Tag Archives: peace

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

Smart Toys Not War Toys Campaign

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Fourteen Grannies gathered and sang in Harlem: Eva-Lee, Nydia, Joan P., Edith, Susan G., Mercy, Barbara H., Bev, Jenny, Connie, Judith, Ann and Ahmad (filming), Laura and Peg. We moved to the recruiting station because Lazarus, the toy store nearby was not featuring military or violence-provoking toys.

We were well received there by the bus stop where folks paused to sing, take literature, and listen. “Good singin’ y’all!” And a little girl in pink stood with us to her mother’s delight. The occasional marine or recruiter would pop out, but we didn’t block their door, just sang against toys of war. Afterwards, Eva-Lee, Nydia, Susan G., Laura and Mercy went to nearby Manna’s for soul food and peppery chicken soup. Eva-Lee took some wonderful pictures. This link should get you to the photos if you don’t have a Facebook account.

– Mercy Van Vlack
For the Granny Peace Brigade and the Raging Grannies

Ms. Gizmo at the East Harlem Teen Fair

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Ms. Gizmo returned today to a favorite place – the East Harlem Teen Fair, organized each August by City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito with other sponsors.  Teen Service agencies set up information tables along East 104th Street and every year the turnout grows.

(Click on the photos for larger images.)

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In this family setting, teenagers and young adults learn about options to the military recruiters who abound in that neighborhood. There’s music and entertainment, and the Grannies are always greeted with a warm reception.

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Today 116 participated in Ms Gizmo and kids and Moms collaborated, carefully deciding just where to deposit those pennies.
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Guess which column got the most pennies?  It starts with an “E”

2012_08_28gizmochart_teenfair– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Eva-Lee Baird
Chart: Edith Cresmer

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

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– 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?

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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

Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools – March 29, 2012

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The Dept. of Defense has begun its $5 million summer advertising campaign to entice youth to enlist. Social media, YouTube, Facebook, and video games will carry promotions for enlistment. To counter the military recruitment message, volunteers were at 12 high schools in 4 boroughs armed with flyers and a commitment to promote an alternative message.

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The outreach action provided parents with information and questions to ask in order to better understand military recruiters’ promises and tactics. The response was positive, pro-education, and anti-military. There was no doubt that families need support, information, and resources to help their children succeed and reach their goals.

A volunteer notes that people were very receptive to one of our key pitches: ‘With the spring and warmer weather, the recruiters are going to be coming out again trying to get our kids. We want to make sure they are ready to challenge the lies they’ve been telling to get new bodies. The recruiters paint rosy pictures but we see how the new soldiers are when they come back.”

The Options for Life After High School flyer is a resource page which provides websites and contacts for CUNY/SUNY colleges, financial aid, scholarships, job skill programs and more. This flyer was popular and every parent wanted one.   As parents left the school after the meeting, I noticed they were still carrying the brightly colored sheets as they waved goodbye.

Volunteers were thanked; parents sincerely valued the outreach. Rob, a volunteer, writes, “I think people really appreciated hearing views that were consonant with their own unspoken ones. Really important we were out there just telling it like it is.”

And everyone can continue to tell it like it is. For downloadable copies of the flyers, tips on leafleting, and websites to visit, go to the Counter Recruiting page of the GPB website

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Harry Bubbins

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

NY TIMES – DISINFORMATION ABOUT IRAN

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To all who are within the sound of my voice.  Listen up. My name is Vinie Burrows, native New Yorker, an actor by profession, unemployed,  a long time member of the Granny Peace Brigade, that coalition which includes the 18 grandmothers arrested in 2005 for protesting the  illegal  Iraq war.

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I am a mother, grandmother, great grandmother and I am here with my colleagues who represent various organizations: women’s,  peace, social, labor – including among others  Code Pink, Womens International  League for Peace and Freedom, Women’s International  Democratic Federation, ETC.

We stand in front of the New York Times which represents the Fourth Estate an institution  which wields such power over the hearts and minds  of society with its ability to bring information to masses  of people – and with the authority of print.

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We assert that the NY Times has used its tremendous power to bring disinformation to the people. To be precise, we accuse the NY Times  of printing on January 5, 2012  a front page  article about Iran and its nuclear intentions allegedly quoting the (IAEA) International Atomic Energy Agency that “Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective.”. Bowing to the avalanche of objections that this misstatement raised, the  NY Times later retracted the statement.

However the retraction was not printed on the front page but was hidden in the bowels of the paper.  We all remember the misinformation which aroused public opinions before our military invation of Iraq. We are seeing with alarm a similar situation vis-vis Iran. The front page of a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine section had an bold inflammatory image implying Iran’s nuclear proclivities.

For the past six years, the Granny Peace Brigade has borne witness to the terrible cost of our immoral senseless invasion of IRAQ and the carnage of Afganistan. Even as the administration wineds down involvement in these two shameful wars,  the NY Times and other media are ramping up their rhetoric to plunge us into yet another bloody conflict.  We demand that the NY Times reclaims it’s position as the “true paper of record” by returning to its journalistic integrity.

We have asked Mr. Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of the New York Times and responsible for retractions to join us. He is not here. From this location we shall march to Duffy Square to join the world communitiy in demanding demand- no war, no sanction, no intervention, no assassination against Iran.

From there, we will carry our message to the US and Israel Missions to the United Nations. Let us all join together to build a peaceful and just world.

I thank you and the Granny Peace Brigade thanks all of you who came out in such numbers to support this initiative.

– Vinie Burrows
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

WE STAND OUR GROUND

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We continue to stand our ground!  On the 18th of October, the 6th anniversary of our inception, we reiterated and celebrated our commitment to peace and social justice at Lincoln Center.  Our vigil was silent but our signs voiced our message.

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The Lincoln Center plaza was chosen for the silent vigil because it is privately managed even though it is owned by New York City.  The GPB is concerned about the lack of opportunities to exercise freedom of speech and the right to assemble peaceably in public venues. The Lincoln Center plaza is such a space and affords high visibility for getting our messages out to the public

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Although we were threatened with arrest by a member of the Lincoln Center Administration, the NYC Police never took action. The event garnered more than 150 people joining the silent vigil with multitude of on-lookers.  It is our hope that our messages will be carried far and wide and propel more people into action for peace and social justice.

-Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Commemorating Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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It has been 66 years since the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on the civilian populations of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And now the people of Japan are suffering the results of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.  Our question to everyone is, in the words of Pete Seeger, “When will we ever learn?”

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On Friday, August 5, The Granny Peace Brigade (GPB) and supporters gathered at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Time Square to remember the horrendous crimes visited on Japan, August 6 and 9, 1945.SONY DSC

With our banner, signs, and flyers we hoped to encourage others to take time to recollect and perhaps engage in activities focusing on building a peaceful and just world.

Although there are several other countries with nuclear warheads (Russia, China, France, the U.K., India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea), the U.S. is the only country to employ them.  The GPB is committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons and war, and works toward making the world a better place with justice and peace for all.

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We, the people must rely on each other and work together to bring peace to the world.  In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969),  “I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

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Let us renew our commitment
To build a peaceful and just world.

– Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos:   1, 2, 3 –
Bud Korotzer;   4 – Phyllis Cunningham