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AAACP & Palestine--Break the Silence Report No. 2
by Break the Silence
Sunday Jul 18th, 2004 11:40 PM
Second report of Break the Silence on holding the peace movment accountable.
Break the Silence Report
Vol. 1, No. 2
July 10, 2004

It's been almost two weeks since the first action of "Break the Silence" to encourage our friends in the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace (AAACP) to make it a better, more democratic peace organization and to implement the AAACP's own "Call for Peace in the Middle East" (see text below). Our first report was sent on June 30 ( http://michiganimc.org/feature/display/5958/index.php or http://tinyurl.com/39rsc ). That same day we got a response. What happens when you criticize a peace group for its silence and silencing on the Palestine-Israel conflict? Some people try to silence you!

I am a Veteran for Peace (VFP). The very day that I posted our report to the local VFP e-mail group, two other VFP members began openly working to block future messages from me. One VFP member, who is also an AAACP member, inquired, "Is there a way we can restrict this crap from reaching all members of VFP." To which another VFP member, who is also an AAACP Board member, responded, "I would suggest that Michelle's posts be filtered out by the VFP site if possible. Lets [sic] find out, and make it an agenda item at the next meeting, if we can't settle it before then." I'm not worried. In my experience, many military veterans--especially, the peace activists--greatly value free speech and the right to dissent. I am confident that most of my fellow veterans in VFP Chapter 93 share those same values and will honor the VFP pledge "to maintain an organization that is both democratic and open."

If some people try to silence you for breaking the silence on Palestine then it is also true that others thank you for it. At both of our actions we have had many people tell us things like: "We didn't know about this, thank you" and "Keep up the good work." In fact, many more people express gratitude rather than opposition for breaking the silence--the support of strangers and friends is part of what keeps us going. Last Sunday night was no exception, with a yet another AAACP Director following us and verbally berating us, we distributed 200 informational leaflets to patrons waiting in line at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor for a AAACP fund raising showing of *Fahrenheit 9/11*. The AAACP Director's antics were distracting at first but the commotion seemed to catch a lot of people's attention and gave visible credence to our claim that the AAACP is trying to keep a lid on discussion of the plight of the Palestinians.

The other thing that keeps us going is the sure knowledge that the brutal, illegal occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights is a tremendous evil perpetrated with the crucial complicity of the US gov't. and American citizens. This was reinforced recently in the World Court's opinion against Israel's wall in the West Bank ( http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/ipresscom/ipress2004/ipresscom2004-28_mwp_20040709.htm or http://tinyurl.com/226yk ) . As Uri Avnery of the Israeli Peace group Gush Shalom put it, “The wall is illegal and immoral, but first of all it is inhuman.” Israeli Knesset member Azmi Bishara, who is on a hunger strike, said, “The wall ignores the very existence of human beings, as if the area was empty. It destroys the fabric of life of hundred[s of] thousands."

Meanwhile, Israel and the United States are defiant and the AAACP is silent. We, however, will not sit quietly in fear of Zionists and their apologists; we know that fear is only effective if you succumb to it. If you would like the AAACP to include the Palestine-Israel conflict as one part of its otherwise good and important work then please contact them and tell them so at 734-332-9047 or info(at)justpeaceinfo.org . Please help us make Break the Silence obsolete.

Save the date for a possible Break the Silence event at the Organizing for Change Conference at Eastern Michigan University on Sept. 10 and 11 (Friday 4 pm-9 pm; Saturday 8 am-8 pm). We'll keep you posted on our plans. Send feedback and inquiries to: breakthesilence(at)usol.com

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"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere."

--Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
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Call for Peace in the Middle East

Preamble: The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace recognizes that the conflict in Palestine/Israel is an issue of great concern in our community, around which emotions often outweigh objectivity. We do not wish to contribute to the discord, but rather to unify people around common goals of nonviolence and fairness.

Our organization formed shortly after 9-11-01 to address issues of peace, civil liberties, and civil rights-particularly how these issues would be affected by the U.S. government military response to the 9-11 attacks. We consider a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to be an important element in curtailing the cycle of violence worldwide.

Statement: Over the past two years, we have witnessed in grief and anguish the appalling destruction resulting from the spiral of violence in the Middle East. Violence will only beget further violence. We condemn in the strongest terms the practices that bring about the deaths of innocent people and the destruction of communities.

Fortunately, there are many who work for peaceful resolution of the conflict. These people and organizations give hope that future generations of Israelis and Palestinians can live normal, secure lives, in peace with each other. We support the Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, including the Bereaved Families for Peace, who call on their fellow citizens to renounce violence. We support the Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories. We support those from Israel and other countries who work with Palestinians to rebuild destroyed homes. We support the efforts of those states and organizations that have made proposals for a just peace, including the member states of the Arab League, which has called for normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for creation of a Palestinian state and a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

In solidarity with all those working for peace in the Middle East, we call for the following:

* An immediate end to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem;
* An immediate end to the violence on both sides, recognizing violence as including Occupation, military incursions, and suicide bombings;
* A full evacuation of all settlements with the exception of minor negotiated border adjustments;
* A just settlement for the refugees who have been forced by war to leave homes in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza;
* Establishment of the state of Palestine side by side with the state of Israel with the boundaries established by UN Resolution 242;
* Social and economic justice and full legal rights for all citizens of both states;
* A major international effort to assist the reconstruction of Palestine;
* An end to U.S. military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends and the settlements are dismantled;
* Negotiations towards arms control and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction for the entire region;
* Recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel by all the countries of the Middle East.

Adopted by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace on November 11, 2002

Source: http://justpeaceinfo.org/mestmt.html

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