Category Archives: Granny Guide to Real News

Four years of “living in Hell”—Children in Yemen

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March 25, 2019 marked the beginning of the 5th year of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. The Granny Peace Brigade, together with friends including some from the Saturday Catholic Worker vigil for Yemen, gathered outside the NY Consulates of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, one of the coalition partners of the Saudis in their war on Yemen, to call for an end to the the horrific war and to call upon the USA to end its support to the Saudis in this war which has been called an unconstitutional war by our Congress.

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According to UNICEF, “Yemen is a living hell for children….Every 10 minutes a child dies from a preventable disease…” That would mean that around 144 children are dying per day and in 2019 that would mean already 12,000 children have died from preventable illness.

While the reasons for the war are complex, it began as a civil war with Saudi Arabia and a coalition of 9 countries eventually coming to the aid of the “recognized” government conducting over 18,000 air strikes and a blockade of ports of entry barring food, medicines and other needed supplies to the people of Yemen. The results have been disastrous for Yemen, with a population of around 30 million:
—85,000 children have died from malnutrition/starvation
—2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition
—1 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition
—10 million suffer from extreme hunger
—Over 50,000 civilians killed (although UN confirms around 15,000)
—1.2 million cases of cholera reported, with over 2000 deaths (the largest outbreak ever reported)
—49% of health centers destroyed
—50% of the population no longer having access to safe water/sanitation due to the bombing campaign
—33% or around 4 million school age children not attending school as buildings destroyed or teachers unpaid for year upon year
The targeting of civilians, starvation as a weapon of war, the destruction of civilian infrastructure are all considered WAR CRIMES.

The USA, together with France, UK and Italy have helped arm the Saudis with fighter jets, missiles, bombs, other munitions. The US has even sold the Saudis cluster bombs, which have been banned globally. The USA has further provided re-fueling of Saudi bombers, although that was reportedly stopped as a result of Congressional pressure in 2018. However, US guidance in targeting, technical support and intelligence and according to some reports, special forces ground troops are still provided.

The US Senate has passed a resolution (Senate Res. 7-2019) condemning US action in Yemen, based on the US Constitution: only Congress can declare war, not the President. The resolution calls upon ending US support for the Saudi-led war.
It is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives within the coming weeks…perhaps early April. And so we call upon you to call your member of the House of Representatives and urge them to vote on the Senate resolution as it is.

It’s time to end our endless wars; this war on the people of Yemen is particularly egregious as the USA is complicit in the WAR CRIMES being committed by Saudi Arabia. US-made bombs pieces have been found at sites of civilian deaths: weddings, funerals, and at the school bus which killed 50 children on a school outing. We also urge our Congress to end the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which has violated our own laws, by using these weapons against civilians.

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
With:  Alice, Barbara H, Barbara W, Bud, Edith, Eleanor, Eva-Lee, Hideko, Jim, Joan, Karen, Nydia, Paul, Phyllis, Trudy

Bases Bases Everywhere!

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The U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases on foreign soil, as well as aircraft carrier “Strike Forces”. The Okinawa Prefecture is home to more than 70% of the U.S. bases in Japan. Opposition to the U.S. presence started in 1995 after the rape of a schoolgirl by three soldiers. Plane and helicopter crashes starting in 1959 continue to this day and the Okinawans want an end to the bases.

On Saturday, January 5, 2019 the Granny Peace Brigade joined Vets for Peace and Catholic Workers to set up a temporary base in Grand Central. Our signs tell it all – Stop the US Base in Okinawa. We were there to support Hideko Otake and the coalition “Stand with Okinawa” to stop the landfill of Henoko Bay.

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Okinawans are protesting the U.S. Marine Corps plan to build an airbase in the bay — a gorgeous pristine blue body of water, home to an endangered sea mammal, the Dugong. A petition was started December 8th to halt the work until a referendum is held in Okinawa to determine the fate of the proposed base. The petition, started on December 8th, had over 180,000 signatures, and is directed to President Trump to halt the construction.

The petition deadline was January 7th, but for updates go to: http://standwithokinawa.net/

Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

The Granny Peace Brigade and Climate Change – duh, we mean, Climate Chaos

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On January 16, 2015 the media reported that 2014 was the warmest year on earth since 1880 when record keeping began.  Five weeks earlier, on December 8, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a suit bought by seven youth plaintiffs.  Their claim is that the U.S. Constitution safeguards for them and future generations a healthy climate system.
The case is part of Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL) based on the centuries old doctrine of Public Trust.  Please see our blog of November 19th, 2013  (ATL and GPB)  for a description of ATL and the amicus curiae brief the Grannies filed together with countless groups.
The ostrich-like posture of the Supreme Court is not deterring these youth. Working with Our Children’s Trust based in Eugene, Oregon and other organizations such as iMatter Youth, they are building a case for federal action through state courts with cases now pending in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.  Previous suits brought in six other states – Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Montana, Pennsylvania and Texas – provide valuable legal stepping stones.
The GPB recognizes the dire urgency of climate chaos and will continue to monitor OCT and we encourage you to visit their site.  Our Children’s Trust is working “to secure science-based climate recovery policy nationally, and to return to the Supreme Court if necessary.  We will expand our efforts to enforce individual states’ responsibilities to preserve the atmosphere for the benefit of future generations, and will advance select global and local efforts to do the same.  Piecemeal legislative and executive actions not based on nature’s laws will simply never get us where we need to be.   We need judicial declarations that government must act systemically to stabilize our climate.”

If you have family or friends in any of the states with current cases pending, give them the OCT website and SPREAD THE WORD!
SAVE THE DATE: Sunday, April 26  PEACE AND PLANET  March and Mobilization in New York City.  For specifics:  www.peaceandplanet.org

– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade

The United States-Israel-Palestine — some thoughts

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On August 1st a reporter on Aljazeera America News describing the carnage in Rafah said  “today I saw several children…I have to say…I have never seen children look so shell shocked.”  On the internet there is a picture of a very young child sitting on stones next to dead parents.

Has our Government no memory, no mercy, no shame, or is it that our holders of office fear loss of support if compliance with and assistance to the Government of Israel is not accepted as a ‘given’ duty?

Continue reading The United States-Israel-Palestine — some thoughts

ATL and GPB – Hint: it’s not a Tweet

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As the United Nations Conference on Climate Change meets in Warsaw, the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB) has joined an Amicus Brief (Friend of the Court) in support of five Youth Plaintiffs and their federal lawsuit of Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL).

Together with other organizations – Global Kids, Earth Guardians, 350.org, Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action NetworkLabor Network for Sustainability, HelpAge International and HelpAge USA – the Grannies are supporting these Youths and their appeal filed on May 23, 2013.

Atmospheric Trust Litigation is grounded in Public Trust Doctrine in which governments have a legal responsibility to protect those resources essential for collective survival and prosperity.   Public Trust Doctrine dates to Roman Emperor Justinian 1500 years ago.

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Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs Global Warming and an activist since the age of 12, first filed a suit on May 4, 2011 against six U. S. agency defendants demanding “Climate Recovery Plans” to protect our climate system. Alec, the lead plaintiff, was 16 years old and joining him were 4 Youths in a legal action in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

In April 2012 the National Association of Manufacturers was granted defendant status in the case as “fossil fuel intervenors.”  On May 12, 2012 District Court Judge Robert Wilkins dismissed the Youth’s suit on the grounds that it was a legislative matter and not one for courts to decide.

In the fall of  2012 several Grannies met with Julia Olson, attorney and Executive Director of  Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization working with youth around the country, and filmmaker Kelly Matheson, coordinator of a Trust campaign.  At that meeting the GPB was invited to join the case as a Friend of the Court, should an appeal be filed.  And it was filed on October 22, 2013.

The Youth Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  It charges that irreparable harm to resources and loss of a habitable climate system is a breach of the Trust relationship between Youth and Government.  As such it is a breach of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.  Youth’s claims are based on fundamental obligations of the government which are incapable of being displaced by legislation.

The GPB has now joined the appeal as Amicus Curiae, a Friend of the Court, with the following statement:

We Grannies stand for Peace.  The Granny Peace Brigade (“GPB”) formed in 2006 after 18 older women were found not guilty in a court of law of charges related to their actions opposing the Iraq War.  We stand for human rights and justice.  We oppose war and the violence of poverty and racism.  We are committed to the struggle to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren everywhere.  From the perspective of our ages ranging between 67 and 98 years, we are witnesses to the drastic and dramatic climate changes taking place and feel it our responsibility to act on behalf of future generations.   We join with the plaintiffs.

– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(Return to GPB website)

No to Weaponized and Surveillance Drones

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Response to questions about U.S. military use of drones is often — use of drones lessens the numbers of ground forces required and, therefore, our military casualties. Here in the U.S the battlefields of the Civil War are known  but most military actions in the Middle East, South Central, South Asia, and Africa in which we have been and are engaged are carried on principally in towns and villages, whether or not there are drones in the sky.  So, as I see it, our young still go off to war and continue to serve as ‘cannon fodder.’  It is they who carry out on the ground the military, often demeaning sometimes deadly, confrontations with townspeople-villagers — waking sleeping families, breaking into celebrations, disrupting ordinary gatherings — and they who reap the reaction of the invaded people.  Yes, there may be a saving drone — but not always.   David Swanson points out in “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields”  ‘The Battles of Fallujah were fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq.'(1)  We know the result — destruction of the City of Mosques; aftermath: continuing high rate of birth defects, scientists suspect tied to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in military assaults.(2)

Countering the claim that drones are more precise in targeting than manned aircraft, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analysis found that missile strikes by drones ‘were 10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians’ than were strikes by fighter jets.(3) Officials who conducted a study for the Pentagon noted with regard to some drone pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — ‘Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months  They watch someone’s pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot. (4)

In an Afghan village the Predator drones  are referred to as benghai, the ‘buzzing flies.’  Civilians are terrorized.  A villager said ‘They are evil things that fly so high you don’t see them but all the time you hear them.  Night and day we hear this sound and then the bombardment starts.'(5)  Some abandon hometowns in fear.   It is reported that in 2012 in Afghanistan 506 weapons were fired from unmanned aerial aircraft.(5)

Some drone strikes are carried out as killings of persons targeted by top U.S. officials for assassination abroad, this may include U.S. citizens. These are options for action not only in Afghanistan but also in countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war — Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia.  The circumstances of the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, American/Yemeni Imam, in Yemen, on September 30. 2011, as well as  the circumstances leading up to it, is dealt with by Jeremy Scahill in has book “Dirty Wars – The World Is a Battlefield” and in the film “Dirty Wars.” (6)  On October 14, 2011, after the assassination of Anwar Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman was kill by a drone while visiting relatives in the Yemeni village of Shabwah; relatives were also killed. Why?  “Dirty Wars” provides information gleaned by the author from media and other sources.(6)

I was 8 years old when, on December 8, 1941, we were sent home from school after being told the United States was at war.  Never since that morning have I been so terrified.  But we in the U.S. were spared; others, sadly, have not been so spared. Modern warfare has not been experienced on U.S. soil.  Do most of us know, do most of us care about the terror, and massive suffering, death, destruction our military and CIA operations in countries we have invaded (officially or not) has caused?  These have been countries that have not attacked, nor planned to attack, the US.  It seems that the 1997 “Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century”  [e.g. its positive view of U.S. military intervention](7) weighs heavily in U.S. foreign policy.  However, in this time of widespread international conflict and dissension, I believe the U.S. government  should desire to act to seek just resolution through diplomacy rather than through expressions of military might.  What is called for now is not military use of the drone nor design of more capable versatile versions of it but a worldwide ban on weaponized and surveillance drones, as well as enforcement of the ban on production and use of chemical weapons.  It is hoped that toward this end many of us will direct our views to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the United States Government.

For more info: http://www.knowdrones.com/

– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(1)  “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields,” David Swanson, Global Research, January 19, 2011 (from book “War is a Lie”).

(2) “Iraq War Anniversary:  Birth Defects And Cancer Rates At Devastating High In Basra and Fallujah (VIDEO),”  Eline Gordts, Huffington Post, March 20, 2013.

(3) “US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft — adviser”  Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, July 2, 2013.

(4) “Report:  High Lelvels Of ‘Burnout” In U.S. Drone Pilots,” Rachel Martin, NPR, December 18, 2011.

(5) “U.S. Drone Strikes In Afghanistan Cause Villagers to Flee:  Report,” Kathy Gannon, Huffington Post,  March 28, 2013.

(6) “Dirty Wars – The World is a Battlefield,” Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books, New York, 2013.

(7) “Statement of Principles June 3, 1997 – Project for the New American Century.”

War Is Not Entertainment

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photo-1(Click on photos for larger images.)

This deeply disturbing and oh so powerful  photo of a veteran holding a sign  on his lap that says “war is not entertainment” was taped to this disgusting ad that is on almost every corner these days promoting the Imax GI Joe RETALIATION movie.

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Ann and I saw it on the SE corner of 86 and Broadway and were deeply moved by the image and the gut wrenching example of the horror of war and militarism — what a creative action and how profound!

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How tragic! Yet it also reveals something  transformative. It demonstrates how each one of us can do powerful actions on our own not always in connection with an organizational affiliation. Someone had written “AMEN” on the picture as well. When I returned several hours later and after a rain episode to leave a Granny Peace Brigade card next to the photo inviting the gentleman to contact us, the photo was barely visible as the rain had washed it out. I am glad we have these pictures to honor this person. Maybe one of us will see him on the street – I would like to say thank you to him – and I’m so sorry. Peace be with you.

– Jenny Heinz: text and photos
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Realities in Palestine: An Eyewitness Report

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We returned recently from an eye-opening journey to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. We went because of the troubling news coming from Gaza about collective punishment, because of images of a 300-mile wall of separation between Israelis and Palestinians, and perhaps most of all because of our desire to understand the nature of this occupation of Palestinian lands, the longest occupation in recent history, in place since the 1967 Israel-Palestine war.

We traveled with the Interfaith Peace Builders (IFPB, www.ifpb.org) and thirty US delegates, of various ages, religions, and occupations. We traveled mainly along the “Green Line,” which is not green at all but dusty and rather desolate. This line was the boundary between Israel and the West Bank created by the 1967 war. While this boundary remains very real to the Palestinians, it under-represents the division of land between Israelis and Palestinians. The sequence of maps in the figure shows that since 1967 continuous land confiscation east of the Green Line and west of the Jordan has markedly reduced the land remaining in Palestinian control. Whether taken by the military or by settlers, the remaining small and isolated parcels of land barely constitute a viable second state.Salomon_FourMaps440

Realities-in-Palestine

– Carol Husten, Julio Rodriguez, Pat Salomon
For the Granny Peace Brigade

How I learned about Iran through NoRuz

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About 4 years ago, I was found in Union Square Park by the Granny Peace Brigade. This changed my life. Its members have tons of energy and passion for Peace, and accomplish so much. They are fun to be with and I love them. First, I took part in their Phone-a-thons, then got involved with the Legislative Committee and helped with actions of the Counter-Recruitment and No Bases Committees.

Now I’m privileged to be learning about the history and culture of Iran.

This spring, the GPB decided it was critical speak out along with others who are trying to Prevent Another War, namely on Iran.

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The first event held on February 4th started with a demonstration in front of the New York Times’ building, protesting the newspaper’s coverage as being distorted and even war-mongering, and calling on the Public Editor to correct the coverage. Then we marched to Times Square for a larger rally and on to the UN Missions of Israel and the United States, all along passing out our literature.  After its disgraceful role in the lead up to the war in Iraq, we were outraged that once again, the Times is using innuendo and bluster to gin up the drive to attack Iran.

At a meeting to plan a second event, I mentioned that I knew very little about the country, other than that the US had overthrown Mosaddegh in 1953, and that in 1979 the country overthrew the Shah [King] and became an Islamic Republic. I wished there could be tourism between the two countries so I could go there and get to understand it better.

Even before learning much about the country, I also couldn’t understand the purpose of the sanctions that are spoken of so highly by governments trying to look like they would do anything to prevent themselves from bombing another country too hastily.  What has Iran done that requires other countries to punish them?  Will this punishing action [sanctions] make them toe the line, which line?  Has Iran, or its leaders, been given a list of things to do, or not do, which will cause ending of the sanctions? Aren’t sanctions, like a blockade, an act of war?

Ann Shirazi then told the committee that a way of making people aware of the Iranian culture was right in front of our faces, because NowRuz was coming.

What’s NowRuz, or NoRuz?

2012_03_21Haft-Seen-table
NoRuz means New Year and it’s known as the Persian New Year.  It began 3000 years ago in the Zoroastrian civilization and is celebrated today in the Middle East, South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Africa. It occurs from the first day of spring for 13 days and includes preparing a table with [at least] seven items beginning with the letter “S” which symbolize things like peace, hope, rebirth, love, fertility, patience, health and beauty. The table is called a HaftSeen table which means seven S’s. Some of the items are familiar — garlic, vinegar, apples, and others are less so — crushed sumac berries (a red powder, like paprika), samanu (a sweet wheat pudding) and sabzeh (sprouts that look like the catnip in the green market).

As we planned when and where we would do the action and who would do what, I asked Ann to recommend a book about the country and its history.  She gave the names of two: “All the Shah’s Men,” and “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.” I got both books from the library and read them quickly, learning so much more about the people and their values and the 20th century history of Iran.

Ann and I took a short bus ride to New Jersey to a fair in a hotel that was held to help people buy the ingredients for NoRuz. She told me stories of her visits to Iran over the years that gave me more of a feeling for the generosity and warmth of the people.

A few days before our second event, the Left Forum had a panel discussion about the looming war fever where I learned even more.

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The second event on March 21st, the second day of Spring, took place in Times Square where we had a table with the seven S items and others, and passed out literature to the public explaining the  holiday and providing Facts About Iran.

I look forward to deepening my understanding about Iran as we plan additional events.   We hope to have a Teach-In in the coming months with experts who can explain more about the political, moral and economic aspects of world behavior toward Iran.

-Edith Cresmer
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos 1 & 3: Masahiro Hosoda
Photos 2: Caroline Chinlund

Reopen Shuhada Street in Hebron

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For 17 years by order of Israeli authorities, Shuhada Street in Hebron, West Bank, has been closed to Palestinians.  Below is my letter in this regard mailed to the Embassy of Israel to the United States.
February 22, 2012

The Honorable Michael Oren
Ambassador of Israel
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Drive N.W.
Washington, D.C.20008-3021

Excellency:

Respectfully I write to you concerning the Government of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, making particular reference to the closure of  Shuhada Street in Hebron and recommending its reopening.

The Government of Israel continues occupation of the West Bank and as the administering power has, along the sides of Shuhada Street, formerly a busy marketplace in this Palestinian City,  allowed settlements to develop and settlers to become privileged dwellers.  Palestinians are denied basic rights as residents.  In 1994 Shuhada Street was closed to Palestinians by the Israeli army after the killing of Palestinian worshipers by a settler. Thus the victims were punished!  The overall injustice to which Palestinian families, for many Hebron has been home for generations/centuries, have been subjected appears to be for the benefit of non-Palestinians simply because the non-Palestinians are Israelis.

It is appalling!  Palestinian-operated businesses have been closed; Palestinians may not leave their homes through a door that opens onto Shuhada Street — for a period passes were issued to allow use of doors opening onto Shuhada Street; there is military surveillance; Palestinians are forbidden to work or to drive on Shuhada Street. The settlers reign supreme in the home of Palestinians.  The humanity and the understandable and justifiable anger of Palestinian Arabs should be acknowledged.

Palestinian Mizrahi and Palestinian Arabs have lived together in these lands for centuries. As is known there have been documented conflicts in Hebron between Arabs and Jews.  Reference is made here to the 1929 massacre of Jews by Arabs.  Many Jews were saved by Arabs who took them into their homes.  In 1994 an Israeli settler attacked Moslem worshipers inside the Cave/Tomb of the Patriarchs — a place of worship both for Jews (Me’arat ha Machpela – Cave of the Double Tombs) and for Moslems (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahim – Sanctuary of Abraham [also] Ibrahim’s Mosque) — both people the “seed of Abraham” — both people  Semites.

Should not the plight of Palestinian Arabs be kept in mind by the Israeli occupiers?  Over the decades so many Palestinians have had to leave their homes, some of them ancestral homes.  Yes, there was a Holocaust but the Palestinians had no involvement in it — it was European.  The Palestinians did not turn away the St. Louis — It was the United States.  It is necessary for us to consider history forthrightly, to weigh culpability carefully, to assess ‘action and reaction’ accurately and with sensitivity/fairly.

The powerful combination of the Government of Israel and the Government of the United States makes it possible for the occupying power to act — while the world watches — often in disregard of rights and well-being of the people whose homeland it occupies.

I, Excellency, strongly believe it is within reason that all in life should have the right, among other rights, to —
sanctity of one’s of home and its property
one’s orchard/grove/farm
adequate access to homeland water supply
adequate access to energy sources and resources
leave and return home unimpeded
a childhood
learning
work
travel
freedom

Why should Palestinians be denied basic rights in their own homeland? Even the Balfour Declaration stated ‘… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

Empathy for those perceived as ‘the other’ is needed.  Do we have sympathy for the people in both the town and the village dealt with here?  In her ‘New York Times’ op-ed article, December 28, 2011, ‘Honoring All Who Saved Jews,’ Eva Weisel described what happened in December 1942 when German troops occupied her hometown.  She was 13 years old.  I point out that a Palestinian of Eva Weisel’s generation also could describe an event no child — or adult — should have to experience.  In April 1948, the Arab village of Deir Yassin, in a part of Palestine which was to become part of Israel, was seized and occupied.  As I see it, if continuing physical and social carnage are ever to be understood as non-solutions in conflict resolution,  all of us will have to take to heart the plaintive utterance of Shylock  “…If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?….”

Excellency, it is my request to your Office that your Government be urged to act to restore the rights of Palestinians, and in this connection that you recommend the permanent reopening of Shuhada Street in Hebron.

Respectfully submitted,

– Barbara Walker 
(retired United Nations staff member)

 

for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird