#WarHurtsEarth. Plowshares Action. Gaza Slaughters.

This Earth Day:
Tell Environmental Groups and Gatherings that
WAR HURTS EARTH!
To Save the Earth, Curb Militarism! An appeal for Earth Day, 2018

Thank you for clicking on the link above to take you to a sign-on letter we hope will receive a large infusion of signatories between now and April 22 (though it will stay alive after that for a while too).

TruePinknikEarth Day is just over a week away! People and communities are making plans, a lot of them focusing on eradicating plastic waste from oceans (and everywhere) as humans bury the planet in straws and bags and packaging–a serious problem. However, zero of 28 campaigns run by the Earth Day Network deal with the consequences of war and war preparations. We won’t stave off widespread climate chaos by ignoring probably the largest piece of this awful, toxic pie: Militarism.

There is a lot to focus on.

Tune into Just World Educational’s Facebook page on Thursday, April 19, at 5pm Pacific Time (8pm ET) for a 30-minute discussion about ways to bring militarism up in the coming week. It will be a conversation led by Gar Smith, the Director of Environmentalists Against War and editor of The War and Environment Reader. I hope you will join this online conversation! We are hoping for a lively interplay of Gar’s crisp points and creative memes with questions and action ideas from commenters like you. Gar will be joined by Jackie Cabasso of United for Peace and Justice, Mayors for Peace and Western States Legal Foundation.

Super Power Super Polluter1

One of the best leaflets I’ve seen on the issue.

Super Power Super Polluter2

Sadly, it is 18 years old.

We want as many people as possible to be thinking about the military influence on the environment when they attend Earth Day events this year. With encouragement, can we get more people to raise the issue in Q&A periods of speakers extolling the problems of everything but the Pentagon? Can more bulletin boards and community graffiti wall installations and sidewalk chalk zones be tagged with #WarHurtsEarth? Can more signs be carried with this message at marches and school assemblies? Can other memes on the topic be created and shared? Can we generate enough use of #WarHurtsEarth to force a response from hesitant groups? Can we get militarism added to intersectional agendas instead of put aside as not immediate enough, or too diversionary or polarizing, or too international for local consideration?

King Posters -No Nukes_Page_3This is our challenge in the coming week. Please, let me know if you have any plans to work on this issue between now and April 22. Can you add it to a blog post or social media page? Will you add it to an email blast if you do such things? Thank you for working with the rest of us to publicize the “Curb militarism!” letter so the problem is taken up more visibly by people working to avert climate chaos.

 

King’s Bay Plowshares 

Kings Bay Plowshares 1There was another Plowshares action! I know these people. I have been good friends with five of them for a long time, actually. They went into the King’s Bay Naval Base in the state of Georgia, home to more active duty, first-strike, nuclear weapons than anywhere else, even Bangor-Kitsap in Washington where I have demonstrated and been arrested. The Trident D5 warhead is immoral and illegal, and we can’t give up trying to make that matter.

The last big Plowshares action was the Transform Now Plowshares that I posted about extensively in 2014 and 2015. saw my octogenarian friend, Sr. Megan Rice similarly cut through chain link fences and walked to the uranium processing facility at the Y-12 facility in Tennessee where all the uranium for the US nuclear arsenal is produced.

Clare Grady, one of the King’s Bay Plowshares wrote from Camden County Jail:

“We say, ‘the ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide’, and yet, the explosive power of this weapon is only part of what we want to make visible. We see that nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence. Their production requires mining, refining, testing, and dumping of radioactive material, which poisons sacred Earth and Water, all on Indigenous land.
We see the billions of dollars it takes to build and maintain the Trident system as stolen resources, which are desperately needed for human needs.
We see nuclear weapons as a cocked gun, the biggest gun, used 24/7 to ENFORCE the many layers of state-sponsored violence and deadly force required to maintain white supremacy, global capitalism, and global domination.
We invite others who have been privileged by these systems to join us in withdrawing consent from their deadly function and purpose. We live with hope for a nuclear-free, decolonized world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GajQsFlBxo

The King’s Bay Plowshares 7. They have been denied bail and are being held in county jail.

Here is a great way to continue the witness against Trident. Have a crane folding party! Then send the cranes to Nikki Haley along with a message from ICAN, the Nobel Peace Prize winning group working to abolish nuclear weapons. You can even get some white postcards and write to the Kings Bay Plowshares during the party.

http://www.icanw.org/projects/paper-crane-project/

“Gaza Deserves Our Support”

Don’t blame Hamas, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority, bad as they can be. Don’t blame me if I don’t stay calm when talking about this: The Passover Massacre was inexcusable! I love me a good peace camp, and I know one when I see one. I have marched for justice all over the world, and I feel kinship with such a mass of nonviolent demonstrators as I have seen in Gaza as part of the “Great Return March” movement. Raising the issue of stone throwers or a few violent people or the influence of Hamas is so secondary to what the fundamental problem is as to be a distraction from what must be faced. Don’t ignore your eyes and pretend that Israel’s actions are anything other than reprehensible mayhem and bloodshed visited upon unarmed demonstrators who are fighting for their lives with a lot more dignity than their desperation might allow.

April 13, Gaza Strip (Ashraf Amra, APA images)

The people of Gaza–most but not all, refugees and their descendants from the Nakba of 1948–are basically locked inside one of the most densely populated places on earth as Israel showcases its horrific tools and tactics trying to lock away hundreds of thousands of people and spreading lies to demonize the victims. Israel (and the United States) is caging and slaughtering and starving the people of Gaza and accelerating the dispossession of the people of Palestine.

As I was writing this post, I shied away from using a term for the slaughter that I have since seen James Zogby use in his piece “Gaza Deserves Our Support” for Jim Lobe’s blog:

The entire affair has been more like a “turkey shoot” then a military confrontation, with innocent protesters who are captives in the world’s largest open air prison being randomly picked off by sniper fire. Even more sickening was the recently released video of a sniper shooting and hitting a Palestinian while his fellow snipers cheered his success. The Israeli response to this video has been to call for punishing the maker of the video and not the sniper who killed the unarmed protester.

progressive on palestine shirtShammai, the strict sage of the Talmud, is rolling over in his grave because of the affronts to Jewish teaching being committed in the name of the Jewish people. Whether or not you are Jewish, I encourage you to join or at least visit Jewish Voice for Peace on the web, and come on our to events and actions organized by Palestinian groups, often in coalition with JVP, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) or other groups. Go on a delegation to Palestine, and bring back personal stories to share. Do something for Palestine today. I do feel it is especially incumbent upon Americans and Jews to try to stop what is being done in our name, and with unbridled support of both parties and all administrations. We must not stand aside.

Advertisements
Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nuclear Issues, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Justice. Justice you shall pursue.” “JUSTICE”! NOT “Just Us”!

“Justice. Justice you shall pursue.”
That’s “JUSTICE” not “JUST US”!

I was closing in on sending this out when I learned about the massacre in Gaza on March 30. The Palestinian organizers did all they could to broadcast the nonviolent nature of their plans for an encampment and marches. It was known that Israel would probably allow its “most moral army in the world” to shoot unarmed Palestinians and then blame them (and Hamas and anyone else) for it, and they did, killing at least sixteen and injuring well over a hundred on the first day of the “March of Great Return.” This isn’t exactly new behavior.

miki kratsman

Inspiring photo of Palestinian resistance by Miki Kratsman

The problem is; THIS IS NOW! “Tens of thousands of Palestinians swarm Gaza border, 16 killed by IDF fire” (Ynet) “Israeli army opens fire as tens of thousands march in Gaza” (972 Magazine) “As ‘March of Great Return’ Begins, Israeli Forces Gun Down Palestinian Protesters Along Gaza Border” (Common Dreams)

Passover is hard to swallow right now. If I can’t avoid a Seder, I will drink no wine, make no toast and eat no dessert. I won’t sing or chant unless we’re singing solidarity songs for Palestine. Is it chutzpah or blind insensitivity that allows Jews to hold Passover Seders to celebrate and retell our mythic liberation story while the people of Gaza are fighting for their lives because Zionists are attacking them in the name of all Jews everywhere. Israel is the existential threat to Palestinians, and Zionism is poisoning Judaism. I am grateful for the response I got for my Facebook post: 

I couldn’t skip the Seder. I didn’t drink any wine or toast any cups or eat any dessert…Who is Pharaoh today? Don’t even try to blame Hamas or the people of Gaza for this!

Last year I was party to helping create the Sumud Freedom Camp in the south Hebron Hills. We were invaded by the army around 11:30 pm on our second night there,  Saturday, just after Shabbat. I knew from the announcements about the “Great March of Return” that Israel would be brutal, but I also could feel the essence of the appeal, and who was behind it, and it felt familiar, like I know these people. demonstrators_signs_GazaThey’re my comrades in protest: People creating encampments standing up for what is fair and decent and right. In this case, Gazans who’ve been under siege for years in encampments are standing up for themselves, as they have every right to do and the Zionist state is gunning them down in my name.

They must rise up since Israel has the big control there and seems committed to starving the people of Gaza or poisoning them with non-potable water, crimes against humanity. I don’t want to pray with Jews or anyone who tries to explain away the targeting of schools and hospitals and the destruction of water infrastructure to deadly levels. And Gazans are choosing to organize with nonviolence…again…still. We better hope they succeed! Please, I beg you, don’t blame the victims. Do something to try to influence the situation and make Israel stand down and see the light of day for a change. If you feel lost, JVP.org is a good place to go to find honesty, compassion, and some way to plug in.

Earth Day Cometh! Do you know where your military is?
(Breast milk, climate change and Gaza.)

For a long time I have encouraged people to see how the United States military overshadows pretty much everything. Not that it is the only angle to take as we organize against social ills and oppression, but it is rarely included in spite of the scale of its widespread impacts. We’re not going to end gun violence in schools if we keep bombing schools and children abroad. We can’t really insulate ourselves from the brutality we as a nation dish out. There is a callousness that creeps into our domestic life from offenses we commit in other lands.We’re not going to avert climate chaos if we ignore the single largest purchaser of petroleum in the world and its exemption from treaties and environmental regulations. Breast milk in women the world over now contains perchlorate, a toxic remnant spread by rocket motors used in many munitions. nuclear-free-cranes2

Disarmament organizers have thus far been unsuccessful in their efforts to get climate change and environmental organizations like 350.org and the Sierra Club to broach, much less stir up their members about how war hurts the earth, (#WarHurtsEarth). Militarism is nowhere to be seen in the programs of the official Earth Day Network nor the choices people were given in selecting this year’s worthy focus, A World Without Plastic Pollution

I was heartened to be arrested at the Nevada Test Site with some activists from New Mexico who are working to stop uranium mining at the Canyon Mine which abuts the Grand Canyon and in general. #HaulNo

TruePinknikFor Earth Day 2018, five organizations, CODEPINK, Environmentalists Against War, Just World Educational, Traprock Center for Peace & Justice, and World Beyond War, have created a sign on letter for citizens and organizations around the U.S. to express to the Earth Day Network support for a campaign about the military and its toxic legacy. It reads in part: “We appeal to our fellow citizens to recognize the damage that warfare and preparations for war inflict on our land, air, water, and climate; to commit to educating others about these impacts.” The statement then lists specific policies “which can reduce and start to repair the damage that militarism inflicts on the Earth” that are suggested for people to organize around. I also want to direct people to CODEPINK’s Divest from the War Machine campaign. We need to get people who aren’t ready to say we shouldn’t have one at all to rein it in then!

People’s Life Fund Granting Opportunity Until April 15!

Around the country there are different local groups that make up the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Each one is independent, and most of them maintain funds that people donate to instead of paying federal income taxes in full or in part. They also maintain escrow accounts for war tax resisters to set aside some funds in case the feds ever come after them. The Bay Area group is called the People’s Life Fund. Groups in the Bay Area can still apply for money in the current cycle. We hold a granting pot luck dinner on April 15 in Berkeley. The official deadline has passed, but grant applications are still being accepted. Please check out past grantees and the application and explanation of priorities.

“No Arms, No Armies: Addressing the Roots of Militarism and Gun Violence in the US”

“No Arms, No Armies” was the title of an outstanding piece by Emma Burke, originally published on TruthOut’s Buzz Flash. I first saw it in a great e-blast from the War Resisters League  (for whom Emma is Development and Membership Coordinator) with the longer title that came to my inbox on March 29. 

please-dont-defend-us-with-wmm-30x20For communities of color, the terror of gun violence isn’t contained to mass shootings…Militarism is deeply entrenched in US society, and the phenomenon of mass shootings and gun violence in the US must be understood in the context of settler colonial histories of slavery, genocide and white supremacy sustained by centuries of warfare…Let us expand our imaginations for a vision of disarmament that not only includes weapons of mass violence on the streets, but a full disarming of the systems of state violence that drive it: the police and military.

It also contained a link to a petition sponsored by World Beyond War calling for the removal of JROTC programs from high schools. In that vein, I had never heard of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) until Pat Elder brought it up after a Nation article focused on JROTC didn’t even mention this influence on gun attitudes in our country. Pat pointed out that CMP’s “Marksmanship Nights” have even more reach than does the military’s recruitment scheme.

Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, assassinated April 4, 1968.

MLK’s national holiday is around his birthday in January like other celebrations of people. In the last few years there has been a lot more organizing that goes on to de-icon-ify him in our national mind and re-politicize gatherings in his memory. The anniversary of his murder, April 4, 1968 never seems to get its due as a rallying point for our political attention. I usually want to join celebrations of him in January and scream his powerful words over loud-speakers as we commemorate his terrible assassination in April.King_Statue_Front_Shadow

As I have discussed before, King gave one of the most important speeches of the 20th century on April 4, 1967 in Riverside Church in Manhattan, one year to the day before he was gunned down. He clearly and carefully denounced the Vietnam war, on logical grounds. Then he said we need a “radical revolution of values” as he called for widespread noncooperation with war in general, on moral and religious grounds. Anti-war activists often organize political discussions and readings of that speech which was historic (although his similar talk at the National Conference for New Politics on August 31 of that year speaks to us of the future even more clearly). The points he made half a century ago are still frighteningly relevant today. “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” is still the United States of America.

I sometimes fear peace activists sound like a broken record about the Riverside Church speech, but really, sadly, it is too obscure to be concerned about that. Some black activists implore white activists not to speak of or quote MLK because too often we ignore other wise people and leaders of color who deserve to be celebrated and quoted. But King’s words are powerful and poetic, challenging yet uplifting, and consistently hit the nail on the head. It pains me to be told to step away from King as a matter of course. I resist. I think we all need to dive more into his wise words even as we widen the sources of our inspiration.

Anyone outraged by the Ford truck commercial from the Super Bowl ad would do well to listen to or read “The Drum Major Instinct” which is where that clip was from. It was his last sermon and was delivered two months before he was killed. It shows where King’s political evolution had led him. Evidently not all of the King family wanted to let Ford use it, but it is galling to consider that the movie “Selma” was not allowed to use any of King’s actual words.

“A Time to Break Silence: Beyond Vietnam” Readings on April 4

King Posters -No Nukes_Page_3At Noon (and probably later in the afternoon too) on Wednesday, April 4, take part in a public reading of “Beyond Vietnam.” Outside the Oakland Federal Building on Clay between 13th and 14th Sts. Keep insisting that his strong analysis about the fundamental need for antimilitarism to be included in a progressive agenda how we remember him.

Also, on April 4 at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison St. in Oakland from 7 to 9 pm, the seriously informative but delightful Vijay Prashad will give a talk entitled Long, Bitter and Beautiful Struggle for Freedom. He was on KPFA a couple of days ago, and the talk will have a lot to do with King’s “Beyond Vietnam” message. I’m going, for sure!

Relatively Short Sentence for Palestinian Girl is a Relief but Shows Something Very Wrong with such Legal Proceedings in Israel

Ahed Tamimi, age 17, was sentenced to months instead of years in detention by the Israeli military court system for slapping a heavily armed, Israeli soldier, and this is actually seen as a relative victory. lot of international organizing

Two Susiyas

Part of Palestinian Susiya (foreground) in 2016, now demolished.

And also from B’Tselem on March 22, this action item against the “forcible transfer” of Palestinians from Area C, like in the south Hebron Hills where I have written about extensively over the past couple of years. And just this morning (March 28), a friend from that area sent out a notice that the army was in Susiya demolishing buildings, something that even the likes of Dianne Feinstein spoke out against.

Who Calls Anyone Civilized?

by Cathy Breen
March 31, 2018

photo of Cathy Breen

[Cathy Breen is a co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has spent significant amounts of the past two decades in Iraq, Syria and Jordan. I went to Afghanistan in March, 2011 with Kathy Kelly and Voices. Photos of Mosul are by Abu Mohammed.]Building in Mosul decimated by bombing, March 2018″ and “Shop remains open in area of Mosul decimated by bombing, March, 2018

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and professor of Creative Writing at Texas State.  Her father was Palestinian and a refugee journalist. In one of her poems after 9/11, entitled “Blood,” she writes:

Mosul (2)

Shop remains open in area of Mosul decimated by bombing

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

I myself tried to write something for the 15 year “commemoration” of the US war against Iraq, but wasn’t able to complete it.  It was too much for me. A couple of months ago I was invited to go to the Northwest to speak about “Fifteen Years After the War.”  It was too much for me emotionally, and somewhat shamefully I had to decline.  

As I write, I have the phone next to me.  I am texting a young Iraqi boy who is alone in Turkey.  About ten months ago he was kidnapped in Iraq.   Through a chain of events, he ended up in Syria.  About two months ago his father was contacted and was able to get his son smuggled across the border into Turkey.  Last month his son turned 18 years of age and was eligible to register as a refugee with UNHCR.  But he will not get an interview for many months to come.

Mosul

Building in Mosul decimated by bombing, March 2018

Traumatized, missing family and without friends, he tells his family he wants to come home.  But it is much too dangerous for him to return.  Trying to draw him out of his boredom, I ask him to tell me how his day was.  What did he eat?  Did he get outside? What is the weather like?  I ask him what words he has learned in Turkish.  I tell him what I ate, about the soup I cooked or the rainy weather. By the length of time between our messages, I suspect that he is looking up some of the English words.  Sometimes we speak by phone and get to see each other.

For some reason I find our simple conversation today so tender.  His family in Baghdad is grateful that we are in contact.  They have another son who was also kidnapped.  They do not know whether he is alive or not.  The boys were separated after the kidnapping.  The grief of this family seems to have no end.  And this is just one family.

I was in Iraq for the month of October last year.  One of the hardest things for me on that trip was the feeling I heard expressed that the country has become invisible.  A doctor friend in Baghdad, his hurt palpable, told me he felt as though Iraq has been completely forgotten by the global community.

A friend from Baghdad sent me photos a couple of weeks ago, photos that he took from a bus window of the destruction in Mosel, and it was the side of the city that had suffered only “minimally.”

Stop Urban Shield Victory in Alameda Board of Supervisors! 

On Tuesday, March 27th, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition successfully built community pressure and convinced the Alameda County Board of Supervisors not to fund the 2019 Urban Shield expo and military-type training, putting an end to the largest militarized SWAT training in the world. Urban Shield takes place in the Bay Area on the weekend of 9/11 each year, and is a war games training and weapons expo that involves international and local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders. board voted not to support the 2019 Urban Shield, but the 2018 fair and exercises were already funded, so stay tuned. This is a powerful victory for a very strategic coalition, but of course, we must stay vigilant and not let up, even as we have to celebrate a little.

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not just more of the same, and every sign of hope is precious.

Regarding nuclear weapons, the current administration is continuing policies of the previous one as did recent administrations before it: don’t work towards disarmament and pretend we aren’t upgrading our nuclear weapons or designing new ones. Despite his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize–his should be rescinded before Aung San Suu Kyi’s–and one over-played speech in Prague he never intended to honor, Obama’s nuclear legacy is one of delivery system upgrades, nuclear infrastructure growth and recalcitrant hypocrisy toward non-nuclear weapon states especially Iran. Yes, hhe did oversee the Iran nuclear deal, but that also is a noose around Iran’s neck, so that isn’t exactly a win for disarmament either.

Nuclear.Cloud_TreeStill, Trump and the Republicans are changing the rules on the ground, legalizing their thievery, making it legal for them to hide all their cards from any oversight or public awareness. The unfortunate lies of the Democrats are referenced to bolster their own, even more extreme lies and power grabs. International law, the laws of armed combat, international human rights conventions and treaties, the mandate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (and Red Crescent) have failed to make warfare less injurious to civilians over the last century, but they at least displayed an awareness that the concepts of war crimes and crimes against humanity should exist, and enforcement mechanisms should exist too. Shaming world leaders didn’t work really well, but now that ideas are threatened in their entirety by Donald Trump’s violent braggadocio.

Trump and General Mattis have said they want to make smaller nukes, ones that they have deemed usable. I didn’t think that anything could make me argue for deterrence! The logic of deterrence is a bit convoluted, but internally consistent. The presumption is that a nuclear armed state won’t attack a non-nuclear armed state out of fear that a retaliation will ensue. No defense against nuclear attack could be so fool-proof as to allow someone to launch a “first-strike.” A small nuke would probably leave the attacked state able to retaliate with its own surviving ones. Should they launch on warning? Do they wait and maybe not be able to retaliate? And then there is the question of what will the other nuclear armed states do in response even if they aren’t the ones attacked to begin with?

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that George W. Bush pulled us out of, kept countries countries_with_the_biggest_nuclear_arsenalsfrom trying to design shields. For deterrence, countries need to think their missiles and command and control systems will survive a first-strike. Attacking countries need to think that too, so they don’t risk starting a nuclear exchange, afraid that a retaliation would destroy its cities. Small nukes and delivery systems that may or may not have nukes on them confuse countries under attack, making them unsure if they are being nuked or not.

Maybe the nuclear states need to say to one another, if you launch against anyone, we all will launch against you. I can’t believe I just said that! On some level, stepped up deterrence against the United States seems necessary to me. That is shocking and depressing. I still pledge to work tirelessly for total nuclear disarmament, even unilateral nuclear disarmament. The rest of the world needs to unite against us and Trump, or I fear war–even nuclear war–is on a near horizon.

Trump even has ordered the Department of Energy (which oversees nuclear weapons production) to be ready to restart nuclear testing which was suspended by the elder Bush in 1992. Bill Clinton’s “Stockpile Stewardship” program extended testing in other, less radioactive forms, and kept nuclear weapons “alive.” That Clinton creation provides the basis for Trump’s order to the DOE. Barack Obama quadrupled the capacity of the nuclear weapons complex to upgrade and make new weapons. The illegal upgrade of the B61 to the B61-12 gravity bomb was a program Obama embraced, and it is now full speed ahead, making them very targetable and hence capable of being used as a first-strike weapon. I think the United States could have led the world towards disarmament by renouncing first strike weapons years ago, but now, such a gesture is even further from the table than it was.

Threatening to use nukes on a non-nuclear country is illegal under international law, but the USA has done this many times, and of course, we did nuke the people of Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada and elsewhere.

How can militarists get away with arguing that the 20170424_Military_ExpenditureUnited States military and its nuclear component are a laughing stock around the world? We may seem unwise, ignorant and arrogant, but still, our military budget and sales are taken very seriously, with relish, by tyrants the world over. The Koreans know how devastatingly we’re willing to use it. So do the Japanese. The world sees us arm Saudi Arabia to kill Yemenis and Israelis to try to subjugate Palestinians. The United States has upwards of 800 military bases in over 1 in 3 countries. For comparison, Russia has nine foreign military bases. Trump and others like John McCain and Lindsay Graham shouldn’t be able to assert with so little challenge, that our military is shrinking and falling behind. And they want freer rein to use those weapons, bases and personnel.

They are pushing back against any scrutiny or self-disclosure. In the past I would have said “almost any scrutiny” and been pleasantly surprised at some of their own reports. Now, they don’t want ANY, and they’ll just say “national security” until we’re blue in the face screaming in protest or maybe until we’re blue because we’re all dead. Republicans and the leadership of the Democratic Party seem to be okay with that. Sadly, most rank and file Dems and even radical environmentalists don’t seem to grock the extremely dangerous changes Trump’s swamp is making to the international lay-of-the-warfare land. If they kill you, you were by definition, the enemy, and if we destroy a village or a city, it was necessary to save it. And if he and his spokespeople claim that actually, the people are grateful for the intervention and thriving, well, that is good enough, that they say it, and time to move on…

Military actions are suppose to target military targets,please-dont-defend-us-with-wmm-30x20.jpg not civilian ones. A cynic might say that such strictures will never be honored by one’s mortal enemies and can’t be trusted and we can’t fight with our hands tied behind our back. But it was war-like parties that agreed to such things to begin with. That negotiations could lead to such agreements despite all the bad blood in the world is amazing, and a testament to something in the human spirit that strives for the common good over individual greed. Even despots knew that it was wrong to go too far, even if they then justified it to themselves. Armies were more aware that they were supposed to treat civilians differently, and saw them as different than armed enemies. That knowledge sometimes has made a life and death difference for someone, a family, a village even though in the past 100 years, civilians began to face the  overwhelming brunt of military violence. That sense of shame, or at least the not wanting to get caught, actually meant something on the ground in a war zone.

Trump is undoing even such minimal humanitarian efforts. Others started it, but Trump is pushing militarism so hard that despots around the world feel no shame, guilt or event expedient qualms about killing anyone they want, be they journalists, opposition candidates, labor leaders, environmentalists, or any random person someone in trouble might name to get the spotlight off of themselves. Attacking opponents isn’t new, but limits did help mitigate harm, and that being the norm did foster a more civil society which allowed lives, structures and routines to continue amidst fighting.

Our World Needs You to end warNow, we seem hell-bent towards massive destruction, and it is hard to take hope in the pushback that is actually growing, but is also casting about all over the place, diffused and often at odds with itself as much as with the forces of wanton cruelty. Movements for the sake of the environment, racial justice, gender equality and economic opportunity are often led by people who don’t include one of the largest contributors to their problems: militarism and especially The Pentagon. Perchlorate from rocket motors is in every women’s breast milk in the planet. The Pentagon uses more petroleum than any other institution in the world even though it has/d been developing alternative fuels. Most of the oil goes to the air force for airplanes and other transportation excesses among the different branches of the military.

The idea that using a nuclear weapon could be done in a way that doesn’t harm and kill civilians is murderously crazy and ignorant, indifferent to facts and fallout. Maybe other leaders will be more grounded than expected, and they won’t retaliate with their own nukes. I hope so, because Trump seems like the most unglued of the lot, but somehow, the world needs to unite against Trump and Trump-ism, or there is little cause for hope.

TNP_discovery1I take solace in every glimmer of hope that rises. Having children is a sign of hope. Good people having kids and raising them with loving, sharing values instead of some Ayn Randian “me first, me always” ethic gives me great hope! Radical parents give me hope. Seeing any signs of loving and friendship give me hope. Sharing and generosity are in abundance, and they give me hope. New configurations of activism give me hope. Black women running for office give me hope. Groups like Bay Peace, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Youth Against Settlements, and Movement Generation give me hope. The Water Protectors give me hope. Jewish Voice for Peace and the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust give me hope. Environmentalists and journalists give me hope. The amazing young adults I have seen grow up in the Reclaiming Tradition give me great hope!TruePinknik

My friends and lovers give me hope. You are amazing. I thank you all for instilling and nurturing hope in me and people around you wherever you are. Thank you!

 

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nuclear Issues | 1 Comment

Incredible. Unbelievable. But not ridiculous.

Before talking about why nuclear weapons and the military budget need to be on the agendas of more activists (in the next post-ette of this belated, Approximately Monthly Missive), I’m feeling called to say a word about words, certain words that I often have a reaction to. Okay, I’m just going to talk about one word:

chimp-2

Ridiculous gets under my skin when people use it. I find it disconcerting when articulations of murderous, spiteful or hateful policies are dubbed ridiculous. I look at the word and think: Something is ridiculous if it is worthy of being ridiculed. But I don’t want to ridicule something that scares or threatens me or the world around me. I want to build opposition to it. I don’t just want to mock or make fun of it. I want to stop or change it. If I make a joke about it, it is an uncomfortable use of wit (I hope) because we have to keep a sense of humor about ourselves and the fights we are in to keep our spirits up. Staying lighthearted in the struggle is essential to keeping from beating each other up when we disagree. It helps us pause and return to seeing the best intention in others on our side. But that sort of humor isn’t about ridicule but laughing at our common and sometimes absurd humanity.

swamp_monsters_bWriting this post will help me move on. I don’t want to lay a trip on people mid-conversation to take on this word. It’s like how people misuse the word “literal” in the most absurd ways that are anything but literal. Then some people really get upset at the loose language. I don’t want to be one of those. Satire and parody have their place, and that was me in the Betsy DeVos “swamp monster” costume with the Trump Dis-organization as evidence.

Let me take a moment to refer to definitions. This is the first that popped up in Google for me:

ri·dic·u·lous /rəˈdikyələs/ adjective
deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.
“when you realize how ridiculous these scenarios are, you will have to laugh”
synonyms: laughable, absurd, comical, funny, hilarious, risible, droll, amusing, farcical, silly, ludicrous; (rare) derisible, senseless, silly, foolish, foolhardy, stupid, inane, fatuous, childish, puerile, half-baked, harebrained, cockamamie, ill-thought-out, crackpot, idiotic, absurd, preposterous, ludicrous, risible, laughable, nonsensical, senseless, outrageous

I thought maybe ludicrous would feel more apt, so I looked it up too:

lu·di·crous /ˈlo͞odəkrəs/ adjective
so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.
“it’s ludicrous that I have been fined”
synonyms: absurd, ridiculous, farcical, laughable, risible, preposterous, foolish, mad, insane, idiotic, stupid, inane, silly, asinine, nonsensical; informal; crazy

Well, I like a lot of the synonyms listed above and could see using them for monstrous, political ills that are anything but funny. But I’ll still avoid ridiculous in favor of unreasonable or incredible or any number of words from the above definitions. Something can be unreasonable, even though someone will build an argument for it. Something can be incredible when its advocate lacks credibility even if other people give them more credence and standing than they deserve.

jim.wall.bird.terror

The idea that more guns will protect us from gun violence is unbelievable even though it seems many US-ians believe it. Still, it is anything but laughable…or ridiculous. The idea that one country could spend almost as much money on its military as the rest of the world combined and still argue that it needs to increase its military expenditures should be as unbelievable as it is incredible and unreasonable, but here we are, and I’m not amused. Building massive walls around cities by absurdly Zippyfearful, armed outsiders shouldn’t be “a thing.” My look in the picture to the left was bemusement, not amusement at the “welcome” sign on the wall Israel has built around Bethlehem, a scant six miles from Jerusalem, that is designed to choke Palestinian society into submission if not out-and-out death.

In the immortal words of Zippy the Pinhead (okay, Bill Griffith): “Are we having fun yet?” And no, I don’t think micro-encephalitis is a laughing matter…or ridiculous!

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Laughter | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

For the children’s sake

For Tu Bishvat, Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area and Kehilla Community Synagogue teamed up for a ritual event. It was a lovely evening, fun and playful as well as serious with political intent about the theft of native Ohlone lands here (all of here), and the dispossession of Palestinians from ancestral lands and homes. I made a handout that we didn’t end up using that featured some important groups and work going on. A celebration of trees, because of the incarceration of Ahed Tamimi and her 17th birthday coinciding with her January 31 birthday, there was a lot of focus on children and youth as well as trees.

I wasn’t able to fit in more groups, so let me briefly add the extremely vital Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association which is a “Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons.”

I just received a letter from Brad Parker, Co-leader of the #nowaytotreatachild campaign, Attorney and International Advocacy Officer for Defense for Children International – Palestine:

On November 14, 2017, lawmakers introduced the first-ever bill on Palestinian human rights in Congress, something the #nowaytotreatachild team has worked toward over the second half of 2018.

Join #nowaytotreatachild campaign co-leaders, Brad Parker and Jennifer Bing, for a webinar on February 27 at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET for updates on the bill and the situation on the ground for Palestinian child detainees. We’ll also be launching a new action that we are excited to share with you!

Click here to register for the webinar.

The bill, H.R. 4391, is titled the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act and was introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) with nine additional co-sponsors. It prohibits U.S. tax dollars from supporting human rights violations against Palestinian children during the course of Israeli military detention.

H.R. 4391 requires the Secretary of State to certify annually that no funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel have been used to support the ill-treatment of Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank.

Please follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light is Returning, but I’m still scared

“Light is returning, even though this is the darkest hour. No one can hold back the dawn. Let’s keep it burning. Let’s keep the light of hope alive. Make safe our journey through the storm.”

For the record, I was already planning to start with those two lines from a beloved, Charlie Murphy chant before I received my end-of-year newsletter from yoga and voice goddess Suzanne Sterling who started hers off with the same reminder and charge. Solstice blessings everyone. My dear friend TL who I am visiting in Milwaukee, just said that even for just three or four days, he can notice the longer light of morning. I agree. May winter be gentle and cold, but not crazy cold, wet and snowy but without destructive blizzards, and may California receive abundant rain in the coming months, mixed with beautiful days of sun and brisk mornings. Please, God!

Education for a Just World

I am sure that you all have received many appeals from nonprofits than ever this year. I have been donating beyond real reason, each request being so deserving and important. I’m spreading it around. Some people like to give more money to fewer charities. Either way. The number of donors is also important.

I want to encourage you to support Just World Educational Foundation  (JWE). I work for JWE now and really like the emphasis of our different projects. Your donations will really help us power up our programs and build a better informed public in 2018. We are building something substantial for Earth Day 2018 with the message that fighting militarism needs to be added to the climate change agenda. I’m hoping we will be able to offer books, on line resources and discussion materials to schools and community organizations for inclusion in their observance programs. I want us to stir pressure from the grassroots so that groups like 350.org and the Sierra Club stop ducking the largest fossil fuel consumer in the world–the United States military. WER, FB cover, v.3The scourge of war- profiteering must be on the progressive, activist table more explicitly than it has been. If racism and economic exploitation or classism are being confronted, militarism must also be named and shamed. As we also approach the 50th year commemoration of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., we must honor him and follow his example by expanding our field of view from the evil twins (poverty and racism) to the giant triplets (poverty, racism and militarism).

I hope you will help Just World Education in our effort to expose the ties between militarism and environmental harm. Gar Smith has contributed an outstanding resource that needs wider distribution and incorporation into plans by libraries, schools and communities as they envision and create their Earth Day activities.

J20 acquittals!

A cause for celebration, or at least a sigh of relief. Six full acquittals for the first handful of people scooped up and arrested on January 20 in Washington DC for having the temerity to show up to demonstrate their outrage at the installation of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This trial and other cases show just how fragile past gains are in terms of developing cultures of mutual respect, shared dignity, and as sense of common humanity. We’re backsliding even on the agreement that civil discourse helps build understanding.

Other trials remain pending, spread out over months and years, and among several judges. They all are part of a growing tide of cases that criminalize even moderate push back against the control of the tenth of a percent. (Forget one percent! Even 0.1% is perhaps too large a number.)

I hope that Just World’s forthcoming educational campaign about civil liberties and Palestinian rights advocacy strikes a chord for people. Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five, by Miko Peled, is due out in early February. What has happened to these men and their families is a travesty. They deserve our attention and support. It’s another Martin Niemöller moment, people! We’re all in this together!

We Need International Bodies

“To that end, they would like to, if they\ could, UNtold, chosen coverto dismantle the UN.” -Alan Nairn, reporter and journalist, in an interview with reporter and journalist Amy Goodman on Decemer 26’s Democracy Now! He went on later to say, “So, you know, the idea that Trump would be less militant was insane from the start. And he’s proving that blood is the tool. That’s how he wants to reach out to the world.” Anarchists and pacifists are willing to fight for international law. I hope people who are less fringe start unifying in defense of the commons…and common decency!

This would be a good time to see how to keep international norms and institutions both empowered and in check. For a lively explanation of the United Nations, Ian Williams’ charming expose comes from someone who believes in its mission and eve the UN itself. Williams criticizes, but respects the UN, and the cartoons by Krishna that are interspersed throughout give it an additional dose of levity along on top of Williams’ own naturally easy going style.  Buy good books!

Whither the Anti-war Movement?

I respect and stand with United for Peace and Justice. The groups that share info among the steering committee and working groups benefit from the regular connection created by the umbrella organization. The UFPJ-Activist listserve is unfortunately often riddled with distasteful comments by a handful of people, but sometimes the posts there are constructive (as well as provocative) like UFPJ was intended to be. As a positive case in point, I recommend this article from The American Conservative which makes some fair observations and points about our work and organizing. I appreciate the tone and content of this article and in the comments thread. Regarding this paragraph:

“In addition, the few on the anti-war left who oppose war based on pacifist or religious reasons need to acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe in a strong national defense as outlined in the Constitution. Most people are willing to accept that there’s a big difference between that and the terrible waste and tragedy that comes with waging unnecessary wars overseas.”

Actually, I and other pacifists often argue not from my more extreme position. I try to put myself in the shoes of non-pacifists and pro-military, anti-waste critics, setting

jim_jessica_mlksigns2017-3

aside my point of view. This activity is a fundamental part of nonviolent discipline and process, to imagine the point of view of the other. I have advocated cutting the Pentagon budget by 15%, 10%, 5%, even just 1% as a way of funding other parts of government that serve people. Really, I think we all would be safer if the in-Defense-ible Department were zeroed out! Instead, the war budget keeps going up even as more and more waste is uncovered, as funds and equipment are actually diverted to the stated enemies of the state, and as proposed oversight is voted down and existing accountability measures are eliminated as though they, not what they uncover, threaten peace and prosperity. Pro-military, peace advocates (Peace-hoping, military apologists?) need to make good on their efforts or stop deluding themselves that being anti-war-lite can actually stop our slide towards doomsday.

I don’t see success coming from Antiwar.com and other Libertarian, anti-war efforts because their vision remains wedded and subservient to profit and greed. Hunger_Strike_vigil_Sheikh_Jara_Old_LadyIf there is a kinder, more compassionate capitalism, it better get rolled out asap before empathy is outlawed as aid to “the enemy.” I hope Ayn Randian, Ron Paul Libertarians can infuse a bit of sober sanity into the Republican Party. I have sat on panels with their representatives. They need to grow from the right, not by diluting or undermining the efforts of pacifists or others. Can they deliver on their pro-market, anti-war ethos? I doubt it, but I’m not the one standing in their way. This is a failure of the anti-war-right…

…and the ignores-war-left, as I was speaking to above about the need for anti-racists and environmentalists explicitly to expose and confront warfare as the racist, “terracidal” force it is. Social movements are so caught up battling against immediate attacks that poor kids are preyed upon by the ruling elite to enlist in the military in the hopes of getting out of a bad situation, a process known as “economic conscription.”

Don’t blame pacifists for our collective failure at making peace. Jerry_Jim_PLC2016People who see the Pentagon as necessary need to make it less offensive! Hiding its dirty secrets makes us vulnerable, not stronger! Stand by your calls for accountability and measured reductions in arms spending. Push back against charges of exposing our secrets to the enemy (whoever they are). Grow from the right to winnow away their violent strength!

I think we can have lots of material comfort and not be besot with all this war and deceit. The problem with antiwar.com and other libertarians is that they don’t see capitalism as a problem. They seem to trust in the market place even as it is used to steal from people and communities. In the name of the free-market, any success by other means has been attacked as a threat to be undermined and its leaders killed. There are a few good apples among corporations and business, of course, but by and large, the system is a toxic tree. I have eaten a few good pieces of fruit from sick plants, but mostly they’re fruitless, and the plant dies seedless.

I’m a longterm anti-war activist, antimilitarist, even a pacifist. jim_bike_richmondI don’t attack the rights of individuals or individual societies to stand up for themselves against attack, and I oppose the attacker for being on the offensive. I haven’t seen a war that wasn’t based on lies, scapegoating and fear-mongering.

As we enter 2018, I remain charged up by the loving friends I have made along the way. We’re not alone in the struggle. We’re all in this together.

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | 2 Comments

Brothers and Sisters in the Military: Refuse to Fight! Refuse to Kill!

Dear Friends,

It is November 11 again, Veteran’s Day here in the United States. This date was first proclaimed “Armistice Day” in 1919 by Woodrow Wilson because at 11:11 am, on November 11, 1918, the armistice was signed that ended World War I, thought to have been “The War to End All Wars.” FDR made it a national holiday in 1938. After the massive death and destruction of World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower and others in government decided to drop the reference to World War I, and in 1954 turned it into a celebration of military personnel in general.

It seems like a fitting time to encourage members of the United States armed forces to lay down their arms, refuse orders and abandon their posts. I’m not kidding. I, James Glenn Haber, willingly and knowingly appeal to members of the United States military, in violation of 18 USC Sec. 1381 and 18 USC Sec. 2387, to refuse all orders to deploy or fight. My plea is inspired by a similar one that was circulated by Jonah House and Washington DC’s Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in the early 2000’s. I therefore also pledge to help mitigate the suffering of any soldier who goes out on such a limb, and to share in it as much as I can.

Accidentally or by design, the name change represented a clear switch in emphasis. Off the marque went “Armistice” (fighting’s cessation), replaced with “Veterans” (fighters). Instead of recalling the end of war, it became a celebration dedicated to the people who wielded its weapons. Instead of a day to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace, it became a day for parades and military recruitment. Instead of a day to reflect on and learn from past mistakes, it became a day for military recruitment and to justify our war-making while ostensibly thanking veterans for their “service.”

I haven’t heard of a war that wasn’t prosecuted with coercion, lies and greed. Humanitarian motives are overwhelmed by war’s destructive barbarity and trauma. The United States military is being used in violation of its own and international law, and this actually requires military personnel to stand down instead of following illegal orders. Everyone is personally responsible for our actions as per the Nuremberg Principles.

I have decried war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by past Presidents of the United States.  The current occupant of the Oval Office has shown repeatedly that he doesn’t care about due process or facts that don’t fit his existing beliefs. He is lashing about with the largest and most destructive thing ever created by humans, the United States military. Even compared to past war criminals who occupied the White House, Donald Trump shows little regard for, or understanding of, the consequences of his pronouncements or actions.

Since World War I, most casualties of war are not service members. They’re civilians…civilians and the environment…and days raising them up are sadly understated looking at September 21December 10 or May 15 . I’m reminded of what I was told on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day when asking, “How come there isn’t a Children’s Day?” The unsatisfying response was always, “Every day is Children’s Day.”

 

Veterans Day is cynically used to tell us that we need more soldiers and that we must trust the war-planners blindly with all of our money. Meanwhile the government unfunds all we say we hold dear, like care for our elders and our children and having sufficiently clean places to live, work and play. A small fraction of the profligate, Pentagon waste could fund all human needs imaginable and leave the military enough money to be a defensive force (if such a thing could truly exist).

Meanwhile, many injured vets are hypocritically blamed for their own suffering (visible and invisible). The government goes to extreme lengths to avoid paying for their necessary and deserved care. Economic conscripts are treated as cannon fodder and often receive less than honorable discharges due to minor offences, reducing their access to benefits. I heard this from caller after caller when I volunteered with the G.I. Rights Hotline. Many calls are from people fighting their command, not trying to get out even though it was started during the Vietnam war to help people apply or conscientious objector status. Now it more often helps callers who the military is trying to short-change.

I’d happily say I was wrong and that there can be a benevolent military, but it is hard to find a politician or political party that will advocate for overseeing, much less cutting, the military one iota. So instead, I want to appeal directly to enlistees and encourage them to quit, again saying…

I, James Glenn Haber, willingly and knowingly appeal to members of the United States military, in violation of 18 USC Sec. 1381 and 18 USC Sec. 2387, to refuse all orders to deploy or fight.

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nonviolence, Peacemaking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment