Blogs :

As we launch into the holiday season next week, please consider supporting certified fair trade items as gifts for yourselves and loved ones.
 
Here in the office, we do have a few items available that I am happy to ship to you (photo attached):
 
Certain Days Calendar – Freedom for Political Prisoners – view here  $15
Colors from Palestine Calendar – https://resistanceart.com/gallery/ $20
Soap made by women in Bangladesh – SERRV – set of two – $10
West Bank ceramics – rectangular and split dish – $22; large oval $32
Cushion covers, embroidered by refugee women in Lebanon – $25
Shawl, embroidered – $45
Handbags made in India, certified fair trade SERRV – small $40; large $70
Trivets (hot plates) from Uganda – $15
Organic Equal Exchange teas – all organic – black, jasmine green, peppermint and English Breakfast – all $4
 
Thank you!

Join us on Thursday, November 19th at noon for an interactive conversation where we learn about the challenges and joys of being a cacao grower in today’s world.  Lalatiana Andrianarison, one of the Beyond Growers, will join us after a two day drive from his cacao farm to  the capital (where the chocolate factory is located), a journey spanning over 800km.

We will speak with a team in Madagascar, an island country off the coast of East Africa who work with Beyond Good chocolate, a company committed to purchasing premium cocoa directly from farmers so that they can receive the best prices for their heirloom crop and avoid outsourcing their impact to a third party certification. 

ARA Board Diversity Speakers

WESPAC fully supports this campaign and we will be reaching out to our community partners to sign on.  This Town Hall scheduled for next Tuesday will be a great opportunity for us to learn more about the campaign as we move to promote this urgently needed fund for excluded workers:

“Please save the date for our Excluded Worker Organization Townhall that we will be holding in partnership with the Fiscal Policy Institute next Tuesday, Sept, 29th from 6:30pm-7:30pm. Don’t miss this statewide exploration of New York’s need. RSVP for the town hall here. For more information about the Excluded Worker Fund, visit our campaign website here. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
 
Thank you,”
 
Vanessa Agudelo
 

Vanessa Agudelo

Manager of Member Engagement- Hudson Valley

She/They

 

The New York Immigration Coalition

1132 Main St., Suite 1 & 2

Peekskill, NY 10566

(914) 482-1241 (cell)

nyic.org

September 10 – October 1, 2020

At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, advocates, policymakers, law enforcement, and community leaders around the country have raised concerns about policing and public safety.
 
People want change. They want America to be better. That call for change is unmistakable, but the path forward remains unclear. It’s time to reimagine 21st century public safety and redefine the role of police in creating safe communities, together.
 
This September, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice are partnering to convene a series of six livestream conversations to reimagine the future of public safety and redefine the role of policing in America today.
 
These sessions will culminate in the release of a public report that will include substantive and innovative conclusions for communities to consider as they reimagine the future of public safety. The report will serve as a roadmap for local communities to follow as they work toward committing to policing practices that ensure equal justice for everyone. We must collaborate and create a blueprint for the future of public safety—and what that means for policing—together. (See press release.)
 

RSVP today to receive reminders ahead of each conversation! 
Each event will be streamed live on our Facebook and YouTube pages. 

ANNOUNCING THE 2021 ELIAS FOUNDATION ACTIVIST FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

Deadline for Letters of Interest October 30, 2020

We are excited to share again with you this opportunity for Fellowships in underserved communities.

The Elias Foundation is now accepting applications for their Activist Fellowship Program supporting Hudson Valley activists working towards local movement building in communities hardest hit by injustice and inequality. 

Please share this notice with your groups. Please note: the deadline for sending a Letter of Interest is October 30, 2020.

Now in its third year, the goal of this program is to strengthen and build social justice movements by developing activists’ skills and capacities in the Hudson Valley.  The Elias Foundation hopes to identify and support the work of people from the grassroots and frontline communities. This includes, but is not limited to, individuals who self-define as low-income, people of color, indigenous, immigrant, women, trans, gender nonconforming, LGBT and/or queer, youth, working class and disabled.

 

Each awardee will receive a total of $90,000 over five years of support ($25,000 for the first three years, $10,000 in fourth year and $5,000 for the final year). This support is aimed at people working in underserved communities who would not normally have access to this kind of funding.

 

To read more about the Fellowship, the criteria for applying, information on how to apply and read about previous recipients, please visit the Elias Foundation website. You can also contact Polly Withers at 

[email protected] if you have any questions or would like to nominate someone. Thank you.

Jackie Mann, President

Elias Foundation

IADL: U.S. sanctions targeting International Criminal Court are an outrage against international justice

See the statement on our website:
https://iadllaw.org/2020/09/iadl-u-s-sanctions-targeting-international-criminal-court-are-an-outrage-against-international-justice/

On 2 September 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the imposition of sanctions on Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and prosecution jurisdiction director for authorizing such an investigation, including war crimes committed by U.S. forces, for which U.S. officials bear responsibility.  These sanctions were based on a declaration by U.S. President Trump of a national emergency on this subject in June of 2020. 

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) rejects as outrageous these sanctions on senior prosecution officials of the International Criminal Court.  IADL will be investigating the best ways to challenge these sanctions.

The United States has for some time claimed that it is exempt from the laws which bind the rest of the world, seeking permanent international impunity for itself.   The United States openly seeks to evade international accountability for its responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world, not only by refusing to join the Court but by U.S. President Trump declaring that the potential for an ICC investigation into international crimes in the war in Afghanistan is a “national emergency.”

That the International Criminal Court prosecutors are investigating the United States can be declared a “national emergency” makes a mockery of the word “emergency”. 

Of course, such an investigation follows the United States’ illegal invasion and military occupation of Iraq after years of devastating sanctions, torture of prisoners, and devastation of the country that led directly and indirectly to the deaths of millions of Iraqis. The United States continues to illegally occupy Afghanistan, having killed and wounded thousands of Afghans over nearly 20 years of ongoing military attacks, while continuing drone strikes, extrajudicial killings and other war crimes and crimes against humanity around the world.

It must further be noted that this also comes in response to the Prosecutor’s approval of an investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine, about which the U.S. and Israel have exerted tremendous pressure on both Palestinian and international actors in an effort to uphold permanent impunity for ongoing Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. It further follows the submission of a complaint by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas against Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner before the ICC for their support of illegal Israeli colonial settlement activities in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The ICC was established in order to prevent serious crimes against civilians and put an end to impunity when domestic law does not or cannot provide a remedy.  For years, the bulk of ICC actions were directed at African officials, even in relatively weak cases. The US imposed sanctions are an attempt to prevent the ICC from performing a truly international or universal role, since any such court or judicial project must be able to hold the U.S. and its allies accountable for their crimes.

Sixty-seven member countries of the ICC have issued a joint statement expressing their support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution, and 10 members of the UN Security Council have done the same. It is incumbent upon all States Parties to the Rome Statute act to defend the Court and address these latest threats to the international rule of law by the United States. We further call on the UN General Assembly to condemn these U.S. actions.

It must be noted as well that these sanctions come amid the ongoing use of unilateral coercive measures, in violation of international law and the United Nations charter, by the U.S. government; for example, against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe. These unilateral coercive measures are a form of economic warfare and an attempt to impose regime change upon any country that rejects the dictates of the United States, and the sanctions on individual ICC prosecutors fit precisely into this framework. 

The IADL rejects the US attempt to suppress international justice and any form of accountability for U.S. and Israeli officials through direct economic attack and the threat of criminal prosecution against victims and their advocates simply for pursuing justice.

We affirm that this announcement will not chill our efforts to hold U.S. officials and their allies, including Israeli officials, accountable and to support our members and colleagues working to do so in a variety of forums and venues, especially the International Criminal Court. 

9 September 2020

Dear WESPAC Members, Friends and Supporters,

We hope this letter finds each and every one of you as well as possible in these very challenging times.  This correspondence is WESPAC’s annual membership renewal and sign-on.  Your response to this  letter is one of our most important connections to current and future members, and a crucial source of support for the justice and peace work we do together.  Membership is more than a one-time donation; it implies ongoing support  and dedication to  our cause and work.   

Together, we have supported WESPAC through its 46th anniversary!  Inspired by our rich history, and proud of our nurturing role, WESPAC continues to serve a unique role as a hub for progressive organizing in Westchester County.  We connect people with each other, support a wide range of campaigns and strengthen movement building locally by developing long term relationships with grassroots leaders, workers and environmental groups. 

We have been educating, agitating and organizing for a more just and peaceful world, an end to militarism and racism and a more fair economy that works for all.  Our members are currently involved with criminal justice reform and police accountability, food justice work, fair housing, climate justice and safe renewable energy, immigrant protection, solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, an end to militarism and drone warfare and the struggle for justice, equal rights and human dignity for all the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine.

Dues that sustain our work are $100 per person annually, or $50 for students and persons with a fixed income.  If you are able to do so at this time, please renew or sign up for your membership now by mailing your check to WESPAC Foundation, 77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W, White Plains, NY 10607. You may also make your online secure contribution here

We are grateful for all levels of support and no one is turned away for lack of funds. Volunteer hours are welcome in lieu of payment and can be arranged with the office (914-449-6514).  We look forward to seeing you virtually at our October Annual Meeting of Members (details to follow in September).  Thank you all so very much.  Contributions in any amount are crucial, sustain us and are always deeply appreciated.

Howard Horowitz, WESPAC Board Chair and Nada Khader, WESPAC Director 

Please renew your dues here

This was a fabulous presentation today by Evan Pritchards and very well attended:

White Plains, formerly known as Quarropus, was once well known as a fossil-free transportation hub; the meeting place of three important watersheds connecting the mid-Hudson with the East River and Long Island Sound. White Plains and its neighbors today span seven strategically located waterways, and the portage routes where the Siwanoy and Weckquaesgeek peoples once carried their canoes from one to the other are still in place. By making and marking new trails, supporting local canoers with information and supplies, and a few other inexpensive and potentially lucrative changes, White Plains could add a new layer to its infrastructure that would make it the DIY “Venice of New York,” boosting business and recreational traffic in a way that makes a bold statement about America’s future. All we have to do is GET OUT THE BOAT!

EVAN PRITCHARD, guest on The History and Discovery channels, ABC and CNN, is a Mi’kmaq descendant, an award-winning historian, author of over seventy books, environmental activist, guest educator on Sloop Clearwater, founder of a Center for Algonquin Culture, and former professor of Native American Studies at Vassar, Pace, and Marist. This talk is based on his newest book Mapping Manahatoauc. (currently self published): 

https://www.facebook.com/WESPACFOUNDATION/videos/218938262894364/

Beinart:

 “Well I think ultimately the right of a refugee return, not just to the West Bank but also to Israel proper. Now, one of the ways Land for All thinks about that, is through a notion of those Palestinians refugees remaining, being citizens of a Palestinian state based in West Bank and Gaza, even as they live in Israel proper, right? While Israeli settlers stay in the West Bank and retain their Israeli citizenship. Right, so this is where a confederation model could work. But I do think that the way a two-state solution has been conceived by some people, which is essentially to say, virtually no right of refugee Palestinian return to areas inside Israel proper – I have come to the view that I think that would be unlikely to be that effective of a solution. And I also think that we have to really have a conversation about the morality of telling… we are a people who for 2000 years have prayed every morning since the creation of modern liturgy, for a return to this land – how do we tell people who grew up in a place, that they don’t have the right to return to that place? So I think that one of the reasons that I would favor a confederation model over a two-state model, if I had to choose between the two at this point, is that I think it creates more opportunity for meeting people’s legitimate rights to have the option of returning. That does not mean going to someone’s house and kicking them out of their home. And I don’t think it’s the way most Palestinians I know think about it. But it means maybe compensation and it means having the right to return to the city where you were born. I mean again, one of the things that comes across to anyone who spends time with Palestinian writing and learns from the Palestinian experience, is the enormous power and the importance for people of being able to go back to places that were precious to them. And one of the things that I find appealing about the confederation model, even if one doesn’t go fully towards the one-state model, is it provides some way of realizing that. And I am saddened that in our Jewish discourse, that we are people who take so much pride in our ability to remember, to not forget, and to hold sacred memory and to try to fulfil it, are so dismissive of that when it comes to Palestinians”.     Read full article here: https://mondoweiss.net/2020/07/peter-beinart-and-the-palestinian-right-of-return/