Blogs :

About Tomiko Morimoto, one of WESPAC’s three honorees this year

We will be featuring information about each of WESPAC’s honorees in the coming days for folks who are taking out congratulatory ads:

Taken from Voice of America (link posted below)

Hiroshima Survivor Recalls Day Atomic Bomb Was Dropped

On August 5, 1945, in Washington and August 6, in Japan, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the first of 2 U.S. nuclear attacks on Japan that hastened the end of World War II and set the stage for the post-war nuclear arms race.

In 1945, Tomiko Morimoto was a 13-year-old schoolgirl. She recalls feeling no particular fear when she and her classmates heard the lone American B-29 bomber droning through the cloudless skies above Hiroshima. Her city had never been bombed, and she assumed the plane was simply on a reconnaissance mission, like the others she had seen.

Then she saw the flash. “You know how you see the bright sun that’s going down on a very hot day? Bright red — orange red. That’s what it was like,” she recalls. “After we heard a big noise like a ‘BOONG!’ ‘BOONG!’ Like that. That was the sound.”

After the sound, she recalls, “everything started falling down; all the buildings started flying around all over the place. Then something wet started coming down, like rain. I guess that’s what they call black rain. In my child’s mind, I thought it was oil. I thought the Americans were going to burn us to death. And we kept running. And fire was coming out right behind us, you know.”

Adults at the school led Tomiko and her classmates across the Motoyasu River to a plateau on the outskirts of Hiroshima, and told them to wait for family members to come get them. All night long, they watched their city burning below. The next morning, no parents had come, and the children were released to find their way home on their own. For Ms. Morimoto, that meant trying to find a bridge into the city that had not been destroyed.

She remembers seeing “dead people all over. All over! Particularly, I can remember… I saw a Japanese soldier that was still mounted right on his horse — just dead! Also that a streetcar had stopped just at that moment [of the bomb] and the people still standing, dead.”

Finally, Ms. Morimoto says she found a bridge she and her classmates could cross safely – a railroad bridge. She recalls looking down through the spaces between the railroad ties. Normally, one would see the river flowing there underneath. But she says, instead she saw “a sea of dead people. There was not one space for the water, just people lying there and dead.”

Survivors she encountered begged for water. “Mainly, I just wanted to find my people. Finally — finally! — I reached home and of course my home was gone and I couldn’t find anybody.”

The only person who recognized Ms. Morimoto was a family hired man, who told her her grandparents had taken refuge with some neighbors in a certain nearby cave.

“And I found my grandmother and grandfather among them. Of course my grandfather was terribly hurt,” she says. “He had glass lodged all over his back, bleeding. My grandmother, she wasn’t hurt but she couldn’t stand up from shock. My mother, I didn’t find her for a week or so, and she was burned underneath a building. I hoped she died instantly.”

Tomiko Morimoto now lives in rural, upstate New York. She says surviving the bombing of Hiroshima has made her appreciate even the smallest things. “I go out the first thing in the morning and look at the sky and the sun and I am very appreciative of everything I have right now. You don’t always have that,” she says. “I carry that [sad] emotion, yes, and when I talk about it, it comes back. And I just take my hand and I erase the picture from in my mind. And that’s how I cope with it.”

But she also lives with fear. “I’m always afraid as more countries have the atomic bomb. I fear the end of the world,” she says. “I would say never let there be another bombing like that. We all have to work towards peace. That’s the only way I can summarize it.”

To read the full article, please go to:

Westchester Social Justice Forum 2018!

For all details please visit:

Minutes of March 2018 WESPAC Food Justice Committee Meeting

A huge thank you to Tracy for submitting these minutes:

Minutes Food Justice Meeting WESPAC March 13, 2018


 In attendance: Nada, Angel, Christina, Tracy, Chloe, Delia, Natalie, Lydia, Louise and Brianne. 

— Angel began giving the latest information about the struggles of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies to get Wendy’s to sign on to the Fair Food Program like all of its fast-food competitors have done. Today, Thursday, March 15, marks day 5 of a 5-day fast happening now in NYC led by the Coalition of Immokolee Workers to bring attention to Wendy’s refusal to sign on to the agreement which would ensure safe and clean working conditions for the farmworkers and a method to report sexual abuse. Instead, Wendy’s has chosen to exploit farmworkers in Mexico for their tomatoes instead of signing on. Join them if you can today at the Dag Hammarkjold Plaza, 245 East 47th Street at 5:00 pm for the concluding rally.

— Nada is exploring ways to make a green stretch of land that exists at Exit 5 of highway 287 into a White Plains/Greenburgh food forest with fruit and nut trees and other bee-friendly plantings. She is investigating with the NY Dept of Transportation and it was suggested to also contact Westchester Community College’s Native Plants department who has done a past program on roadside regeneration.

— Tracy and Bri shared information about a new venture that WESPAC is taking a lead role in – The Mobile Community Café Initiative. Under the umbrella of the Westchester Food Justice Collective, Nourish Food Truck will be hitting the road this summer offering up freshly prepared, healthy meals to low-income, food-insecure families. Making stops at community centers, senior centers and shelters in White Plains and Greenburg, the truck is on a mission to serve nutritious plant-based meals at no cost to under-served communities.

Unlike mobile food pantries, the truck is like a café on wheels that supports local farmers, functions as a platform for rising young chefs, educates the public, and reduces food waste. The truck’s owner, Brianne Brathwaite will be the main chef. WESPAC, the lead organization in the Collective, sees the non-profit work of the mobile community cafe to be a transformative shift toward more equitable communities where there is less hunger and greater social justice. We have submitted two grant proposals seeking start-up funding for this exciting initiative. 

Calling volunteers: we need help cleaning up the commercial kitchen at the Memorial United Methodist Church, which will function as the prep kitchen and storage kitchen for the food truck. Look for an email announcement coming soon for a date in late March.

An Evening to End Solitary Confinement at WESPAC

New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

Tuesday, April 10th, 6:30pm to 8pm
at WESPAC, 77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W, White Plains, NY 10607

We will be joined by Cynthia Williams, a 2015 Beyond the Bars of Justice Fellow at Columbia University, who spent time in a federal facility and who will speak about how arbitrary and dehumanizing the system is, how she coped and how people end up in solitary confinement. She will also speak about the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement and will inspire us to get involved and to effect positive change. 

This event is free and open to the public.  WESPAC has 10 copies of the book Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement in our office that are available now ahead of the event for people to read and become more familiar with this issue.  Please call to arrange pick up.  The United Nations has defined solitary confinement as a form of torture.  Free will offerings to support Cynthia and this work will be requested.  For more information, call 914.449.6514 or email [email protected].  

Please do not remain silent about Solitary Confinement while 80-100,000 human beings are trapped and remain invisible  each year for infractions as minor as possession of too many postage stamps.   Create an opportunity for others to learn the truth about solitary confinement.  SWASC Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement has created two 8 minute videos that encapsulates what people need to know.  
Take Action.  We need everyday people, like you and me, to show these videos to our informal and formal  networks. Use your smart phone.  Keep it Simple. Discussion will automatically follow from these provocative and thoughtful presentations.
Johnny Perez: Three years in Solitary 
Mary Buser – The Helping Professions & Solitary Confinement
We also created a petition for people to sign asking the governing commission to reconsider current practices we believe to be unethical and human torture.  
Website Resource: Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement
We have a monthly newsletter.
Sign up now.
National Networking Conference Call on the third Monday of the month at 7pm EST.
Conference call number (515) 739-1015 PIN. 455-445-570#
One hour zoom presentation:
Zoom presentation
Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement: Undoing Racism in the Criminal Justice System. (2/18)
This video (1hour) offers a brief U. S. history of structural racism and discussion of solitary confinement and specifically the issue of dual loyalty for mental health professionals. 
Sandra Bernabei, LCSW is a co-convener and steering committee member of SWASC as well as a community organizer and a social worker in private practice in Westchester and NYC. She is the past-president of NASW-NYC.
 Sandy is the founding member of the Antiracist Alliance. 
Marguerita Johnson Tolson BSW, CASAC-T is a graduate student at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services. She is completing an internship with Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement.
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Martin Luther King Jr

Separate and Unequal

Good Food Farmers

Hi Nada,

Thank you for helping to spread the word about Good Food Farmers – we really appreciate it!
Please feel free to be in touch with any questions!
Many thanks, 

Good Food Farmers Network is comprised of small-scale and beginning farmers anchored by more experienced growers committed to regenerative agriculture. We work hard to produce and deliver the best quality foods grown with the highest standards of care for the earth and all who inhabit it. We welcome your support and the opportunity to grow food for you!
A few Good Food Farmers highlights: 
  • We are farmer-owned and farmer-led – a farmer cooperative in essence but not quite structured that way yet – all purchases directly support our farms. 
  • Our commitment to producing and delivering good food is unwavering. All our foods are incredibly fresh, grown and harvested with great care, and produced without pesticideswithout synthetic fertilizerswithout genetically modified organisms, and with the highest degree of animal welfare and environmental stewardship
  • You pay by the week (there’s a $45 order minimum to help make sure we’re covering our delivery costs), and you can cancel if needed. 
  • You can put your delivery on hold anytime, whether you’re going out of town or simply feel overwhelmed by the bounty of the seasons. 
  • When you sign up, you pick a Farmer’s Choice default bag. Each week, we choose items for the default bags based on what’s looking good in the fields. We announce the items in the Weekly e-Newsletter sent out on Fridays each week. If you do nothing, you will receive the default bag. But, you can also log-in to your online account and completely customize your order if desired. We have 35+ items available each week during the winter months and 65+ items during the main growing season, so there’s lots of flexibility to build a bag that suits you. About half of our members choose to customize, and about half choose to get the default bag, often remarking that they like the mix of seasonal items and don’t want to bother customizing. Either way, it’s up to you! The order deadline for holds and customizing is Sunday nights at 11:59 pm.
  • We deliver to Mt. Kisco each week with pickup at the Khader Center available each Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm. We also offer home and office delivery in some parts of lower Westchester from Pelham to White Plains and neighborhoods in between. 
  • For more details, feel free to visit our GFF website.
  • To join, you can go directly to the GFF online store.
  • You can also check out our Crop Plan (pdf) to get a sense for what we offer throughout the year, though crop plans are always subject to weather, pests, and other farming factors!
Thank you for your interest, and we are happy to answer any questions whether technical or simply to learn more about us and all of our farms. Please feel free to be in touch! 
– Hilary, on behalf of all your Good Food Farmers
Hilary Corsun
Dog Wood Farm 
& GFF Coordinator
518-821-4282 farm office
c/o Dog Wood Farm, 85 Hartigan Road, Old Chatham, NY 12136
Good Food Farmers is farmer-owned and works to support sustainable agriculture and small-scale and beginning farmers by delivering good food into the hands of more people. 

Richard Falk speaks on Israel and the question of apartheid
Richard Falk speaks on Israel and the question of apartheid

Richard Falk. Eric A. Gordon | People’s World

CULVER CITY, Calif.—From 2008 to 2014 Professor Richard Falk served as United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. He dropped a bombshell on his audience when he declared that ending the Occupation, as so many human rights activists around the world seek to do, is simply not the answer, and not enough to address what he has seen and studied for many years.

“Israel has made it clear that the end of Occupation would be the end of the conflict,” he told more than a hundred attentive listeners February 7th at this city’s Culver-Palms United Methodist Church. That would be “a way of finding some measure of normalcy,” he said, and ignoring the problems besetting the 20 percent Palestinian minority within Israel’s recognized borders, not to mention the several million Palestinians—the youngest of them now in the fifth generation since expulsion from Israel in 1948—still confined to refugee camps in the West Bank and in a number of neighboring countries, and also not to mention the uncertain fate of the Gazans if the end of Occupation dealt separately with that million-plus population.

No, Falk, insisted, it is only correct to look at the Palestinians as a coherent people, wherever they live, and not provide tacit consent to the fragmentation both geographical and political to which Israel has subjected them. Viewed in those terms, ending the Occupation alone, without addressing the larger issue afflicting the Palestinian nation, is “a misunderstood pragmatism.”

That larger issue, claims this academic, author of some twenty books, is the structure of oppression itself, including physical displacement and all the policies and practices Israel promotes toward the Palestinian people. “The conflict is not purely territorial,” Falk says. The UN report that he co-authored with Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, names that structure “apartheid,” meaning “separation” in Afrikaans.

The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid does not speak only of South Africa. There the term is defined as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

Following Prof. Falk’s formal remarks, a questioner asked if in the case of Israel “apartheid” would be the correct term to apply, since the Jewish population of Israel it itself multi-ethnic and multi-racial, comprising not only Ashkenazic Jews from Northern and Eastern Europe, but Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews from the Mediterranean and Muslim lands, as well as Ethiopian and Indian Jews. Falk responded that Israeli law treats all these Jews the same, entitling them to the same rights and privileges that are denied to Palestinians, such as the sacred “right of return” to Israel by Jews, most of whose ancestors never inhabited Biblical Israel. “The whole rationale of Israel is to be a Jewish state, and they don’t fragment their own identity.”

Richard Falk, 87, is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, where he taught for forty years. He is chairman of both the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and serves on the editorial board of The Nation magazine. Although he retired from formal teaching in 2001, the following year he began a career as research professor at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He currently directs a Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy project.

The professor’s talk was co-sponsored by a coalition of groups inclusive of Muslims, Christians and Jews: L.A. Jews for Peace and the United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force, along with The Markaz, Friends of Sabeel of L.A. and Orange County, People for Palestine-Israel Justice, Southern California Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, the Orange County Cousins Club, Jewish Voices for Peace, and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP).

The Falk-Tilley report, “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” was released March 15, 2017, under the aegis of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Its release caused an immediate firestorm, raising accusations of anti-Semitism against the authors (Falk is Jewish incidentally), and providing space for more UN-bashing especially on the part of Israel and the United States. Although the ESCWA countries unanimously endorsed the report, and although the report was issued as representing the view of the authors alone and not the UN per se, it was removed from the UN website under threat of U.S. withdrawal of UN funding; however, it is otherwise available.

Defenders of Israel are particularly sensitive about the word “apartheid,” citing factors that existed in South Africa but which do not exist in Israel, such as separate park benches and Arab representation in the Knesset. But as anyone who follows Israeli politics knows, leading figures in Israeli life, including prime ministers, writers and journalists from both the left and the right, have consistently used this word in Hebrew, addressing fellow Israelis, warning of the consequences of a failure to make peace leading to permanent apartheid. It’s when the word gets uttered in public forums in English that Israelis and their supporters hear the whole Zionist project being attacked. Jimmy Carter and John Kerry are only two American statesmen who have felt the brunt of Israel’s condemnation.
In many other ways Israel has flouted the international community, for example, by referring to the occupied West Bank territories as “Judea and Samaria,” ancient Biblical terms which international law does not recognize as legitimate; and insisting on calling the Palestinians “Arabs,” as if to say they belong in other homelands, not in the Jewish state.

And although there are a few outstanding border questions in the world, there is no other state which doesn’t even claim its final and definitive borders: By creating more “facts on the ground” with each year’s growing settler encroachment on land that would have been the natural Palestinian state, Israel has been pushing steadily toward complete annexation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel has tried to politically separate Gaza from the larger Palestinian nation and for now seems to have abandoned that area for Jewish settlement. But at least one strand of thinking in Israel wishes to remove the Palestinians from Gaza one way or another, and free up that land for eventual incorporation into the Zionist state.

The problem of Israel, according to Falk, is that the nationalism born in Europe in the 19th century made its way to the rest of the world by the mid-20th century and helped to create many newly independent countries in the wake of colonialism. But Israel, founded in 1948, came along at the end of the nationalist wave, and the global community had become skeptical of colonial projects in the underdeveloped world.

“The Palestinian people have been made to pay the price for the crimes of the Nazis,” Falk says.

There is an inherent tension, says Falk, between Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state and its claim to be a democratic society. Especially as more and more Palestinians fall under direct or indirect Israeli control in the variously segmented entities between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, the contradiction between these two professed ideals becomes ever sharper.

In almost every case, Falk says, where an oppressed people, with inferior arms and weak social institutions, sets out to oppose their colonial or neocolonial masters, they eventually win. The Palestinians will continue to resist, “and they are right to resist,” he insists. From the Israeli point of view, the resistance is a challenge to the established order and must be put down. The United States, more substantively than anyone else in the world, gives Israel this unconditional mandate.
“Until that mandate is lifted,” says Falk, “there will be no peace. It’s our struggle here to end this destructive policy.”

Patrick Lawrence’s “A Conversation with Richard Falk,” touching on Palestinian rights, international law and world affairs, can be read here. Part 2 of that conversation is here. Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley wrote an “Open Letter to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Our Report on Apartheid in Israel,” which can be read here.

An Evening of Community Dance at WESPAC

Saturday, March 3rd at 7pm at WESPAC
77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W
White Plains, NY 10607

Join us for a delightful and rejuvenating evening as we share simple movements and dances from our various cultural backgrounds creating joy, unity and healing. This event is free and open to the public; free will donations will be graciously accepted to promote this type of programming at WESPAC.  For more information and to RSVP (encouraged!), please contact Vitalah Simon at [email protected].  Free on-site parking available in the upper parking lot behind the building to enter into our office space, Suite 2W.  Light refreshments and spring water will be available.

Save the Date! WESPAC Annual Awards Dinner!

Buy tickets here: 

WESPAC Middle East Committee invites you to participate in Palestine book reading together

Yesterday the WESPAC Middle East Committee met and discussed plans for this year’s 70th Nakba Commemoration with the Westchester Palestinian Community.  
To gear up for a larger event later this Spring, we will be reading together Susan Abulhawa’s very fine novel “Mornings in Jenin” to better understand the Palestinian narrative.  The committee would like to invite members of the broader social justice community to join with us in this book reading.
We will read a third of the novel by the end of February (first 100 pages), and will convene at WESPAC on Tuesday, February 27th at 7pm to discuss the first third of the novel.  The book is available both at local libraries as well as online.  Please let us know if you will be joining us.


“Every now and again a literary work changes the way people think. Abulhawa…has crafted a brilliant first novel about Palestine… [This] intensely beautiful fictionalized history… should be read by both politicians and those interested in contemporary politics.” –  Library Journal

“This complex story is beautifully told… The perspective is brutal, yet ultimately not without hope… [Abulhawa] draws us into the nightmare of her heroine’s existence with convincing passion.” –  Historical Novels Review

“Illuminating and deeply moving, Abulhawa’s epic resonates with compassion…You can’t ask more of historical fiction.” –  Brooklyn Rail

“Abulhawa’s pathos and mastery enables the reader to taste, smell and grasp the chronicles of Palestine as if one is actually there… Lovely and heartrending, this story is a must-read for those who wish to not only understand the catastrophe of the Palestinians with their heads but with their hearts.” –  Palestine Chronicle

Winner of the USA Book News Best Books Award” –