MEETING NOTES FOR PEOPLE FOR PEACE, JUSTICE, AND HEALING
People for Peace, Justice, and Healing
November 22, 2008
People for Peace, Justice and Healing met on November 22, 2008, shortly after 10:00 a.m. at Commencement Bay Coffee in Tacoma, WA, due to ongoing rug cleaning at Associated Ministries. Present for check-in: Sallie S., Terry, Mark, Nancy, Rob, and Ray.
1. PALESTINE: GAZA FACING HUMANITARIAN 'CATASTROPHE' (Nancy)
Nancy discussed the situation in Gaza, where things are so bad that they can't go on. Change will come sooner or later. Gaza's borders are sealed. People are doing thing there that people wouldn't do to prisoners. There are a thousand tunnels that people use to keep themselves alive. Reporters and doctors are not being allowed in. On Friday, the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) published Nancy's letter: "Why are we not reading more about what is happening in Gaza? Israel has forbidden deliveries of food from the United Nations into Gaza, in addition to severely rationing water, gas, and electricity to all Gazans. Rather than talk to Hamas, the Israeli government chooses punishment for Hamas’ reaction to occupation and blockading. When will Israel choose diplomacy over brutality? It won’t happen as long as the Israeli government is receiving $30 billion from the United States to continue violence over mediation." On Friday the paper also published, at Nancy's urging, a substantive Los Angeles Times article on the the situation in Gaza (Richard Boudreaux, "Israel Again Rejects Plea to Ease Gaza Blockade"). The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs from many other world crises in that Americans are more or less directly underwriting it. Three internationals have been abducted at gunpoint by Israeli frogmen off the coast of Gaza and imprisoned in Tel Aviv; they are conducting a hunger strike. Reuters said Friday that "Gaza faces a humanitarian 'catastrophe' if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main U.N. aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday." See the American Friends Service Committee's blog "End the Siege on Gaza" for more information.
2. INTERFAITH CAMP DINNER (Sallie)
At 5:30 p.m., on Tues., Nov. 25, First United Methodist Church at 621 Tacoma Ave. S. will host the annual reunion dinner for participants at the Puget Sound Interfaith Youth Camp and their families, before the church's annual interfaith Thanksgiving service. PPJH has organized to provide cookies for dinner's dessert, and volunteers to help set up should be at First United Methodist (621 Tacoma Ave. S.) at 4:00 p.m. to help set up. If you'd like to make cookies or want to volunteer to help out, e-mail Sallie at SallieS@associatedministries.org or call her at 383-3056 (ext. 105). Cookies could be brought by Associated Ministries any time during the day on Nov. 25, or delivered to First United Methodist between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on that day. NOTE: Remember that as it wraps up its very successful third season, the Puget Sound Interfaith Youth Camp still needs some help in paying a few bills. Please consider sending much appreciated donation checks for this purpose, made out to Associated Ministries (memo line: Interfaith Camp), to Sallie Shawl, c/o Associated Ministries, 1224 South "I" St., Tacoma, WA 98405.
3. CONGO (Mark)
Reviewed the under-reported débâcle in eastern DR Congo, where in the aftermath of the Second Congo War (1998-2003), which took more than five million lives, post-2006 election hopes for peace have faded in the face of a Rwandan-backed army revolt let by Laurent Nkunda in the context of an international scramble to dominate the country's rich mineral resources. Gen. Nkunda aspires to overthrow the Congolese government. Other countries are beginning to get involved, like Angola and Uganda. The number of displaced persons has swelled to more than a million. The scarcity and heightened demand for tin and coltan for high-tech electronics is in part fueling the conflict. On Thursday the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved sending more peacekeepers, but all agree that their numbers are inadequate in a country as large as the continent of Europe.
4. SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS (Nancy)
Guadalupe House is leading a march to the Federal Building. Many activists hope that this is going to be the last year for the School of the Americas, or "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," or WHINSEC, as it is now known. The annual demonstration is taking place at Fort Benning, GA. Photos available here.
5. WHO WE ARE (Rob)
In progress: a project to present options for U.S. health care -- reformation or transformation?
1. DIGGING DEEPER LXII: Dealing with Iran (Mark)
UFPPC's Monday night book discussion group meeting at the Mandolin Café (3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. will discuss on Nov. 24 Robert Baer's new book, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower (Crown, 2008). Robert Baer spent most of his 21-year career with the CIA in the Middle East, which he has called "a place wired to obscure the truth." He was a case officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations from 1976 to 1997, and according to ace investigative reporter Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker was “considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East,” handling agents who infiltrated Hezbollah PFLP-GC, PSF, Libyan intelligence, Fatah-Hawari, and al-Qaeda. Baer’s latest book has been called by Thomas Powers “most important and original book on the Middle East to appear in many years,” and which Kirkus Reviews says it is “studded with keen insights into a nation about which America remains dangerously misinformed.” In July 2006, Digging Deeper spent two weeks on Robert Baer’s earlier books, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism (2002), the memoir that inspired the film “Syriana,” and Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Crude (2003). Participation is free and all who are interested are welcome. For more information contact Mark Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org).