credit: Steve Tawa)
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (CBS) – Peace activists chose Good Friday to protest U.S. policies on defense spending, they say to “wage war.” They singled out Lockeed Martin, outside its facility in King of Prussia.
Brandywine Peace Community staff coordinator Robert Smith thinks U.S. policy should change to “money for need, not for greed and war.”
“We’re talking about the largest war profiteer in the United States,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Through prayers for peace, songs and bell tolling, the group also produced wooden crosses with signs decrying Lockeed Martin’s business in drone technology.
(Credit: Steve Tawa)
(Credit: Steve Tawa)
In a non-violent protest, some of the demonstrators walked onto company property with those wooden props — modeled on the traditional Stations Of The Cross:
“We’re not here to be arrested,” Smith says. “What we’re here to do is to bring our message to Lockeed Martin, to say this place is a place of crucifixion, it has to stop.”
Smith says the defense budget is approaching a trillion dollars, of which he says Lockeed Martin receives an annual estimated income of $43-billion:
“We’re talking about the very engine behind the drone strikes, behind the wars.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Sunflower Movement in Taiwan

Sunflower Student Movement

Student protests in Taipei over a controversial trade accord between China and 
Taiwan turned suddenly violent Sunday night. Students stormed the Executive 
Yuan, and several hours later, were evicted by riot police armed with water 
cannons. Our Observer, who joined in the protests, says that students are 
demanding increased government transparency.
The standoff began when the governing party, the Kuomintang or KMT, 
attempted to skip normal legislative protocol to hammer through a 
controversial trade agreement opening the small nation’s economy 
to China. Hundreds of students, angered by the opaque nature of 
the decision-making, took to the streets. Starting on March 18, they occupied
the Legislative Yuan, the national parliament building in Taipei.
Several days into the protests, neither the students nor President Ma Ying-Jeou
 showed signs of backing down. At a press conference Saturday, the president 
refused to reconsider the pact or to hold direct talks with the students. A meeting 
between Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah and Lin Fei-fan, a leader of the so-called 
“Sunflower Student Movement,” was also unsuccessful.
Frustrated by the lack of recognition from the government, a group of students 
broke off from those at the legislative sit-in and stormed the Executive Yuan 
For the first time since the protests began, the government called in riot police, 
who responded with force, using water cannons and batons. Since then, 
social media has buzzed with tweets, Facebook posts, photos and videos 
showing police trying to forcibly remove students from their sit-in

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    by Grace Paley

    This hill crossed with broken pines and 
    maples lumpy with the burial mounds of
    uprooted hemlocks (hurricane
    of ’38) out of their
    rotting hearts generations rise
    trying once more to become
    the forest

    just beyond them
    tall enough to be called trees
    in their youth like aspen a bouquet
    of young beech is gathered

    they still wear last summer’s leaves
    the lightest brown almost translucent
    how their stubbornness has decorated
    the winter woods

    on this narrow path ice tries
    to keep the black undecaying oak leaves
    in its crackling grip    it’s become
    too hard to walk    at last a
    sunny patch    oh!    i’m in water
    to my ankles   APRIL

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Long Sentences and Heavy Fines for Plowshares Activists

    Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams staff writer
    February 18, 2014
    Common Dreams
    Injustice in Knoxville - Anti-war trio took part in plowshares 
    action in 2012 at the Y-12 Highly-Enriched Uranium 
    Manufacturing nuclear weapons production facility. 
    An 84-year old nun and two others were just sentenced 
    to up to five years in jail.
    Transform Now Plowshares is an effort by people of faith to transform weapons into real, life-giving alternatives, to build true peace. , Photo via Transform Now Ploughshares,
    A 84-year-old nun and two peace activists who engaged 
    in a non-violent demonstration at nuclear weapons 
    production facility in Tennessee because "our very humanity 
    rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war" were
    sentenced Tuesday to several years behind bars while critics 
    of the verdict say the true crime of nuclear weapons proliferation 
    remains unpunished.
    U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar sentenced 84-year-old
    Sister Megan Rice, a Catholic nun, to 35 months in prison
    and three years probation. Thapar sentenced 58-year-old
    Greg Boertje-Obed, an Army veteran who lives at a Catholic
    Worker House in Minnesota, and Michael Walli, a 64-year-old
     Vietnam veteran who lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic
    Worker house in Washington DC, to five years in prison
    and three years probation as well.
    The trio's crime: a ploughshares action at the Y-12 National
    Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The New York 
    Times has reported that the "plant holds the nation's main
    supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of
     nuclear weapons."
    While officials called the Oak Ridge, Tenn. facility the "Fort
    Knox of uranium" in July 2012 peace activists Rice, Boertje-
    Obed and Walli were able to hike two hours in to the Y-12 grounds,
    cut through multiple fences, hang peace banners and spray-
    paint peace slogans, pour blood, pray, sing and pound the
    ground. It took two hours for the three to be arrested.
    The trio call themselves the Transform Now Plowshares,
    a reference to the Bible's Isaiah 2:4- "They shall beat their
    swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks;
    nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they
     learn war any more."
    At the Oak Ridge facility, they left messages including "Woe
    to the empire of blood; The fruit of justice is peace; Work for
    peace not for war."
    Previously explaining why they did the action, Rice said that
    "we had to [do it]- we were doing it because we had to reveal
    the truth of the criminality which is there, that's our obligation."
    "The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases,
    which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the
    worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not
    exist. For this we give our lives - for the truth about the terrible
    existence of these weapons," she added.
    Initially accused of a misdemeanor, their charges were upped 
    to a felony.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Theodore said Tuesday that the
    activists have a history of such actions, saying, "They just
    keep doing it ... They are incorrigible," adding, "There has to
    be a heavy toll."
    The three were convicted of sabotage last May, and in January
    when their sentencing hearing began, they were ordered to
    pay $53,000 in restitution, but snow forced that hearing to be
    suspended until today.
    The three have already served over 9 months.
    Supporters of the anti-nuclear activists who were inside
    the courtroom toldCommon Dreams that while there was some
    relief that the sentences weren't as long as federal limits could
    have made them, the true crime was left unpunished.
    John LaForge of the Wisconsin-based environmental and peace groupNukeWatch told Common Dreams that Judge Thapar gets
    to "give the impression that he's being lenient when in fact the
    sentences are harsh for what actually happened."
    Further, he said the Thapar "erroneously said multiple times
    that the defendants didn't show respect for the law." But the
    law forbids the production of weapons of mass destruction,
    Forge said, so with his ruling the judge "is protecting outlawed
    This is a point echoed by Paul Magno, a spokesperson for
    Transform Now Ploughshares, who told Common Dreams
     that while the group was "a little bit gratified" to see that the '
    sentences that came down were not as long as they could
    have been, "the wrong people got prosecuted, convicted
    and sent to jail."
    What wasn't addressed, he continued, was the "grotesque"
    violation of nuclear weapons which threaten all of humanity.
    Ellen Barfield, another spokesperson from Transform Now
    Ploughshares, stressed this point as well, telling Common 
    Dreams that "the U.S., as well as other nations, agreed to
    as of the 1970s to disarm." And not only are they not taking
    weapons apart, they "are now turning around and creating new,
    more efficient ones," Barfield said.
    "The crime of Y 12 continues," Magno added, and said that his
    group's resistance will continue as well.
    While these types of actions are months or years in the making,
    Barfield said, "I can just about guarantee....there will be other
    ploughshares actions."