Militarism and Foreign Policy :

End the Siege

The WESPAC Committee for Justice & Peace in the Middle East is a group of concerned people from the Westchester County area formed to educate the general community, promote open discussion and dialogue and advocate for just solutions to the current destructive situations in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine/Israel. WESPAC supports the call by over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations for punitive measures including boycotts, divestment, and sanctions to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian People’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law. We call for an end to all occupations in the region. The committee meets regularly and invites participation from the public. Please contact the office at 914.449.6514 or email [email protected] for more information.

Please sign statement in support of Palestinian Prisoners on the 37th day of their hunger strike

Please sign statement in support of Palestinian Prisoners on the 36th day of their hunger strike:

https://goo.gl/forms/HZmKDfN8zBllRrMO2

 

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Criminal Justice, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Yemenis are starving

Press Release

For immediate release                

 

Contact:

 

Martha Hennessy – 802-230-6328; [email protected]

Carmen Trotta347-259-8536; [email protected]

Cathy Kelly773-619-2418;

[email protected]


Yemen Is Starving: Peace activists, protesting the mounting humanitarian crisis in Yemen, to begin week-long fast and vigil at the UN.

 

New York, NY — On April 10, 2017, approximately 20 peace activists will begin a week long vigil and fast in front of the United Nations. They are calling for peace and justice in Yemen, and standing in solidarity with its civilian population. They will also be demanding an end to U.S. complicity in a war that is taking a devastating toll on the Yemeni people.

 

Ravaged by war, blockaded by sea, and regularly targeted with Saudi and U.S. airstrikes, Yemen is now on the brink of total famine. 

 

Yemen is currently being ravaged by a brutal conflict, with injustices and atrocities on all sides. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 1,564 children, and millions have been displaced from their homes. UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, while 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer acute malnutrition. The U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition is also enforcing a sea blockade on rebel-held areas. Yemen imports 90% of its food; because of the blockade, food and fuel prices are rising and scarcity is at crisis levels. While Yemeni children are starving, US weapons makers, including General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, are profiting from weapon sales to Saudi Arabia.

 

At this critical juncture, all member states of the UN must urge an end to the blockade and airstrikes, a silencing of all guns, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen.

 

With their fast and peaceful protest, the activists will urge a radical departure from U.S. policies exacerbating the deadly tragedy facing Yemeni civilians.

 

Participants note their responsibility to ensure that the U.S.:

  1. Stops all drone attacks and military “special operations” within Yemen
  2. Ends all U.S. weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia
  3. Provides compensation to those who suffered losses caused by U.S. attacks.

 

The activists will gather each day from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the United Nations Isaiah Wall, on First Avenue between 42nd and 43rdStreets. They will be joined by activists and supporters from around the U.S. who will share their protest and peaceful witness to the tragedy currently befalling the people of Yemen.

 

Partnering in this project are members of the New York Catholic Worker community, Code Pink, Witness Against Torture, the Upstate Coalition to End the Wars and Ground the Drones, Friends of Franz and Ben, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Veterans for Peace NYC Chapter 34, World Beyond War, Kairos Community, Just Foreign Policy, Peaceworkers, Pax Christi Metro New York, Know Drones, World Can’t Wait, Granny Peace Brigade, NY, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, D.C., Benincasa Community, NY (list in formation)

 

Social Media: FB/Twitter @FastingForYemen; Facebook Event: https://goo.gl/REWlb5; HTs: #FastingForYemen #YemenIsStarving #RememberYemen    

 

All information in this Communication, including attachments, is strictly confidential and intended solely for delivery to and authorized use by the addressee(s) identified above. This transmission is sent in trust for the sole purpose or delivery to the intended recipient. It may contain privileged, confidential, proprietary and/or trade secret information entitled to protection and/or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, please take notice that any use, distribution, disclosure or copying of this Communication, is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful and that any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance upon it, is unauthorized. If you have received this Communication in error, please notify the sender and delete this Communication, including any attachments, from your computer. (svr10)

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Open Letter to NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins

[email protected]

Dear Senator Stewart-Cousins,

As a constituent I would like to communicate my strongest possible objection to your recent vote in favor of S2492, S2493, and S4837, all springing from a misguided and repressive effort to outlaw Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions – frequently through the camouflage of general penalizing of boycotts – largely on the grounds that BDS is anti-Semitic.

In the first place, as a daughter of the American Civil Rights Movement, how can you forget the role that boycotts – as in the Montgomery Bus Boycott – played in overturning Jim Crow in this country?  Do you recall how international  boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against South Africa helped to overthrow apartheid in that country?  Do you remember that very recently Governor Cuomo backed a boycott against North Carolina because of legislation in that state that discriminated against the LGBT community? 

Boycotts are conscientious, nonviolent approaches to promoting political, economic, and social change against perceived injustices. They are Constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. New York State is opening itself to a barrage of lawsuits that will be costly and time-consuming if it persists in this campaign to demonize and penalize BDS and its supporters because of their opinions.  BDS calls for the protection of fundamental human rights that are civil rights in this country.

Even when such bills speak more generally about boycotts against American allies, they are aimed at BDS and assert, explicitly or implicitly, that BDS is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism involves the promotion of hatred and discrimination against Jews as a people. BDS seeks to change Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. The former victimizes a people; the latter criticizes a state. BDS is not anti-Semitic. To assert that it is is dangerously to misuse the term “anti-Semitism” and to engage in specious unreason.

Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is illegal, and Israeli treatment of Palestinians is an abuse of human rights. Therefore, supporters of BDS act out of respect for international norms. Why would you assist in enacting NY State laws that contradict international law and moral standards?

BDS attempts to pressure Israel to act in accordance with international law. I have been to the West Bank and E. Jerusalem and observed at close hand in November 2012 what the occupation looks like. It is physically brutal and psychologically Kafka-esque  – an arbitrary and cruel imposition of shifting, unpredictable rules and regulations enforced through overwhelming force against a subject people that make their daily life an unrelenting grind. It is a policy of ethnic-cleansing: make life so intolerable that people who can leave do so, and the others drift into hopelessness and despair. That the vast majority of Palestinians resist this abusive regime nonviolently day in and day out  is a testimony to their steadfastness in the face of injustice. I was deeply shamed to see the Israeli policies abetted by U.S. connivance. Much of the equipment and weaponry  used to enforce the occupation is stamped “Made in America.”  This ugly fact does not escape the notice of the peoples of surrounding lands for whom American policy is synonymous with repression and violence.

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester would be only too happy to talk with you about Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and why BDS is probably the best way to bring the change that must come soon, or Israel’s claims to be both Jewish and democratic will be impossible to sustain before the world.

Your record of accomplishments in defending the interests of your constituents is widely recognized.I am deeply disappointed by your votes on S2492, S2493, and S4837 and can only assume that if you had had better information at your disposal, you would have voted against them. I hope that JVP-Westchester can help provide that information and will call your office soon to see about making an appointment for members to meet with you.

 Yours sincerely,

Priscilla Read

Tarrytown, NY

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building

The War in Syria Cannot Be Won. But It Can Be Ended.

 
Phyllis Bennis
October 31, 2016
The Nation
 
The left is profoundly divided over the conflict, but we should at least agree on a set of principles to end it.

 

yrian-Americans demonstrate near the United Nations to demand a cease-fire in Syria, New York, May 1, 2016.,  Sipa via AP Images

 

We need a powerful movement demanding an end to the war in Syria. The United States and to some extent the global antiwar movements remain largely paralyzed. There are some campaigns responding to specific congressional and other war moves, with some particularly good work against US support for Saudi Arabia. But as a movement, we seem unable to sort through the complexity of the multi-layered wars raging across Syria, and unable to respond to our internal divisions to create the kind of powerful movement we need to challenge the escalating conflict. (more…)

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Protecting Civil Liberties and Public Safety in an Age of Terror

issues-civil-liberties

Protecting Civil Liberties and Public Safety in an Age of Terror

 Monday, November 14th from 6pm to 8:30pm
Tudor Room at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
78 N Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603

A panel discussion to address public concern about potential terrorist activity and to review procedures that are in place intended to keep us safe while at the same time respecting the rule of law, constitutional rights and civil liberties.  Panelists will explore why protecting civil rights domestically is important to fighting terrorism. 

Panelists include:

Mariko Hirose, senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, with a focus on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation and on cases involving free speech, privacy, government transparency and criminal justice.

Chief Inspector John Hodges with the Westchester County Police Department’s counter-terrorism unit will review recent steps taken in regional security coordination and intelligence gathering.

Pace Law Professor Thomas McDonnell is an expert in international human rights, the law of war, and the war on terrorism.

The panel will be moderated by Pace Law Professor David Dorfman.

This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Pace Criminal Justice Institute, WESPAC, the Westchester Coalition against Islamophobia and the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform.  For more information, please contact the Pace Criminal Justice Institute Director Lissa Griffin at [email protected].  Parking is available on campus for those attending this event.

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Criminal Justice, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building

The birth of agro-resistance in Palestine

The birth of agro-resistance in Palestine

 
For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers 
off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture. 
But one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative 
way to resist
 
 
Jonathan Cook
The Link (Americans for Middle East Understanding)
September – October 2016
 
Article pdf attached.

  
Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. 
His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan 
to Remake the Middle East 
(Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s 
Experiments in Human Despair 
(Zed Books). You can read all of Jonathan’s 
recent reports and commentaries on his website, the View from Nazareth: 
www.Jonathan-Cook.net and on his blog: www.Jonathan-Cook.net/blog/

 
 
Article sources:
Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Environmental and Food Justice, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building

Saudis must face consequences for promoting extremism

Last December, Farah Pandith of the Council on Foreign Relations, who was the first State Department special representative to Muslim communities, called for Saudi Arabia to face consequences if it did not stop promoting extremism. She wrote in the New York Times

“I traveled to 80 countries between 2009 and 2014 as the first ever U.S. special representative to Muslim communities. In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence, changing the local sense of identity; displacing historic, culturally vibrant forms of Islamic practice; and pulling along individuals who were either paid to follow their rules or who became on their own custodians of the Wahhabi world view. Funding all this was Saudi money, which paid for things like the textbooks, mosques, TV stations and the training of Imams…We should expose the Saudi financing of extremist groups masquerading as cultural exchanges and ‘charity’ organizations and prevent the Saudis from demolishing local Muslim religious and cultural sites that are evidence of the diversity of Islam. If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing, there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.” [1]

Eight months later, the New York Times reported:

“Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for ‘radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.’ He has called the Saudis ‘the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.'” [2]  

But neither Clinton nor Trump has yet addressed the conclusion of what Farah Pandith wrote eight months ago: there must be consequences for the Saudis if they do not cease what they are doing.

Instead of sanctioning the Saudis, the U.S. government now plans to reward them. On August 8, the administration notified Congress of intent to sell $1.15 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia. But Senator Murphy and Senator Paul are expected to introduce a bipartisan resolution to disapprove the administration’s Saudi arms deal. [3]

Urge Congress to support the Paul-Murphy resolution to disapprove the Saudi arms deal by signing our petition at change.org.

Thanks for all you do to help make America more just,

Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building

The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine

The birth of agro-resistance in Palestine
 
For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers 
off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture. 
But one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative 
way to resist
 
 
Jonathan Cook
The Link (Americans for Middle East Understanding)
September – October 2016
 
Article pdf attached.

  
Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. 
His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan 
to Remake the Middle East 
(Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s 
Experiments in Human Despair 
(Zed Books). You can read all of Jonathan’s 
recent reports and commentaries on his website, the View from Nazareth: 
www.Jonathan-Cook.net and on his blog: www.Jonathan-Cook.net/blog/

 
 
Article sources:
Posted in Communities & Focus Areas, Environmental and Food Justice, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Racial Justice

The Freedom to Boycott for Justice and for Human Rights

Freedom to Boycott

Letter to the Westchester Jewish Council from Howard Horowitz:

Dear Elliott, Shabbat Shalom,

I am writing to express my deepest concern and objection to the decision taken by WJC to actively endorse legislation that in its spirit and in its specifics is unconstitutional and an assault on free speech. The call for a legislated ban or boycott of businesses that want to participate in a voluntary boycott of Israel until it ends the occupation and the ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights is hypocritical, and is a blatant effort to silence dissent. You do not even distinguish between boycotting Israel and boycotting settlement enterprises on stolen Palestinian land.  As a respected member of the business community for over 40 years, and as owner of a business for over 30 years, I have the right to participate and have my business participate in a nonviolent movement without fear of recrimination from my own government. The problem here is the Israeli occupation and the settlements, which have been deemed illegal according to international law and which violate the moral code I believe you and I abide by. The occupation and the settlements, which are expanding as I write this, put Israel in grave danger and ultimately will spell a disaster  for the country.  From this perspective, participating in the BDS movement is a more “pro-Israel” stance than is the position you advocate.  Yet, I and others are threatened with legal and financial retribution from our  local and state governments should we see the violence of the occupation and the expanding settlements and want to register dissenting voice against it by participating in nonviolent action to stop it.

I am confident you are aware that this legislation emerges out of an organized intimidation campaign developed by the Netanyahu government and its supporters in Israel, and propagated by ZOA and AIPAC. As a citizen of this county and this state, I must conclude that that our local politicians are being held hostage and our legislators and governors have been put in a bind.  Has the state been blackmailed into making dissent illegal?  How many millions of Jews and others—including our immediate forefathers in the 1950s—have been persecuted by this form of McCarthyism? This is the realization of the worst fears of the Jews and of the Reform movement in particular; that is, the fear of Zionist and Israeli meddling in our internal affairs. Jewish history teaches us to beware and to be wary of any effort to silence dissent.  Given our collective history, any organization that claims to represent Jews and their organizations in our community must question not support the wisdom and efficacy of punitive legislation in a free society.

Israel is in the gravest of danger, not from BDS, but from its own actions and policies. There is real danger that Israel will succumb as a result of the ascendancy of the right wing, fundamentalist, religious dominated parties that have no tolerance and no love for the liberal democracy we want and claim Israel to be. This can only spell disaster for the country.   The people we so want to identify with in Israel—the secular, progressive, liberal religious segments of politics and society—need us now more than ever to just say “no” to draconian policies and legislation, including the legislation you have endorsed today. 

By your words and actions, you are also nurturing the ever-growing divide in the Jewish community and the ever-increasing alienation of Jewish youth. I have confidence the Reform movement will not long stand for this kind of undemocratic censorship by the powerful over the powerless.  We cannot be blinded by what we are being told is “kosher” pro-Israel-ism.  We are fed such hateful propaganda  that we refuse to see not only the truth of what is going on in Israel, but the tremendous harm it will bring to Israel and its future.  Do you really believe that to ban BDS strengthens the forces of progress, peace and justice in Israel?  If there is no BDS alternative for bad behavior, what tools do the forces of progress have to influence the behavior of the Israeli government not only toward Palestinians but towards secular, Jewish society in Israel? 

More and more American Jews are coming to understand the situation in Israel as I do.  There will come a day—and I hope it will not be too late—that Jews in the US will say “no” and withdraw support from and take real actions against the fundamentalists (with Netanyahu the false, friendly face of a government that is out of line with our values) who currently dominate the discourse and the policies in Israel. Once that happens, an Israeli government that is in line with our values will thrive and succeed. It is time to rethink what it means to be pro-Israel.  I hope you will understand what is at stake here.

I will close with this: I believe in “never again” and so I will not remain silent within my Temple, in the Jewish community and in the wider community nor refrain from expressing my opposition to this legislation and to the WJC’s endorsement of it. I urge you to convey to the Board of Legislators to let this legislation die quietly.   

Respectfully,

Howard Horowitz

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Protest Governor Cuomo’s Unconstitutional Executive Order

Freedom to Boycott

March to Governor Cuomo’s home in Mount Kisco to demand he rescind unconstitutional executive order that blacklists institutions that support BDS 

Wednesday, July 6th

6:00 PM     Assemble at the Mt. Kisco Metro North Station

6:20 PM     March to Gov. Cuomo’s Home from the train station

The march to Gov. Cuomo’s home will take 20 – 30 minutes.  We will be marching West on Route 133 or Millwood Road.  Please let us know if you are unable to march and need a ride to Gov. Cuomo’s home.  

RSVPs requested, including your name, the name of your organization if any and how many people will be coming with you to [email protected].  The New York State Coalition for the Freedom to Boycott will provide signs, song sheets and chants.  To read more about Governor Cuomo’s order, visit: http://palestinelegal.org/

      Train Schedule for July 6th from Grand Central Station:
Leave Grand Central                     Arrive Mt. Kisco
4:57                                                      5:49
5:04                                                      6:08
5:27                                                      6:19

Leave Mt. Kisco                        Arrive Grand Central
7:40                                                         8:41
8:16                                                         9:22
8:35                                                         9:36

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Frontpage, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice