Thursday, February 8, 2018

#NJAntiWarAgenda: A Broad Spectrum at Inaugural Monthly Newark Protests

In case you have not heard, the People's Organization for Progress and #NJAntiWarAgenda have initiated a monthly series of antiwar protests that are now occurring – with sound permit – the first Saturday of each month at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument on MLK Boulevard near Old Records Hall from 11 – 1pm.  The next such event is entitled “March withWomen Against War” – in honor of Women’s History Month and tapping in to the growing women’s engagement in protest as witnessed at the recent Woman’s marches around the US and world - is scheduled for March 3.  These monthly events are more than just a series of protests, they represent an organizing project to develop a solid anti-war block and stronger anti-war agenda, not just in Newark but throughout the state and region.


The inaugural event on February 3 started with wind chill temps in the teens.  That did not stop participants from numerous organizations and constituencies from presenting what is on their “Anti War Agenda.”


The initial event drew support from the following organizations that are co-sponsoring these monthly events, in addition to the initiators #NJAntiWarAgenda and Peoples Organization for Progress:

NJ Peace ActionGreen Party of New JerseySocialist Party USA of NJ,IndustrialUnion Council of New JerseyUnion County Peace Council and Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine.

[ In the future we hope to do a better job at engaging the NJ Philippine Solidarity Committee and Puerto Rico and immigrant solidarity groups as well as other constituencies.]


Organizers are encouraging NJ organizations and institutions to hammer out their own anti-war agenda and to decide on and announce support for the monthly events and to begin the process of mobilizing for the monthly events going forward.  For more information, call or text 908-881-5275.

Details from the February 3 event including pictures, links to some of the presentations follow.  Highlighting some of the tasks before us to continue to improve the effectiveness of this organizing effort:


Next Steps



All out support for the March With Women Against War, March 3, 2018.  To get involved, join the Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/399746143818452/  and contact Teka Lark 1635schl@gmail.com

Get an assessment from each organizational partner as to their ability to mobilize for each event – how many they can dedicate to participate regularly.  What other steps can they take to mobilize against war in their geographical reaches.  What are some of the challenges they are having to participating and what steps can be taken to address those issues?  What assistance could help the organizations to promote more effective participation.

Develop a weekly schedule of activities that promote greater participation in organizing support for the monthly events and other activities.

A letter will be sent to numerous NJ organizations inviting them to freshen up their anti-war positions and to become participants in and endorsers of the monthly events.


We need to set up discussions around the state including on campuses, in high schools and public libraries, and to encourage the initiation of other protest events.

Those interested in becoming part of building a stronger NJ Antiwar Agenda should call or text 908-881-5275, write to Organize@NJAntiWarAgenda.org .  Visit NJAntiWarAgenda.org  for more information.


February 3 Details

Advanced publicity of the event was provided by this blog article and this news article.


The Monthly Events are an Organizing Project



The event was kicked off by my introductory remarks in which I provided a framework for this monthly event.  The intention is not for it to be a monthly “pop up” protest where we show up once a month, hold signs, chant and listen to each other make speeches.  The purpose is for this to be an organizing drive with the goal of reaching out and engaging the area communities in at least a quarter mile radius from the protest site.  The goal is for us to work the communities in between events to explain the purpose of the events to residents, students, working people, organizations, businesses and religious institutions. 

Within the blocks around the site of the events there are 3 colleges, Essex County, Rutgers Newark and NJIT and 4 high schools, St. Benedicts Prep, Newark Arts, Newark Science and Newark Tech high schools.  There are mosques and churches, barber and beauty shops, restaurants, all apt for our outreach work.  It is not the most important thing that we draw local residents into actual participation – though we DO need to develop ways that they can take an initial step in that direction – but that we are in communication with everyone in explaining the reasons for the protest and how it is important for the world but also for the Newark community.  Through those communications we should also be learning FROM the residents about the day-to-day struggles of Newark life.

Our plans are to reach out to all of these constituents.  We are hoping to get out to the community between events with the banners and to provide opportunities for passers by to do snap-protests by holding or getting behind the banner and allowing themselves to be photographed – with our camera and possibly with their own phones so that they can post it on their own networks.  Also we would like to do some literature distribution to area housing. 

Also the events will not always be just speakers – we will be presenting performance artists.  We might at the start of our events, send some participants out to areas of the community to invite folks to come back at noon for a larger mass showing.  We could also invite those who can not make it to the events to call in to a local pizza shop (Vinnie's Italian Gourmet 
https://www.yelp.com/biz/vinny-italian-gourmet-newark ) for delivery at 1pm to the site. That will enable us to reward participants with a delicious bite or two.

The most important objective is that local residents are invited to gain an understanding of the reason for our protest, that they are welcome to join us and that we are engaging in a dialogue so that we can understand exactly how the US wars abroad are devastating communities like Newark NJ.


War at Home / March with Women - Teka Lark


After my introductory commentary, Teka Lark spoke specifically on how the war at home is devastating communities like Newark and the people of Puerto Rico.  Teka is currently playing the role as coordinator of March’s event which will occur on Saturday, March 3, 11am at the Newark MLK Monument.  The event is entitled “March with Women Against War” in line with March being Women’s History Month. 

Teka opened by acknowledging the successful collaboration that has gone into the #NJAntiWarAgenda organizing drive and she offered some critique of the antiwar movement being able to recognize the horrors of war abroad but to turn away from the impact these policies have under our own eyes and feet on NJ’s streets.  View Teka’s presentation.


Endless Wars, Nuclear Threat, Madelyn Hoffman NJ Peace Action



Madelyn Hoffman, Director of NJ Peace Action, spoke about the increased dangers of war and the possible use of nuclear weapons, citing Henry Kissinger’s recent statement that “a first strike against North Korea was very tempting.” In addition, in his recent State of the Union address, Mr. Trump spoke about asking for yet another military budget plus $28 billion for a wall we don’t need – for a total of $45 billion in 2019, money taken away from those programs that communities need. At the same time, the U.S. maintains a huge network of military bases around the world while during the coldest weather in January, school children in Baltimore sat in their classrooms in their jackets, hats and scarves, because there wasn’t enough money to provide them with heat.  Madelyn Hoffman spoke about the need to support diplomacy, not war – in the form of protecting the Iran Deal and for a continuation of the Olympic Truce between the U.S. and South Korea for cessation of military exercises on the Korean peninsula, freeing up money spent on war for domestic programs.


Honduras Electoral Fraud / Street Repression Rosa Estefany Caceras-Santana


The next speaker was Rosa Estefany Caceras-Santana who detailed the role of the US in supporting coups, electoral fraud and violent repression in Honduras.  She called upon NJ to play a greater role in supporting her people by demanding US to stop providing weapons, military and security support to the repressive and illegitimate Honduran government.  She also condemned the scaling back of TPS protections for Hondurans and others.  To get involved in efforts to organize solidarity with the Honduran people, you can join this Facebook group  We are hoping to put together a discussion soon in NJ around the issue of Honduras.


Haiti - Jessica Latonelle 


Next up was Jessica Latonelle who represented a Haitian perspective on world events.  Jessica had recently spoken out at a Haiti solidarity rally. She was quoted in a news article in response to the recent derogatory remarks by Trump toward the nation of Haiti.   She offered her response to these put downs from the US government and called upon us to support Haitian immigrants and the extension of TPS for Haitians, Salvadoreans and others.  Jessica has a blog site and you can read a written version of her comments at this link . 


Iran / Yemen - Nima Rezael



Next Nima Rezael offered his antiwar agenda on the situation in Iran and Yemen.  He spoke of the media misrepresentation of the recent protests in Iran – and instead of talking about what the people concerns are – basically the same economic concerns that the US working class has – a small minority were used to misrepresent the protests and to promote a phony call for regime change.  He also spoke of the horrendous situation in Yemen propagated by US support for the Saudi war and blockade. He pointed out how technology used by the Saudi regime to deny food and medicines to the literally starving Yemeni people is manufactured by the Lockheed Martin plant based in Moorestown NJ.  Here is a link to a video of Nima’s presentation .


Solidarity - Javier Vaca, Green Party NJ


Javier Vaca representing NJ Green Party kept it brief.  He referenced the comments of several of the other speakers.  He pledged his own commitment and the commitment of the NJ Green Party to mobilize for and attend each and every monthly First Saturday antiwar protest at the Newark MLK Monument going forward.




Palestine - Mohamad Habehh and Wassim Janaan 



Speaking on the topics related to the US support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Mohamad Habehh of Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine and Wassim Kanaan of NJ Muslims for Palestine each highlighted various ways that the occupation and US support for it contributes to death and suffering of the Palestinian people.  They called upon the anti war movement to demand an end to US military aid to Israel, to rescind the decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, to end the US supported Israeli bombing and occupation of Gaza and to free the teenage women Ahed Tamimi and 100s of other Palestinian children being held for the crime of protesting against the Israeli occupation.  They also registered people to take action to support HR 4391 for Palestinian children and for participation for the Palestine Advocacy Days in Washington DC March 16 – 19  .


AFRICOM, War at Home, Personal Responsibility for Ending War - Lisa Davis


Lisa Davis representing Black is Black Coalition and People's Organization for Progress provided a condemnation of US military policy in Africa, including the US role in the destruction of Libya.  She stated that the US people are complicit in the actions of the US government abroad for not taking adequate action to stop US warfare.  She called for the antiwar movement to oppose US military “recolonization” of Africa under the guise of AFRICOM which as she quoted, has the specific objective of securing Africa’s natural resources for capitalist exploitation.  For more on efforts to oppose the US military occupation of Africa: http://njantiwaragenda.org/NoAfricom.html

Resist Deportation Machine - Jay Arena


Jay Arena spoke on the efforts of the Resist the Deportation Machine to challenge the Essex County Freeholders acceptance of federal funds for the purpose of detaining immigrants at the Essex County Jail on Doremus Avenue.  He called for unity between anti-war and immigrant advocates around the demand to shut down this level of collaboration with the current anti-immigrant crackdown, especially in light of Newark's declaration as a sanctuary city.


War Effects on Newark, Imperative to Struggle for Disarmament - Lawrence Hamm


POP chair Lawrence Hamm reiterated the connections between US wars abroad and oppressive conditions in Newark and throughout the United States.  He also stressed the dangers of nuclear war, acknowledging that the antiwar movement has gotten away from focusing on the threat of nuclear war.  He warned that any US attack on Korea would likely be answered by a counter attack by China and Russia - a blueprint for global thermonuclear war.

Union County Peace Council - Diane Beeny


Next up was Diane Beeny of the Union County Peace Council.  She further emphasized the nuclear threat and also called attention to the existential threat of climate change.

#NJAntiWarAgenda Paper Distribution


As will be a standard feature at these events, about 100 issues of #NJAntiWarAgenda were shared with vehicle drivers and passengers and pedestrians that came by during the event.  To become a distributor (possible fundraising opportunity for your organizing endeavors) - contact 908-881-5275.  PDF of paper is here.

After the event concluded, several of us headed to Vinnies Italian Gourmet for delicious pizza and for social interaction and discussions of continuing this organizing project forward.



Sunday, January 28, 2018

NJ is Uniting Against US Wars At Home and Abroad – All Out Saturday February 3, 11am-1pm, MLK Monument, Newark

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bob Witanek 908-881-5275

A growing chorus of NJ organizations are getting behind a “NJ Anti War Agenda” initiative to hold monthly protests at the MLK monument in Newark to respond to what supporters believe is a growing US war drive targeting “nations and people throughout the planet,” for war and war threats according to one of the organizers, Bob Witanek.

The initiative grew out of a proposal approved at a December meeting of the Peoples Organization for Progress, an organization with weekly meetings at the Abysinnian Baptist Church in Newark.

The protests will occur the first Saturday of each month, from 11 am to 1pm at the Martin Luther King Monument on MLK Boulevard, near Old Records Hall.  The first one is scheduled for this Saturday, February 3rd.

The theme of the monthly protests is to “End US Wars at Home and Abroad.”

The protesters are responding to “rising threats of what they are calling “US War” against Korea, growing reports of atrocities and suffering in Yemen, the US support for “questionable” election results in Honduras and the “repressive” conditions there in the aftermath, plans to occupy Syria with 30000 US soldiers, a surge of more troops into Afghanistan, the US planned move of its embassy to Jerusalem, and other aspects that the war opponents believe are threatening greater amounts of US sponsored warfare around the planet, according to Witanek.

He further states that the sponsoring groups are also committed to ending “the US war at home against its own people, including the neglect of adequate relief in Puerto Rico, lack of full support for the needs of Newark’s impoverished community, growing ICE operations against NJ’s immigrant communities and the resulting detention and deportations and other actions.”

According to Lawrence Hamm, chair of Peoples Organization for Progress, “As Dr. King pointed out there is a facile relationship between imperialist wars abroad and poverty at home.  The latest budget  put forward by the Trump administration called for a $54 billion increase in the military spending and a $54 billion decrease in spending on social programs.  Martin Luther King said in his speech on the Vietnam war that we drop bombs on Vietnamese children abroad and explode the bombs of poverty at home.  In the last 16 years in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we’ve spent $5 trillion.  Imagine what we could have done with $5 trillion at home!  How many schools and hospitals could have been saved?  How much public housing could have been funded?  We could have eliminated homelessness.  When all is said and done we have accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan only the destruction of those countries.”

In addition to Peoples Organization for Progress and NJ Anti War Agenda, the monthly protests are being supported by NJPeace Action, Green Party of New Jersey, Socialist Party USA of NJ, IndustrialUnion Council of New JerseyUnion County Peace Council and Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine.  Organizers state that there are several other organizations preparing to join in such support and that interested groups should call or text 908-881-5275.

According to Bob Witanek, the monthly protests are part of an organizing drive to reach out to the local colleges, high schools, religious institutions, communities that are in close proximity to the protest site at the MLK monument,

“We aim this to be more than a monthly pop-up protest.  We plan to work with students, local residents, community concerns committees of religious and civics groups, local businesses,  other local entities and the downtown Newark street traffic to invite participation and to explain the goals of the protests.  In addition to our anti-war themes, we will be presenting information about other related local struggles and providing music, poetry, theatrical and other artistic performances as part of the monthly events.”

Witanek states that copies of the newspaper entitled #NJAntiWarAgenda will be made available for no charge to attenders and visitors to the protests.  Local residents are also invited to stop by to have pictures taken with the signs and banners, even if they do not have time to attend the full length of the monthly events, according to Witanek.

Witanek states that the protest is entirely legal and that NJ Anti War Agenda possesses a sound permit for the events.


Opposition to US wars was also a theme of the recent Peoples Organization for Progress Annual MLK March on January 15 that started at ended at the same MLK monument with a couple hundred participating.

Those interested in participating and endorsing should call 908-881-5275, write to organize@NJAntiWarAgenda.org and visit NJAntiWarAgenda.org,

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/342587736087236

Please Retweet:


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Goals for First Saturday Monthly Newark Antiwar Rallies

At a recent Peoples Organization for Progress (POP) meeting, the proposal for a monthly antiwar protest at the MLK Monument on MLK Boulevard, near old Records Hall, near the corner of Springfield Avenue and MLK Boulevard was approved.  The protests will occur on the first Saturday of each month,from 11 am- 1 pm.  Newark has confirmed that it was mailing the sound permit for these events.

The next one is scheduled for Saturday, February 3.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1707853879236076/

For information or to find out how to become part of this organizing project, call or text 908-881-5275.

The idea of the monthly protests is not to be just a pop up protest - where we show up for an hour or two once a month and then disappear until the next month.  The idea instead is for an ongoing anti-war organizing drive in the area with the protest being a monthly exclamation point.  The following are some of the ideas for goals and aims of the effort:

Goals of monthly antiwar protest at MLK monument:

Establish connection to following students:
Arts HS and St. Benedict Prep:  Are there social concerns group sthere?  Any faculty advisors that could host our presentation to students?  Leaflet outside school?

Essex County College:  What are the activist groups?  Leafleting on campus.  Meet w/ students in cafeteria?  Find one or more point persons to work with there.

Rutgers Newark: Same as Essex County College

Religious institutions – start with ¼ mile radius from rally site – letter to presiding reverend, Imam, etc. any social concerns committee?  Extend invitation to participate – offer to speak to social concerns groups

Local businesses: Identify local barber and beauty shops where #NJAntiWarAgenda can be left – leave 15 – 20 at a time and replenish regularly

Music / Poetry / Performance Art: Solicit performances.  If possible offer modest stipends for local youth performers

Youth meetings: Develop rapport with local youth organizers, offer modest stipend for task like setting up a meeting with their friends at a pizza shop to discuss the events and participation

Pizza: As it gets warmer – we can encourage those who can not make it to the protest to pay for and have pizza delivered to the protest site.  This could be toward the end of the event – and if the weather is tenable we can share the pizza from the benches at the site.

Canvassing: Have leafleting and canvassing of community– starting with a ¼ mile radius.  Identify and leaflet at the closes housing to the event including any public housing.

Relationships with community organizations: A letter to all community activist groups explaining the purpose of the event and inviting participation and sharing of information about related struggles

Support for the POP membership recruitment drive coordinated by Steven Hatcher: This would  included assisting and supporting POP’s anti-war aspects and the monthly rally at those rectuiting sessions at Broad and Market on Saturdays


Over all – developing a working relationship with the community for a ¼ mile radius so that we are not just pop up protests that come once a month and disappear so that folks can know of the purpose and feel that the protests are part of the community and they are part of the protests even if they are unable to participate regularly.

Folks interested in this effort or if you have suggestions or feedback:

Call / text 908-881-5275
Write to organize@NJAntiWarAgenda.org
Visit: NJAntiWarAgenda.org

Thursday, January 4, 2018

All Out Jan 15, Newark, NJ: NO! to US Nuclear (or Any) War on Korea!

Event on Facebook

Happy new year from the US Government:

The former head of the joint chiefs of staff is stating that the US is closer to nuclear war with Korea than ever before; at right is what CNN looked like as midnight approached on New Years Eve.  Soon that was picked up by the media as the top story – sensationalist but absolutely horrifying.

Next day: Trump is telling us he has a button bigger than Korea’s, and we are supposed to proceed about our day – at work, school, in the home, and on the streets – like we are not possibly weeks away from ending most life on the planet!

Recall that recently Russia and China have tried to softly explain to the US that it can not attack Korea, Russia offering to set up negotiations and China trying to warn the US off.  Do you know what that means?

They got them too – and they will retaliate!  A nuclear attack on Korea is a dirty bomb attack on China and Russia given their close proximity to the radiation fall out – depending on the winds that follow any such attack. It is actually an “attack on our own people” because the radiation will travel back to US colonized islands in the Pacific and Hawaii, as well as the US mainland; winds blow and air, including radiation poisoned air, travels!

No, we cannot walk around like nothing is wrong. We need to protest in the loudest and most uncertain terms – NO TO ANY AND ALL US ATTACK ON KOREA – END US MILITARY THREATENING OPERATIONS IN THE REGION – WITHDRAW THE 3 CARRIER WAR FLEET FROM KOREAN AREA SEAS!

Fortunately in Newark, NJ, as it so happens, THERE ALREADY IS AN ANTIWAR PROTEST planned for Monday, January 15, at noon at the MLK monument.  This march, primarily organized by the People's Organization for Progress but supported by dozens of organizations, is part of the traditional annual march in Newark to commemorate and carry forward the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year the theme is:

“ANNUAL DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.MARCH & RALLY AGAINST RACISM, SEXISM, FASCISM, AND WAR.”

The march and rally is multi-theme – one of the themes being anti-war.

I am imploring everyone that sees themselves as a peace or antiwar activist who is still in the struggle for peace to participate or otherwise concretely support this event.  Folks should also mobilize around all of the other themes, but let's make sure that we say a RESOUNDING "NO!" to the latest call for worldwide annihilation and against the call for nuclear war on Korea with signs and banners.

At this event we will carry the following banner that also promotes the going forward plan of a monthly protest at this same site – the first Saturday of each month from 11am-1pm.

(Interested in organizing protests at other sites against US war and threats?  Click here.)

We will be inviting all participants to have their pictures taken with the banner as a means to promote the monthly protests on everyone’s social network sites!

Let's build on the unity of this event and use it as an opportunity to show that NJ SAYS NO TO WAR WITH KOREA – NUCLEAR OR WAR OF ANY OTHER SORT!

Of course as always our protest is not just about Korea! The US is engaging in wars of one sort or another on every corner of the planet, including on its own people on the streets: massive theft they call tax cuts, neglect of the health and safety needs of the people, lack of support for Puerto Rico's recovery, ignoring the heating needs of the impoverished during these vicious winter days, the overall turning of backs on the needs of the people in every area, and on top of that, the growing daily violence toward the people, including violence of police with impunity, immigration agency crackdowns,and the growing insecurity of everyone!

To explain the issues touched on in the banner:

·        the reference to Honduras is that the US recently backed a very likely fraud of an election there, after previously supporting a coup and a prior veneer of an electoral fraud. We call for democracy for the Honduran people so they can determine their own future and oppose US involvement and support for fraud there;


·        the Palestinian activist depicted in the corner is Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh.  His legs had been blown off in an Israeli air strike a few years back.  On December 15 an Israeli sniper finished the assassination shooting Mr. Thurayeh in the head!  The banner honors him, and the depiction is a call for the rescinding of the Jerusalem US embassy decision, an immediate halt to US supported Israeli bombings in Gaza, and an end to the US supported Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

·       Of course, Diane Beeny’s expertly drawn sign in the upper left calls for diplomacy, not war, regarding Korea and Iran.

We ask that everyone who comes show support for the banner by making sure that they have their picture taken with the banner, sharing the picture in their networks,and making plans to attend and support the monthly rallies. The next one is on February 3.

The hot off the press NJ Anti War Agenda, a printed 8 page tabloid, will be distributed on the street for the first time at the January 15 event. You may take individual copies for your own reading or sets of them for distribution. Any donations collected by you in distributing the paper can be used for your own or your group’s organizing expenses.

http://njantiwaragenda.org/NJAWAFirstIssue.html    (Join on Facebook) Text 908-881-5275 for distribution info.

I also want to implore all to click the link below and select one or more of the organizations – including the sponsoring organization of this rally, People's Organization for Progress, which has provided sound for many of the anti-war rallies that occurred in NJ in 2017 – to make financial contributions.  The masters of war that will reap billions spend millions to prop up their war agenda and we try to rag tag it with volunteerism and passing the hat at events. We need to pump some serious "no strings attached" funds into the streets to the organizations mobilizing against war so that we can stand a chance to block the US attack on Korea that could end us all.


Please forward this link and do everything you can to support and participate in this event.

Please comprehend these lyrics and let this song motivate your anti-war behavior in the weeks ahead:


Song Against US War on Korea

We got nuclear armed subs patrolling their coast

But we all like to think he is the maddest the most
We threatened to take him out Every other day
And then we get bent when he says He'll make us pay
B1s take off from the island of Guam
To harass the Koreans make them worry about the bomb
With 3 air craft carriers and a nuclear armed fleet
An ever imminent threat to bring the nuclear heat
The US dropping bombs all over the earth
With no concern about what life is worth
But they keep shouting it from the TV set
About the Mad Korean and his nuclear threat
The threat that is real to the entire world
Preemptive US attack to start the death swirl
Because China and Russia are not going to wait
They got em too so they'll retaliate
And when the first US city is in a mushroom cloud
With 1000s more on the way - funeral shroud
They said the Korean was mad but it matters no more
Because the world was incinerated in a nuclear war

Banner has been picked up:




Click and RT:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

NJ Towns Must Respect Democratic Rights of Residents - No to Anti-BDS Resolution(s)

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

NJ Anti-War Agenda Publishes the following Statement from Maplewood community members against anti-democratic rights and anti-freedom resolution that was considered by Maplewood Township that would have supported silencing of any criticism of Israel and its repressive treatment of the Palestinian people.

At this point it appears as if Maplewood is holding off on moving forward which highlights the importance of the kind of work done by the folks that pulled this letter together.  Measures like the one that had been proposed in Maplewood have actually been passed in Caldwell, Millburn and Livingston, NJ.  Be encouraged to borrow from this letter if it is helpful to opposing similar measures in other NJ towns.

TO THE COUNCIL OF MAPLEWOOD TOWNSHIP:

We, the undersigned SOMA residents, are writing to express our adamant opposition to a resolution submitted on November 21 to the Maplewood Township Council condemning the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel (BDS) by three nonMaplewood residents.

This resolution is part of a campaign to effectively deny American BDS supporters their constitutionally protected right to boycott. At the federal, state, and local level, a coordinated anti-BDS campaign is seeking to prevent Americans from employing their protected right to engage in political speech and action, including criticizing and boycotting foreign governments.

The resolution, which condemns the non-violent, Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people, also attempts to obscure the crimes and abuses perpetrated by Israel and to mischaracterize and suppress the Palestinian struggle for justice.

Modeled on the principled movement that brought down apartheid South Africa, the Palestinian BDS movement is a rapidly growing international movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches, and grassroots movements across the world. The BDS movement has garnered the respect and support of Black Lives Matter, as well as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and the ACLU, and many other people of conscience. In its commitment to freedom, justice, and equality for all, the BDS movement is part of the shared struggle of people of color against racial and economic injustice.

The Palestinian BDS call urges nonviolent pressure of Israel until it complies with international law by meeting three demands:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian land
2. Providing full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties

Instead of attempting to refute these demands on principled grounds, the presenters of the resolution attacked BDS for being anti-Semitic. But there is nothing in the BDS call for freedom, justice, and equality that is anti-Semitic. In founder Omar Barghouti’s own words, BDS “consistently and categorically rejects all forms of discrimination and racism, including antiSemitism.” Growing Jewish support for BDS is evidence of that.

The presenters also attempted to suggest that Israel is a beacon of democracy. In fact, Israel is a settler colonial and apartheid regime. Beginning at its founding in 1948, Israel ethnically cleansed 750,000 indigenous Palestinians, who have never been allowed to return to their homes, although the right of return is guaranteed under international law. This tragic event has devastated the lives of millions of Palestinians, including the Palestinian signatories of this letter. Israel maintains an ongoing violent military occupation of the West Bank and subjects Gaza to repeated brutal bombing campaigns and a barbaric blockade. Meanwhile Israel’s settlements continue to swell, while Palestinians living in Israel are subject to racist laws and segregation policies, making them second class citizens in Israel. A state that gives different rights to different people based purely on their religious identity cannot be described as a democracy.

Finally, the resolution presenters asserted that BDS threatens peace because it promotes a “hateful agenda.” BDS actually offers the best chance for peace because it is based on an agenda of freedom, equality, and justice, derived from international law.

At a time when the right to dissent and protest in this country is increasingly under attack, we call on the Maplewood Township Council to categorically reject the campaign attempting to smear BDS, deny its supporters their constitutional protections, and provide cover for settler colonialism and apartheid.

At a minimum, the township council should make sure a full and open discussion of the resolution and the issues it raises takes place, one that includes voices of Palestinian SOMA residents. As supporters of equal rights for all, we enthusiastically welcome that debate.

Signed by 28 residents of Maplewood and South Orange

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Peoples Organization for Progress Front and Center Against War

One of the forefront organizations in NJ that is working to organize a stronger anti-war effort is People's Organization for Progress.  At almost every anti-war protest in NJ that has taken place in recent month's, Lawrence Hamm chair of the People's Organization for Progress has played a swivel role in giving quorum to move forward with an event.  We usually try to get 3 or 4 people initially to agree to call a protest assuming that they will take responsibility to make sure all the steps are taken to make sure that it is successful in various ways.

It is Lawrence Hamm, on behalf of POP who has delivered, without rental cost, a sophisticated sound systems with very capable community amplification.  POP also has a wealth of its trademark signs around almost every important issue out there - including on every aspect of the escalation of US wars and threats.  While Chair Hamm, and often Ingrid Hill transports the POP protest infrastructure, sound, signs and other materials, POP also always delivers numbers of participants - it does not just throw its name on the flier.  Many of the protests against US wars in recent months have been well attended by the yellow shirt styling POP membership.

Every decision made by Peoples Organization for Progress is vetted at the organization's Thursday General Assembly meetings that occur  Every Thursday 6:30 pm, 224 W. Kinney St., Newark NJ.  The meetings feature guest speakers, presentations, topical discussions, panels - along with a host of presentations by POP members and guests proposing POP involvement in various initiatives.

NJ Anti War Agenda recently spoke with POP chair Lawrence Hamm. According to Mr. Hamm, The Peoples Organization for Progress (POP) was founded in 1983 and in its constitution, one of the listed “aims and purposes” is to “work for world peace.”  Mr. Hamm explains that  POP's origins are  from the  “revolutionary Black nationalist” period when progressive Black nationalists saw the struggle for peace as part of their work – “to people like WEB Dubois, Paul Robeson, and others for whom peace was at the top of the agenda.  They always worked for peace and against the threat of nuclear war.  There has always been an explicitly anti-imperialist dimension to the revolutionary Black nationalist movement.  POP inherits those aspects of the movement.   We try to bring the best of the Black liberation movement into the present and future,” he states.

Speaking on the connections between the war at home and US wars abroad, Mr Hamm explains: “As Dr. King pointed out there is a facile relationship between imperialist wars abroad and poverty at home.  The latest budget  put forward by the Trump administration called for a $54 billion increase in the military spending and a $54 billion decrease in spending on social programs.  Martin Luther King said in his speech on the Vietnam war that we drop bombs on Vietnamese children abroad and explode the bombs of poverty at home.  In the last 16 years in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we’ve spent $5 trillion.  Imagine what we could have done with $5 trillion at home!  How many schools and hospitals could have been saved?  How much public housing could have been funded?  We could have eliminated homelessness.  When all is said and done we have accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan only the destruction of those countries.”

On POP’s future anti-war plans, Mr. Hamm explains:
“We definitely are going to continue to support the work of NJ’s anti-war coalition  and NJ Peace Action particularly in opposing war with North Korea which would be disastrous. . . .   Beforehand POP had protested on the corner of Broad and Market opposing the US attacks on Syria. . . . We will continue to oppose possible war in Korea, war in Syria, to call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and to oppose unjust imperialist wars abroad. . . . We oppose these wars because they are wrong, we end up supporting dictatorships and opposing progressive governments that don’t agree with US foreign policy.

These wars are disastrous for the people in the countries.  We have caused immense suffering and killed 100s of 1000s of children.  When not directly involved the US is supporting governments like the Saudis and their adventure in Yemen, committing crimes against humanity. Then we have to help people to understand how using resources for war take away resources from use to meet domestic human needs.”

POP was instrumental in mobilizing massive NJ participation in anti-war protests in NYC and NJ in the early days of the latest (and still ongoing) US war in Iraq.  On Iraq, Mr. Hamm states:  “10,000 Americans killed in Iraq, millions of Iraqi, many of them children . . . we’ve gained nothing.  And the wars were proven to be based upon a lie.”

POP plans to make another focus of its antiwar work, the situation in Libya which Mr. Hamm referred to as something that “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” have to take responsibility for.  “They helped turn a country with the highest standard of living on the African continent according to the UN and it now is a failed state and now Black People are being bought and sold in a slave market in Libya.  We’re going to be speaking out about that very shortly . . . We’ll be having something at one of our meetings and probably in the streets.”

Speaking on the subject of Africom, Lawrence states “US troops are all over Africa . . . for geopolitical and economic reasons, due to contention among the great powers, which never ended after World Wars I and II albeit it is perhaps more subdued.  In some periods the contention is violent and in other periods it is political – where politics becomes a substitute for warfare.  That’s why we see so many US troops all over the world.  That’s the underlying cause.

The reasons given (by the US) is that we are going to fight the radical Islamist groups or support democratic movements or oppose dictatorships – those are the political reasons that they give.  While they might be engaged in battle with different groups they are there to secure the resources of Africa. . . . One of the reasons Obama had his pivot toward China is because China is a rising economic power and the US is struggling to hold on to the markets they have and to not be pushed out by China in other markets.  And that’s what China is doing.

The only card the US holds right now is that it is the dominant superpower and it tries to translate that military might into economic benefit.

The Chinese go in and try to partner with the governments while the US just wants the resources and does not want to give anything in return unless there’s 1000% interest.  When the US gives foreign aid it becomes a debt trap .”

Contact and some regularly scheduled calendar items:

General Assembly Meeting Every Thu 6:30 pm, 224 W. Kinney St., Newark NJ
Justice Monday Protest Every Monday, 4:30-6 pm outside Rodino Federal Bldg, 970 Broad St., Newark NJ
Recruitment (Almost) Every Saturday, noon, corner of Broad and Market, Newark, NJ

Several of the recent anti-war protests have occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. monument on MLK Dr.

http://njpop.org/ 973-801-0001

Saturday, December 2, 2017

RU Working for the CIA and DIA / US Imperialism

 Rutgers Targum recently reported that Rutgers has a close to $2 million Defense Intelligence Agency grant establishing  “a federally-designated Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (IC CAE)”

Its purpose is to develop intelligence programs and inform and educate Rutgers Students.  Operating out of the Orwellian named “Rutgers Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety,” Rutgers has established a Center for Critical Intelligence Studies (CCIS) directed by Rutgers Criminal Justice professor John Cohen.  Cohen has an extensive intelligence background most recently working for the Homeland Security Department.  Rutgers also offers a minor in Critical Intelligence Studies (CIS) through this program. 

Richard Moser Ejected After Attemptng to enter
Cohen stated in the Targum article that CCIS’s purpose is to establish education and training for students that want to enter in the field providing them with access to intelligence “professionals” (read spies and operatives) in the field and to provide training in preparation for an intelligence career.  Another aspect of CCIS is to provide training to those who are already working in the field as spies and operatives.  The CIS minor aims to prepare students in intelligence skills including writing, briefings and research.
Rich Moser feels bump on head

According to the article:  “Students are also given exposure to internship and study abroad opportunities ... The classes feature guest lecturers from the FBI, CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).”
AAUP Support at CIA Protest 1986
The minor requires 18 credits of related course work including Introduction to Critical Intelligence Studies, and Critical Thinking and Analytic Writing for the Intelligence Community.

The program is also offering a one week course IC CAE Certificate in Intelligence and National Security delivered by CCIS.

From the days of the Vietnam war, CIA research, recruitment and other operations as well as ties to the US war machine was a source of conflict between anti-war forces and school administrations.  In 1986, during the US war on Central America, 19 students and recent graduates (including this writer) were arrested protesting CIA recruitment at Rutgers in a blockade of the university president’s office in Old Queens.
Abbie Hoffman 

Now Rutgers is a hub, a major intersection where the Pentagon, the CIA and the other masters of war have full court access for recruitment, training, indoctrination on behalf of US imperialism.

Once again – and even more so now than ever, it is necessary for students with the support of the larger anti-war forces to resist this militarization of Rutgers.

Any faculty or students at Rutgers interested in working on putting together a teach-in at Rutgers on the crimes of the CIA, the DIA and the US intelligence in general, from over throwing governments and mass murder, raising of paramilitary death squads, subversion and intervention to thwart the sovereignty and democracy of other nations and peoples, the slaughter of 1000s from CIA and DIA operated drone weapons programs, drug running, money laundering and every other kind of dirty operation . . .please contact us through the number below.

 Rutgers now is directly complicit with these operations.  This collaboration with the 
Younger Bob Witanek
goals of US imperialism and war making around the planet needs to be confronted and protested by all those at Rutgers seeking peace and justice and an end to the interventionism of US imperialism.

I must interject a personal opinion - about our protest in 1986 - while we were unsuccessful in stopping CIA operations at Rutgers - painfully obvious in 2017 . . . the establishment of this massive operation at Rutgers proves THAT OUR PROTEST WAS RIGHT!

Students interested in organizing a teach-in and other activities on this topic should contact this writer at 908-881-5275 (text or voice).  Possible modest stipend available.  Also, contact same number for the following: offering stipend to any of the students enrolled in the CIA minor at Rutgers who would provide me the entire curriculum of all related classes - all assignments and all materials in use.