Things we can do to end the violence in Gaza

I was at a gathering in support of Israel at Temple Beth Israel on Monday evening, which was well-attended. I went there to listen more than anything else, and I know that some others there, similar to me, were of the mind that we can support Israel but recognize that these recent military actions are not the best way to ensure a safe and secure Israel.  The organizers did manage to get speakers with some range of views on what it means to “support” Israel at this time, although the calls to action seemed to focus on supporting military action instead of an end to military action and the deaths of civilians.

My energy is going into supporting humanitarian aid, and groups that call for an end to all military actions in the region. The price of this military conflict, likely to soon to be a thousand people dead, is far too high. Some options I have found:

Avaaz is working on an international call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. They have a quick-to-sign online petition and they are circulating it internationally.

Mercy Corps has been providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, and has been calling for Congress to support ceasefires that truly allow humanitarian aid to get through.

Grassroots International is partnering with a number of groups to deliver aid in the Gaza area. They also have some excellent reports that take a look at the long-term view of the area, and how human rights have fared (or not, fared, I suppose). Thanks for Scot for letting me know about them.

Jewish Voice for Peace (whose website is pretty clear on where they stand: Two Peoples, One Future) sends out opportunities for action. They have also produced the “Thank You, Jon Stewart” website for his excellent and (as usual) insightful analysis into US political hypocrisy and short-sightedness.

Feel free to send me other things to do in support of all the people in the region, so that they can have a peaceful and just future with each other.

Free the Shministim (Free the Twelfth-Graders)

Shministim bannerI just learned about a call for a day of action (next week, December 18) in support of young Israeli citizens who are refusing to serve in the military. These young conscientious objectors (twelfth-graders, or  shministim) wind up in jail in Israel for their refusal to serve as part of the military force in the Occupied Territories. Military service is required by law, so their refusal triggers a cycle of arrests and short-term incarcerations that leave them in limbo until either they tire or the military tires of prosecuting them.

These are thoughtful young people taking a principled stand on a difficult issue — check out this article about Omer Goldman, one of the conscientious objectors, whose father works for Mossad.  As they explain their objections:

Our refusal to serve in the military comes first and foremost in protest of Israel’s state policy of separation, control, oppression and killing in the occupied territories, from an understanding that oppression, killing and the sowing of hatred cannot bring peace to the world, and which stand in contrast to the fundamental values of a society that purports to be democratic.

Their statement mirrors my own experience. My brother chose, as an 18-year old, to serve in the U.S. Army, and I respected his choice — to me, it made him a hero. When I was younger, I thought I would make a similar choice, but by the time I was 18, I had changed my perspective on whether I was willing to serve in the military. I was willing to serve, but not willing to learn to kill, so I can of course, understand where these young people are coming from.

Service to your country shouldn’t have to include learning to kill, or participating in an unprincipled occupation. These youth are on the right track It must be that democracies can offer their citizens a choice. These objectors could be given alternatives, although, what then might happen to their military? What if there were not enough soldiers to maintain the occupation? What indeed…

Send a message to the Twin Cities: release journalists

I do have this rather strong attachment to the idea that journalists should not be imprisoned for attempting to cover news. Especially when that news is of legal protesters being arrested. Now more footage is coming out of Minneapolis/St. Paul of arrests of journalists — in this case, a house raid on a group of people from I-Witness. Their website and this video explain that their video documentation managed to prove numerous acts of perjury by officers arresting people at the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC. So you can see why the Minneapolis/St. Paul police might feel the need to be proactive.

Free Press is offering an online petition in support of journalists, or you can watch the raid on the I-Witness house on YouTube.

Wexler signs up 100,000 folks for impeachment this week

And I’ve signed on to his call to impeach Cheney as well. I’ve been slow to sign onto impeachment hearings, because they didn’t seem that likely to be helpful in dealing with Bush. I mean, what if he was impeached and removed from office as a result? Dick Cheney could potentially become president… oh, wait, unless Cheney gets impeached first! Now there’s an idea….

And why not impeach the vice president? After all, the president is so busy vetoing legislation, he hardly has the time. Bush has managed to spend most of 2007 pushing the D’s around, so the impeachment hearings might wind up with him asking them questions. But Vice President Cheney, he doesn’t hold the sway of Bush (one clue: no matter how low Bush’s approval goes, Cheney’s is always lower). Impeachment hearings of VP Cheney could get us lots of useful information about how we wound up illegally invading Iraq (yes, some of us still care that the invasion was illegal). Impeachment does not have to mean forcing someone out of office, it just means a chance to ask questions and find out more about what this administration’s choices and actions:

impeachment (a formal document charging a public official with misconduct in office) (thanks, wordnet)

And yes, I think Kucinich is a wise and wonderful politician, and I feel like I want to give him his due for pushing impeachment all this time. But why not try supporting this newest call for impeachment led by Wexler? He is secure in his district and so perhaps not as easy to discourage as the average Democrat. He was so confident last year that Colbert got him to say a bunch of ludicrous statements on national TV.

But, don’t hold that against him. Watch his new video for why it’s time to impeach Cheney. Read his Oped about how this is the duty of Congress. Sign onto the latest call for impeachment hearings of Vice President Cheney and the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, and tell your friends to as well.