United States

CHICAGO, USA: Christian Peacemaker Teams to mourn Operation Brothers Keeper/Protective Edge deaths at Israeli Consulate

On 18 July 2014, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), friends and supporters will gather at the Israeli Consulate in downtown Chicago to mourn collectively and individually the deaths of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Operation Brother’s Keeper and Operation Protective Edge.  CPT trainees, Peacemaker Corps members, and others wishing to show solidarity with those who are suffering, will form a procession, carrying pictures of the dead and reading the names of all who have died.  Some members of the group will then attempt to engage members of the Israeli Consulate in dialogue.


Mohamed Abu Khdeir, 16Mohamed Malka, 3

ACTION: If you are in the Chicagoland area, join us at 11:30 a.m. Friday outside the Israeli Consulate (500 E Madison St.) for the procession.  If you have Facebook, consider changing your profile picture to an image of one of the Palestinians whom Israel has killed (Available for downloading here)—or you can right-click on the images in this release.  Pay attention to Palestinian coverage of events, including the www.imemc.org/ website and consider supporting Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (see www.bdsmovement.net/). Continue to pray alongside Palestinians, Israelis, and all those around the world seeking peace and justice in the region.

Look for updates about the action, and CPT’s support for Palestinian nonviolent resistance, on Facebook [www.facebook.com/cpters] and Twitter [twitter.com/cpt_intl].

U.S./PALESTINE/ISRAEL URGENT ACTION: Urge U.S. Reps to attend briefing on Israel’s discrimination against U.S. citizens seeking to enter Palestine


 

 
 

"Entery Denied" stamp from second of
Brenneman's three failed attempts to
enter West Bank in September-October
2013.

Last September and October the Israeli border authorities refused to allow me to join CPT’s work in Palestine.  During my last attempt, the Israeli authorities held me at the border for more than eight hours, questioned me repeatedly, and strip-searched me before denying me entry.  Both my Palestinian heritage and my work with CPT were raised as reasons for my mistreatment and denial.  This underscores the plight of not only other CPTers and international observers doing peace and human rights work in Palestine, but more importantly for other Palestinians in the diaspora trying to visit their homeland.

CPT Palestine has made it a priority to find ways of combating this blatant discrimination.  Today you can help.  Soon after my return to the U.S.A., my home country, I heard the U.S. House and Senate were debating the U.S.- Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.  Instead of condemning Israel’s actions and calling on embassies to protect U.S. citizens, this legislation would legalize Israel’s racist immigrations policies that discriminate against Palestinian-Americans and other U.S. citizens.  Section 9 would allow Israel to participate in the US visa waver program (permitting Israelis entry to the US for ninety days without obtaining a visa) without demanding reciprocation, as the US does with every other country.

Grassroots advocacy has stalled this bill, and it will probably be rewritten.  But the debate is not over.  On Wednesday 21 May 2014, a briefing will take place to inform U.S. policy makers of Israel’s discriminatory policies and to urge them not to sign onto the bill.  If you live in the United States, please write or call your members of congress (House and Senate) to attend the briefing.  (Below is a sample e-mail.)

Here is a link that will allow you to send an e-mail automatically:
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/641/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15657

BORDERLANDS: Disturbing the Peace in Arivaca, Arizona

CPTnet
28 February 2014
BORDERLANDS: Disturbing the Peace in Arivaca, Arizona

 The tiny town of Arivaca, population 600, is nestled in the rugged hills of southern Arizona about eleven miles north of the international border between Mexico and the USA.  This cattle-ranching area is “rich in history and natural beauty” and claims to be “the oldest continually inhabited townsite in Arizona” according to the visitor’s guide.

But someone is disturbing the peace in Arivaca.  Border Patrol agents carrying guns and wearing olive green uniforms stop all vehicles, including school buses loaded with children, at checkpoints blocking both ends of the community.  Giant surveillance towers with cameras, radar, and motion detectors protrude from the desert floor in the distance.  Drones hum and helicopters hover in the clear blue sky overhead.

“It’s like living in a war zone,” said Arivaca resident Eva Lewis.  “We can’t leave our community without being asked a bunch of questions,” chimed in Carlota Wray who’s lived in Arivaca for 33 years.



 
  

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Sacred power infuses CPT Americas Convergence, Giving Tuesday

During the well-attended CPT workshop at the School of the Americas vigil 22-24 November 2013, we mingled sharing from teams and undoing oppressions with moments of song and silence.  We sought to make the workshop more than just informational.  We wanted to embody in the workshop the presence and power of the sacred, because acknowledging that sacred power is what makes this life-work sustainable for us. 

Sarah Thompson facilitated invitationally, and Chris Knestrick wrote the following prayer, interspersing sections with stories CPTers shared (Sandra Milena RincĂłn Vidal about Colombia and Iraqi Kurdistan, Peter Haresnape about Aboriginal Justice, Tim Nafziger about Undoing Oppressions, and Jonathan Brenneman about Palestine):

 
 CPTers at conclusion of 24 November SOA Watch vigil

PRAYER

We must commit:

               We can only move out as far as we have moved in.

May we commit to the work of undoing oppression in ourselves, organizations, and communities.

                Only in doing so can we build right relationships.

…

The workshop was a part of the larger CPT Americas Convergence, a gathering that brought together new and seasoned CPTers and our supporters, to join the mass mobilization for de-militarization 22-24 November.  We accompanied events happening at the gates of Ft. Benning US military training base, and witnessed to the conditions and stories of the immigrants detained at Stewart Detention Center.  Former Steering Committee member Anton Flores and the Alterna Community organization he leads hosted us with much love and integrity.

Soon after everyone returned home CPT participated for the first time in #Givingtuesday.  CPT organizers set a one-day goal of raising $1,100 (1% of the Plowing and Planting Major Donor Campaign goal) and we accomplished it!  Both the spirit of togetherness present at the CPT Americas Convergence, and working collectively to raise the funds needed are deep encouragements for the long haul of building partnerships to transform violence and oppression.

BORDERLANDS: CPT announces delegation 18-28 February 2014

 Witness the impact of immigration enforcement in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands where foreign policy masquerades as domestic and foists life and death decisions upon our neighbors, relatives, and friends, placing them in vulnerable and volatile situations.  One hundred-eighty-two bodies were recovered in the Tucson Sector of the border alone this last fiscal year.

Journey with us through this zone of conflict, the gauntlet of the Sonoran desert, part of the lethal continuum that our neighbors from Latin America travel to reach the fields, factories and detention centers of the U.S.  Come to observe, query, discern, contribute, learn, and then take home the story of human struggle and hope.

Through the borderlands lens, we will examine how immigration reform does and does not affect our neighbors and ourselves wherever we live in the U.S.  We will meet some of those directly affected by public policy—migrants, local residents, activists, and law enforcement personnel.  We will walk desert trails, visit sites that include detention centers, human resource centers, and cooperatives, traveling back and forth across the border.  We will see first hand the impact of militarism on our neighbors and the border communities.

 February is reasonably mild in the region—cool nights and warm, dry days.  Prepare for moderate level trail walking.  A passport or border card is essential for this delegation.  Spanish is helpful but not required.

FUNDRAISING EXPECTATION: $625 US, which does NOT include the cost of travel to Tucson, Arizona.

CPT INTERNATIONAL: CPT Americas Convergence to participate in School of the Americas witness at Fort Benning, 20-24 November

 

Join us this November for the first ever CPT Americas Convergence in Georgia, USA.   CPTers and supporters from Turtle Island (North America) to the Southern Cone will gather for five days of formative events including worship, public protest, fellowship, accompaniment, and the opportunity for nonviolent direct action Wednesday, 20 November through Sunday, 24 November 2013.  

CPT will partner with the Alterna Community and former Steering Committee member Anton Flores-Maisonet, based in LaGrange, GA to participate in an annual public witness and civil disobedience action at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin.   Stewart, a privately run prison, is the largest immigrant detention center in the United States. Alterna and Georgia Detention Watch have long monitored this facility, documenting violations of human rights and detention standards and organizing vigils to remember the detainees trapped there as well as Roberto MartĂ­nez Medina who died while in detention at Stewart.

Following the witness in Lumpkin, CPT will join thousands gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA to call for the closure of the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).  Since 1946, this “School of Assassins” has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, psychological warfare, military intelligence, and interrogation tactics.  SOA graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people, targeting educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor.   They have tortured, raped, “disappeared,” assassinated, and massacred hundreds and thousands of Latin Americans.   Although the official name changed in 2001 from SOA to WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), the school under any name is synonymous with torture and impunity.

JONESBOROUGH,TN REFLECTION: Activism, War, and the Military-Industrial Complex

[Note: Names have been withheld because two of CPT's Depleted Uranium (DU) delegation partners had their tires slashed or punctured while the delegation was in the Jonesborough area.]

Working for a worthy cause, forming relationships with people with common convictions, and experiencing occasional large or small victories is a fine life.  But I am an activist not only because I support causes passionately, but sometimes, because I feel driven to oppose wrongs that have ugly, tragic consequences. 

I had come to Jonesborough, Tennessee as part of the third Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to that town.  The first two had collected soil and water samples and sent them for scientific analysis. The results clearly showed that Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee, a munitions manufacturer, was polluting the soil and water with uranium.  Our delegation was there in alliance with the local Appalachian Peace Education Center, to acquaint the locals with the results.  We also wanted to let them know the tragic effects uranium weapons are having around the world. Tuesday, 16 July was one of the days when I came face to face with the consequences of war, what I am here opposing.  That morning, I met a former Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee (AOT) employee.  Convinced that AOT was damaging his health, he became involved in an unsafe working conditions strike.  AOT terminated him.

JONESBOROUGH, TN (USA): Activists reveal radioactive pollution

 
  Ken Edwards, Brethren Pastor and member
of the Appalachian Peace Education Center
Aerojet Action Project and CPTer Sister
Rosemarie Milazzo discuss soil and water
samples that were part of
the Ketterer Study which reported local
uranium contaminationand released by
CPT DU DelegationPressConference on
Monday,  July 15, 2013.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and Appalachian Peace Education Center (APEC) held a press conference on Monday 15 July announcing the findings of a recent study revealing uranium contamination in the area surrounding Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee (AOT) in Jonesborough.

Johnson City Press newspaper and NBC-affiliate WJHL Channel 11 attended the conference held on Old State Route 34 across from the northeast Tennessee uranium weapons facility.

Standing at a table arrayed with soil samples gathered outside AOT, representatives of CPT and APEC spoke about the contamination in the area while affirming their faith in the goodness of humanity.

John Mueller, a former chemist, noted that a 2013 study has demonstrated that soil, creek sediment and biological life near the plant are contaminated with waste from the manufacturing of radioactive weaponry.

“Because Aerojet is the only nearby company that can work with processed uranium, we assert that the Aerojet plant is polluting the environment with uranium,” Mr. Mueller said.

UNITED STATES: Acknowledging the dividing wall and respecting the call to abstain from the Mennonite convention in Phoenix.

n 2011, the Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) announced that it would continue with plans to have the biennial church-wide convention 1-6 July 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, despite recent legislation passed in Arizona that put Latino Mennonites at risk of search and deportation if they “looked illegal.”  The MCUSA constituent group Iglesia Menonita Hispana (Hispanic Mennonite Church) stated that it was hurt by the symbolic message this sent to Latino Mennonites.  It further said that it would abstain from participation in the convention.





Ephesians 2:14-16 illustrates the way Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection brought people from different ethnic and religious groups together.  Indeed Jesus’ call was broad, beautiful, and boundary-crossing.  It was not, however, without challenge as to how people from these different groups were to come together as part of the larger, new body. 

Jesus’ work of breaking the dividing wall that stood between people was not so much a naĂŻve “forget your differences and privileges” as it was a careful invitation to form new relationships.  These new relationships became possible through analyzing old tensions and building strong new bonds of care and community. 

Those who want to break down walls must accurately name and patiently examine the impact of entrenched inequality of power created by division.  Otherwise, we may be able to come together physically but as the dividing wall falls it may crush people entering the relationships.

UNITED STATES REFLECTION: Drones meet “The Human Face of War”

Mainstream media have finally begun to cover drone warfare as a feature of U.S. policy, due in part to Senator Rand Paul’s historic filibuster during the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan in March 2013.  The Upstate New York Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, however, has organized protests against Hancock National Air Guard Base near Syracuse, to raise awareness about Reaper drones, over the last three years.