Friday, January 28, 2011

Chickens come home to Cairo

News junkie now, watching Al-Jazeera's live feed and twitter feed. Came in halfway on a commentator that was not identified who said: Tunisia was an important outpost for CIA, so when its government fell, this was seen by the masses as a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.

I am watching as, en masse, they fling themselves toward the light. You can really feel their joy and exuberance on video and in interviews.

In Tunisia and elsewhere, the U.S. is deeply complicit in these falling dictators. (Mubarak just came on t.v. and pretended not to notice he was falling. But he fired everybody else.)

The Egyptian government's complicity against the people had been revealed by their role in maintaining the Gaza open air prison, in collusion with Israel and the U.S. A fact which was already clear even before WikiLeaks Cablegate provided evidence.

A former ambassador on HuffPo: “No one in Washington should have been surprised how upset and angry average Egyptians are at their government.”

Agreed. But then he loses me:

“Given the choices, Washington is going to have to decide whether it is going to bet on ElBaradei, Suleiman, or the younger Mubarak, each of whom bring their own considerable political baggage.”

You know whose face I would like to see up there in place of Mubarak's?

One million women's faces of various ages, creeds and sects. Grandmothers, housewives, healers, singers, editors, farmers, cooks. Students of all ages.

The collective wisdom of women now needs to take its rightful seat at the peace table.

Uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Let lots of women participate. Young women, old women, 'tween women.  Let women's groups nominate them while female IT types set up a digital direct democracy system so all of them can vote.

And the army can keep the peace while the women figure out how to birth a workable government, of, by and for the people.

Indian women dancing

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PINK for Peace in Yemen

Gene Sharp would be proud. This is just the sort of strategy he would approve of, based on my reading of his studies of nonviolent methods.

PINK to signify -- what a great idea!

Apparently in order to signal that they are committed to nonviolent protest, the crowds that have now come out in Yemen calling for an end to corrupt government have pink signs and sashes. Who knew my favorite color would turn up in the bread intifada spreading from Tunisia to Algeria to Egypt, and now to Yemen.

With the U.S. Department of Homeland Security giving up on its color coded terror threats alerting you to the correct level of fear for each day, Codepink is reaching a new stage of its identity.  It was founded in silly response to the fear mongering. What now? 

David Swanson blogged about it with the title "CP Wins the Future" a phrase from the recent SOTU address. (Didn't Obama used to have better writers? Oh, wait, that was back in the days when they let him write his own speeches.)

Internationally, PINK stands for a commitment to nonviolence!

Stay strong, people of the world.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pinks to Obama: Bring Our War $$ Home!!

Rae Abileah and friends delivered the President's mid-term report card today on the eve of his State of the Union address. How good of a state could the Union be in with 800+ military bases worldwide, spreading like a blight over the planet?

Can't the president do math?

All the fine words in the world won't get us out of the mess we're in.

Bread riots in a broad band across Mother Africa. The cities of Akron, OH and Camden, NJ are laying off large numbers of firefighters and police. Public universities in California will double tuition, while students everywhere drown in a sea of debt.

Connect the dots, President Obama. Or your State of the Union speech won't be worth the paper it's written on.

link to PINKTank: Is Obama Making the Grade?

Give your own progress report for President Obama. Tweet your grade for the President and you might win a Bring Our War $$ Home T-shirt. Tell how you'd rate the President's accomplishments and #fails and include @codepinkalert and hashtag #SOTU in your tweet.

Also, join in signing the statement on the blog We Will Oppose Obama As Long As He Supports War.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photo Op for Ben Ali

Deposed leader of Tunisia Ben Ali visits the late Mohamed Bouazizi, a poor fruit seller who was bullied by corrupt police one time too many.
This photo is about two weeks after Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of his municipal building, sparking the Tunisian revolution that toppled Ben Ali. Notice whom the people in scrubs are regarding versus the gaze of the others. This photo makes me wonder what Bouazizi sees or thinks. Ben Ali seems to be thinking, "This is a good photo op for me."

Bouazizi's mother did not see it that way. Interviewed by Yasmine Ryan for Al-Jazeera, she said of the president's overtures:
Menobia Bouazizi said the former president was wrong not to meet with her son sooner, and that when Ben Ali finally did reach out to her family, it was too late - both to save her son, and to save his presidency. He received members of the Bouazizi family in his offices, but for Menobia Bouazizi, the meeting rang hollow.
"The invite to the presidential palace came very late," she said. "We are sure that the president only made the invitation to try to derail the revolution."
One of my favorite authors, Orhan Pamuk, likes to write books about both art and power of a political nature. His novel Snow employs the artistic setting of a theater in a provincial city in Turkey. The revival of an old Brechtian play about the glorious secular revolution of the early 20th century has an actress take off her headscarf and agitate it in a bowl of some liquid. Islamic fundamentalist students in the audience interpret this as a virtuous Muslim woman, alone, washing the cherished symbol of her faith in a bowl. Imagine their surprise when she strikes a match and sets fire to it! Government soldiers rush to the scene -- surely to arrest her, think the students. But instead the soldiers are there to protect her right to burn the headscarf and become a modern woman (or else).

For some reason I usually find the misinterpretation of symbols absurdly humorous. But this photo of Mohamed Bouazizi being used by the corrupt president to convince himself as much as anyone that he is still in control, is really obscene. While they pose blandly for the official photograph, a nearly visible dark fate is bearing down on both of them.

Mohamed Bouaziz died of his burns on Jan 4. With condolences to his family, may he rest in peace.

Who Represents You?

An interesting exercise is to annotate the list of corporate interests at the White House dinner for the premier of China. I found the list on one of my favorite blogs, which reprinted it from the Washington Post, which had focused on printing unflattering photos of the ladies in attendance. (This generated the usual flurry of trash talk about having to eat while looking at Madeline Albright, etc., posts I always imagine being typed by fat, grouchy men who haven't had a date in decades, if ever.)

The list was in alpha order by the last name of the big dog in each couple. That is, it was in alpha order after the opening names, the really big dogs, Obamas and Hu Jintao. But the real news is who these people work for:

Goldman Sachs
JP Morgan Securities
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
The Carlyle Group -- Financiers to the war machine.
Washington Post
New York Times   -- Chief apologists for Israel's violent occupation of Palestinian lands.
The Atlantic Monthly
Vogue Magazine -- Representing Condé Nast, media conglomerate that keeps the public distracted while blocking out news of wars, civil rights violations, etc.
Archer Daniels Midland -- Agribusiness giant that sponsors corporate-mouthpiece-posing-as-a-voice-of-the-people, National Public Radio.
Dow Chemical

This is the same week that news emerged of Supreme Court justices taking meetings with the Koch brothers prior to making their landmark Citizens United ruling a year ago,  which overturned numerous precedents limiting campaign contributions by corporations. Both Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia apparently should have recused themselves but, as one pundit commented, Scalia has refused to recuse for a lot more blatant associations than this one.

Remember checks and balances? Remember when you were an idealistic kid who believed the Supreme Court was independent? Or maybe you never did. I guess it depends how young you were during the presidential election in 2000.

Just to make sure all the branches of our bought-and-sold government were present they had Justice Stephen Breyer,  Senator John Kerry, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Secretary of Gutting Public Education, Arne Duncan -- and Admiral Mullen, who is chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the biggest, baddest military ever to rule the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

read my butt

Martin Luther King Jr. Day keynote speaker the Rev. Effie McClain and Gov. Paul LePage dance during an event in Waterville on Monday. Attendees at the event honoring the civil rights leader joined in a dance with music from the Colby African Drummers group. 
I believe this explains why U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325calls for women to be present in large numbers at the peace negotiating tables.

Amy Calder reporting in the Waterville Morning Sentinel Jan 18:
The Rev. Effie McClain, guest speaker at the event, walked into the audience and enlisted LePage to dance with her when the Colby College African Drumming Ensemble started dancing, encouraging audience participation.
It was a pivotal moment in the festivities. McClain, who is black, and LePage, hugged after they danced, and the audience applauded.

Here's a letter I printed out on bright pink paper and sent to the Blaine House. I hope someone reads it to him.

Dear Governor,

I am writing to express strong concern at your language on Jan. 14. I saw a video of your response to a reporter asking about the NAACP request for support. From your words and expression I got the impression you were showing off for some buddies.

As the chief executive of our state, you can do better.

Inflaming old prejudices is a dangerous way to get a few laughs. Maine has a history of white supremacist groups like the Klu Klux Klan, who operated publicly in Milo, Portland and other towns. They targeted many groups but primarily they railed against the threat posed by immigrants, French speaking, who were also reviled for being Catholic.

Right now the state of Maine is in big trouble economically, as usual. Luckily, we're used to it. It would be nice to think that Mainers will continue pulling together in the face of adversity. The old fashioned spirit that makes us stop for a car stuck in the snow. Like we're all in this together no matter how hard it gets sometimes.

Please retract your deliberate on-camera insult to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a highly respected organization, and one that represents civility, education, and progress. I imagine that what you meant to say was something like, “I don't have to do what the NAACP wants me to do. Who's going to make me?” All true, but your choice of words was extremely crude, and sets a bad example for the children of Maine, who look up to you.

Only your conscience and dignity are going to make you apologize. Please think about my request. Thank you.
Lisa Savage
CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator

Friday, January 14, 2011


Malalai Joya, ousted as MP for speaking out about war criminals in the Afghan government.
Why do we wage endless war? According to crack reporter on Afghanistan Ann Jones, because women still aren't at the table. No durable peace can be achieved without women participating suggests Jones. She refers to UN Security Council resolution 1325 recognizing such ten years ago, yet to be acted upon.

That women must participate in peacemaking deals in order for those agreements to ACTUALLY result in peace is surely the corollary of, "There is no military solution in Afghanistan." Which is said by Petraeus or someone like him just before we bomb the hell out of more civilians there, or surge additional wretched land troops into the quagmire of graveyards of failed empires.

And still the women endure; they would surely struggle to find a path to security to live and care for their families. If given a seat at the table. There is a strong spirit in that land, and after ten years there, Jones channels it in a way that made me want to rush off and have my own talks with Afghan women.

I was reminded of a report back from Oct, '09 in San Francisco. Codepink founder Jodie Evans went to an event where she was able to speak with the president. She and Medea had just come back from meeting with lots of women in Afghanistan. According to Jodie, as she delivered a petition, she told the president that the women who sent it from in Kabul wanted to know why there were no women at the negotiating table. The president then mentioned the U.S. Secretary of State and another woman. Jodie pointed out that they meant: Afghan women. President: "Oh."

So -- 1325 to try and reach a lasting peace for all.
Meena, founder of RAWA, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Careful information control

While my newshound buddies who spend their days reading see the Safeway shooting in Arizona as clear evidence that violent rhetoric from the right is a proximate cause -- an early chicken coming home to roost -- intelligent high school students around the country barely know of the incident, much less the analysis.

Careful information control in the imperial homeland has triumphed again.

As just one example among many, the Christian Science Monitor carefully distanced itself from making the kind of connection that bloggers and columnists all over the world have made, headlining: Nihilism or [former governor of Alaska]: What motivated Arizona shooting suspect? According to the CSM, the jury is still out.

In a related story about a watered down ammunition control bill being introduced quickly in Congress, they reported:
The National Rifle Association has posted news articles on its web site about the planned legislation focused on high-capacity clips, but has yet to respond specifically to the plans. When asked for a response, an NRA media liaison issued the same statement the organization has been putting out since the Tucson shootings: "At this time anything other than prayers for the victims and their families would be inappropriate."
At any other time -- such as a day in which 850 children were dying in Afghanistan, many from starvation -- it would be ok for the NRA to lobby Congress against the kind of gun control that most societies on our planet find to be prudent. Because violence in the U.S. and violent occupation of Afghanistan are UNRELATED! How dare I even include them in the same paragraph?

Manufactured consent works like this:

1) Insist that analysts who see connections are delusional. For example, insist that spending less by closing schools and cutting programs serving the mentally retarded elderly has nothing to do with citizens paying $10,000+ per household to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan for decades.

2) Flood the airwaves with celebrity gossip and ads for consumer goods. Make sure that thoughtful analysis of reported actual events is marginalized, and seems dull and tedious by comparison. Result: a citizenry whose young people often cannot identify their own country or most other countries on a map. Who, when asked where they are able to find news about foreign affairs, they may cite the headline feed on their AOL or Google web portal. But most will shrug and say, "Nowhere, really."

3) Employ highly paid hacks to publish sensational material -- such as a photo of a woman mutilated in the head by an abusive husband -- in prominent placements, with headlines advertising faux connections between violent occupation of a country and "protecting" its women from violence.

4) Embed journalists with the military. 'Nuff said.

5) Vilify and violently repress those engaged in signficant acts of bringing the truth of events to the public. Create sensational smears about them to distract the few members of the mass media consuming public who are aware of their efforts.

6) Tell a big lie e.g. "The war on terror makes the U.S. safer, because if we don't fight them (sic) over there, we will have to fight them over here." Keep telling it, loudly, over and over and over again.

Then, when the occasional crazed loner with way too much firepower lashes out at government officials, say it has nothing to do with politics. Say he was nuts and everyone knew it. It's a mental health issue. Say he was "left wing, quite liberal."

Make sure to use the word "liberal" to remind people of threatening statements online, like this one from Pete "The Carpenter" Harring, transition team chief for Maine's new Tea Party governor:
Liberals are like Slinkies...they're really good for nothing...But they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
Whip up some more fear so that citizens clutch their firearms ever closer to their chests. Say the solution is not fewer guns, but more guns.

Make sure to use the incident to keep people afraid, very afraid.

Help people look away. For example, put the President on Faux News television during the Super Bowl. Generate a ton of fake news reporting the impending event.

NV note of the day:
According to studies, those practicing non-violent action report a reduction of fear as a side effect.
If people are to be successful in liberating themselves from a regime that rules by fear, they must understand the methods and techniques to overcome its adverse effects. To this end, knowledge, discipline, and careful planning have proven to be effective.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Eliminate

Vigil in Tucson, AZ for those harmed in the Safeway Shooting.
Nothing is ever simple.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had blood on her hands from funding our vicious attacks on civilians in other countries, and continued occupations. But that's not ostensibly why she was shot in the head.

It looks like her slightly mad would-be assassin was instead worked up over the health care "reform" bill that was a big giveaway to large corporations, and that she voted for. And that a lot of gun imagery was employed against Rep. Giffords before the deed was done, urging elimination of undesirable elements. And that the rest of the world thinks we're a bunch of heavily armed wackos.

Then there was the beautiful 9 year-old child who died. Nine year-olds die all the time in Afghanistan and other places the U.S. government and NATO terrorize. This time a girl who had been born on precisely the day of 9/11 in 2001 died.  Her whole short life was lived during the war on terror -- think of it.

A girl on the verge of adolescence is often collateral damage in the violence of our times.

And 92% of men in Afghanistan asked how they felt about 9/11, said "What's 9/11?"

Three congressional staffers, some in charge of community outreach and therefore of the event itself, were killed because of political beliefs. And the other slain and injured members of the public who had come to meet their congressional represenative -- did they agree with her stand on health care legislation? Maybe they were there to complain about it. Some were older; I wonder if they wanted to talk about Social Security?

A federal judge appointed by Bush Sr. was slain after drawing threats over his rulings on immigration. Was this incidental, or was he one of the targets, too?

The AZ shooting will become famous in the way Columbine is famous.

The accumulated acts of public violence in the U.S. grow from a culture based on proliferation of guns, and truly massive amounts of advertising for violence. It is hard to conceive of the vast number of images of war, fighting, aggression that even small kids in the "mainstream" culture have seen by the time they start school.

Shakespeare would probably write it as a tragedy set in motion by the age old tendency of political actors to use unbalanced minds to do their dirty work.

I sense many see this incident as a turning point in our dance with fascism in the 21st century. May it not be so.

But if it is so, using non-violent action will be the beacon for our time.
See Rob Shetterly's show of civil rights activist portraits at the Portland Public Library this month.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Freedom From Want

As I digest the news that progressive congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was gunned down in Arizona in what appears to be a politically motivated assassination, I am working on an op-ed in response to meeting I was at yesterday about poverty in Maine.

The new governor of Maine, Paul LePage, won when a third party candidate with a lot of foreign capital in his resume split the progressive vote. Tea Party candidate LePage and company begin the work of coping with an $800 million shortfall in funding for existing programs this month.

It is not a task to be envied. LePage is making grandiose claims such as refusing all federal funding, but overblown rhetoric won't make the task of facing up to reality any easier. If federal funds are not available to maintain and repair roads, or plow them, this will have swift economic consequences. Almost all Mainers rely on trucks running along Interstate 95 to bring us food and medicine, for instance.

Once upon a time Norman Rockwell illustrated the four freedoms that FDR had identified as the foundation of our well-being. Rockwell's painting of a grandmother putting a roast turkey on the table for her assembled family was titled “Freedom from Want.” Once we thought this an essential freedom, the foundation of a secure social order.

During my lifetime poverty has grown so that now 1 in 7 in the U.S. live below the poverty level. For children, it is 1 in 5. That is 20% of children living in households where adults must choose whether to pay rent or buy food, because they cannot afford to do both. Maine is poorer than average, and the county I live in, Somerset, is the poorest in Maine.

I met with members of the Maine Poor People's Economic Human Rights Coalition twice recently to examine their vision of a society I would want to live in. I will lobby to have my taxes support this vision rather than funding 800+ military bases around the globe, and occupations that make us no safer. Bring our war dollars home to make this a reality for every family and individual in Maine.

Bill of Maine Economic Human Rights
1) Every individual has a right to have basic needs met, such as:
    * food and clothing
    * permanent housing
    * health care
    * child care

 2) Every individual has a right, to income  to provide the basic needs of the family, through productive employment and/or through entitlements.

3) Every individual has a right to:
    * freedom from discrimination in obtaining basic needs
    * seek one's choice of employment
    * productive work with equal pay for equal or comparable work at a liveable wage
    * protections against the ill effects of unemployment
    * a standard of living that is adequate for security and well-being
4) Every individual has a right to:
    * form and join labor unions and other groups which protect their interests
    * bargain collectively on issues such as pay and working conditions
    * work in businesses or cooperatives with opportunities for economic democracy
    * strike without fear of reprisals
5) Every individual has a right to education or training to obtain the skills that allow participation in and contribution to the Maine economy.
6) Every individual has a right to access financial services, including, but not limited to, savings or checking accounts, loans and IRAs.

7) Every individual has a right to access quality legal services regardless of ability to pay.

This sounds like the kind of Maine I want for my children and grandchildren.

BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS    Holding a freshly lit candle, Daniel Flagg of Bangor joined dozens of others in front of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter for Bangor's annual Homeless Memorial Day vigil walk Tuesday evening. Flagg said he was homeless for a spell until a few weeks ago. "I didn't realize the homeless situation until I was homeless myself," said Flagg. Flagg added that he hopes to volunteer his time to help other homeless persons.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Response to "Going Inside"

BACKGROUND: My friend and fellow activist Bruce Gagnon is one of the main inspirations for me to start my own political action blog (Janet Weil is the other). Bruce posted to his blog Organizing Notes recently this piece about his frustration with people calling organizing meetings than then turn into affirmations of the need to feel peaceful rather than get to work. He was criticized by some unnamed denizens of the Addams-Melman House for his bromide, and posted this apology in response.

I have just been watching the excellent documentary A Force More Powerful about Gandhi-ji, the Danish people during Nazi occupation, civil rights activists in Nashville who desegregated the lunch counters, and many other activists around the globe. So I was already mulling over the eternal tension between being and doing.

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that the world's people have been brainwashed by mass media to believe only in violence, in application of force as the solution to their constantly inflamed fears for their "security." This paves the way for countless U.S. citizens to parrot the corporate party line: "Better fight the enemy 5000 miles away than have to fight them here."

Who is this enemy? I have heard ignorant people say Muslims, others say Arabs; many seem to think these two enormous, diverse groups are the same, and synonymous with "terrorists." Most do not even realize that the Taleban of Afghanistan, for instance, are not Arabs.

As dead birds fall from the sky in Arkansas and Louisiana, and chemical weapons experts are murdered and thrown in dumpsters, it will become increasingly hard to believe that our violent ways have kept "the war" 5000 miles away.

I can't tell other people what their path is, but I'm pretty sure mine is to use my affinity for communication to reach out to my fellow human beings and say: Violence solves nothing, and continuing our violence against the Earth and its inhabitants will surely lead to the demise of human beings. If we are to save the race, we must study non-violent methods. 

Gene Sharp has done a lot of scholarly work that will be useful to us, and you can read many of his writings and collections of others' writings here, for free.

Non-violent methods do not require a person to feel peaceful. They are not weak. They can be practiced by anyone as a practical method of removing power from violent war profiteers or others who intend harm.

We had better get started right away. There is still plenty of time in our day to meditate also. We can do what Gandhi-ji did: get up earlier.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gaza youth manifesto!



Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30rd November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization ( with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.

We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.

History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.

This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!

We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.

We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly:

We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.
December, 2010

Dear GYBO,
Thank you for the courage you show in thinking and communicating with the world about the sordid conditions of life in the ghetto of Gaza. My government uses your land and people to further the greedy ambitions of weapons manufacturers, oil barons, and other corporate interests. It uses land on every continent of the Earth this way. It ignores the will of its own people, and the rights of people in other places. Young people in Gaza are in a particularly terrible situation, it is very clear to anyone who is paying attention.

You, the people of Gaza, are not forgotten. We who make it our job to find out real information amid the news blackout in the U.S. think of you every day, follow every attempt to break the siege of Gaza with interest, write letters, hold vigils, marches, protests, and sometimes we use art. Last October my CODEPINK friend Ridgley showed us photos from Gaza at a meeting of activist women; she travels to Gaza when she can afford it, in order to work with children who have PTSD. She travels all around giving talks about Gaza to ordinary business and community organizations where she shows her photo of young people using rubber straps to pull back barbed wire keeping them from their lands. Carolyn was at our meeting also; she recorded interviews with people in Gaza about Operation Cast Lead, and then played them on public radio station WERU in Maine.

Linked here is a video I made a few days ago with two of my friends reading from the play "7 Jewish Children: a play for Gaza." A group of us read the whole play through twice, but I used just this segment about the theft of water to make a short video I could share. We happen to be standing next to a large river in the U.S. reading these words in support of your plight.

I am inspired by your resistance, and I will spread the word of your manifesto. I especially liked this part near the end: "We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls."
peace, salaam, shalom, 평화 Pyung Hwa
Lisa Savage
CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator

Sunday, January 2, 2011

for Gaza


Part 6 of a 7 part play, read by Abby Shahn and Michael S. Moore 2Jan11.

Organized by CODEPINK Maine in remembrance of the 2nd anniversary of Israel's attack on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. End the occupation and FREE GAZA!!

On the bridge

photo: Kevin Couture
photo: Kevin Couture    

photo: Kevin Couture

Saturday, January 1, 2011

international peace conference call is on!

I am sitting home on new year's day morning, thrilled to hear the hopeful, brave voices on the live feed of an international conference call for peace, a call originating in Kabul. My scheduled time to call in is about 3 hours away; I will be listening and sharing the chance to hear real news from the participants on the call all day long. To the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers THANK YOU! for organizing a chance to reach across our militarized national borders to make common cause with our fellow human beings. Kathy Kelly first brought the conference call to my attention and I've tried to share it and the accompanying Afghanistan -- People's December Review (which is very well annotated and fact-filled) far and wide.

Listening is helping me figure out what I will say on the call. Based on the questions of the young people listening, they will want to know who I am, and what I do. Can I sing a song? What do I know about what is going on in Afghanistan? Is there peace education going on in U.S. schools? What is my new year resolution for peace?

At yesterday's Gaza solidarity rally in Portland, several of us spoke of the conference call and how to participate. Directions about how to join the call are here. It goes on until 7:00pm EST in the U.S.

At yesterday's rally about a dozen of us stood at the intersection near Post Office Park in Maine's largest city. It was great to see how passersby were grateful for the message, mostly. Mark noted that the ratio of positives to negatives seemed to be roughly parallel to what we experience in conservative central Maine each Sunday when we are on the bridge for an hour with peace and antiwar messages. A husband and wife team who work very hard on Palestine solidarity and education were handing out leaflets. There were large posters from U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and my friend Jacqui was wearing a large photo of Rachel Corrie. Her signs explained that Corrie was killed by IDF bulldozer while trying to defend a Palestinian home from destruction.

One white SUV drove by with a young woman screaming: "Palestinians are terrorists! You are supporting terrorists!" She sounded very angry. I don't feel very angry in the face of such ignorance. If a person only listened to mainstream media "news" and only saw Hollywood movies about the Middle East, that state of ignorance would be the result.

I do feel compassion for such ignorance. Because I have always been interested in history, I know that
sticking your head in the imperial sands will not protect you. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

A wonderful Narragansett tribal historian put it this way in the film American Language: An Indian Story:
"The truth is the truth is the truth. And it's out there just waiting to be discovered."