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Broader foreign policy Global Crisis News Things We Can Do

Avaaz Takes Action on the London G20 Summit

919_916_london_green-hat-demoThe G-20 Summit, which is happening in London next week, will bring together decision-makers from the world’s largest (non-corporate) economies to talk about global fiscal policies.  Sounds dry, I know, but it has a lot to do with the boat we’re all in: a global climate crisis and the many human crises connected to our collapsing global financial markets.

Avaaz, as usual, has offered an opportunity to take action. Sign a petition Avaaz will submit to the summit leaders. From Avaaz:

The world is in economic meltdown, and leaders are meeting at the crucial G20 London Summit next week to decide what to do. It’s time to tell them they can’t continue with business as usual — they have to fix the system and build a more sustainable future.

Demand the G20 put people first — sign the emergency petition below and our worldwide call will be carried to the streets by tens of thousands of people marching through central London, wearing green hard hats and carrying banners and flags to symbolise green jobs and a sustainable recovery. Then, next week, we’ll deliver the petition directly to summit officials and leaders.

Not that anyone should need more motivation to take action, but I’ll point out two incentives:

  1. When you go to the petition page, they have a super-cool animation of little green people gathering to show progress on the petition (I confess to being fascinated by little trinkets like that)
  2. When you submit the petition, you get to take an Avaaz survey where they lay out different approaches to the global financial crisis and you get to vote.  I found it informative and it helped me think about, well, what I think about what we should be doing and why.

They always have interesting informative action options, so if you have not signed up for Avaaz, I highly recommend it.

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Things We Can Do

Peace Events to Mark Anniversary of war

PDX Peace marching against the war
PDX Peace marching against the war

This weekend Oregon is marking the sixth anniversary of the invasion on Iraq with activities for the whole family. Take your pick:

Big peace march in Salem, Sunday, March 15,  1 PM learn more at PDX Peace website

Democracy Bailout! A lobby day at the Capitol, Monday, March 16, 8:30 AM to 1 PM learn more at the ROP  website

Although I know that not everyone can just take off for Salem on a weekday, hope to see you at these events!

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Actions Broader foreign policy Gaza Things We Can Do

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.

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Actions Military Families Things We Can Do

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…