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.
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.
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.
April 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
We 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
Jackie 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.
Finally 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.