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June 1st, 2017

Regarding a US Senators’ Letter to the UN about Israel and Palestine

A letter dated April 27, 2017, prepared by Senator Mario Rubio and Senator Christopher A. Coons and signed by 100 U.S. Senators, was addressed to Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General. Two of the concerns stated were ‘the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias’ and ‘the anti-Israel boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) movement’ (reference: ‘Washington Post’ – 100 Senators’ letter to United Nations Secretary General).  Below is copy of letter May 15, 2017, from Barbara Walker, addressed to the Senators and copied others:

Dear Sirs:

Respectfully, I write concerning the letter of April 27, 2017, by Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Christopher A. Coons signed by 100 members of the United States Senate, addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, asking that he address perception of entrenched bias against Israel in the world body, particular reference made to, inter alia, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.  Whether I support the BDS movement or not is not relevant here.  A former United Nations staff member, now retired, I certainly am supportive of the work of UN bodies for improvement of world conditions.

Were it not for continuing violations of Palestinian human rights by the Government of Israel (an example, the taking of Palestinian land over time, for the building of homes for people from Israel), there would be no reason for the call for BDS.  Organized opposition to the Government of Israel’s violations of the Palestinians’ human rights in their own homeland is not an expression of bias against Israel.  Should the taking of Palestinian land, though against international law, be ignored by the world body?  Is recognition of and expression of opposition to long-standing unaddressed human rights violations to be considered discrimination or in this case an effort to have international law effected?

Would that the U.S. Senate, in addition to providing support for generous financial/military assistance to the Government of Israel, required that Israel observe international law with respect to the Palestinians’ homeland [West Bank, East Jerusalem, an Gaza] and human rights.  We (the U.S.) have a not observed but profound responsibility to the Palestinians, our having supported United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (November 1947), which included the plan for partition of British Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state (now Israel) and an Arab state (since June 1967 the occupied territories — West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza).  As is known and understandable, affected Palestinians were not happy about the loss of a major part of their ancestral homeland and they revolted.  [We Americans know about revolution (our own) to claim ‘a land of our own’;  the Palestinians — Christians, Jews, Moslems — were for centuries living in that land of their own; true, under the Ottoman and then League of Nations British Mandate rule; nevertheless, it was their homeland.]

That ’cause and effect’ operates is obvious. One observes that the Government of Israel, in effect, treats the whole of former British Mandate Palestine as if it were Israel, although it is not.  Palestinians’ human rights are violated in their homeland and they react.  The weight of past U.S.  positions vis a vis the Israeli and Palestinian parties is known.  There is ongoing worldwide support for efforts to end the ongoing violations of Palestinians’ human rights.  This support for application of international law — for ‘rule of law’ — is neither bias nor discrimination against Israel.

By what authority could the Government of Israel claim for the State of Israel part or all of any Palestinian homeland territory?  By what authority could any government, including the U.S. Government, allow the Government of Israel to claim for the State of Israel part or all of any Palestinian homeland territory [particular reference here to East Jerusalem]?

Relevant to the matter of U.S. foreign policy and humanitarian concerns as related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is Senator John McCain’s  ‘New York Times.’ Op-Ed, article of May 8, 2017, ‘We Must Support Human Rights’ — in it he refers to and discourages application of a certain counter-view to the strong statement of his title — article quoted in part as follows:

“In the real world as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is reality.  By denying this experience, we deny the aspirations of billions of people, and invite their enduring resentment.”

“… We have long believed moral concerns must be an essential part of our foreign policy, not a departure from it. …”

“To view foreign policy as simply transactional is more dangerous than its proponents realize. …”

Respectfully, this letters is submitted in consideration of perception of responses to Israel-Palestine conflict matters.  Attached concerning this subject are a copy of our letter dated April 21, 2017, addressed to Ambassador Haley and Ambassador Rosselli, and ‘Palestine — Some Considerations,’ prepared by the Granny Peace Brigade for the Hunter College Justice Fair, March 16, 2017.

Sincerely yours,
Barbara Walker
United Nations – Retired
[United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
Chief Civilian Personnel Officer – Jerusalem — 1990-1991]

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May 6th, 2017

Honoring Vinie Burrows with the Clara Lemlich Award

The Granny Peace Brigade congratulates our sister, Vinie Burrows on her receiving the Clara Lemlich Award, together with five other honorees on May 1st, 2017. The Lemlich Awards is a  celebration of the achievements of older women, and if anyone fits the description of someone who qualifies for this award it’s Vinie, though it was fascinating to hear about the lives of all the honorees; all were different and all deserving.

Vinie is an actor, author, radio host, teacher and fighter against war, violence and racism for decades. She continues her activism as well as her acting career, currently starring in the off-Broadway production: Samara. She started her acting career on Broadway as a teenager with Helen Hayes in the Wisteria Trees, quickly followed by six more Broadway productions. However, frustrated by the quality and quantity of roles offered the actor of color, Vinie took control, ultimately developing eight original one-woman shows. She has toured four continents  and performed over 6000 times. As a Granny Peace Brigader though, she has been a staunch advocate and defender of peace, justice, human and civil rights on the street, at political and other fora, and in the theater.

Vinie was introduced to the audience by Kalie Kamari, a young rapper, in classical rap fashion. He also said a few personal remarks moved by the stories of the women honored and the value, the importance of these lives to influence and inspire younger generations.

The Clara Lemlich Awards was named after the union organizer and social activist who lived and fought for the rights of women working in the garment industry over one century ago. Other sisters in the Granny Peace Brigade honored to receive the Clara Lemlich Award are: Lillian Pollak, Louise Meriwether, Marie Runyon and Joan Wile in 2011; Molly Klopot in 2013; and Lillian Lifflander in 2015. We are so very proud of their achievements and continue the struggle for peace, justice and resistance!

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
photos: Bud Korotzer

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April 20th, 2017

Why Yemen? What have Yemenis done to the USA?

While…

We have bombed them killing civilians and children. We helped Saudi Arabia kill over 10, 000 (still counting) with the sale of weapons and refueling of the bombers we sold them. And now FAMINE threatens this country, one of the poorest in the world! Millions!

The GPB  joined a week long action across from the UN from 10-16 April organized by the New York Catholic Worker Community with many other groups. Around 20 fasted in support of the Yemeni people calling for:

  1. Ending of all drone attacks and military special operations within Yemen;
  2. End to US weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia;
  3. Compensation to those who suffered losses due to US air strikes.

And…
the UN to end a blockade and air strikes, a silencing of all weapons, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen.
Fifty-five US Congress Members including NYC’s Nadler have signed a letter to POTUS expressing concern for our actions in Yemen. This is just a first step. We must ensure the blockade ends and that UN food aid reaches starving children.

What can we do when so few seem to care?
Let your Congress members know YOU care!

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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March 31st, 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night – Spring 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night provides an opportunity to bring non-military alternatives and educational opportunities to families.  On the evening of March 23, 2017, volunteers were at 11 high schools handing out 2 flyers to parents as they arrived to meet with their child’s teachers. Flyer information includes websites for colleges, training programs, community service, scholarships and financial aid as well as questions to ask recruiters in order to better understand the hype of enlistment promises and military service requirements.

With just a few words, “Consider non-military alternatives to the military for your child, check out the many websites, learn more about financial aid and the many opportunities available for your child” parents accept the information often with a thank you included.

Several parents stop to speak with volunteers for more information or to share their thoughts.
One parent commented that there had been some kind of assembly to inform parents about this, but that it was perfectly useless. She was so happy to have all the info in the palm of her hand.

One mother told a volunteer that her son was approached by recruiters as he got out of the subway at the 125th St station on his way home from school. The mom said the recruiters gave her son appealing stuff, for example, a water bottle. Her son seemed to be considering enlisting and she was concerned.

A mother who had been approached by recruiters when she was in dental assistant school never knew how the recruiters got her personal contact info. She said they were persistent. She didn’t want recruiters to be taking to her kid.

The reward of meeting a parent and hearing ‘Thank you for helping me understand and providing information’ is the reward volunteers receive. And thanks to all the volunteers for their time, effort and commitment to providing non-military alternatives to families – you have made a difference.

We hope you will join us in November when we will bring our message and information to parents at NYC high schools again.

Students not Soldiers,
Barbara Harris
Photos: Eva-Lee Baird

for the Granny Peace Brigade

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February 21st, 2017

Signs & Slogans – Not My President’s Day, NYC

We’ve got a lot of work to do and these rallies are part of it.

We all belong here. We will defend each other.

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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February 20th, 2017

Asking NYC to Divest From Fossil Fuels

In January several retired teachers and a student at P.S. 41 testified at an NYC Teachers Retirement System pension board meeting. Our ask — divest the Teachers Retirement System from fossil fuels. Ten-year-old Ajani reminded the board that,  “The world looks up to America and we should be the lead example of renewable energy…. Ninety-seven percent of scientists believe in climate change. We need to act.”

On Valentine’s Day 350NYC along with other groups and activists, including Ajani called on NYC’s Comptroller Scott Stringer to divest the City’s five pension funds from fossil fuels.

We also asked Comptroller Stringer to cut ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mr. Stringer has a lot of work to do. So do we.

See you in the streets.

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Photos – Mark Dunlea & Marty Rajandran

 

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February 15th, 2017

Letter to President Donald J. Trump re Palestine/Israel

The U.S. approving, almost 70 years ago – 29 November 1947 – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the plan for partition of British Mandatory Palestine, which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States.  Almost 50 years ago, a result of the Six Day War was that the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem became Occupied Territories.  The Israel-Palestine conflict continues.

For information, ‘Granny Peace Brigade letter to President Donald J. Trump, dated February 7, 2017, on matters related to the Israel-Palestine conflict’ acknowledges the generosity of U.S. assistance to Israel, but draws attention to the need for recognition of Palestinian legitimate rights in a viable homeland, as well as for action for the securing of these.

Deeply concerned with this conflict over decades, after describing possible dire end results, Noam Chomsky wrote — the last sentence of ‘Fateful Triangle-The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians’ (1999) — “Such consequences need not come to pass, but they might, and if they do, privileged sectors of American, Israeli, and Palestinian society have a lot to answer for, in my opinion.”

Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 26th, 2017

The Women’s March – A Special Power

A special power was generated in the throngs of people that “marched” in midtown New York, though the word “inched” would be more accurate.  The energy was colorful and mostly young – and their creative juices were in their signs and pussyhats.

I was with a friend and we were penned in at the SE corner of 47th Street and Second Avenue – only a block away from the Vets for Peace gathered at First Avenue. Given the crowd separating us, we could have been miles away – not just one block.

I had our Granny banner and we decided to open it and display it for all the other folks who were hemmed in. Folks took photos of it and we chatted about the hats they were wearing or their signs.  One woman of about my age saw the banner and said she had to hug me for it because it expressed what she was feeling – that only peace will make for a decent world for the future generations that were around us at that moment.

Once we started to move, we folded the banner away and inched along….it was a wonderful and unique event, and the weather was made for it!

— Nydia Leaf

And elsewhere in NYC other Grannies were on the march:

— Photos – Regina Silvers

 

 

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January 25th, 2017

Pre-Inauguration Rally January 19, 2017

At a pre-inauguration rally in New York City, the Granny Peace Brigade joined thousands of New Yorkers to speak out against Trump’s agenda for America. Our message, ‘Trump, you’re not our president.’


We stand for peace, justice, tolerance and inclusion for all. Our voices were loud and clear. We’re here to stay; we’ll be listening and watching.

We act to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren, ours and everyone’s.

Text – Barbara Harris
Video – Anthony Falco
Photos – Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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January 19th, 2017

United We Stand Rally – New York City

Some Granny Peace Brigade sisters went to the UNITED WE STAND rally in NYC Thursday, while others were already on their way to Washington. (Click on the photos for larger images.)

We have to turn this country around, and from the size of the crowd in New York it looks like that might be possible.

Democracy is under attack!
What do we do?
Stand up, fight back!

See you in the streets,
– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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