Tag Archives: sanctions

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

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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]

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.

2012_01_27(Click on photos for larger images.)

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.

SONY DSC

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

Letter to the OWS Peace Committee

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Hi Geoff,
Although we haven’t been to an Anti-War meeting since the first one, we feel the need to weigh in on the Iran issue. We have been somewhat involved with  OWS since the beginning, and support every aspect of its mission. So it is distressing to read the emails regarding the stance that OWS is considering in relation to the threats against Iran.

I am an American-born Iranian citizen  (member of the Granny Peace Brigade) married to a native Iranian for over 40 years. We go to Iran frequently. In fact we just returned last month and are making a return trip this month due to family illness. We have a huge family in Iran and so are involved with daily life and attitudes there. Iran, like all countries , has societal problems, and Iran is no exception. But as an American, for every human rights violation I read about in Iran, I think about the number of crimes in my own country, from Guantanamo  to our prison industrial system, to the increasing abuse of power by our government on human rights – invasions and murders, secret prisons around the world for “extraordinary rendition[sic]; domestically, the death penalty, HR 347, the Military Commissions Act, NDAA, Patriot Act,  torture, rapes and assassinations; and locally, as you know, the unending harassment and arrests of so many of us out on the street.

Iranians are more than capable of making changes in their own country. We cannot forget that Iran is one of the few countries that had a successful revolution to overthrow an American puppet regime. Because of this, it has been under attack and sanctions for over thirty years. In addition, some of the people who have written to you seem to think that everyone in Iran and abroad are against the current regime. This is not true. A majority of Iranian citizens , despite their suffering from high prices and hardship caused by the sanctions, are still supportive of the government. Whether we or anyone else in the US is in favor of a theocracy-and obviously most of us are not- this is strictly for Iranians living in Iran to decide. The opposition to sanctions and constant threats of war which are illegal under international law must be unconditional.

Human rights violations is an international issue–whether they occur in Iran, the US, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, or anywhere else. Yes, we must all oppose and work for change, beginning with our own government. But to isolate this issue regarding Iran gives the US an excuse to attempt to bully Iran into submission, to give up their rights in order to install another puppet regime and again steal their resources.

The last thing Iran needs is another CIA-orchestrated regime change like the one in 1953. The majority of Iranian people are very aware of the efforts of the US and its allies to destabilize and overthrow their government.  This is a time for us in the anti-war movement to stand with ALL the Iranian people against attack and sanctions, not just those with a particular agenda.

We really would like to be part of this most crucial conversation.

In solidarity,

– Ann and Ahmad Shirazi
for the Granny Peace Brigade