Memorial (Day) for Whom?

Our World Needs You to end warIt’s Memorial Day here in the United States (and hence all over the world). Not a day for a picnic in my book. I want a day devoted to remembering militarism’s civilian dead instead of its late conscripts and enlistees. Soldiers can be victims too, but there is something that feels more “wrong” when I hear about civilians killed by some armed “actor” (as combatants are often named in the literature). God only knows how many dead civilians are wrongly counted as dead “enemies”?

Selfless, life-risking heroism doesn’t distinguish a soldier from a civilian. Isn’t boot camp primarily about learning to follow orders instantly and without question, including to fire weapons and kill people? Civilians aren’t in a position to do that, but civilians still risk and sometimes lose their lives being brave without threatening the lives of others.  Military preparedness means learning to kill on order, trusting leaders and commanders to tell us right from wrong. Before Trump, this problem already existed. Now, it seems absolutely wrong for anyone to subordinate their will to the sociopathic government of the United States.

The ethical thing for U.S. service members to do is to dessert now; go AWOL or UA “unexcused absence.” I know that is easier for me to say than for someone to do. The GI Rights Hotline provides accurate, helpful counseling and information on military regulations and discharges, AWOL and UA, and GI Rights. They have very useful fact sheets on different topics for each branch of the military. https://girightshotline.org/ 877-447-4487.

Anti-nuclear Updates: The Kings Bay Plowshares and Me

Kings Bay Plowshares 1At long last, a KBP 7 SENTENCING UPDATE:

Clare, Martha, Mark, Patrick, Carmen, and Fr Steve have sentencing dates currently set for June 29th and 30th. Liz McAlister will be sentenced remotely via video on June 8th at 9 am (EST). It is likely that there will be a phone number that supporters can call to listen to the sentencing. We don’t know the phone number at this time, but we will post it once we find it out. We will continue to provide updates as we become aware of them. Thanks for your continued support of the KBP7!

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Don’t worry, world. This ankle monitor will protect you from Martha Hennessy!

From Martha Hennessy’s Affidavit:

“What was temporarily damaged on the base doesn’t compare to blasting whole modern cities and killing millions of people if or when the purpose and preparedness of the base is carried out. It is near impossible for citizens to emphasize and prove this point in an alternative setting. If one were to cut the lock or fence to a concentration camp, the act of entering such a place would not become more of a crime than the purpose of the lock/fence to protect what is being done on the other side. I did not go to the base with violent intentions to put anyone at risk of harm. I went to expose the nuclear arsenal for what it is, a violation of God’s will for us to love one another as His has loved us (John 13:34).” #swordsintoplowshares #kingsbayplowshares #COVID19

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Maybe it’s my doppleganger?

Meanwhile, on the left coast, my three compatriots with whom I crossed the line at the entrance to the Kitsap-Bangor Trident sub and missile base outside of Seattle in March have received notices of an August arraignment date (August, not august). I have heard nothing. Strangely, I was treated with kid gloves up there once before for no apparent reason. Not sure how this will play out yet. Stand by.

God bless Cuba. Keep it (and the rest of us) safe from the United States!

Whenever I hear news stories about work on a covid-19 vaccine, I always listen for mention of Cuba and their trials of Interferon alpha-2b. The absence of mention of their research and testing is telling of bad journalism. Newsweek gets a shout out for their  March 24 piece by Tom O’Connor. The rest of the world knows of Cuba’s efforts and research, but it is almost as though news media here can’t be bothered, or are afraid to include them. Their groundbreaking research on treating many diseases including cancer, diabetes, viral outbreaks and their historic leadership in biotech innovation and gifting front-line “medical revolutionaries” (rather than “heroes” some say) to places in need. Help nominate them for a truly deserved Nobel Peace Prize through this CODEPINK petition. Sanctions and covert actions against Cuba from the United States must end now!” Check out the Saving Lives Campaign today for work on joint Cuba-USA-Canada work to stop covid-19.

heshcel_mlk_sign_2Researching Cuba and its global covid-19 effort led me to the Monthly Review Online piece linked  above. That, in turn, led me to their relatively brief but outstanding interview of Noam Chomsky.

To be informed and act on covid-19 responses (or lack thereof) for people in cages in the United States (prisons, jails, detention centers, etc.) please check out the Humane Outbreak Response campaign #HumanityNotCages initiated by Color of Change with many other outstanding co-sponsoring organizations.

And globally, as David Swanson of World Beyond War so rightly pointed out in his May 24 update, The UN’s Global Ceasefire Must Circumvent the UN.

Why Am I This Way?

Why do I refuse to turn away from the horrors of the day, even though they can make me pent up, agitated, unhappy? I blame great teachings and loving, conscientious upbringing. (Thanks, mom!) All of these brief passages of wisdom have made me who I am starting with the adage by Abraham Joshua Heschel featured in the above image: “In a free society, few are guilty. All are responsible.”

20170115_134603My last Missive featured Martin Luther King Jr.‘s sermon “Love and Forgiveness” (May 20, 1964). In it he interpreted Jesus’s prayer uttered during Their agony on The Cross: “Then, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”” The following passage became rather famous; variations of it are in other talks of his. It makes me feel connected to struggles of other people, not just my own pain, or even that of my family and friends. Hundreds of millions of people seem destined to a. starve, b. risk being infected by and spreading a deadly virus, or c. stand up against violent, repressive governments that would rather they didn’t even exist. Therefore, as King said:

We must come to see that as long as some of God’s children are poverty-stricken, we are all insecure, because we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny, and whatever effects one directly effects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” And then he goes on toward the end to say, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

IMG_5351Holly Near in “It Could’ve Been Me”, a memorial song written for the first anniversary of the 1970 Kent State murders (the 50th anniversary just passed on May 4):

It could’ve been me, but instead it was you. So I’ll keep doing the work you were doing as if I were too. I’ll be a student of life. A singer of songs. A farmer of food and a righter of wrongs. It could’ve been me, but instead it was you. And it may be me, dear sisters and brothers, before it’s all through. So if you can (depending on the stanza) die for freedom/sing for freedom/work for freedom/live for freedom, I can too.

Hillel, probably the most quoted and revered Talmudic rabbi, from my Bar Mitzvah ‘drash (and any of yours?) This is always a tough balancing act requiring constant reflection, though we need to beware being “mesmerized by uncertainty” (another precisely poetic MLK-ism): “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

JVP-All-Responsible-logoIt is currently between Passover and Shavuot, the time when I and my people fled Pharaoh, made it across the Red Sea and wandered in the desert for seven weeks, arriving at Mt. Sinai for Moses to receive the Torah from God. It is customary each morning to read our way through a book from the Mishnah called Pirkei Avot (Teachings of the Fathers, or Ethics of the Parents). One of the first passages is especially short, but sweet: “You are not obligated to complete the task, but nor are you free to desist.”

I fear self-servingly forgiving my own hypocrisies, but I also feel like the question of scale effects forgivability and what is necessary for real repentance. I only found “The Three Evils of Society” three or four years ago, but Martin Luther King Jr. (again, I know), spoke forcefully against racist, deadly and blatant hypocrisies in a way that sadly transcends time:

We cry out against welfare hand outs to the poor but generously approve an oil depletion allowance to make the rich, richer. Six Mississippi plantations receive more than a million dollars a year, not to plant cotton but no provision is made to feed the tenant farmer who is put out of work by the government subsidy. The crowning achievement in hypocrisy must go to those staunch Republicans and Democrats of the Midwest and West who were given land by our government when they came here as immigrants from Europe. They were given education through the land grant colleges. They were provided with agricultural agents to keep them abreast of forming trends, they were granted low interest loans to aid in the mechanization of their farms and now that they have succeeded in becoming successful, they are paid not to farm and these are the same people that now say to black people, who’s ancestors were brought to this country in chains and who were emancipated in 1863 without being given land to cultivate or bread to eat; that they must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor.

Dorothy Day, co-founder with Peter Maurin (look up “Easy Essays”) of the Catholic Worker Movement which inspired the creation of Martin de Porres House of Hospitality (or “Martins” for short): “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

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Catholic Worker demonstration at Nellis Air Force Base in North Las Vegas.

The Last Few Days, Ramadan 2020
by Shukri Abu-Baker

One- of- a- kind Ramadan, indelible. In the thick of a pandemic, believer found solace in connecting with their Lord. Amidst all the chaos, nightly prayers ascended uninterrupted and Allah’s blessings found their way into the homes of the devout as they chanted softly in supplications and sang His praises with hearts that pulsated with unquestionable submission.

Dome of the Rock

Down to the last few nights. Nights packed with heavenly power as the angels roam around ready to encircle the deep-in-the-night worshipers. The wise believers don’t waste a moment of this wondrous time and do not look beyond what awaits them on the other side.

Ramadan candleSoon though, Ramadan will be gone. Tears will be shed, and hearts will feel the pang of separation from the magnificence of solitude__ and the magic of awakenings when everyone else in deep asleep.

O Allah, let these last few days not be the last few times we connect to Your glory, feel Your presence, and receive Your blessings.

Shukri  5/21/20 [https://notesfromshukri.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/the-last-few-days/]

Eamon is almost a year and a half!

Yup, Lacy says his personality continues to evolve as he gets closer to two than one, and he toddles faster than imaginable, in a blink of an eye! They’re still a smiley, giggly wonder, but they do get opinionated at that age, didn’t we? Good thing I outgrew that! (Hah!)

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Posted in corona virus, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nonviolence, Nuclear Issues, Peacemaking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ramadan Kareem, Have a Generous Mothers’ Day and it’s Birthday Time!

Ramadan Kareem

I wanted to be sure to say the proper greeting to Muslims during Ramadan, so I looked it up. I didn’t want to say the ending prayer at the beginning of the month. I was reminded that most common is “Ramadan Mubarak” for “Happy Ramadan,” followed by “Ramadan Kareem” for “Have a generous Ramadan,” which is also very common.

Don't get more lovely than Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Given the state of things, I am hesitant to blithely wish people a happy anything, as it just feels a little flippant to me right now. I do still wish people happiness though, and I say it sometimes too. I’m just feeling so much not-happiness that it isn’t quite mine to offer. I’m grateful that I can wish generosity for people to honor Ramadan and Allah. In wishing generosity on (for?) someone, I do it happy in the thought of them either being the generous one or them being the recipient of the generosity of another.

In that spirit, since my birthday is coming up (May 17), wish me “Birthday Kareem” instead of a happy birthday. Please see the the last item of this Missive for an invitation to celebrate with me that evening and support the people of Gaza at the same time.  First though, a brief Mother’s Day greeting (including a way to help free Black mothers from prisons) and a relatively obscure Martin Luther King Jr. sermon in which he tells us not to be stupid.

Mother’s Day Kareem!

Graffito on the outside of the tunnel/culvert under US95 near Mercury Nevada and the Peacecamp site where nuclear abolitionists met and staged prayer circles, incursions onto the old Nevada Test Site to impede nuclear testing.I’m not giving up on happiness, really. If I see a woman I don’t know, I promise simply to wish her a happy mother’s day and not get into this discussion. May you all have a happy–and generous–Mother’s Day, my mother, my sisters, Lacy, my friends and family.

In celebration of motherhood, here is what came to be known as the original Mother’s Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870 as the “Appeal to womanhood around the world”:

Appeal to womanhood around the world
by Julia Ward Howe

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

TruePinknikArise, then, Christian women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

— Julia Ward Howe
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“Love and Forgiveness” by Martin Luther King Jr.

I finally transcribed a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. I bought on audio cassette fifteen or so years ago. Couldn’t find this one on line anywhere, a transcript or even any mention of it. Finally, in the on-line King archives at Stanford, I found a footnote in the description of a draft of a chapter of a book from 1960 that mentioned a sermon that evolved from then until he delivered “Love and Forgiveness” on May 20, 1964. In a passage that varied from presentation to presentation over those years, they had the exact version from my recording with the date. As always, Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically speaks to us from beyond the grave.

20170115_134603The sermon involves two main lessons derived from the prayer that Jesus uttered from the Cross.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These sublime words from the lips of our lord and master on the cross at Calvary represent love at its best. They represent a magnificent example of the courage to love. Now we cannot fully understand the great meaning of Jesus’s prayer from the cross until we notice the word with which the text opens. It is the word “then.” The verse immediately preceding reads thus: “And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him. Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them.””

One main lesson was about the importance of walking our talk. The other lesson was to say that it is a moral imperative to be more than compassionate and conscientious, but also not to be stupid or ignorant.  To the first point, I always smile at how he marveled at our unsettling proclivity to do that which goes against our better nature, against what we know to be right:

There is something within all of us that causes us at times to cry out with St. Augustine in his confession, “Lord make me pure, but not yet.” There is something that causes us to cry out with the Apostle Paul, “The good that I would, I do not. And the evil that I would not that I do.” This strange dichotomy, this agonizing tension within human nature is one of the tragic themes of man’s earthly pilgrimage. But in the life of Jesus, the gulf was bridged. And there has never been a greater example, a greater demonstration of one being able to keep his deeds and his words in harmony.

CW-sign_wide3…and King continued:

A second lesson comes to us through Jesus’ prayer on the Cross. It is an expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual blindness. “They know not what they do.” Blindness was their trouble. Enlightenment was their need. We must never forget that Jesus was nailed to the cross not merely because of human badness but because of human blindness. The men who cried “crucify him” were not bad men; they were blind men. The men who nailed him to the Cross were misguided men. They knew not what they did.

Over the next several minutes, King showed how ignorance as much as evil perpetuates war, economic misery and racism. He didn’t yet refer to them as the “Three Evils of Society” as he would in 1967, but he was already speaking directly against the stupidity and immorality of war as well as racism and poverty.Our World Needs You to end war

Thank god we are beginning now to shake the lethargy from our souls, and we are coming to see more and more if we are to be witnesses for Jesus Christ we must take a positive concrete stand against this evil system. And we must support those efforts whether they are working through the courts and legislative channels or whether they are working through direct action and demonstrations. All are necessary in order to solve this critical problem facing our nation. As we solve it, we must face this tragic fact, that many people who keep it going, are individuals who know not what they do. Many Negroes today are being crucified on nameless crosses by individuals who know not what they do.
All I’m saying is simply this: that sincerity and conscientiousness in themselves are not enough. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. There is nothing more dangerous in all the world than goodness and sincerity placed in a small, closed mind. [emphasis added]
So we as church men have a responsibility to tell men to be good; to tell them to be kindhearted; tell them to be sincere and conscientious. But all of the moral voices in the world must say this, but beyond this they must go on to say that we have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.

My birthday is May 17, and this is what I want:

Jim_Bethlehem_retouchedJoin my friend Elliot’s “Gather for Gaza” virtual dinner party that night from 6 to 8 pm to support the desperately necessary United Nations Relief Works Administration (UNRWA) Please use this evite link and the donate button there so you can also be included in the festivities. Presentations include wisdom and entertainment from Hatem Bazian, Lynn Gottlieb, Lamees Dahbour, Laila Mokhiber and Sharif Zakout. If you are close to Oakland/Berkeley/San Francisco, we are coordinating food orders and deliveries through Mama Lamees Cuisine at the Emeryville Public Market. If you make a donation through the evite link, you will receive a zoom link to join the party from 6 to 8, and also ordering information for the food which will be delivered safely to your door.

To Exist is to Resist

A cross-over message of intersectionality. Justice for Palestine. Justice for women of color.

If you prefer a domestic cause, then be as generous as possible to the Black Mama’s Bailout. Some friends set up a fundraising challenge through the National Bail Out (#FreeBlackMamas).  NBO works in collaboration with state based organizations to free Black mothers and caregivers around the country. Here’s the link to donate: bit.ly/covid19-bailouts My friends are trying to track donations so they know when they surpass their $20,000 goal. Please let me know by text or email how much you are able to donate so I can let them know. To start it off, one couple gave their stimulus checks of $2400. I just gave $40. Anything helps.

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed!

 

 

Seeing Eamon (and Lacy) smile certainly helps me feel better! I don’t know when it will feel safe to visit them again. They are as well as can be. That’s enough for me. I have seen my mom twice since mid-March. We sat on opposite ends of a bench in front of where she lives and shmoozed not smooched. And last weekend we dealt with her car’s dead battery and went safely to Costco. I also was thrilled to see briefly a few of my friends (and exercise students) there who just happened to be outside as well.

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…I don’t know; a couple years ago.

Posted in Anti-Racism, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nonviolence | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Palestinian Friends, Here and There, are Under Active Attack.

The title of this Missive should’ve had an exclamation mark, but 1. I hate being called inflammatory when I’m not; 2. Palestinians here and there have been under active attack for a long time, so why, now, an exclamation mark? and 3. One exclamation mark isn’t enough for what I feel, so perhaps better not to go there at all.

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The lead item has switched around three times now. What seems vitally important one day feels like old viral news the next. I thought this would go out yesterday, April 3, 2020, but it is this morning instead. I feel weird and lucky to have light-duty, probably not having to go in, being on call work. I learned yesterday that the transitional programs I help maintain are now shelter-in-place, temporarily not being temporary housing. Close proximity can make people testy, for sure. However, gratitude for being holed up in a relatively safe place can likewise affect people’s moods.

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Please read on for news from federal prisons from my friends of the Holy Land Foundation and of the West Bank from the Israeli human rights group Ta’ayush. Then continue on for an important call for a global ceasefire and important anti-nuclear and anti-war updates including a piece by dear friend Kathy Kelly.

The flowers and yard are where I am fortunate enough to be living. Thank you, Ardys, for being such a great and unique landlady and friend.

King Posters -No Nukes_Page_3April 4 is so noteworthy, you could look back over my years of Missives for similar exhortations for people to listen to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and not just reference his legacy by name in our work. Let our work reflect the “radical revolution of values” he articulated so clearly during the final year of his too-short life when he presaged intersectionality with this call: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal opposition to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

And let’s remember also, assassinated on April 4 in Jenin, Palestine, the incomparable Juliano Mer Khamis, founder of The Freedom Theatre.

Please, Pray for the Holy Land Foundation 5, The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and Incarcerated People Everywhere.

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I was already planning to share the following post from HLF President and CEO, Shukri Abu-Baker who is in Beaumont Federal Penitentiary in Texas. First though, I have two covid-19 related updates about the Holy Land Foundation 5 and a report to point you to from Ta’ayush, a critical Israeli human rights group reporting about people and places dear to me from my personal experiences with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence.

Here is the report from Ta’ayush which talks about attacks against livestock, vegetation, water sources. https://www.taayush.org/?p=5199. And always a safe and productive way to help beleaguered Palestinians is to contribute through The Rebuilding Alliance. They have established a Palestine CoronaVirus Relief Fund. Donate here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/palestine-emergency/. It is a shame I can’t direct you to the Holy Land Foundation to help Palestinians in need.

Mohammad El-Mezain, of the HLF 5 is in Oakdale II FCI in Louisiana. Yesterday a Democracy Now! headline said that three people just died at Oakdale from the corona virus. He’s due for release on Sept. 17, 2021. He’s gotta make it! He and Mufid Abdulqader have official release dates that are in less than a year and a half! Convicted on b.s. charges of supporting terrorism, I don’t expect early release, but, we can hope. Inshalah, Mohammad, you will stay healthy and be free soon.Injustice, cover.jpg

And Holy Land Foundation co-founder, Ghassan Elashi who is in USP McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky wrote me this on April 1: “The lockdown schedule was amended today. We will be in lockdown 7 days a week except 1 1/2 hour on on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:( At least I can make few phone calls and check the email. I heard in the news today that BOP has, up to yesterday, 28 inmates and 24 officers tested positive of the Corona. The numbers could be the other way, 24 inmates and 28 officers. But that was yesterday. This number including all the prisons nation wide. I have not heard any news regarding testing in this facility.”

Be well, Mohammad! Bless you! May you and all the inmates and staff there somehow pull through. May the insanity and unwisdom of our gargantuan carceral system be unmasked and ended in our lifetimes. Bless you also, Ghassan! Shukri! Mufid! Abdulrahman! Inshalah, the tide will turn, the arc will bend toward justice and you will be released. FREE THE PEOPLE NOW!

And now, a heart-warming post from Shukri:

Grandson

When a child is born…so is a Grandfather

When Tomorrow Comes

There can be no ceiling to the power of love taken in or given out. Even the mere thought of it is salve to the wounded soul. Recently my grandson wrote me in black Crayon asking me to “hang in there and be strong and patient” like him. He assured me he would do everything he could to get me out of this “nonsense”. And nonsense it is.

A heart like his grandpa’s with a soft spot for humanity was not supposed to be torched by cruelty, he figured. And in truth, the burning has lately become almost too punishing for me to take. Except I keep reminding myself that life is too brief to leave in it any room for toxins like hate and anger. This is not to say that I’m O.K. with the injustice that has forcibly ripped me and my family apart. On the contrary, I reject all species of evil in all spaces of human interaction. Nor am I inclined to inflict upon others what others have inflicted upon me. For hate and rage are seeds that can find in me no soil, no air, no water, no chance to germinate, much less thrive.

Nor would I ever allow such triggers of misery to dig roots in the mind of my seven-year-old boy. That is because I’m envisioning tomorrow. A tomorrow that must bring along a reality that is better than what we have today: nations on the cusp of moral collapse: refugees on the run; starved, scared, & snarled… their toddlers dying in their sleep after their brittle bodies have turned to ice under paper-thin tents in the dead of winter. All on the watch of the de-mummified Pharos and the barrel-bellied sheiks of the world.

No matter the final chapter in this, my unjust imprisonment: whether I come home walking on my feet or carried on my back___ I know I’ll always be baked in peace. The world is engorged with the oppressed and I’m only one of many, but I know God will see me through to the end. Besides, I’ve always wanted to help change the world__ and the world will change. I promise. The ups will soon touch the bottom and the downs will kiss the stars.

And I’m grateful that I’m able to hang in there, strong not only for my grandson but also for everyone out there on the brink of despondence__ to help them realize that hope is still alive. God’s beauty brushes everything I see with a sense of joy that alleviates what pain I might have been feeling at any given moment of strife.

Yes, prison is slowly feasting on my bones, nerves, and muscles as I turn greyer within it’s walls. But on the other hand what has grown even sturdier is a spirit that allows me to end this message with a smile on my face knowing that my grandson who is also my “ninja” is thinking about me. Thank God, healing tomorrow has not forgotten my injured days. Crayons in young hands are already painting the full picture: And it’s beautiful, pleasant, and above all real. So real it speaks loud and clear to everyone who approaches with a listening conscience and a loving heart- just like my grandson’s.

Shukri  2-26-20

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Sign the Call for a Global Ceasefire from the UN Secretary General. Steve Kelly has been in a county lockup for 2 years now for acting against nuclear insanity. Wise friends, true numbers still count.

Sign the Secretary General’s call for a Global Ceasefire here.

Too bad it didn’t also mention ending inhumane sanctions too (against Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and others), but please, still sign. You may see this petition from other portals as well. CODEPINK: Women for Peace has a great set of “Recent Actions” to quickly scroll through: https://www.codepink.org/alert_archive. Don’t be overwhelmed. Do what you can. Try, at least, to keep trying to stay informed, and don’t turn away in despair, hopelessness or cynicism. Visit World Beyond War for upcoming, forward-thinking forums, and shwag with really clear messaging.

Nuclear.Cloud_Tree.jpgWe also need politicians from around the world (and journalists and everyone) to get clear, with themselves and publicly, that if the United States strikes Iran with a W76-2 or any other nuclear weapon, that the United States will be treated as a pariah state. The world should not cower in fear, but unite in outrage, hopefully by political ostracism and not physical attack. We must dissuade journalists from covering Trump’s utterances (especially about covid-19; sign petition), and leaders must not meet with him or his designees.

Please read this short article by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence about Steve Kelly, the Kings Bay Plowshares, and the need for the focus to keep focused on stopping the insane plans for nuclear war. Use either link and explore more of either Voices or The Nuclear Resister. http://www.nukeresister.org/2020/04/02/hes-got-eight-numbers-just-like-everybody-else-by-kathy-kelly/ or  http://vcnv.org/2020/04/02/hes-got-eight-numbers-just-like-everybody-else-kathy-kelly/

I also just received word from Marylia Kelly of Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore, California that, despite the immediacy of the corona virus emergency, the DOE has submitted a draft environmental impact report for starting to redesign and produce the plutonium bomb parts for nuclear weapons at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina. See their April 3 press release here: http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/TVC-press-releases.html

20200402_081734Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation and also United for Peace and Justice sadly had to cancel the annual reading of MLK’s Riverside Church speech at the Oakland Federal Building this year. Still, she makes some very cogent and salient budgetary points we need to help people take to heart:

The Trump administration has requested over $740 billion for the military in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal. That’s far more than the U.S. spent for military purposes at the height of the Korean or Vietnam Wars or the peak of the Reagan buildup of the 1980s. In 2018 U.S. spending on the Pentagon was greater than the amounts spent by the next seven nations combined — China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

The biggest increase in the proposed budget is a nearly 20% increase in spending on nuclear weapons at $45 billion. The amount of money spent in one year by the U.S. on nuclear weapons could instead provide 300,000 ICU (intensive care unit) beds, 35,000 ventilators and 75,000 doctors’ salaries.

At the same time, this budget slashes Medicaid and food stamps and eliminates low-income heating aid and other programs. Military spending currently accounts for 53% of the discretionary federal budget. By 2030, the Trump budget would give 62% of the discretionary budget to the Pentagon.

nuclear-free-cranes2Finally on the nuclear front, a big shout out to Christine Prat and Leona Morgan, a Dine anti-nuclear activist from the southwest, for this report on nuclear colonialism and institutionalized racism based on a presentation Leona gave in France in February. See Chris P.’s blog for that and much background info, to help our work be truly grounded. http://www.chrisp.lautre.net/wpblog/?p=5522.

Don’t Pay Your Taxes!

I know this is a hard one for people generating a lot of fear…overblown fear and a sense of responsibility not to contribute to the destruction of the social safety net and civic infrastructure. Militarist thievery has descended to new depths of greed and depravity. The Dems signed off on Trump’s holiday for the payroll tax, so how will Social Security and other programs survive? Health care should never have been tied to employment. Maybe when the IRS comes after me, I’ll change my tune, but I think it will be worth it. To see if you might agree, check out the info, history and counseling from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. https://nwtrcc.org/

Our real epidemic is poverty — but we bailed out the rich

Spot-on but tragic subject line from the Institute for Policy Studies “This Week at IPS” bulletin on April 3, 2020. Many great items in there from amazing people who may find themselves, like us all, in the crosshairs of this Orwellian state. God help us.

Eamon and everyone are safe as can be in Brunswick, Maryland.

Not sure when I’ll get to see the amazing Eamon again. Hopefully a matter of a couple months is all. We video call every week or two. I do feel a bit far; I am. We’re also all where we need to be. May their amazed enthusiasm to breath, explore and laugh flow through everyone.

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Are we hunkering down yet?

I found myself a little dragging emotionally this past week. I was supposed to visit Eamon, but I cancelled.  Caution was already in order, if just out of fear of getting stuck so far from home should some shit hit the fan. DC was already struggling with the corona virus, as is the Bay Area, as was greater Seattle where I was for a couple nights. (See below about the Pacific Life Community anti-Trident action.)

I need to bite the bullet and hit send today. I missed Friday the thirteenth for the ides of March. News I would report changes daily. Yesterday rules at Baywood Court were tightened, and I didn’t lead my exercise or laughter yoga classes, much less relax over lunch. I haven’t been back from out of state travel for two full weeks. The increased signage and reduced entrances on Saturday were much more restrictive and clear. Last week I taught with a mask on. Next week, Goddess knows. Mere days ago, I would have told you all I was planning to go to Iran at the end of May with CODEPINK. I was going to have a living room report back about the CJNV delegation next week. Several other great events were coming up at Kehilla Community Synagogue.

Read on about the recent CJNV delegation, focusing on Musrara, the Jerusalem neighborhood where we convened on December 30. I’m also very honored to present a true story, a parable from behind bars, by Mufid Abdulqader, of the wrongly convicted Holy Land Foundation 5.

Let me start off with a few mixed items of note. Most of which aren’t as time sensitive as they were. Several events have been postponed or cancelled due to the corona virus. I hope you’ll click the links for more on the “whys” even if you aren’t going to need the “where”. As I write, these events are going forward. Coronavirus intensity may cause any or all of them to be changed. I suggest you contact me later to find out if plans have changed.

  • Support Palestinians weather corona virus. This portal is through the Rebuilding Alliance. Trust it and give generously. Some of the groups mentioned that they are partnering with on the ground there are the same people and places where I have been and have friends. There are other inspiring, mutual aid networks springing up nationally and by neighborhood. If you need to be in touch with some of that support, let me know. It takes a village, especially with our government.
  • April 3, Noon to 2 pm: Annual, Public Reading of MLK’s Riverside Church Speech. Outside the Oakland Federal Building on Clay at 12th St. I’m not sure if we’ll just do one read through (17 parts) or more, two or three, later into the afternoon. This is an outdoor event.
  • May 31, 3:00 to 7:00 pm: Challenging the Rise in Anti-Semitism: Rabbi David moderates a panel of speakers that includes Penny Rosenwasser, Binya Koatz, Pastor Ben McBride and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi. Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave. Piedmont (in the sanctuary). Check out the event listing on the Kehilla website for more details, bios and flyers. (This was originally planned for April 5.)
  • The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions international committee put out a video on International Women’s Day that I thought was dynamic, clear and fair. Love it!
  • Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota’s 4th District authored a piece of legislation that has gained more traction than you might expect since it is on behalf of something Palestinian. HR 2407 is the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” Well, AIPAC attacks on her were vile and extreme as usual, but her push back is exceptionally strong and inspiring. I shouted for joy in a cafe as I read her statement in response laying out why AIPAC is a hate group.
  • Things like this going on today are “impossible to reconcile with wisdom, justice and love.” https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200225-israel-closes-60-year-old-jerusalem-bakery-for-distributing-bread-to-muslim-worshippers/

People Need to go Ballistic over Nukes

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I just attended the annual Pacific Life Community gathering at lovely Pilgrims Firs, a UCC camp west of Seattle. I spent several hours in SeaTac airport and over on the Olympic Peninsula, not exactly ground zero in Washington for Covid-19, but not the other end of the state either. I paused for a while on the Coliseum BART platform on my way to the airport and consulted by phone and FB many wise and candid friends before I got on the AirTrain and ultimately the plane.Laksana_Lorin_Clancie Thank you all for sharing your concerns about traveling at this time. I decided that not going was no surer bet than going in this instance, and I needed the camaraderie of my antinuclear-action family’s annual gathering given the increased likelihood of a nuclear attack by the United States with the presence of a W76-2 on a Trident submarine with Donald Trump’s finger on the button.

Justice_Not_Just_UsThe gathering was full of familiar faces, almost no unknowns. I decided to come for the comfort of community, so I was fine with it. Still, as we discuss what to do next year, there is a clear mandate for more time reflecting on what we do and why since we are an unexceptionally aging lot,  and almost all white. PLC isn’t growing. Some strong encouragement for us to open up in new ways to new leadership has followed in evaluation, not for the first time. Thanks for the jump-start, Sam, and the personal challenge, Susan S. To be continued more within the PLC for now.

Jim_pursed_lips_Bangor2020I “defiantly” crossed the designated property line at Kitsap-Bangor Trident submarine naval base on Monday, and I was dutifully cited and released along with my compatriots. In a few months I probably will be sent an arraignment date. Meanwhile, the W76-2 is out there somewhere on a Trident sub (see previous Missives). I fear for the people of Iran. Our government has never valued the lives of Persians. I feel duty bound to do what I can to stop more war crimes against them, so I made this small, defiant gesture. Alone, it amounts to nothing.  Our very real nukes are the ones to worry about, that need to be disarmed first and foremost, not North Korea’s small force, nor the nonexistent nuclear weapons of Iran. Any death of an American troop or mercenary will be blamed on Iran without any proof and used to justify our own murderous assaults. We need journalists to ask the hard, probing questions lacking today even though Trump is insulating himself with willing handlers limiting access. There is plenty of money to heal the world of its wounds, but we have to raid the Pentagon and take it from the military. So few address the military budget. military spendingMost activists talk around it, occasionally including a mention of militarism, but more often than not avoiding it. It is so huge, and it is on very few people’s plates. Why is that? Is it me? Is it something I am doing that makes people not care, to stay away?

Sam_banner_PLC2020In my worst nightmare, I couldn’t have dreamed up something worse than nuclear deterrence, but Trumpism (the veneration of bombastic, narcissistic ignorance) is scary as hell with his finger on the button. The crimes and trajectory of United States militarism  are so cruel, and so long-standing, it is almost beyond my comprehension that any argument exists against repentance and reparations for the people of the world by the United States. That we are threatening non-nuclear armed Iran with a nuclear first-strike should stop good people in their tracks. Military assaults need to stop amidst this global pandemic, but that isn’t what is happening. Violent opportunists see a weak enemy and want to come in for the kill. I’m really afraid we’re going to nuke Iran and no one is going to care. There is so little visibility given to efforts to stop it from happening, but I’m probably repeating myself. We’re having to trust in some sort of deep state military respect for The Constitution and the rule of law. We have to pray that Trump’s purge of federal employees who won’t carry out his every utterance without hesitation miraculously sidesteps the nuclear launch chain of command.

State_banne_holders_deployed_2020 (2)Somehow the people of this country have to start caring that our leaders habitually commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in our name. (Not that they are doing them FOR our benefit, really, but they do do them in our name. I have seen old cold warriors heartfully argued that their covert violence was necessary for the freedoms some of us are accorded.) We have to stop insane Trump and his ignorant lackies from committing a nuclear war crime of unparalleled scale with a nuclear first strike.

CJNV in Musrara: Meet Mizrachi, Israeli Black Panthers

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Continuing to share profound moments from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, let me start from the beginning. We met up in Jerusalem in the neighborhood of Musrara just outside the Old City. This neighborhood was taken by Israel in the early days of the creation of the state. Palestinians were forced out and fled. Israel moved Mizrachi Jews from north Africa and the Arab world to be a human buffer between the Jordanian army and Ashkenazi Jews from Europe. The hypocritical racism of the Ashkenazi Holocaust survivors is shocking, to so dehumanize these other migrants (or anyone). It was damning since it created a hell for the Palestinians made to pay for European Christian antisemitism, and it created a hell for these Jews, many of whom culturally were Arabs, who were denigrated because they had different practices and languages.

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Two cool cats!

Our guide was Reuven Abergel who I remember from a couple of years ago when he toured the United States as a founder of the Israeli Black Panthers. His family moved to Musrara from Morocco when he was a child. He told us about being stuck in the crossfire, and routinely being denied safer shelter by Israeli forces from Jordanian sniper fire. He showed how the neighborhood is being gentrified in exclusionary ways now. It was interesting to learn about Israeli Black Panthers and their fight for respect and rights from the European leadership and racist bureaucrats. I have had to revisit the question of “Who am I” to question who is a person of color, who can pass for white and who can be considered a Black Panther. Reuven was present when the group met with Golda Meir. Years later, showing amazing good humor, they actually got an alley in the neighborhood named for her subsequent, public comment: “They’re Not Nice” Alley.Black Panther Cat

 

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“They’re Not Nice” Alley sign is suffering from vandalism.

Since my return in January, I have had the great good fortune to befriend the premier Palestinian journalist of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Raymonda Tawil, a legacy of my late friend and mentor, Allan Solomonow. Raymonda has written about being in an Israeli jail in the 1970s because of her reporting and her way of not respecting the rules and norms time and again. One of the less cruel guards was clearly Arab, so she asked why she was working in this horrid, Israeli military jail. She said she was an Arab Jew from Iraq, and she told Raymonda about the terrible conditions they were forced to endure in Musrara at the hands of the Ashkenazi Zionists while being shot at by the Jordanians. She said they were given very little work opportunities also. So, twice in one month I am taught about Musrara, by Jews and Palestinians who lived it first hand. (And neither hates the other.)

Raymonda Tawil and Moshe Dayan’s first wife, Ruth, became lifelong friends despite unique paths and many passionate disagreements. They prevailed upon writer Anthony David to write about it in his book An Improbable Friendship. Historical figures spanning more than 80 years are humanized in a meaningful, just and sometimes unflattering way through the lens of the lives of these quite revolutionary women. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for interested parties to get a great view of the defining events for Israel and Palestine, its people and history-makers, from both sides of the divide. I think that this book can really build understanding. Get a copy, read it, and let me know what you think.

 

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Reuven Abergel with CJNV ED Oriel Eisner.

There are many sad reasons why Mizrachi/Palestinian unity and mutual aid have been slow to emerge. One aspect of the work of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence is to help foster that. The day I went to Isawiyah and Batan Al Hawa as described last Missive, some of our delegation visited two Mizrachi neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. There, the residents were poor, and had been neglected as neighborhoods. Now they have been gentrified with luxury apartments, and they are being forced out. With public awareness, their chances for just compensation increase markedly. Hopefully just compensation for our friends in Abu Kabir will be forthcoming soon.

 

Words of Wisdom from Behind Bars

I am constantly amazed at and uplifted by the warmth shown by Palestinians towards Jews despite it all. I know I only meet a subsection of Palestinians in the diaspora and when I’m there. That doesn’t negate my point! The norm is far more loving, generous and forgiving than anything they are subjected to or receive credit for.

Mufid Abdulqader is one of the Holy Land Foundation 5. See Miko Peled’s excellent book, Injustice, to learn more about the cautionary tale for other groups that help Palestinians in need. I have a couple more outstanding, short pieces I just received by a couple others of them, so they’ll be coming your way very soon.

This is a true Story
This young and successful executive was travelling down a neighborhood street, going a bit fast in his new Cadillac Escalade CTS with newly installed 28″- 4 giatos rims. He was listening to his list of favorite rappers with his newly installed subwoofer speakers. His list included rappers such as Dababy, Little Baby, Kevin Gates and many others.

He was watching for kids darting in and out of parked cars. He felt like he was on top of the world. Life was great and everything was going so well. He slowed down a bit and suddenly he felt something struck the door on his side of the Escalade. He was not sure of what happened but felt a jolt as a result of that. He slammed on the brakes and backed his Cadillac and opened the door and stepped out quickly to find out of what exactly happened. He looked at the door and saw a huge dent and saw a brick in the middle of the street. He was very angry and looked around to see who could have done that. He noticed a young kid standing looking at him and his car. He looked at him and asked him: “Did you do that? What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? This is a new car and the brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money, Why did you do that?
The young boy was apologetic.” Please, mister…., I am sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,” He pleaded.” I threw the brick because no one else would stop….”
With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot on an adjacent sidewalk just around the corner and said:”It is my brother, he rolled off the cub and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him.”
Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive,” Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He is hurt and too heavy for me to lift.”
Moved beyond words, the executive tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into his wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the boy’s fresh scrapers and cuts. He checked the young boy and everything looked ok.

‘Thank you mister and may Allah (God) bless you,” the grateful young boy told the executive.
Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the young boy push his wheelchair bound brother down a long sidewalk toward their home.
It was a long, slow walk back to his car with the damaged door. The damage was very noticeable , but he never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message:
“Don’t go through life so fast thinking life is all about you to the point where Allah (God) has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!”

This message is for everyone of us. For me, the brick that was thrown at me as I was thrown in prison back in 2008 and for being separated from my family for the past 12 years.
That Monday of the Thanksgiving week in 2008 looked to be just like any other Mondays of my life. We were going to the court as the jury continued deliberating our case. We did not worry much because this was our second trial of a pure political case that was initiated on behalf a foreign government (Israel) using the American judicial system to criminalize Palestinian American support for our home land Palestine.

After 12 years in prison, I hold no ill feelings toward anyone who has any role in the fabrication and prosecution of our case including the prosecutors and the entire justice system. I hold no grudges against anyone.
However, the lesson I learned and everyone should learn is that you should never take your family and loved ones for granted. You never know which morning you will wake up and go to work or leave to do others things and you never come back home and that would be the last time you would see them again. I never thought that that morning breakfast was the last one I would have together with my family. That early day hugs and kisses to my wife and children were the last ones we had outside prison.
It is a reminder that life is too short to take anything for granted. Things can and do change faster than we expect. We should count our blessings and cherish every moment we have with our loved ones.
We also should never hold grudges and seek revenge. It is easier said than done specially when we know what we have received was a raw deal.
I know we all are saddened with the death of Kobe Bryant (the NBA star legend) and how shocked we are of his death at the young age of 41. That should be a reminder for all of us that none of us is guaranteed his/her next breath and nobody is immune form death. Death does not discriminate and everyone is fair game. No age, ethnicity, color or medical condition is a criteria that death considers. Death will take anybody and everybody without any explanation.
So ask yourself the following question; Who is that person or persons that I need to forgive and make up or resolve any conflict or an outstanding issue with? I know we all have issues at times with other individuals or family members and yet keep them unresolved because of ego, pride or other considerations.
If we are not guaranteed our next breath, is it worth it to hold on a grudge or ill feelings toward anyone? The simple answer is no.
I hope that you never take anything for granted and cherish every moment of time you spend with your family and loved ones. Kobe did not know that Sunday was his last day on earth. Don’t leave this earth with regret of not being the best version of yourself as a father/mother, husband/wife, son/daughter or other roles you play in life.

Life is too short to live it with grudges and hate toward anybody. We must live it as it should be lived and move beyond, hate, grudged and other petty stuff. In the grand scale of things, it’s just not worth it.

And finally, I have one question for you: Did you hug and kiss your loved ones this morning or are you waiting for a brick to be thrown at you to give you a reminder?

Please share this with others,

Yours,
M. Abdulqader, #32590-177
Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution
Seagoville, Texas

If I’m not there, does Eamon still grow? Of course they do!

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Posted in Eamon, Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nuclear Issues, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini-Nukes Deployed; God Help Iran. CJNV Reports. Open Links…

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We were devastated, despite this photo’s smiles, by the recent devastation of the Palestinian home behind us that we were about to visit.

Shalom y’all. I am anxious to start sharing some experiences and reflections from my recent trip with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. See below for news of my time in Isawiyah. If you are in the Bay Area on President’s Day, come to a reportback at Kehilla Community Synagogue where three attendees who are members there (Rabbi David Cooper, Becca Heisler and me) will do an initial report-back. Monday, February 17, 7 to 9 pm, Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont, CA. Here is a Facebook event announcment about it if you want to indicate interest in coming. https://www.facebook.com/events/624328888393366/

The delegation was both very heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. I am grateful for the ability to maintain friendships across years from 2016, 2017 and into 2020. I am moved and called to action by their ability to stay so open-hearted while under such attack. Israelis and Jews do stand with Palestinians just trying to exist, and many Palestinians know that and can tell the difference. I’m humbled and grateful for their welcome and resilience.

One more special announcement for fellow Bay Areans

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The multifaceted and entertaining Celia Farran.

The person who first turned me onto Laughter Yoga, the incomparable Celia Farran, will be in the Bay Area in a couple of weeks. She is an amazing musician, singer and songwriter with delightful charm and amazing voice. I’m hosting a house concert with her in Oakland on Saturday, February 22 from 7 to 9 pm at the home of my friends Dress and Kala, 536 45th St., Oakland, CA. Advance tickets are $20 or $25 at the door. I am offering to split the admission price for Missivistas and friends just to get you in the door to enjoy this uplifting treat of an evening. Let me know or just go on line and buy tickets yourself. PLEASE, COME SHOW CELIA SOME LOVE! SHE WILL SHOW YOU LOTS, I PROMISE!

The Nuclear Hair Trigger is Scary Orange!

Kings Bay Plowshares 1I have to start this Missive, however, with an anti-nuclear item of the utmost importance; something that I pray finds resonance and amplification across intersectional lines that usually look askance at nuclear activism as not immediate enough or relevant to them or like it’s too much a white people thing. The Pentagon has confirmed that it has deployed a nuclear weapon that can be dialed down to about 6 kT, one-third the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb from 1945 and about fifteen percent of today’s average nuclear explosive yield. The W76-2 warhead is on a Trident missile on the USS Tennessee, an Ohio-class Trident ballistic missile submarine, a stealthy, first-strike weapon beyond all parallel in history, and it left port, on active duty. This should offend and scare everyone! It is not beside the point. It is not a necessary show of force. I fear for the Iranians who will likely be hit, and I fear having to hear people mouth illogical and ignorant defenses of this destruction of international law beyond the immediate negation of the lives of the people victimized by a US nuclear strike.

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Outside the Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee, courtesy of the Transform Now Plowshares.

The W76-2 and the Trident program in general are not defensive in any sense of the word. They are threatening and offensive. Last August I fasted and demonstrated at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia where my friends committed a Plowshares action on April 4, 2018, and where the USS Tennessee, with this W76-2 left port in early February. They are still awaiting sentencing for some reason, and my friend Steve Kelly has been in Glynn County’s local hoosegow since their bit of infiltration and symbolic (and small-scale) destruction of property. Nothing vindicates the defense of necessity more than the active deployment of the W76-2.

I wasn’t sure about heading to this year’s Pacific Life Community gathering, but now I am for sure, and I may well cross the line. We’re gathering near the Trident Submarine base at Bangor-Kistap Washington. We all need to step up from wherever we are.

And for one additional angle on nukes and the Middle East, here is an op-ed from Al Jazeera in which the author, a nuclear expert, discusses nuclear reactors soon to come on line in the UAE. https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/uae-nuclear-reactors-imperil-gulf-200117180846816.html

 CJNV Report 1 – Isawiyah

 

Because of the photo above, promoting the Kehilla event with David, Becca and me, let me continue on about our time in Isawiyah, East Jerusalem. I had been there in 2017 for three different days on the 2017 trip. In fact, I had my most surprised birthday, with the most spectacular sparkler/candles in my life there. The neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem has not bowed to Israeli and Jerusalem municipality pressure to get out. This is their home. I met elders from two of the three families that reputedly started Isawiyah many generations ago.

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Mohammad Abu Hummus and Dina of Free Jerusalem.

Our tour guides included Mohammad Abu Hummus (one of the elders who procured the birthday cake in 2017) as well as an inspiring young American/Israeli woman named Dina who helps organize nightly vigils of West Jerusalemites and internationals to stand with the Palestinians of Isawiyah against increased, nightly intrusions by Israeli and Jerusalem military and police. Youth are taunted, attacked, taken away. Parents and elders are threatened with deportation.

20200105_114508One of the main places we visited in Isawiyah was to the remnants of a home that was destroyed for the fourth time by Israel. Ostensibly, only the second floor was being demolished. In 2009, the last time the home was destroyed, the owner, who we met, fell from the upper floor and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Now, rains come into the first floor, and he was prevented from adding the second story that would have aided him with access to his house from his parents home next door, just uphill from his. His children are scattered to stay with relatives for now.

20200105_113319In 2017 our group of Jewish diaspora workers came to help clean up around the local landmark and help make a little parklet for the local children and people to enjoy…the Palestinians. Our presence created controversy despite the advance work that had been done. People suspected we were using the promise of a park to take their land. We weren’t, but three years later, we learn that indeed, outside forces are planning to take much of Isawiya’s land to make a national park. This is land that the people of Isawiyah were not allowed to make plans to use in the form of  work as part of a master plan.

20200105_113413 (2)It was heartbreaking meeting the despondent homeowner in his wheelchair. Because it comes up all the time here, let me say clearly that he knew we were Jewish and that Dina, our guide and regular presence there is Jewish, but there was no resentment that came towards us from him or anyone.

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My friend Tom, not happy in this shot.

I don’t mean to say that such broadband animosity and resentment doesn’t exist among Palestinian society, but I clearly sense that Palestinians would just go about their living if their very existence and presence weren’t constantly threatened, turning their existence into resistance. I think they’d still just rather exist and coexist, but with rights and respect.

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Ein Albeida Springklllllllllllllllllllllllllll

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My dear friend David by the opening to the spring.

As a prelude to my discussion of our day working to help Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills reassert access to a water spring, Ein Al Beida in a future Missive, let me share a couple of reports about that day. The one in Truthout is by Oren Kroll-Zeldin who was on the delegation with me, and the one from Mondoweiss is by a reporter who was there but who I don’t know, Miriam Deprez.

Desktop Open Windows

To rig primary against Bernie, DNC chair Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants https://thegrayzone.com/2020/01/27/dnc-perez-regime-change-agents-israel-lobbyists-wall-street-rig-game-bernie/#more-19831

I have expressed sadness and outrage at decisions by the upper echelons of the Democratic Party before. I have increasing fears about regular people and mucky-mucks trying to calculate who can beat Trump and undermine popular, democratic selection of the candidate. My attitude, is whichever it is, we have to rally then and believe any of them can (and should) beat Trump. All have their baggage and problems. Too much calculating looks like playing favorites, and currently, with the seeming accomodation of billionaire Bloomberg and not for candidates of color Castro or Booker, the fix looks all too much in for wealth, yet again. There are such inspiring progressive voices in the Democratic Party, I encourage everyone to get with AOC, Omar and the rest, and at this point, at this late date with nuclear fallout, we gotta believe in and push for more.

Even in 2020, there’s still cause for hope in Israel-Palestine https://www.972mag.com/even-in-2020-theres-still-cause-for-hope-in-israel-palestine/

I really like 972 Magazine. (+972 is Israel’s telephone country code.) I hope you read their coverage in general too. Maybe send them some of your journalism support money. This op-ed, by Hagai Matar, isn’t polyanna. I appreciate the need to honor, if not celebrate, victories and little wrongs, righted, even if temporarily.

Is Apartheid the Inevitable Outcome of Zionism? by Henry Siegman https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/01/22/is-apartheid-the-inevitable-outcome-of-zionism/

I didn’t know who Henry Siegman was until I saw him on Democracy Now! in 2014 during a Gaza assault. He was head of the American Jewish Congress, yet he can see what is going on. Other establishment Jews can (and have to) too!

Martin Luther King Jr: “The Three Evils of Society”, August 31, 1967

And Just a Little Dose of Eamon this time…

I’ll be back when he turns 15 months. I’m promised he’ll still be toddling. Sorry I don’t have the ability to share little video clips here. I’ll try to find a way soon.

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Allan Solomonow Challenged anti-Palestinian Racism from the 1960’s until he Died on Jan 11.

Home Again

I have returned from my heartbreaking and heart-filling journey to Palestinian lands and the Israeli state. I very much enjoyed a very brief visit with Eamon and Lacy on my “bestest” layover ever on my way home. See below for a few choice photos from that day.

I had a very sweet and intimate visit with my sister and brother-in-law as their guest at Kibbutz Gezer, and the conversation with my niece on the way to the airport for my return trip was unexpectedly profound as well.IMG_20200107_192448 (2) I was glad to be there for the affixing and blessing of the plaque on the synagogue lectern in honor of our parents; IMG_20200107_192622 (2)also a touching moment to share. Thank you all.

My sister and I had another restorative time at the cemetery where our great uncle Shaya is buried, and I recognized many more Habers than I noticed three years ago on the memorial to the people of Tlumacz who were killed by (or because of) the Nazis and World War II.

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Tarek, Awda, Eid and Jim: together again!

The Center for Jewish Nonviolence stories continue to unfold as the joint resistance directed and called for by our Palestinian friends in the south Hebron Hills, as well as in neighborhoods of Jerusalem, continue, and the oppression and dispossession against them continues to grow and get more brutal and unconscionable almost daily. More reports and updates to follow soon.

Allan Solomonow, 1937 to 2020

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Me and Allan, c. 2014

I arrived home Friday night, January 10. I was awakened early on January 11 by a message from Greg Solomonow that his father Allan, my dear friend, had passed away in his sleep a couple hours ago. I visited Allan before I left on my trip. I had been visiting him almost weekly for years since he and Ofelia had to move out of San Francisco and into more supportive housing.

For many years Allan was part of an exceptional team of peacemaking quakers and non-Friend friends like Allan who worked for the American Friends Service Committee out of their San Francisco office. Through him and the likes of Stephen McNeil and Sandra Schwartz, I met amazing peacemakers from other cities and around the world. AFSC continues to support great activists, even Jewish Israelis like Dalit Baum (Director, Economic Activism program). More recently, I would take Allan, and sometimes O too, out for errands, or I would distract them from CNN and MSNBC by suggesting we watch a recent Stephen Colbert or Daily Show. We would talk politics, and his memories and associations would just come out sometimes.

AFSC_table_Dolores_Park.jpgWe never did serious story-telling sessions. He does have an interview in the American Jewish Peace Archive, and many of his files are archived at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center collection  I may find a recording or two I made while sorting Allan’s papers, but they were brief, and usually the best material was before I got the recorder going.

I want to share something he did around 1970 that shows how long Allan raised questions of Palestine and Islamophobia and how long such reflections have been taboo in Jewish spaces in this country and in Jewish American society. Allan was leading or presenting at an evening event at a synagogue. He was active with the Jewish Peace Fellowship at the time as well as directing CONAME (The Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East) which Noam Chomsky helped start along with Allan and others in the late 1960s. Incidentally, many people trace Allan’s Middle East Peace work back to the Middle East Peace Project (MEPP) in the mid-1970s, but before MEPP, there was Breira, and before Breira, there was CONAME, and before that (and still) there was the Jewish Peace Fellowship (JPF, which is part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, FOR).

Allan_beehat (2)He gave people a page entitled “Jewish Attitudes” and asked people not to look at the other side, but to read its 12 points. He took an offensive “educational” tool designed to demean “Arabs” in the eyes of young American Jews, and Allan turned it inside out. At its first sharing, Allan was thanked for making such a clear case in such a dramatic way that woke up the people in the synagogue gathering who saw it. He had people see themselves in the shoes of another, and it was received as intended. At the second showing, he was threatened, denounced, and to some extent, excommunicated (from the JPF at least). Here, see what I am talking about:

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After four years or so, he got a short note from one the co-authors, the head of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, informing him that the offending workbook, Behind the Arab Mind was removed from use.

In Allan’s files I found a lot of materials designed for youth that I don’t recall seeing as a child growing up reform/west coast in the 1960s and 1970s. Certainly, I believed in the “land for a people for a people without a land” deception and that the Palestinians were responsible for the lack of peace, until at least when I went to college in 1980. I think it was to the credit of our rabbi, Gerald (“Raisin with a K”)  Raiskin, who really believed in and taught for the sake of justice and equanimity that I wasn’t more intensely “Zionized.” I was taught a lot of good Jewish teachings, I just didn’t know they were Talmud, and that what I was learning in English, other Jews were chanting in Hebrew. I was taught to revere Israel, and forgive it, but I wasn’t taught not to question it. I’m finding the forgiveness hard as the occupation hardens, Palestinians are maimed and killed and stolen from, and my friends are treated as nothing. May Allan’s drive and incessance be reflected in my work as well.

Memorial services are this Sunday, January 19 at 2:00 pm at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont, California.

Eamon, January 10, 2020, 9:30 am to 2:00 pm

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Safe Travels, Cuz. Enjoy yourself, but don’t believe anything they say.

I’m flying to Tel Aviv later today. It will be fun to see Chava and David and celebrate their anniversary with them. There’s gonna be a party! In 1985, oy! Were there parties! Enough people came from the states that everyday had to be something so each of the families could have a turn treating the crew to a feast. We did amazingly well as a herd of cats…for a whole week. It was a delight. I’m also looking forward to seeing my friends in Um Il-Khair, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron. I’m afraid of the condition of many communities that have personally touched me.

At the end of a terrific Chanukah celebration a few days ago, my cousin told me that her daughter (also my cousin) was going to Israel soon after me. I guessed correctly that she is going on a Birthright trip. I wasn’t surprised that at some point she would go on Birthright. My cousin broadly knows my views on political things enough to know I probably didn’t like Birthright. I know there are a variety of trip flavors they offer, but their overall purpose is less for raising religious self-respect and more for lying to young Jews about Israel. I was saying my goodbyes, and I don’t think I shifted gears as well as I could.

At one point I roared a dragon’s like cathartic release at the thought of the whole horror of what Israel is doing to Palestinians and all the toxic, Hasbara lies that are used to attack people I respect. It just makes me scream sometimes. I think I scared my cousin, to the point she felt the need to hear me wish her daughter a safe trip as though I was yelling AT them. I don’t think I scared my young cousin. Sorry, either way. Sorry. Working on it.

In the interest of better understanding and directing my outrage, I have written my cousin the following Open Letter. Cuz, I must beg your forgiveness for not asking your permission in advance to mention you or include you here. I want to get this out before I fly out today, and I decided to bank on your assent. I hope I presumed correctly. I love and care about you. You aren’t just a vehicle for my message. Thank you for inspiring me to look and try harder to listen and to communicate. May we all show unceasing love and patience with family, friends, and ourselves as we push and pull and bump into one another on our journeys.

Dear Cuz,

I wish you all the best on your trip and in general. All the love in the world to you, no less! I do hope we compare notes before too long. I promise to listen and to do my best to be a great listener. We don’t make time at family gatherings for much talk of Israel because it is uncomfortable and less fun than just hanging out. Let me be clearer now (and hopefully brief enough) about why Israel so outrages me.

I suggest that you not believe pretty much anything the leaders of the trip tell you about the neighborhoods you go to, their history or the stories of what happened to the Palestinians who lived in or around the areas you visit. I’m not saying I think that all the anecdotes or personal stories are a lie, but overall, a lie is being created.

When they take you to The City of David, know that the project is not about archaeology. It is about taking homes away from the people of Silwan and destroying a neighborhood. It is about what Israel itself calls “Judaization” of Jerusalem, denying its longtime residents rights to come and go, to marry non-residents and move into a family home. It is accompanied by a huge uptick of home demolitions in neighboring neighborhoods too, now, not in the past.

Cuz, don’t let them make you think that Palestinians are overall or even mostly antisemitic. I hope you don’t already think such a thing. They are fighting for their lives. There is a huge imbalance of power that gets pushed aside but is a fundamental difference creating the problem. Just the other day another 300 Palestinian olive trees were uprooted by violent Israelis near Bethlehem. How un-Jewish can you get; destroying orchards. If I meet the people there though, they are not likely to hate me even though I’m Jewish. More homes were destroyed in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2019 than in any other year.

I have many friends who are falsely maligned as terrorists and antisemites when they are the ones being attacked. They know the difference between Jews who attack them and those who don’t though some only experience the former. They aren’t just recycling old antisemitic hate like some Nazi or white nationalist. White House advisor Sebastian Gorka may like Israel, but has real Nazi ties! Palestinians are being told they have no place, that they never even belonged! What they have is being taken from them violently. To resist isn’t to hate, and there’s nothing blind about it.

The Great March of Return is a phenomenal movement. It isn’t some Hamas ploy of antisemitism. The real antisemites are the white nationalists who use Zionism cynically, destroying Judaism by turning into some fear-driven, militaristic, super-victim cult. Don’t believe that 100s or even 1000s of rockets from Gaza are the reason Israel is treating its people so murderously. Not Hamas or anyone in Gaza or any Palestinian entity has a military anywhere near the scale of Israel’s with its fighter planes and drones that make children fear the blue sky.

Please, have fun. See a lot. Enjoy the company and the experience. Come back safe in every way, and I’ll try to do the same.

Sincerely,
Your Cousin Jim

Eamon Turned 1 Year Old on December 8!

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