End the Occupation of Palestine Now!
What to Expect from Obama’s Trip to Middle East

Iraq War Anniversary
National Anti-Drone Days of Action in April
Demand for Reparations and Accountability for War Crimes and Human Rights Violations


End the Occupation of Palestine Now!
What to Expect from Obama’s Trip to Middle East

President Obama is traveling to the Middle East beginning March 20. He will visit Israel first, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu (the head of government) and President Simon Peres. He then travels to Palestine, on the West Bank, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas. These talks are followed by a speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, March 21, where Obama will “deliver a speech to the Israeli people,” the White House reports. Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital, though claimed by Israel and in part controlled by her. So Obama’s choice to use Jerusalem as the place to talk with the “Israeli people” is both a means to underline support for Israel while giving Obama an opportunity to talk about her Arab and Palestinians neighbors and a “future” on U.S. terms. It is a future that does not uphold the rights of Palestinians, who have long lived in the region, including ending the occupatoin now, defending the right of return and the right to pursue her own path free of U.S. and Israeli interference.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, speaking in advance of the trip, addressed the importance of Obama's speech at the Convention Center. He explained that while the agenda for talks with the Israeli government will be wide-ranging, “More important than that [agenda], in some respects, this [trip] is an opportunity for the President to speak directly to the Israeli people.” He added, “The President very much wanted to have the opportunity to speak not just to Israelis, but to Israeli young people, so we've worked to help build a crowd that will bring in a significant number of Israeli university students from the many universities that our embassy partners with within Israel.”

In this manner it can be seen that Obama is striving to develop relations not only with the government, but directly with the people of Israel. It is similar to his appeals directly to Americans, urging them to support the president against Congress. But in this case, he is urging Israelis, especially the youth, to follow him and urge the Israeli government to do the same. It can be expected then that while repeatedly underlining that the U.S. has “unbreakable bonds” with Israel, Obama will also likely call on the youth to back his plans for the future. These plans likely include those for a Palestinian state dictated by U.S.-style democracy, and perhaps closer ties with other Arab countries, like Jordan. Obama will be visiting Jordan as his last stop on the trip.

National Security Advisor Rhodes brought out that talks with the Israeli government will include “efforts to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, the ongoing situation in Syria, the developments in the wider region that pose both opportunities and security challenges, and efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Obama comes to Israel from a position of relative strength politically. He readily won re-election, an election where Netanyahu supported Romney. Obama also secured the nomination of his defense secretary Chuck Hagel — despite opposition from pro-Israeli forces. Hagel, and new Secretary of State John Kerry are known for calling for negotiations with Iran and Syria. Netanyahu on the other hand, is faced with forming a coalition government in order to remain in power. It is also the case that the U.S. now has military and drone bases in the region and does not need to rely on Israel as much as in the past as its main military outpost.

Obama will utilize this strength, the many billions provided in funding, and his appeal to Israelis, to secure support for his plans. While most agreements will no doubt remain secret, it is clear that Obama does not want any rogue action by Israel in relation to Iran and does not want Israel to oppose U.S. maneuvers for “developments in the wider region that pose both opportunities and security challenges,” including possible negotiations with Iran, Syria and Jordan.

It is also possible that as part of such arrangements, Obama will give a green light to further Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza, as has been the case in the past. The criminal siege of Gaza continues. The Palestinians are being called on to support U.S.-style democracy, or what the White House calls “the significant institution-building” pushed by the U.S on the West Bank, while rejecting the defense of rights and nation-building done in Gaza. No doubt, Obama will put the burden of achieving peace on the Palestinians. And green light by Obama or not, the effort to wipe out Palestinian resistance by targeting Gaza completely failed the last time the U.S. and Israel attempted it and do doubt will also fail in the future.

The White House reports that talks with Jordan, the last stop, include “the very grave humanitarian crisis in Syria, including the significant refugee population within Jordan.” And that the U.S. is “very supportive of the political reform efforts within Jordan.” Again, the effort to impose U.S.-style democracy in the region is clear, while talk about "humanitarian" crisis is used to justify potential military action. While at present Obama is pursuing negotiations in its interests — particularly in light of opposition from Russia and China to invasions of Syria or Iran — the potential for military action is always present.


National Anti-Drone Days of Action

San Diego California, April 4-7, 2013

National Call from Drone Diego Coordinating Committee

The Drone Diego Coordinating Committee invites organizations and individuals to come to San Diego on April 4-7, as we protest and bring attention to the dangers drones present to the people of the world. Join us for nonviolent actions, workshops, street theater and more, or organize your own activities.

Our opposition to drone warfare is based on our stand for peace and justice. We believe that:

Armed drones are weapons of terror. They kill combatants and civilians, children and adults, men and women, alike. Their presence overhead terrorizes entire communities.

Extrajudicial assassinations by killer drones violate U. S. and international law.

Surveillance drones threaten our liberties, spying on communities and borders, invading our personal privacy.

Drones make our families less secure by making it easier for military and paramilitary agencies (like the CIA) to continue endless war without limits in either space or time.

Why come to San Diego? San Diego is the drone production capital of the world. San Diego is home to General Atomics, builders of the killer Predator and Reaper drones (which may be armed with Hellfire missiles), and Northrup Grumman, maker of the Global Hawk surveillance drone. Surveillance drones also regularly fly along the border between San Diego and Mexico.

A strong presence in San Diego will draw attention locally and nationally to the hazards posed by these robotic killers and spy craft. We hope that this will be the first of many actions in San Diego

Of course not everyone has the resources to come to San Diego. We encourage those who cannot come to make April 4-7 days of action against drones in their own communities.

Kickoff day is Thursday, April 4, with a demonstration at the General Atomics drone production facility in Poway, just north of San Diego. The San Diego chapter of Veterans for Peace is holding a weekly vigil there and we will join them.

We invite other organizations to develop workshops, forums and actions during the four days of action. If you or your organization would like to plan an event, please contact our host committee so we can provide information about locations, venues, and schedule coordination. We also welcome sponsoring organizations (which provide financial or organizational resources) and endorsing organizations (which express their public agreement with our goals) to contact the host committee.

Our host committee will work to provide housing in San Diego for activists who need it. We are also working to establish an encampment, with more details to follow.

For more information about the National Days Against Drones Actions in San Diego, or if your organization would like to become a sponsor or endorser, please contact San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice (sdcpj.org), Peace Resource Center San Diego (prcsd.org), or San Diego Veterans for Peace (sdvfp.org).

Thursday, April 4

3-6 pm — San Diego Veterans for Peace demonstration at General Atomics Predator drones production site. Assemble at General Atomics Way and Kirkham Way, Poway. More info: email Dave Patterson  or phone 760-207-9139

7-8 pm Overpass Light Brigade, Clairemont Drive bridge over the I-5. Park at Mission Bay Visitors Center, west of overpass. Volunteers are needed to hold letters. More info: email Chris, or OLB Facebook event

Friday, April 5

10 am Rally at General Atomics Headquarters, 3500 General Atomics Court (off John Jay Hopkins Drive), La Jolla 92121. Coordinated by CodePink. More info: email Peace Resource Center 

4-6 pmDemonstration and bannering at Northrup Grumman, 9326 Spectrum Center Blvd. and Ruffin Road, San Diego 92123. Please wear black! coordinated by CodePink More info: email Peace Resource Center 

6:30-9:30 pmAssembly with dinner, socializing, and more. Location TBA. more info: email SDCPJ 

7-8 pmOverpass Light Brigade, Location TBA. Volunteers are needed to hold letters. More info: email Chris, orOLB Facebook event

Saturday, April 6

1-3 pmJoin us at the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum (Harbor Drive south of Broadway, downtown San Diego) for a demonstration. Please wear black. Coordinated by Women Occupy; More info: email Martha Sullivan  or phone 858-945-6273.

6 pm; 7-9 pm dinner Forum with Medea Benjamin (CodePink), Pedro Rios (AFSC San Diego), and others. Church of the Brethren, 3850 Westgate Pl., San Diego 92105. More info: email Peace Resource Center 

7-8 pm — Overpass Light Brigade at Forum site. More info: email Chris, orOLB Facebook event

Sunday, April 7

10 am - 3 pmGeneral Assembly and Workshops, Location TBA. More info: email Peace Resource Center

* * *

Syracuse, New York (Hancock drone base), April 26-28

Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire

April 26 – 28 — Demonstrations and convergence to action. Three days of resistance. Three Days to say NO! to Drones. NO! to Global Wars. NO! to Empire.

Friday, April 26 — Welcome & Introductions by Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars; Music with Charley King

Saturday, April 27 — All day conference with plenary and panel presentations, art workshop, organizing and networking workshops

Sunday, April 28 — 12 noon: Rally and Demonstrate at Hancock Air National Guard Base



Demand for Reparations and Accountability for War Crimes and Human Rights Violations

Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, the Federation of Labor Councils and Unions in Iraq, supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Harvard Law School's Human Rights Clinic, submitted a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a hearing on the human rights violations of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and U.S. military veterans.

This Commission is an important body of the Organization of American States that hears human rights concerns regarding the actions of countries throughout the Americas. […]

Our hearing will make the case for reparations and accountability from the U.S. government for [killings, casualties, war crimes] and:

The health effects of certain military munitions and burn pits of hazardous materials that have poisoned various communities in Iraq that now suffer from very high rates of cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems. A recent health study suggests the highest levels of genetic damage ever studied anywhere are in post-war Iraq. (Some veterans also are suffering from the health effects of toxic exposure to these same munitions and burn pits.) […]

High rates of untreated post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and military sexual trauma, which have systematically gone untreated by the military and the Veterans Administration (VA) system. It is estimated that active military members are committing suicide at the rate of one per day, and veterans at the rate of 22 per day. The VA currently has a backlog of 900,000 disability claims.

Petition to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Re.: Letter in Support of Thematic Hearing on Human Rights Impacts of the U.S.-led Decade of War

We, the undersigned individuals, advocates and human rights organizations, write to support the request for a thematic hearing entitled Human Rights Impacts of the U.S.-led Decade of War. We express great concern about the lack of accountability for the serious, widespread and ongoing human rights violations resulting from over a decade of the U.S.-initiated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The effects of these wars will be felt for a long time to come by those sent to fight them and by the communities where they have been fought.

In addition to the killings and casualties, and evidence of war crimes which in many cases have gone unaddressed, these wars have had a lasting impact on the health of communities in Iraq and Afghanistan and on U.S. service members.

In particular,

The U.S. military’s use of certain munitions and burn pits has an apparent link to increasing rates of cancer, birth defects and other health issues in communities in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as among active duty U.S. military personnel and returning veterans. For example, Haweeja, Iraq has seen a sharp rise in serious birth defects after a U.S. base was installed and began testing munitions;

Failure to treat the physical and mental injuries suffered by service members has affected the service members themselves, their communities at home and, when redeployed, communities in the theaters of war;

Gender-based and sexual violence, as a weapon and by-product of war has had a deeply traumatic and wide reaching impact on women and men in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those in the military who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST).

The war in Afghanistan continues. In Iraq, a U.S.-established government represses a growing civil society movement while selling off the country’s natural resources to multinational companies. Little has been done to begin to address the myriad of human rights violations that have taken place and continue to take place as a result of the wars. We come together in solidarity with those most directly impacted by the wars to envision a different way forward: one that re-prioritizes the value of human life, health and dignity, and is committed to the principle of accountability, including acknowledgement of and reparations for the harm caused.

We therefore write to express our support of the request for a thematic hearing submitted to this Commission on March 19, 2013 by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

(Support hearing request by signing on here.)


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