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January 2014 UK Peace Update by Tamara Lorincz
Board member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the
Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Dear peace friends,
As you know, I moved to England last September to do the Rotary International World Peace Fel lowship at the University of Bradford. I’m living in Shipley for the next 18 months as I do a Masters in International Relations and Security Studies. I will also be doing an Applied Field Experience with the International Peace Bureau in Switzerland this summer. I prepared this two-page document to share some of the events, resources and links that I have compiled from the various events that I have attended and people I’ve met in UK and Europe so far. Hope this is helpful to your peace work!
Some of the things that I’ve done from Sept. 2013-Jan.2014 since being in the UK:
- International Peace Bureau Triennial Conference in Stockholm in September 2013
- Protest at Menwith Hill (US-UK spy base involved in missile defence, spying & drone warfare) in Oct. 2013
- Stop the War Coalition’s International Peace Conference in London in November 2013
- Stop the War Coalition’s Strategy Meeting in London in November 2013
- Dirty War Film Screening in London in November 201 3
- Non-Violent Communication Training in November 2013
- Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Yorkshire Meeting in Bradford in December 2013
- Tactics Against Trident Workshop in Leeds in January 2014
- Attended film screening “Bloodshot: Dreams and Nightmares of East Timor” in Ilkley in January 2014 (I am working with the director to screen this film at the University of Bradford)
UPCOMING EVENTS (that I’m attending that you might like to know about and come along):
- Global Day of Action Against Military Spending April 14: www.gdams.org
- Global Network Against Wea pons and Nuclear Power in Space Annual Conference in California
March 14-16 http://www.space4peace.org/
- Why War? Peace Studies in the 21st Century. International Conference to be held as part of the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Division of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, 1-3 May 2014. Call for Papers deadline is February 14: http://www.bradford.ac.uk/ssis/peace-studies/news-and-events/news/peace-studies-international-conference-may-2014.php
- Sarajevo: International Peace Conference (there is a special youth program) from June 4-6: http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/forum/articles/call-for-workshops-june-6-9.html
- Objections to War: pacifism, anti-interventionism and conscientious objection in literature, theatre and art 1830-1918. International and Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Hull, UK from 7-9 Sept. 2014 http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/english/news%20and%20events/objections%20to%20war%20conference.aspx
Dear Paul Dewar and Thomas Mulcair,
Though I see there is a bit of kerfuffle in the ranks of CP for either not asking the question or failing to print the opinions of the leaders of the NDP and Liberal parties respectively in a piece entitled ‘Canadian Leaders react to Ariel Sharon’s death’, Paul’sshort statement seems to tell us the NDP’s posture on this event. Our Prime Minister was clear and the distance between the two statements was negligible. I attach here an article by Max Blumenthal that expresses well my concerns.
Why does the NDP (and, yes, every other federal leader) insist on this topic in ignoring clear international covenants, conventions, and innumerable declarations, statements and resolutions – falling into line with the demands of US and Israeli exceptionalism? One set of rules for them, another set of rules for everyone else. Of course, Ariel Sharon was a great supporter of Israel – if one assumes their cause and means are correct. To many of us Ariel Sharon is the intellectual author of Sabra and Shatila. Point finale.
Before that he fulfilled every definition of a terrorist, an enthusiastic leader in the expulsion project that was al naqba and later as Ben Gurion’s messenger in countless Qibyas; as a general, Sharon was blatantly and insubordinately self-promoting, at the expense of both Egyptian/Syrian and Israeli soldiers, glorying in over-the-top kill ratios; as Agriculture(!) Minister under Begin, he was the architect of the settlement strips that would atomise and further decimate Palestinian communities and land-holdings.
Having bullied his way into Begin’s Defence Ministry and consumed by a dream of an Israeli-friendly Christian puppet in Beirut, Sharon laid waste to one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities with Dresden-ish indiscriminate and over-the-top obliteration bombing. Sharon blocked the arrival of UN-mandated peacekeepers meant to prevent reprisals against the thousands of Palestinian refugees left behind – setting the stage for Sabra and Shatila, Israel’s Warsaw. Temporarily bowed under by international opprobrium and the results of the 1983 Kahan commission and threats of the use of universal jurisdiction processes, Sharon came back with dramatic force with the September 2000 strut through the Al Aqsa accompanied by a thousand armed security agents and police – setting off the second intifada. Palestinians rallied and rioted; the IDF pummelled them. And his reward for all of this? Elected as prime Minister the following year by an Israel fearful of Palestinian rage provoked by his stunt.
‘With a free hand to deploy tanks and combat jets against Palestinian population centers, Sharon oversaw a campaign of carefully calculated brutality, culminating, in 2002, in the comprehensive demolition of the Jenin refugee camp.’ While Israeli bulldozers trundled through Gaza and the West Bank, Sharon began to woo Israelis into his separation strategy: the wall. And today the implications of that strategy are clear for anyone interested in truly seeing. Strangulation, isolation, starvation, open-air prisons, bantustans of the highest order.
So, what are you honouring with your statement? You couldn’t even do what so many of our cowed leaders and media are doing – adding words like ‘controversial’; maybe that’s what ‘significant’ is supposed to do, rather like ‘interesting’. For the NDP, clearly a hero, ‘dedicating his life…’ He was the terminator of the 1948 war, strutting towards the only possible solution, the final one.
Lee A. McKenna
An Interview with Bruna Nota
by Marijke Vander Klok
On a cold morning near the end of November, I had the privilege of meeting Bruna Nota at her home in Christie Gardens. Bruna Nota, a long-time member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, she was also the international president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – www.wilpfinternational.org) and participated in the 1995 United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. Bruna greeted me in the lobby with a hug and, over the course of the next hour and a half, shared stories of her peace activism and community involvement, both in past with VOW and within her current community in Toronto. “It’s on the eighth floor, do you mind taking the stairs?” she asked before taking me up to her apartment. I tried to keep up.
Born in Italy, in the Piedmont region near Turin, Bruna spoke the regional dialect with her family at home before she learned Italian in school. Continuing in her education, she learned French, German, Spanish, and lastly English. “So my accent is very much of mongrel accent,” she joked, but this was never a hindrance in her work with the UN where she has discussed language and debated terms, critically analyzing agendas on a line-by-line basis in order to build the best possible wording for each issue and resolution in context.
Born just before the start of World War II, Bruna recalled one of her earliest memories of being wrapped in a blanket by her mother and spending the night under a bridge as the city was bombed. Living in a region that was alternately occupied by partisans, Italian, and German forces, her childhood was strongly altered by the war around her. Her father, conscripted to Mussolini’s army, had fought in Libya and Ethiopia. Through his past experiences he impressed upon his children the terrible injustice of war, and resolutely believed that negotiation with all people was possible. “My mother was much more compliant,” Bruna told me. She was an active member of the Catholic church, and felt more comfortable embodying a role society had set out for her as a good Christian, mother, woman. At the same time, however, she involved herself in political elections of the region, and was known by neighbours as a nurse and healer for the community. Bruna cited her parents’ influence as shaping her views and values as an individual. “They taught me that there is never anybody above or below you. You are just as good as anybody else. So we as children could not look down on anybody or be cowed by anybody above… And those kind of values for me – respect for human rights and conflict-resolution and how inappropriate it is to just go and grab resources from others; all of those values were very much ingrained in me.”
Bruna joined VOW in the early 90s. After working in Montreal for a number of years, she had returned to Toronto looking for something to get engaged with. She certainly hit the mark with VOW when, working alongside Madeleine Gilchrist and Colleen Burke among others, she took a leading role in reviewing the Peace (called Armed Conflict) section of the Platform for Action and making a detailed language review for the UN World Conference on Women in 1995. This position involved, at their own expense, attending preparatory sessions, travelling to the conference itself in Beijing, and participating in follow-up conferences and reviews that continued to 2000.
While attending the conference in Beijing, Bruna found herself a part of a community of NGOs camped out in a nearby village, Huairou. It was in this small, separate space that the invited organizations were permitted to discuss and demonstrate.“At one point, we were 200, 300 people walking in circles, we were like lions in a cage!” Bruna said of a protest against the nuclear testing China was then engaged in. Bruna led the group out into the city, despite the security’s mandate that forbid the NGOs from leaving their enclosure. Finally they were confronted by one security guard whom Bruna remembers to be “the tallest man in China.” She refused to be intimidated, however, and with a stroke of inspiration told him that they intended to march on the steps of the auditorium within which they were designated to demonstrate. The security guard saw that the steps in question could be considered part of the allocated auditorium, and he guided them to the new location that gave the protesting women some space to spread out and reach a wider audience. This little victory through open dialogue represents a real triumph for Bruna and the women she worked alongside; a small-scale success that shows how positive change can be achieved through peaceful negotiation.
There are also disappointments in the work toward peace and disarmament. In particular, Bruna expressed her frustration at the present political climate in Canada. While once members of VOW were working in New York with UN delegations, invited to daily briefings with the Canadian representatives and providing advice on language and peaceful negotiation, they are now unable to work so closely with the Canadian government. But the road to peace is always a journey, never a destination. It starts simply with your own conflict with yourself, Bruna explained to me; you have to fight it and work on it every day to provide a basis for external growth and peace. “You need infrastructure, you need justice, you need fair taxes, just a kind of pedestrian solution. It is not big speeches that are going to make things happen – it is when everybody has the essentials to start with and certain possibility to grow within their family, within their skin, within their country.”
Tamara Lorincz, Member of the VOW board of directors. Her website is http://www.demilitarize.ca/
Just as I arrived with my signs, a car drove up. The driver rolled down his window and asked me what I was doing there. I told him that I was protesting the $25 billion warship contract. He shook his head angrily, swore and drove off. Then more cars drove by giving me the finger. For the first time, a driver in a military uniform gave me the finger too. My weekly protest was not off to a good start.
Then, an hour later, just as I was about to pack up my signs and leave, a tall guy came and introduced himself to me.
“Hi, I’m Karl. I’m president of the union. They have been talking about you in there and I wanted to meet you and find out what you are doing,” he said smiling.
Karl Risser is the President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1.
I was so surprised and pleased to meet him. “Thanks for coming. I’ve wanted to meet you. I’ve been protesting the warship contract here every Wednesday for the last couple of months. I have a web site and a blog,” I replied. I told him that I have been opposed to the new warships since the federal government announced the Canada First Defence Strategy in 2008 and the plans to spend $490 billion on the military over the next 20 years.
Risser asked me why I was opposed to the warships. I told him that the country doesn’t need them – we are not going to be engaging in any naval combat and that our greatest security challenges are climate change and poverty. I was shocked that he readily agreed with me! He asked me what I think they should be building. I said all those construction workers and electricians in there could be building affordable housing, weatherizing homes and buildings, installing renewable energy technologies, expanding mass transit, and fixing municipal infrastructure. He agreed as well and then asked me, “What about ferries?” Yes, I said ferries! I hadn’t thought of that before. Risser said that the workers had been talking about building ferries and light rail for years but those plans got shelved once the federal government announced the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy in 2010 (which comes out of the Canada First Defence Strategy).
Risser then told me some other interesting and important things:
- There is a report that was done a while ago about the Irving Shipyard building ferries for the Atlantic Provinces and a high speed ferry in the Halifax Harbour.
- He said that some of the provinces are leasing ferries from Germany instead of having them built in Canada.
- When Prime Minister Harper came to Halifax to make an announcement about the shipbuilding program in January 2012, his staff asked that the union flags and banners be removed. Risser insisted that the guys keep their flags and banners visible during the press conference.
- He believes that Prime Minister Harper does not really care about the shipyard workers and the union – the contract is really not about improving their employment situation.
- He said the situation for workers at the shipyard isn’t that good but that Irving is doing alright.
- He believes that the highest number of workers that will be needed will be 2500 workers by 2020, which is much lower than the federal and provincial governments predict.
- He expects that Foreign Temporary Workers will be needed, will come from poor countries, and will be paid low, non-union wages.
- He expects that the bulk of the jobs and money will go to Lockheed Martin (which is the biggest weapons manufacturer in the world!) in the US for the technical systems for the warships.
- He said that Lockheed Martin is at the shipyard all the time. In partnership with Lockheed Martin, the shipyard is currently working on retrofits for seven warships to help them last another 20 years. So, he doesn’t really think new warships are needed.
- He expects that Ontario and Quebec will provide some of the steel, but that the major technical systems will be imported from the US by likely Lockheed Martin.
- CAW supports green jobs and he agrees with me that a National Green Job Strategy would be good.
- He knows about Germany’s national retrofit program and renewable energy progress. See the Green Economy Coalition web site.
- He talked about the possibility of a merger between his union the CAW and another big national union that could lead to national general strikes someday and given labour more power.
- His union – the CAW – is supporting the IDLE NO MORE movement and attended the solidarity march across the bridge two weeks ago.
- He believes the warships are part of Harper’s militaristic agenda.
- The only way Harper will change course is if Canadians push the government to change.
- Risser said more people need to tell the Harper government that they don’t want warships for the federal government to stop the National Shipbuilding plan.
- He asked me how we can wake up Canadians about Harper’s agenda.
I assured Risser that I’m not against the union and the workers. I want workers to have meaningful, good paying jobs and I want our province to be prosperous but that neither will happen with the warship contract. I said to him that I think the labour unions should have stood up to Harper and said tax dollars should not be wasted on warships because they aren’t a priority. We should be taking action on climate change and poverty not preparing for war. I told him about Van Jones’ Green for All program in the U.S. that puts people to work in the green economy and that there is great potential for this in Canada. More jobs could be created in a green economy than a war economy. I let him know that I have worked closely with union allies in the past on peace issues, such as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on events and actions for Palestine. He replied at the end that he agreed with most of what I said.
Risser is a very friendly and down-to-earth person. I learned a lot and enjoyed speaking with him very much. We shook hands three times during our conversation.
Finally, my protest today was dedicated to Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person and helped launch the Alabama city bus strike in 1955. Parks said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
Watch this hour-long February 2013 radio documentary about her Rosa Park’s incredible rebellious life onDemocracy Now!
Note: I have a special Valentine’s action for this week’s “Wednesday against Warships” protest that will take place from 12:00-1:00 p.m. on February 13 outside the shipyard. I will also be joining One Billion Rising, which is the Global Day of Action to Stop Violence against Women, on Valentine’s Day (V-Day) February 14 and will be protesting the warships from 4:00-5:00 p.m. I encourage you to join me on both days! See my web site for details: www.demilitarize.ca
I got 8 honks of support, 3 waves of support, 4 fingers, 3 thumbs down.
In January, I went to Ottawa to protest the warship contract on Parliament Hill and then I delivered letters to the leaders of all the political parties (Conservatives, NDP, Liberals, and Greens) to get them to reverse their support for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). I’m awaiting their replies and will post them when I get them.
Thanks to Koozma J. Tarasoff, a peace activist in Ottawa, for doing a blog about my trip to the capital and taking pictures. Thanks too for the assistance of Andrei Conovaloff. Read the Spirit-Wrestlers Blog
Great to have the support of Ceasefire. Check out their Facebook
So glad to have the solidarity of the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Read their blog posting about my warship protest.
Did you see this in the Chronicle Herald? Feds could sink deal: Ship contract has loopholes
Welcome to DEMILITARIZE.ca!
I have created this web site to challenge the building of new navy warships under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. I will compile information about the NSPS and blog about my weekly protestsWednesdays Against Warships.
This is a breakdown of the $35 billion for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
Tamara Lorincz: Don’t be idle
Tamara Lorincz protesting at the Halifax Shipyward. Photo by Chelsea Gutzman.
Last Wednesday, I started a weekly protest against the planned warships to be built by the Halifax Irving Shipyard. The federal government is spending $25 billion of our precious tax dollars to build combat vessels for navy that we do not need. That money could instead go to fund Aboriginal needs, renewable energy, affordable housing, and early learning and child care in Canada.
I am protesting every Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. outside the Irving Shipyard on Barrington St. (3099 Barrington St. at the Niobe Gate Rd. entrance) and I invite you to join me.
This Wednesday, December 26, Boxing Day, from 12:00-1:00 p.m., Lucia and I are going to be standing for peace outside the shipyard with a sign in solidarity of IDLE NO MORE and Chief Theresa Spence who is on a hunger strike demanding a meeting to discuss needs of First Nations with the Prime Minister and the Governor General. Afterward, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. We will be writing letters in support of Chief Spence, war resisters, Omar Khadr, the security certificate 3 and the earth (against Bill C-45) in the Hydrostone Café or the Hydrostone Starbuck’s (whichever is open, unfortunately Julien’s isn’t open that day). We will also take a picture of our solidarity action and send it to IDLE NO MORE.
Instead of shopping, stand for peace and write for peace on Boxing Day!
I have a new web site www.demilitarize.ca – please check it out.
I am keeping a blog about my weekly protest and you can read my first entry here: http://demilitarize.ca/wp/
I also have a Twitter account too that you can follow if you like:
To support IDLE NO MORE, please consider doing the following:
SEND LETTERS and PHONE:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Governor-General David Johnstone: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the federal party leaders:
Thomas Mulcair, Bob Rae, and Elizabeth May: email@example.com;
Idle No More Blog
Please make the links as to how the federal government is spending our money – this year the Department of National Defence says it wants money for light armoured vehicles, new fighter jets, armed drones, combat vessels, etc….
This is money that is not going to support to environmental and social programs that will bring true security to people and the planet.
A sustainable future is a peaceful one.
Inner Peace – a simple yet sometimes hard to achieve concept. Often our busy lives make it difficult to attain such a thing. Yet, according to Joanna Recine, a Licensed Massage Practitioner of goodenergybreak.com, peace is within reach. It begins with the mind and the body is the tool. The healing power of massage inspired Joanna to develop her craft. Nine out of ten clients have reported that within 2 sessions issues related to depression, stress, bladder infection, and other physical ailments have completely disappeared.
This ‘wow’ factor is at the heart of Joanna’s practice. It’s what motivates her to bring change to her clients’ lives. What began as a massage business has developed into an art that not only inspires and but builds hope. Joanna states that the more people tune into their bodies, the more people can free themselves and move away from their self-sabotaging mind. According to Joanna, the most important aspect to opening yourself to inner peace is to quiet the mind and end the chatter. This will then help you to receive the healing you need.
Currently, Joanna works one on one with clients. But, as her practice evolves, she is developing interactive group workshops to help individuals learn how they can obtain peace from the body. On Joanna’s end, inner peace has helped her cultivate her creative skills while bringing healing to others. Her work within the healing arts has inspired her to develop products that are good for the mind, body and soul. She produces green products that are totally organic and free from hazardous chemicals as well as inspirational t-shirts that come with your own personal message or picture.
T-Shirt with a Message
I am inspired by Joanna’s interest in healing the mind through the body, and her new endeavour: t-shirts with a message. Her own creative design is a reflection of how she has overcome life obstacles. Although Joanna doesn’t draw the picture (this is outsourced), she has created a product that takes personal expression to the next level. The great thing with a shirt, as with life, you can change it whenever you want to!
Contact Joanna Recine directly to learn more about her products and services at www.goodenergybreak.com.
By: Tiffany Goskey
A couple of Tuesdays back, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sandra Ruch, an international human rights activist, Coordinator for the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and a member of the Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee. Since 2004 she has been heavily involved in human rights work, advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people. Her involvement in social justice activities started with helping new immigrants become established in Canada. But, it was her experience in Palestine that sparked her passion for anti-occupation and anti-Zionist activism. Her involvement became very personal as the events she witnessed conflicted with her views on Judaism at the time.
All her life Sandra was a Zionist activist, leader of a Zionist youth group at the age of 13, and later in life as a member of a Zionist organization and Hebrew school teacher. After WWII in Europe Israel became the safe place for the Jewish people to reside. Essentially, Zionists believe that Israel should be there for the Jewish people – and they don’t see this as a racist statement. Sandra wholeheartedly believed in this rhetoric as well.
Sandra was born 8 years after Israel became a country and so this perspective made sense to her. She believed that the army was there to protect. As a woman of faith, she thought the Israeli government was following the principles of Judaism: healing the world, acts of loving kindness, and obligations of charity. Additionally, the Ten Commandments are fundamental in Judaism – such as condemning killing.
This understanding was drastically altered when Sandra lived in Palestine for 2 years. While there she witnessed a total disregard for human rights. She saw crimes against humanity; murder and theft by the Israeli army. Sandra saw it personally – she can speak about the things she experienced. She was appalled by the human rights violations and the lack of respect for humanity. While this is the catalyst for her work – she would fight for anything that disregards human rights and disrespects humanity. She has focused on this area because it is directly related to her personal experience living in Palestine.
Her work and life is now for the Palestinian people. The ones displaced in the diaspora and in Palestine. But, this dedication has created a riff with her siblings as they no longer speak to Sandra. She has lost much of her spiritual family as it has been difficult to find a temple for support. Many Zionists cannot understand why she engages in this type of work. These events coupled by Sandra’s two year absence have been very trying on her family.
Although, many within the anti-occupation community have become her new brothers and sisters, she acknowledges the sacrifices that must be made in order to continue with her work. She is not afraid to be arrested – but outside of the activist community it is sometimes difficult to understand this level of commitment.
When asked what the most important element is in whatever you are working on, be it activism or something entirely different, Sandra believes you should follow your own heart. You must do what you need to do. Live authentically. You can never please everyone – so you must do what you think is right for yourself, and the rest will follow. Sometimes life is not an easy road, but when you overcome the barriers, and stay on the journey, your life will be meaningful and full of hope.
Sandra’s triumphs are in every aspect of her work. These triumphs have fueled her passion and continual commitment to this cause. Starting a project and seeing it through to completion is certainly a personal triumph.
In 2005, Sandra worked with the Women in Black, a world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. They had a conference in Jerusalem and about 700 female participants from around the world attended. It highlighted the occupation but didn’t make the news. However, it was such a powerful and meaningful experience for Sandra.
The next triumph came when the movement planned the Gaza Freedom March and 1500 people came to Cairo to attend the march. The Egyptian government locked them down – but the movement worked together. It was a catalyst for the movement. Then after the massacre on the Mavi Marmara– the movement went to the street and started a hunger strike in front of the Israeli consulate in Toronto. Every media in Toronto came out to cover it; it was a great awareness event. Did it take 9 people to be murdered? It seems that this is unfortunately the case, as nonviolent movements with the same goals failed to get the word out about the atrocities in the past. Within a month, the movement announced the inauguration of the organization, Canadian Boat to Gaza. While the massacre on the Mavi Marmara occurred in May 2010, the Canadian Boat to Gaza was announced two short months after, in late June 2010, exceeding their fundraising goals by $100,000 by reaching the$400,000 mark.
With the team and funds secured, the next step was implementation. Sandra went to Greece, figured how to buy a boat, and hired a captain who happened to be the first one to break the siege. Then she arranged for 47 volunteers to attend. She coordinated the logistics while in Greece – hiring lawyers, listening to Greek partners – there were a lot of sleepless nights worrying about the decisions made.
Through these experiences Sandra has learned that every person must truly believe in the work they do. Then connect with people who have strengths in different areas to build upon your passion. She states that they were the only boat to get out of Greece. They made it to Turkey and then sailed to Gaza. This time they are going to refurbish and build the boat in Gaza – which is why Gaza’s Ark is such an apt name for the project. Gaza’s Ark will carry local trade items, and distribute them to the world for sale. This is to help the local people work around the occupation and be able to feed their families from their earnings.
Essentially, the issue is that Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for over five years. This means that the local fishers cannot feed their families or fish for trade. According to International law – Palestinians would have the rights to 12 nautical miles from shore. The Israeli government would only allow 6 miles. But, since the massacre, it is only 3 miles. This water is overfished, polluted, and their infrastructure is collapsing. Now the fishermen are putting high powered lights on their boats to attract the fish. But, it is dangerous and one person has been electrocuted. The Israeli army has been known to shoot anyone within 1 in a half mile off the shore.
Is the United Nations doing anything? Not really. According to Sandra, John Ging from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has made statement after statement but not much has been done. The Gaza’s Ark team know their boat will be captured again. But, it’s the statement they are trying to broadcast to the world – to demonstrate how Israel is not supporting the Palestinian people and instead is making up their own rules. For example, theTahrir was in international waters when it was captured last year. It was brought over to Israel. The authorities made their team say that they entered Israeli waters illegally when they didn’t.
If someone is interested in getting involved – Sandra suggests checking out Gaza’s Ark website http://gazaark.org/ and endorse the project. Then donate to support the funding of the boat. Are you willing to go to your MP to state you don’t support this? She says “that it is important to get the message to the political leaders as that is where the power lies. You make sure in every election – you vote. Then – join the team. Get on a committee. Find out where your strength is – and join us. You will find great pleasure in working on something that you are passionate about”.
Another World is Possible –
On Christmas Day, 1914, World War 1, German, British and French soldiers disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with “the enemy”. They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photos, shared rations. Soldiers embraced. They agreed if forced to fire their weapons, to aim high. Generals on both sides declared their spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court marshall. By March, 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated. By the time of the Armistice in 1918, 15 million would be slaughtered. About 110 million people were killed in wars in the 20th century – 3 times as many people as all the war deaths since the first century AD.
Unlike the fleeting Christmas Truce in the Great War, such urgent collaboration is dramatically on the rise. In Mumbai, India a mammoth peacebuilding conference gets underway in January. It will be the latest in a remarkable series of international civil society forums characterized as the new movement of movements – drawing together an unprecedented cross-section of individuals, groups and social movements to generate proposals that will help build a world free of violence.
To move toward a world without violence is a formidable challenge but must be a top priority for governments, too. Greece has laid out deliberate plans. At the October opening in Athens of an international conference hosted by the Geneva-based venerable International Peace Bureau
(IPB), and attended by several Canadians including my husband and myself, Greece’s Foreign Minister George Papandreou, inspired us. Telling us that Homer looked upon war as an absolute evil, Papandreou asserted ” We renounce war as the crown of human barbarity and madness.” Then he issued the Greek government’s call for the historic truce to be observed during the summer Olympic games in Greece in 2004. This was a norm for centuries from the games’ inception among city states. “If we can get peace for 14 days,” he said. “then maybe, just maybe, we can get peace forever.” His hope that the cycle of peace will replace that of violence, and his belief that the UN is the best instrument for dealing with the world’s problems and in the power of civil society were echoed throughout the conference.
threatened by 30,000 of them – enough to unleash 300,000 Hiroshimas. Another physician presented the Olympic authorities with a well-developed Swedish peace-education program, Life-Link Friendship Schools.
In March, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW,) co-founded by the late Helen Tucker of Mississauga, will launch a global call at the UN for the delegitimization of war. It is time that the particular right of the state to make war be further curtailed. “The institution of war, which is supported by taxes and protected by laws, must be put on the same shelf of history with slavery,colonialism and apartheid”, the President of the International Peace Bureau, Cora Weiss, reiterated.
IPB, with 13 Nobel laureates in its ranks over its 111 years, with a membership of 20 international federations, 215 national and local members organizations and 2 IPB affiliate offices in Barcelona and Lugo, Italy is in the midst of planning a whopper of a “Dialogue” for people who want a world without violence. In late June 2004, in Barcelona, Spain, Forum Barcelona 2004, the Peace Foundation and the International Peace Bureau will offer a platform for contributions to new ways of thinking about conditions for peace. This will be part of an even more extraordinary 5 month cascade of countless activities throughout the city to explore two more themes connected to peace – sustainable development and cultural diversity. (See www.ipb.org )
This world has more than one superpower. Civil society is another! These initiatives and many others are fostering a serious force for non-violence. Many know and act with care and commitment for neither nation, continent nor creed but simply as interdependent members of humanity. Let’s demand now that our new federal government build the appropriate institutions that will promote and maintain peace for at present no such infrastructure exists to convert even the most promising results of peace research into feasible action. The final surrender of the outmoded, possibly omnicidal practice of war will be immensely healthier for humans and all living things.
Janis Alton co-chairs Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and is a newly elected North American Representative to IPB.