United States

CPT INTERNATIONAL: On Tour with Uncle Sam in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand

 

 
 CPT Executive Director Sarah Thompson 
speaking in Australia

Different countries do taxes in different ways.  All of February and March I was in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand.  The taxes are high there, but these countries are famous for their affordable medicine, free university education, and egalitarian policies among settlers (compulsory voting, mandatory school uniforms).  I’ve heard people in the U.S. make fun of places with social programs like these, but in those months I witnessed the immensely positive impact of social policy that puts the common good of all over the private power of a few.

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Consider the impact of your dollars this tax season and make contribution to CPT. How about $29? $1 for every year since CPT's founding.

However, the gap between what is realistically available for settlers of European origin countries in comparison to what is available to recent non-European immigrants and Aboriginal Australians and the Maori of Aotearoa is huge.  The brutal Euro-colonial histories, ongoing dispossessions, and overall disregard for cultural devastation wrought by industrial society to the indigenous of these lands are stories that loom large in the sub-conscious of these nations.  The best work I saw going on in these countries was grassroots, conducted by people deeply aware of the open wounds of racism, Christian hegemony, and extractive economics. Activists involved with mobilizations to support refugees, challenge ecological destruction, and celebrate all families are aware of the paradoxes inherent in these societies.

UNITED STATES REFLECTION: The Ripple Effect-- #StayWokeAdvent

I write this post in response to the recent challenge to

“reflect;

cry out;

meditate;

repent;

accept grace;

pray;

weep;

wrestle;

wake up;

question;

hope (if even just a little);

sit with darkness;

squint at the light;

read;

write;

create;

observe;

listen” 

in an effort to keep watch and not be silent in light of what we have witnessed in #Ferguson, Missouri.  The writer, out of anguish, frustration and anger, asked us who observe #Advent, with anticipation of the arrival of shalom, to “stay alert…to “stay woke”…to your senses, your mind, your body, your feelings, your spirit to where to Spirit is stirring and leaning. Stay woke….to the impact your life has on others…Stay woke…to the injustice that we either contribute to or diminish…Stay woke….to the groanings of the world…Stay woke…to the humble, radical, empire-upsetting ways of Jesus…Stay woke…to the darkness…Stay woke…to the light…and to the sacred and profane in both.” 

BORDERLANDS REFLECTION: “What did you go out to the desert to see? Luke 7:26

“Our work is done for today,” Joel yelled across the wash as he waved his arms emphatically.  I was puzzled.  We were still a good four miles from our destination, Red Tail water tank.  Joel shouted again.  â€śWe're done!  Come over here!”  As I approached, no further words were needed.  A few feet in front of him lay a sun-bleached human skull, eyeless sockets looking south, resting starkly among the coal black volcanic rocks strewn across this ancient plain.

Yes, our work was done for the day in that mid-afternoon moment of Thanksgiving eve.  I took off my hat and sat in silent prayer.  Joel called 911.

Joel, Director of Operations for Humane Borders, a Tucson-based humanitarian aid organization, and I were conducting the annual assessment of water tanks in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and replacing the weathered blue flags that prominently identify each tank.  The person whose skull we came upon had missed the nearest tank by a few miles.  S/he was the eleventh set of human remains recovered in the Tucson sector of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since 1 October 2014.

CPT INTERNATIONAL REFLECTION: Treasure in Ferguson, Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turtle Island

Since a St. Louis, Missouri prosecutor and Grand Jury have determined that Police Officer Darren Wilson killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown did not merit a trial, I have been busy tweeting #Ferguson on the Christian Peacemaker Team Twitter account.  Those tweets have been getting a lot of retweets.  We have no people working in Ferguson and I have asked myself why I am inundating the account. 

I think it has to do with the disposability of human life, with the contempt shown to Michael Brown when the authorities left his body in the street for four and a half hours and did not bother interviewing key witnesses to the shooting for weeks (until there was a public outcry.)  That contempt connected directly with our work in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, with indigenous communities in North America, and with migrants in Europe.  In all these cases, people in power have deemed the people we work with disposable. 

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Next Chicago CPT training October 2015; Applications due by 1 March 2015

 

 
 

CPT trainees participate
 in public witness at
Israeli consulate in
Chicago during
 Gaza War, July 2014

Due to an exciting opportunity to partner with groups in Detroit, Michigan USA for a Peacemaker Congress in July 2015, Christian Peacemaker Teams has set the dates of 2 October – 2 November 2015 for the next training to in Chicago.  The deadline for applications has moved to 1 March 2015.  This shift will allow more time between issuing invitations and starting training for applicants who may need to secure visas in order to participate.

Stay tuned for more information about the July Peacemaker Congress!

CPT is committed to anti-oppression work both within and outside of CPT, and we seek others interested in this work.  We are seeking applicants to train as part of our Reserve Corps.  At this time, no stipended (half to full time) openings are available in the Corps.  All CPT Reservists are eligible to apply for stipended positions as they become available.  For answers to more specific questions, contact Adriana Cabrera Velasquez, Personnel Coordinator, at personnel@cpt.org <mailto:personnel@cpt.org>. 

UNITED STATES REFLECTION: Voting for peace

Yesterday, I was calling old friends and letting them know I’d be in town to talk about my work with Christian Peacemaker Teams. One friend asked me how I like my new work in comparison with the political organizing I used to do. I didn’t need to stop and think; the answer was easy. Working to gather votes for this issue or that candidate, I had feelings of emptiness and inevitability. Now, I love being able to apply my expertise, energy, and passion to peacemaking, to resistance work that feeds my soul. 

 

 
 Palestine team member stands with children on
street and monitors soldiers' treatment of
13-year-old boy
 

Today, I woke up and reached for my phone. What I saw was a newsfeed flooded with rage, sadness, even despair. I remember those post-election nights and days from my previous career. When the first issue campaign I worked on lost, I cried more than a few bitter tears.  

When I woke up today, though, my emotional state was not connected to election results beyond passing feelings of hope and disappointment.  I woke up with energy and conviction to resist violence, oppression, and injustice for another day. It’s not that it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s politician A or B with their hands in the gears of the U.S. system.  Decisions made in the U.S. impact the bodies and lives of people and communities in the States and around the world.  It’s that now I’ve joined with so many in the active, concrete work of ongoing peacemaking.  And CPT, standing with our partners to transform violence and oppression, was resisting yesterday, is resisting today, and will be resisting tomorrow. 

Peacemakers, activists, resisters of injustice, whatever your feelings about today’s elections results: you can join today in our transformative peacemaking work. Vote for peace today by investing in the work of CPT. Thanks to you, members of CPT stand in solidarity with partners in peaceful transformative resistance every day in Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, and Canada, no matter the U.S. election results any given November Tuesday.

Please make a donation today - over 80% of our income comes from donors like you.  

CHICAGO, USA: CPTers lament Palestinian deaths; two arrested at Israeli consulate.


On Friday, 18 July, the day after Israel announced its ground invasion of Gaza, about thirty members and supporters of Christian Peacemakerprocession Teams (CPT) converged at the Israeli Consulate in downtown Chicago to lament the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and denounce Israel’s indefensible violence. 

Vigil participants, representing at least seven countries, carried large photographs of Palestinian children killed in Gaza.  As they walked slowly in mournful procession around the skyscraper that houses the Israeli Consulate, a single voice rang out over a loud speaker, piercing the silence with the name of each Palestinian who had died as a result of Israel’s military operations since 12 June 2014. 

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.