Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12-31-08 Demonstrations support Gaza

From the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter 12-31-08
Demonstrations Across the U.S. and Around World
Demand an End to the Bombing and Siege of Gaza

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in scores of U.S. cities in response to the call for December 30 to be a National Day of Action to support the people of Palestine.

The call was issued 72 hours ago by a number of organizations including the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom, the National Council of Arab Americans, Free Palestine Alliance, Al-Awda - International Palestine Coalition for the Right of Return and others.

In New York City, thousands demonstrated at the Israeli Consulate located on 2nd Ave. and 43rd St.

In Washington D.C., 5,000 people gathered at the State Department and marched to the White House. Those taking to the streets included many children, teenagers and young adults demanding an immediate end to the bombing of Gaza. As the nighttime march entered the White House grounds, it took over and filled all of Pennsylvania Avenue with young people raising Palestinian flags at the White House fence.

Over 10,000 protestors filled the sidewalks in front of and across the street from the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco and marched.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 marchers took to the streets in Los Angeles. In Dearborn, Michigan, thousands braved below-freezing weather to demonstrate. In San Diego, 500 people protested.

Demonstrations also took place in Anchorage, AK; Phoenix, AZ; Modesto, Sacramento, San Jose, and Santa Rosa, CA; Colorado Springs and Denver, CO; Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Ocala, FL; Atlanta, GA; Honolulu, HI; Chicago, IL; Louisville, KY; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Ann Arbor, Flint and Kalamazoo, MI; Concord and Portsmouth, NH; New Brunswick, NJ; Albuquerque, NM; Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, NY; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown, OH; Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; Sioux Falls, SD; Knoxville, TN; Dallas and Houston, TX; Norfolk, VA; Bellingham, Seattle and Tacoma, WA; and scores of other cities in the United States. Protestors even lined the street in front of incoming U.S. President Barack Obama's vacation compound in Kailua, Hawaii.

Coordinated protests were also held throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

There will be a large-scale demonstration on Friday, Jan. 2, that will assemble at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., and march to the Egyptian Embassy. The sponsoring organizations include the ANSWER Coalition, the Muslim American Society Freedom, and the National Council of Arab Americans.

To make a contribution online or to find out how to contribute by check: Email National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389.

The international journalist Nir Rosen wrote a thoughtful and trenchant article about the plight of Gaza for the British newspaper The Guardian Dec. 29. It's titled, "Gaza: The Logic of Colonial Power." He notes: "As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak." It is available at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 15, 2008, Activist Newsletter

Dec. 15, 2008, Issue #142

This newsletter/calendar, published in New Paltz, N.Y., appears once or twice a month, supplemented by additional listings of new activist events, usually sent to Valley readers only. Editor, Jack A. Smith (who writes all the articles that appear without a byline or credit to other publications). Copy Editor, Donna Goodman. Calendar Editor, Rocco Rizzo. If you know someone who may benefit from this newsletter, ask them to subscribe at If you no longer wish to receive the newsletter, unsubscribe at the same address. Please send event listings to the above email address. The current and back issues of the newsletter/calendar are available at






It is a very rare occasion indeed when the U.S. corporate media allow the American people to hear the true voice of the Iraqi people.

But U.S. TV and news networks had to broadcast that voice Dec. 14 because the story was just too sensational to ignore or suppress.

We're speaking, of course, of the incident in Baghdad Sunday when progressive Iraqi journalist and Shi'ite Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, a correspondent for Al Baghdadia TV, publicly excoriated President George W. Bush at a press conference held in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone and threw his shoes in Bush's direction.

His words, including the Arab expression ya kalab (you dog), and the act of attempting the hit the visiting war criminal with a shoe, are considered extreme insults in Iraqi culture.

According to the New York Times account Dec. 15:

"The drama unfolded shortly after Mr. Bush appeared at a news conference in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to highlight the newly adopted security agreement between the United States and Iraq…. The Iraqi journalist…stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.

"As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president’s face to help shield him. Mr. Maliki’s security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him."

Al Baghdadia, which is described as an "independent anti-occupation, anti-sectarian" station, immediately broadcast an appeal for their reporter's release. News reports said thousands of Iraqis took to the streets demanding Zaidi's freedom.

According to an AP report Dec. 15:

"Zaidi's act of defiance Sunday transformed an obscure reporter from a minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the nearly six-year U.S. [occupation]…. Zaidi's three brothers and one sister gathered in Mr. Zaidi's simple, one-bedroom apartment in west Baghdad. The home was decorated with a poster of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara, who is widely lionized in the Middle East.

"Family members expressed bewilderment over Mr. Zaidi's action and concern about his treatment in Iraqi custody. But they also expressed pride over his defiance of an American president who many Iraqis believe has destroyed their country."

Several hours later, another AP dispatch reported:

"Iraqis and other Arabs erupted in glee Monday at the shoe attack on George W. Bush. Far from a joke, many in the Mideast saw the act by an Iraqi journalist as heroic, expressing the deep, personal contempt many feel for the American leader they blame for years of bloodshed, chaos and the suffering of civilians.

"Images of Bush ducking the fast-flying shoes at a Baghdad press conference, aired repeatedly on Arab satellite TV networks, were cathartic for many in the Middle East, who have for years felt their own leaders kowtow to the American president.

"So the sight of an average Arab standing up and making a public show of resentment was stunning. The pride, joy and bitterness it uncorked showed how many Arabs place their anger on Bush personally for what they see as a litany of crimes — chief among them the turmoil in Iraq and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths since the 2003 U.S. invasion."

In an article on, a website that provides "information from occupied Iraq," leftist Iraqi commentator Layla Anwar (well known for her signature, "An Arab Woman Blues"), wrote soon after the event: "We all watched it [on TV] and Mom and I burst into tears, tears of happiness and tears of grief. Happiness because Muntader filled us with hope, hope that there are still brave heroes left in Iraq…. We were also filled with grief… because we knew that Muntader Al-Zaidi signed his own death warrant. This guy is finished."

Hopefully, the young journalist will survive Maliki's ire. So far it appears his extraordinary deed has generated great support throughout Iraq and the Middle East and this may mitigate his punishment. We think all of us who have opposed our country's war of aggression in Iraq should look upon Muntader al-Zaidi as a hero who bravely spoke truth to unjust power in the cause of national liberation.



American peace advocate and global humanitarian Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general in the 1960s, was the recipient of the United Nation's Human Rights Prize in a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York Dec. 10.

The award was presented on Human Rights Day as part of a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Clark has previously accepted the Gandhi Peace Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his tireless pursuit of peace and social justice.

Clark, who founded the International Action Center 1991 and which continues to this day, was one of five people from around the world who received the prize. It is bestowed every five years. The others were Carolyne Gomes, co-founder of Jamaicans for Justice; former High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour; Denis Mukwege, director of a hospital that treats victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, on behalf of his organization.

Leaving the government at the end of the Johnson Administration in 1969, Clark soon began to openly protest the Vietnam war, visiting North Vietnam in 1972. As time went on he became an advocate for the poor people of the world and a staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy and imperialism. He was a leading voice against the first Gulf War in 1991, the Clinton Administration's war against Yugoslavia in 1999, and, following 9/11, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Believing that both Yugoslavia and Iraq were the targets of an unjust U.S. attacks, he defended former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloseviç at his trial in Holland and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when he was judged in Baghdad. Asked why he did so he replied, "I'm a lawyer." He has defended a wide selection of clients including Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier and peace activist Fr. Philip Berrigan.

Clark will turn 82 on Dec. 18, and he's still on the front lines.



Military war resisters have been relatively few in number since the end of conscription in 1973, two years before the end of the Vietnam war. In general, most members of today's volunteer Armed Forces remain mute, indifferent or supportive of the Bush Administration's unjust wars.

Members of the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War are an exception, of course. An even rarer exception are active duty soldiers who decide not to fight an unjust war.

The group Courage to Resist, which calls upon the antiwar movement to mail holiday cards to several active duty resisters, sent the following message December 9:

Write Holiday Greetings to War Resisters

The holidays are a difficult time for many folks, especially when separated from family and friends. Now imagine you’re a war resister imprisoned for refusing to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Please take a few moments this holiday season to write a letter of support to a imprisoned objector. Better yet, organize your community to write letters to these brave people with the courage to resist.

Tony Anderson, Robin Long, and Daniel Sandate are currently jailed and are not expecting release until well into 2009. Benji Lewis, Blake Ivey and André Shepherd are publicly taking bold stands against war that may result in their eventual courts martial.

Shown below are brief profiles of these resisters, as well as addresses that letters can be sent to.

Tony Anderson
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610

Robin Long
PO Box 452136, San Diego CA 92145-2136

Benji Lewis, Blake Ivey, and Daniel Sandate
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610

André Shepherd
c/o Military Counseling Network (MCN)
Hauptstrasse 1, D-69245 Bammental, Germany
($.94 USPS postage req.)


Tony Anderson

Tony Anderson is a 19 year-old Private in the U.S. Army who refused to deploy to Iraq in July of this year.

Anderson had vague thoughts about filing for conscientious objector (C.O.) status but was discouraged from doing so by his commanding officers, who told him that it would not be possible for him to obtain, and even falsely informed him that he was "not the right religion." Anderson was led to believe that filing a C.O. application would be futile.

When he was ordered to deploy to Iraq on July 1st, Anderson decided he could not go. Just hours before boarding his flight, he went AWOL, eventually turning himself in after 22 days in hopes of diminishing the severity of his punishment. On his return, Anderson was again ordered to deploy to Iraq immediately. This time, he simply refused, and he says, "they haven't tried to deploy me since then because they realize I'm not going to go."

Private Anderson recently chose to apply for C.O. status, this time with the extra help of his lawyer. The military charged Anderson with disobeying a lawful order from a commissioned officer during a time of war and desertion with intent to avoid hazardous
duty. He went to trial in November and received a 14 month sentence.

Tony Anderson is currently serving time at the Ft. Sill stockade in Oklahoma. He is in a low security area. He is living in a dorm, has been assigned wood shop detail, and plans to enroll in as many classes as possible.

To ensure delivery to Tony, letters should be sent care of Courage to Resist The Ft. Sill stockade regulations are that in order to receive mail from someone, Tony must first put that person on his designated mailing list of people first. However, this regulation is sometimes waived for first time correspondence.

Tony Anderson
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610

You can try to write Tony directly if you wish; however, mail from “unauthorized senders” may be returned: Anthony Michael Anderson, PO Box 305, Fort Sill, OK 73503-5305

Blake Ivey

Blake Ivey, currently stationed in Ft. Gordon, Georgia, is publicly refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. The 21 year-old soldier filed for conscientious objector status last July but was ordered to deploy while his application was being processed. He is determined not to go, and as of our last phone call, was still actively serving on his base, weighing his options for refusal.

Blake became a conscientious objector after joining the military, as a result of his personal studies in anarchism and nonviolent philosophy. He is close friends with Ryan Jackson, a high profile war resister who went AWOL in 2007.

Blake is determined not to go to Afghanistan, and he has contacted a civilian lawyer to discuss his options. Military punishment for refusing deployment varies, but in recent months, sentences have grown longer. Robin Long, an Iraq war resister deported from Canada, was recently sentenced to 15 months and a dishonorable discharge.

Despite the threat of steep punishment, Blake remains steadfast in his commitment to nonviolence. "I don't believe killing makes right in any situation," he says. "Governments use violence to fix situations. It's like fighting fire with fire."

He may have a significant price to pay for adhering to this belief.

You can write to Blake at:

Blake Ivey
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610

Robin Long

Robin Long, the first Iraq War resister deported from Canada into U.S. military custody, was sentenced in August of this year to 15 months of confinement and dishonorable discharge, receiving credit for 40 days of time served. He is currently serving time at Miramar Military prison in San Diego.

Three years ago, Robin Long fled to Canada rather than fight a war in Iraq he deems immoral and illegal. On July 15th, the Canadian government forcibly returned Long to U.S. military custody, forcing him to leave behind his two year old son. Robin is the first war resister deported from Canadian soil since the Vietnam War.

The Canadian government's actions flaunt its long-standing tradition of providing safe haven for U.S. war resisters and ignore a non-binding parliamentary resolution to allow U.S. soldiers to stay in Canada.

Robin Long
PO Box 452136
San Diego CA 92145-2136

The Miramar brig regulations also state that Robin can only receive mail from people that he put on his brig mail list first. However, that regulation seems to have been waived for Robin. If mail is returned, please send it to Courage to Resist for forwarding:

Robin Long
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave # 41,
Oakland, CA 94610


André Shepherd

U.S. Army Specialist André Shepherd applied for asylum in Germany Nov. 26, becoming the first Iraq War veteran to pursue refugee status in Europe.

After attending college and failing to find meaningful employment, Shepherd enlisted in the military early in 2004. He became an Apache airframe mechanic, hoping to someday qualify up to the role of helicopter pilot.

His first unit was already deployed to Iraq when he completed his training, so he joined them immediately, with only one day at his unit's home in Germany. Shepherd spent six months on a forward operating base near Tikrit, working 12-hour days to keep the heavily armed Apaches (and their signature Hellfire missiles) in the air.

Though he enlisted in order to bring freedom, prosperity and peace, Shepherd found none of these traits in the locals with whom he interacted.

"Some had the look of fear, while others looked outright angry and resentful," he said of locals contracted for jobs around the base. "I began to feel like a cruel oppressor who had destroyed the lives of these proud people."

Upon his return to Germany at the end of the deployment, Shepherd began to investigate the options available to an American soldier who questions the morality of war. He spoke with a superior about conscientious objection, but was told the process was lengthy and his application would probably be denied

André Shepherd
c/o Military Counseling Network (MCN)
Hauptstrasse 1, D-69245 Bammental, Germany
($.94 USPS postage req.)

More information is at