Welcome to The Peace Action of San Mateo County Newsletter UPDATE

Peace Action of San Mateo County

presents

Paul George

Director, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center

“’If you can keep it’” –

Our Democracy Emergency”

Sunday, January 23, 7 PM

on the Zoom platform.

See below for details!

 

Local

January 23 Virtual Meeting

Paul George on the Threat to Our Democracy

We are closing in on one year after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol – a gathering of radical-right Trump supporters who breached the building with the intention of forcefully and perhaps violently stopping the certification of Joe Biden’s election as President.

Since that relatively clumsy failed attempt at a coup, Republican-dominated legislatures in a number of states have been enacting laws meant to not only suppress voting (notwithstanding their vehement denials) but in some cases also change the process of certifying within the state the winner of its electoral votes. There are a number of examples of the strategies and tactics now afoot in some of these states.

Journalist Barton Gellman has written a few articles in the Atlantic on this subject; his latest is entitled “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun”, subtitled “January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election.” Clearly our Democracy is facing a major stress test, and we are called upon to respond.

If such an attempt succeeds, what will our government look like with people in charge who would endeavor to undermine our system of free and fair voting in this way? On Sunday, January 23 at 7 PM, in a virtual event co-sponsored by PASMC and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Paul George, PPJC’s Director, will give a presentation entitled “‘If You Can Keep It’ – Our Democracy Emergency”. The title’s first phrase is a reference to Ben Franklin’s reply, after emerging from the 1787 Constitutional Convention, when he was asked if the new United States was going to be a monarchy or a republic. “A Republic, if you can keep it,” he said – an early acknowledgement that our system is vulnerable to those who would seek personal power over democracy. Paul will explore what it might take to “keep” the system of government that we have long taken for granted, but is now being significantly challenged.

Paul George has been a grassroots activist and organizer for over 50 years. He was the Director of Peninsula Peace and Justice Center for 30 years before retiring in 2019. As a result of the COVID pandemic, Paul recently returned as PPJC’s Interim Director. In addition to his years there, Paul has served as a labor organizer and as an international solidarity organizer. He continues to host PPJC’s award-winning monthly TV program Other Voices (currently online), which is entering its 24th year of production. We are pleased to have Paul talk about this important topic, and we invite you to come and get enlightened and hopefully motivated. Log on to www.sanmateopeaceaction.org or email smpa@sanmateopeaceaction.org for the Zoom link and we’ll see you on January 23!

 

Summary of October 24 Meeting

Calling Out an Endless War Machine

Writer, activist and Professor of Political Anthropology David Vine has spent a lot of time thinking about the seemingly endless military engagements since the start of the “Global War on Terror”, and how they relate to what he calls the “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex”. This of course adds to the term President Dwight Eisenhower invoked in his 1961 farewell speech, using the first two and fourth words – but adds our legislative branch as enablers for the ongoing war footing and distortion of priorities that he feels detracts from true security in the U.S. and around the world. On October 24 during a PASMC Zoom meeting, David offered his thoughts about the need to get away from endless war, while inviting audience thoughts as well.

David expressed the hope that we are at a “transformational moment” of “unprecedented activism”, the alternative to which could be more wars of the nature of the recently-ended 20-year debacle in Afghanistan. He suggested the need for a strategy to “disassemble” the MICC. Audience members’ thoughts included these wars’ damaging effect on the climate; their lack of any winners; dubious messages from the government and the media; that war has been seemingly always with us because of its hard-to-stop momentum and excessive funding; and the need for direct action such as the monthly vigil at the Lockheed Martin headquarters in Sunnyvale.

David brought up Congressional amendments in recent years to cut 10% from the top of the military budget, but called them insufficient given the level of opposing money and power – “the forces arrayed to maintain it”. He noted that Pentagon spending will increase in 2022, despite the end of the Afghanistan war, to levels that surpass what the Pentagon actually requested. He added that this is a result of Congress answering to campaign contributors working on behalf of weapons contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, etc. – which calls up the need for campaign finance reform as part of the strategy to counter the MICC.

David laid out some lessons from the aftermath of 9/11. Of significance was that there was nothing “inevitable” about the wars that followed…they were a choice, and research has shown they were not an effective response to acts of terrorism. He cited alternatives such as policing, criminal justice and truly effective intelligence. He also noted that the word “terrorist” was overused and politicized, and that the war on terror has overly targeted Muslims or those who look like them. He suggested the need to resettle refugees – a form of reparations. And there has been no change in the U.S. foreign policy establishment in assumptions on armed intervention, he said, adding that past administrations should be held accountable to prevent such war and its aftermath from happening again.

David also ticked off some significant numbers for post 9/11 wars, available from the Cost of War Project in which he is involved: 20 years of war in 25 countries has resulted in 4.5 million dead (900,000 from actual combat), tens of millions injured, 38 million displaced, $14 trillion spent ($8 trillion in tax dollars). And a 1,236% investment return on stock in Lockheed Martin. David gave examples of what $8 trillion was not invested in, including public health and pandemic preparedness, affordable housing, and green infrastructure.

David listed some proposals for a transformation of priorities. First was a new “good neighbor policy” to enhance President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 plan of respecting the rights of other countries, an initiative to oppose armed intervention. David would add “a foreign policy based on peacebuilding, violence reduction and the avoidance of war”. (He suggested people should ask politicians and candidates if they renounce the right to interfere in countries’ internal affairs, and otherwise label them imperialists.)

David’s next suggestion was a “humanpolitik” foreign policy that focuses on the human impact of foreign policy decisions. David noted that this could affect our relationship with Russia and China, both of with which we need to avoid war “at all costs” lest it spirals out of control. Conversely, we should cooperate with them – and Iran and North Korea – on solutions to such problems as global warming, pandemics and nuclear weapons proliferation.

His third proposal was to “defund the warfare state” – cut in half the size of the military budget. The level of funding for war, he said, “makes it all the more likely that we’re going to get into yet more wars.” He lamented the lack of a clear strategy to counter the entrenched power of the MICC, and suggested such a plan was needed as much as one for big tech, big pharma and the gun industry. While reiterating the need to make connections of how we can otherwise spend such reductions, David suggested we could “bring movements together”, such as those on behalf of climate change, education, and others.

Another call for thoughts from the audience drew comments extolling electoral politics with appropriate candidates, taking back language (i.e., “military” and “war” rather than “defense” in current parlance), countering U.S. hegemony in its intervention with other countries, condemning the everyday presence of war, and tapping into young people for participation.

David added the concept of conversion of the military – to a disaster response force, or to more industrial rather than weapons manufacturing for the contractors that are “too big to take down”. He suggested anti-trust laws to either break up or nationalize arms contractors; a constitutional amendment to reduce the Pentagon’s power and influence; and “de-imperializing” the U.S. by either reducing or converting foreign military bases.

David also reiterated the idea of reframing language to reflect progressive values, which he hoped would help draw younger people to action. He recalled how the narrative after 9/11 was about making the country safe; now redefining national security could help change the narrative to fit what a majority of the country would like to see, which is a reduction in military spending and our foreign military presence. An important option is to reach out to working people with economic issues on which to connect them. This is one strategy to counter the paid lobbyists of weapons contractors.

Clearly, we have a great deal of work ahead of us, but every idea is worth building on.

Ron Zucker

www.davidvine.net 

 

A Vigil for Democracy

On Thursday, January 6, we plan to participate in the Remembrance of the attempted overthrow of a duly-conducted national election that was vetted and analyzed by experts, legislators, lawyers, and courts, and found to be valid and correct. It wasn’t good enough for the supporters of the outgoing president and his party, so mobs were encouraged to upend the certification of the national results.

We all know what happened: a national embarrassment. Thus we will mark the day with one of many national vigils to call out the insurrectionists.

Come to 3rd Avenue and El Camino Real in San Mateo from 3-4 PM, to commemorate the event and celebrate the survival of our democracy (so far) as imperfect as it is.

The theme, mirroring the title of our January 23 virtual presentation, will be “A Republic...if you can keep it”…a statement by Ben Franklin in 1787 when asked what sort of government we will  have. It has lasted 240 years, but now some in our country feel its time has elapsed and government by fiat of the powerful should rule the day. We take exception to this idea and will demonstrate that on January 6.

Come join us…please wear a mask or two, be as vaccinated and negative-tested as possible, and stay physically-distanced.

 

Summary of November 14 Meeting

AFRICOM – An Instrument of Racism and Imperialism

Tunde Osazua, the U.S. Out of Africa Network Coordinator for the organization Black Alliance for Peace, had a busy October 2021, working on BAP’s “month of action” on the 13th anniversary of the launching of the U.S. African Command, or AFRICOM. This is one of 11 different pieces of a military command structure consisting of every part of the world and a variety of types of warfare in addition to the usual guns, tanks, missiles, etc. Tunde’s Zoom presentation of talk and videos included emphasis on our presence in Africa, but he showed how his organization, with AFRICOM as a focus, joins many others in its issues with what the organization labels the racism and  imperialism marking U.S. military affairs around the world. This includes, he said, a permanent war agenda, destabilization, and domestic repression typified by the 1033 Program in which the Department of Defense makes military equipment available to local police departments.

Tunde shared a video about BAP demonstrating some of this feeling. It articulated a history of human rights abuse of people of color here and around the world, the preponderance of military bases, the use of nuclear weapons (by no country but the U.S), police militarization, and of course the AFRICOM program, which it called for shutting down. “No Compromise, No Retreat” was a phrase and a stance in the video.

Tunde asked the audience what comes to mind about the history of the U.S. and Africa; answers included exploitation, stolen extraction, enslavement and colonialism. He responded that such practices have continued into the present.

Tunde then shared a video about AFRICOM. It called out military and police violence against black and other colonized people, AFRICOM’s role in the 11-part military command structure (called “full spectrum dominance”) and its control of the continent. The video notes a price tag of $2 billion per year “to carry out imperialism in Africa”. It cites both a survey of 500 Africans claiming government action led to the death or arrest of a family member or friend – as well as a United Nations study that found such state actions are a primary cause of the violent extremism that AFRICOM claims to address. The result is a cycle of drone attacks, recruitment to extremist groups, and a call for U.S. support, through AFRICOM, to respond to them. The video concludes with a rally in Ghana against AFRICOM, part of what Tunde said proved to be a successful (for now) campaign to keep it out. A coalition of organizations is working to duplicate that success in some other African countries.

Tunde spoke of BAP’s take on AFRICOM’s purpose: to use military power to impose U.S. control of African land, resources and labor, to “service the needs of multinational corporations and the wealthy”. Its rejection by most Africans, he said, resulted in locating its headquarters in Germany. He added that the chief role that Libya played in that resistance most likely led to the invasion and destruction of the country, the death of its leader Moammar Khaddafi, and eventually subsequent “degradation” of the country. Following that event, U.S. forces were allowed in and establish military relations with all of the countries except for Eritrea (which was part of the Central Command), including 46 bases around the continent. Special Forces units are located in 12 of those countries.

Tunde noted that Africans have landed around the world because of the historic practice of slavery. Regarding the exploitation of Africa and the reason for AFRICOM, he said “its resources make it important to current multinational forces.” He compared Africa’s relationship to the U.S., which has tried to exercise hegemony through a military presence, to that of China, which is trying to make mostly economic connections (and has just one military base there). He agreed with one audience member that despite Africa’s contributions to such fields as world history, mathematics and psychology, it is in modern history dominated by Europe and the west.

Asked about a possible legislative approach, Tunde lamented the relative lack of input from the Congressional Black Caucus. BAP has worked with other groups in approaching the CBC about holding hearings on AFRICOM and its effects. These coalitions have generated citizen petitions asking for action from members of Congress (Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar was one target), and put out legislative scorecards. He suggested that individuals and groups could join the U.S. Out of Africa network, sign other petitions and speak out about U.S. foreign military bases to try to raise awareness. The October month of action included rallies and banner drops in Washington, DC, Atlanta and other cities. The aim, said Tunde, is to build a mass movement that will force the CBC to act. With a shift in thinking, he said, legislation could perhaps follow.

Tunde played one other video of an interview by the progressive Real News Network, with BAP members addressing “why black Americans should care” about AFRICOM. They compared the subjugation by the U.S. military of countries and people in Africa to how people are treated in the U.S. by police though the 1033 program, the “Deadly Exchange” program of U.S. police training by the Israeli Defense Force, surveillance, and other tactics.

As BAP did at meetings during the October month of action, Tunde encouraged the audience and organizations like Peace Action to discuss our own strategies and tactics, as well as consider who are both our allies and opponents. Responses covered the difficulty of persuading legislators on making changes to programs such as        AFRICOM and 1033, but the general feeling, as always, was to stay positive and keep active and talking.

Ron Zucker

Log on to www.blackallianceforpeace.com 

 

Webinar: Code Red for Humanity – What Municipalities Can Do

If you’re wondering how to fight climate change, join climate experts and local policy leaders for an online Zoom webinar on Friday, January 14 from 12-1:30 PM.

Panelists will address the implications of August’s “Code Red” warning from the IPCC, available technology to “electrify everything” with clean energy, and the vital role that cities and counties play in implementing near-term actions.

This is a must attend event for local elected officials, municipal staff and anyone in the public interested in working toward effective responses to the climate crisis.

The webinar is sponsored and hosted by Acterra, and co-sponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and other organizations. For information on registering, log on to www.peaceandjustice.org.   

 

Summary of December 12 Film Screening

“A Home Called Nebraska” for Refugees

For the 2021 holiday season, PASMC presented a Zoom event of a somewhat more optimistic tone, with a film that chronicled citizens in the “red state” of Nebraska helping refugees settle in their home state. Surely this has happened in quite a few places in the U.S., but the Nebraska angle is perhaps less expected – a generalization not entirely different from the way Muslims and other different-looking and different-speaking people are sometimes regarded. As with one Nebraska resident who spoke in the film about hating Muslims after 9/11, such generalizations often need no more than time, some deep thought and (in his case) prayer in order to dissipate.

The film features a variety of refugees from a variety of places. A Yazidi woman wore what seemed like a permanent frown, with frequent tears – understandable given stories she told of being raped and watching family members killed, at the hands of Islamic State people. Another woman, a former member of the Afghan Parliament (well before the Taliban returned) recalled threats made on her life because of her gender and her position. A man from Sudan and another from Somalia told their stories of leaving camps in their own country, arriving in the U.S. with nothing and finding just enough help to exist, begin to earn a living and either start or support a family.

The Nebraskans who took in and assisted the refugees also had stories (in addition to the man who found a way to stop hating Muslims). An American woman who converted to Islam was a spearhead for the effort, while another woman was moved to offer help after seeing the infamous photo of the body of a Syrian infant washed up on a beach. A Jewish Nebraskan bridged the two different-yet-similar faiths to sponsor a refugee family.

The blending-in process for the refugees was shown at a college football game, a bowling alley, a picnic, special-occasion dinners and other gatherings where both eastern and western culture was shared, amid a positive atmosphere. A smile even appears on the face of the Yazidi woman who had been though such horror. There was also a sharing of disappointment during a TV news broadcast reporting the travel ban issued by Donald Trump, which undermined the Refugee Resettlement Program dating back to the 1980s. (The optimism shown in the film that the Supreme Court would overturn it was not borne out, but President Biden’s revocation of it eventually softened the blow.)

The story of the refugees in “A Home Called Nebraska” seemed marked by the “privilege of fate”, as one Nebraskan put it. “They won the lottery”, says another, but also noted that they are giving back with hard work – building businesses and trying to help those who come after them. (The Somali man recalled being deprived of proper clothing in his country; he became determined to provide clothes for others.) The film’s viewers shared a realization that the film showed just a cross-section of people, and there are many more refugees with outcomes not nearly as positive. But the fact that these stories from the “heartland” can be told is a sign of hope for others in the future.

Ron Zucker

To get involved in helping refugees, log on to www.rc.usa

 

Membership Report

Peace Action of San Mateo County warmly welcomes back these renewing members:

Carol Cross, Lucille Goodier, Cheryl Kozanitas, Alan Mattlage, Joanne McMahon, Gloria Purcell, Keldyn West

National

COP26 Reflection: Indigenous Peoples Demand a Just Transition

by Jean-Luc Pierite, December 5, Massachusetts Peace Action’s Peace Advocate

No “false solutions” such as carbon markets and net zero schemes and free, prior, and informed consent from Indigenous nations are the demands going into COP26 and going forward.

With the support of Rios to Rivers, International Rivers Network, and Empathy Accelerator, I have access to the Blue Zone at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s focus on Article 6 called for a strong contingent of Indigenous voices. That said, Visa requirements, vaccine access, and inflated housing costs presented a barrier for most. There was no such barrier for fossil fuel industry lobbyists who outnumbered Indigenous peoples by nearly double.

During the two weeks in Glasgow, we took daily tests that are reported to NHS to access the conference. Outside the entrance, consistent rallies and protests are held by Indigenous Environmental Network, Extinction Rebellion, and other environmental justice organizations.

I spent most of my time in pavilions such as the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. There, delegates representing uncontacted nations in the Amazon push for protection of territories and the preservation of traditional knowledge. Alaska Native youth told stories from their home lands with the caveat that they should not have to travel so far to protect their ways of life.

Nightly, a series of panels and events titled “Our Village” is presented by organizations including: If Not Us Then Who? Hip Hop Caucus, and Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement. Each presentation recounts testimonies of: communities fighting wildfires in Amazonia in Ecuador, women promoting resilience in Canada in the aftermath of recoveries of children lost to residential schools, and promotion of traditional knowledge and technology in Indonesia.

Side events continue to promote real solutions such as at the Just Transition Hub at the Peoples’ Summit outside of the Blue Zone. There we listen to the genealogy of organizing centering the Lucas Plan. The 1976 document by the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards Committee presented an alternative plan to manufacture goods to meet social needs in lieu of the drastic reduction of a workforce to meet “increased international competition and technological change brought about by the need to introduce new technology”. Again, the real solutions come from Indigenous peoples, workers, and local communities.

At the end of COP26 comes a sobering moment that at current policies of the nation states the world will see a 2.4C degrees temperature increase far exceeding the current goal of 1.5C degrees. Also disappointing is the Biden administration’s auction of millions of acres of the Gulf of Mexico for continued offshore drilling. Still, for a just transition, Indigenous Peoples will continue to demand: 1) a full honoring of rights and obligations by nation states, 2) measures beyond consultation meaning free, prior, and informed consent, and 3) an end to false solutions such as carbon markets and net zero schemes.

Jean-Luc Pierite, a member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, is president of the board of the North American Indian Center of Boston

 

“If you can keep it”

Has our democracy of 240 years reached its expiration date?

I see with a bit of embarrassment that our current President addressed what was called a “democracy summit” with a call to aid other nations to build, expand and encourage others in resisting what many see as a chronic democratic backsliding in many areas of the world. We in the U.S. have seen two recent elections where one party garnered the majority of the popular votes yet surrendered power to another party, which was declared the winner by our courts and the Electoral College (a bizarre and unique system). But when that “winning” party lost the popular vote by an even larger margin in 2020 and was declared the loser by that same unique mechanism, that party which previously benefited from having the other party submit to the rules then refused to admit their loss in turn. Now we see our 240-year experiment in real jeopardy.

We as a nation had gone through another seditious event almost 90 years ago in 1933, at the beginning of the Roosevelt administration. Unlike the 147 Republican members of Congress who in 2021 chose to pander to our treacherous outgoing President with his preposterous claims of “fraud”, a cabal of highly-regarded industrialists with names like Dupont and Morgan, along with luminaries with names like Prescott Bush (yes that family), appeared to have prevailed upon a serving Marine; Major General Smedley Butler was to head up a “march” by thousands of veterans and others right up to the White House, and proceed to “help the president govern”. Fortunately for our republic, General Butler ratted them all out and demanded a Congressional investigation of the coup attempt.

Never heard of this? Mount up your favorite search engine and check it out. The Dickstein Commission ensued, but stopped short (mysteriously) of indicting the top names. Maybe bring your feather duster and clean off some of the old volumes about the General sitting in our local library and enlighten yourself.

Fast forward back to today. The same Republican party appears to once again be throwing out the democratic norms that have endured in our nation and warping the political fabric to try to produce their desired result. There are responsible republicans such as those in the Lincoln Project, and many other individuals who see the older versions of their party as not being in keeping with the seditious wing that presently holds sway. Let’s hope the legal system and honest citizens come out on top and we don't revisit the dark and, for too many, unknown past in our own history.

Mike Caggiano

 

“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu 1931-2021

Action Alert

Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal

After 11 months of Joe Biden's presidency, the U.S. has still not returned to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Though the American and Iranian negotiating teams continue talks in Vienna, they still aren't talking to each other directly. It's a sad time for this kind of childishness.

Meanwhile, reactionary forces in Iran, here in the U.S. and in Israel are working to kill the deal. Every day that goes by provides an opportunity for these bad faith actors to scuttle the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – or for an accident to start up a conflict.

But in mid-December, and despite all the noise, Iran agreed with IAEA inspectors to permit the return of cameras for verification at nuclear sites. This is a positive development in what had been a real sticking point recently. It may indicate that Iran is signaling its willingness to resume substantive negotiations, which had stalled. The U.S. must seize this moment to make serious efforts of its own to restore the JCPOA agreement. 

Last February Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey re-introduced the Iran Diplomacy Act from the previous Congress, meant “To seek a diplomatic resolution to Iran's nuclear program…” S.434 calls on both the U.S. and Iran (as well as the other five nations involved) to resume efforts to implement and hopefully strengthen the deal, and for the U.S. to become pro-active about relieving the sanctions on Iran that Trump leveled, and aiding Iran in its struggle against COVID. Senator Dianne Feinstein is a co-sponsor of the measure, Sen. Alex Padilla is not yet.

Candidate Biden promised to rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal, save one of Barack Obama’s most important foreign policy achievements, and take us back from the brink of war with Iran – a place where Donald Trump put us when he recklessly left the JCPOA. Biden is already taking more than 11 months to do something he should have done on Day 1. He and the Congress need all the encouragement to do the right thing that we can give them. 

Action: Contact Sen. Padilla and tell him again to co-sponsor S.434, the Iran Diplomacy Act. Remind him of the limited window of opportunity to de-escalate tensions with Iran, and that he should be part of Congress’s effort to weigh in on our countries’ relations. (If you have time, thank Senator Feinstein for her support of the bill.) Then, call on Biden himself to take steps to restore and rejoin the deal. You can also contact Rep. Jackie Speier or Anna Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and tell them to express support for returning to the JCPOA. Suggest that Biden needs to keep his word and get the deal re-done, and any encouragement from Congress is welcome.

 

A Better Nuclear Posture

President Biden's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which lays out the nation's nuclear weapons policy priorities, is currently underway. On the campaign trail Biden promised to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, advance nuclear arms control, and declare that “the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack.” This would be similar to a no-first-use pledge.

The current NPR, as outlined by two previous administrations, called for spending upwards of $1.5 trillion over a 30-year period; some figures put it at closer to $1.7 trillion. Such numbers fly in the face of President Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. They also lack the same pushback we’ve seen lately to the Build Back Better Act, as all Republicans and a couple of annoying Democrats ask how we will pay for infrastructure-related programs that we truly can use – as opposed to weaponry that for clear reasons we hope and pray we will never use.

As to nuclear weapons, the public agrees. A July 2020 Chicago Council Survey poll found that 66% of Americans believe that no country should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, including majorities of Republicans (54%), Democrats (78%), and Independents (64%). In April 2019, a ReThink Media poll found that 80% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans support bipartisan cooperation to “reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.” There appears a general feeling that nuclear weapons won’t protect us from COVID, global warming or economic inequality. Now it’s time to tell Biden and Congress to weigh in on our priorities, as well as the idea of a no-first-use policy. There are in fact two bills in both the House and Senate addressing that policy.

Action: Contact the White House and remind Biden of his pledge to reduce nuclear weapons, and of the need for his Nuclear Posture Review to move our country’s priorities away from such destructive budget items. Also contact Senator Padilla and ask for his co-sponsorship of S.1219 and S.1148 (Feinstein’s name is on both of these), calling for a no-first-use policy from the U.S. for nuclear weapons. Likewise contact Reps. Speier or Eshoo, and tell them to co-sponsor HR 669 and HR 2603, the House’s no-first-use companion bills. Our electeds should also advise Biden of the need for a new nuclear weapons policy that moves us toward their elimination.

 

Not “Terrorists”

Over the years, being designated a “terrorist” organization has carried serious consequences – including an inability to get adequate funding for actual valuable human rights-related work. Such has been the case for six respected Palestinian human rights-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who in October were called terrorist organizations by the Israeli government. Besides facing fundraising issues, some of their members could face individual or mass arrest.

These groups are renowned for their work documenting violations of international law (Al-Haq), protecting the rights of Palestinian political prisoners (Addameer), supporting marginalized Palestinian communities (Bisan), documenting Israel’s targeted attacks on Palestinian children (DCI-P), supporting Palestinian farmers (UAWC) and empowering Palestinian women to defend their socio-political and economic rights (UPWC). All have played an important role in protecting the lives, lands and rights of Palestinians in occupied territories, and Israel has chosen an authoritarian path to try to suppress them.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations – including Peace Action – recently signed a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to condemn Israel’s “terrorist” designation of the six organizations. For Congress’s part, later in October Minnesota Democratic Rep and frequent champion for Palestinians Betty McCollum introduced H. Res.751 – “Condemning the repressive designation by the Government of Israel of six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as terrorist organizations, and for other purposes.” This is a time to push back against Israel’s (and any) loose definition of “terrorism”, which not only might persecute those undeserving of the label, but potentially makes the term less meaningful when confronting actual terrorists.

Action: Contact Rep. Speier or Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and ask for their co-sponsorship of H. Res. 751, condemning Israel for calling Palestinian human rights organizations “terrorists”. Suggest that such an action needs to be opposed, and Congress needs to weigh in. (Those with Twitter can click #StandWithThe6.)

Directory                                        

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Senator Dianne Feinstein                                   

One Post St., Ste 2450       San Francisco, CA 94104      

(202) 224-3841                          fax: (202) 228-3954        

(415) 393-0707                          fax (415)393-0710

Senator Alex Padilla                                        

333 Bush Street, Ste. 3225 San Francisco, CA 94104
(202) 224-3553                         fax: (202) 224-2200

(415) 981-9369                        fax: (202) 224-0454

Representative Jackie Speier                            

155 Bovet Rd., Ste 780         San Mateo, CA 94402

(202) 225-3531                     fax: (202) 226-4183

(650) 342-0300                               (650) 375-8270

Representative Anna Eshoo                                                

698 Emerson Street               Palo Alto, CA 94301    

(202) 225-8104                            fax: (202) 225-8890  

(650) 323-2984                                   (650) 323-3498

Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA - Speaker of the House

(202)225-4965                                            (415)556-4862

President Joe Biden

The White House 

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW,  Washington, DC   20500                (202)456-1111:                         fax: (202)456-2461

www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Find out who your Representative is: www.house.gov

If you are not in California, identify your senators here: www.senate.gov

The Update is published quarterly by Peace Action of San Mateo County. We welcome all submissions and letters, and reserve the right to exclude or edit for content and other considerations. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the members of Peace Action of San Mateo County or Peace Action.