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                                   —Alex M Sanchez—

About the images:

The University of Florida crew team during sunset on Newman’s Lake.

About the photojournalist:

Alex M Sanchez is a UF photojournalism student and currently freelances for The Gainesville Sun. She specializes in documentary photography and her interests lie in creating social change through visual storytelling. She enjoys experimenting with creative lighting techniques and double exposures in her free time. 

She has interned for the Miami Herald and The Gainesville Sun and is the current president of National Press Photographers Gator Chapter.

To see more of her work: www.alexmsanchez.com

Iran, Israeli Peace Movement & Pressuring Congress

UnitedForPeace.org

Yesterday, as the nation celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began monitoring Iran’s compliance with a historic deal reached Nov. 24 in Geneva between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, to diplomatically resolve the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has stated that Iran is committed to the deal and will fulfill its obligations starting immediately. According to Zarif, Tehran is ready to enter talks for a permanent accord as soon as the interim deal goes into force.

However, in response to intense lobbying by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israel’s hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a bi-partisan group of Senators is threatening to scuttle the deal by passing legislation (S. 1881) that would impose additional sanctions on Iran before giving the negotiations a chance to succeed. We have made some progress, with 20 Senators now opposing the bill in support of diplomacy. But, with 59 co-sponsors, and 19 Senators not publicly decided, we need to keep up the pressure to make the bill veto-proof. (See below.) A similar bill could be introduced in the House any time.

Good news! A New Israeli Peace Movement

In December 2012, Israel and the U.S. scuttled a United Nations-mandated conference in Helsinki to commence negotiations to establish a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East.

As recently described in the UK Guardian: “The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads… with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.”

We have been led to believe that there is no opposition in Israel to its own nuclear weapons. However, last month an unprecedented coalition of former and current members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) with Israeli peace and human rights organizations held a historic international conference in Haifa, For a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone in the Middle East. The Haifa Conference Declaration, signed by former and current members of the Knesset, members of the French and German parliaments, and leading Israeli and international anti-nuclear, peace and human rights activists, calls for prompt convening of the stalled Helsinki Conference as a permanent diplomatic solution to the ongoing threat of catastrophic war in the Middle East.

As former Knesset member Issam Makhoul, the first member to raise the question of Israel’s nuclear weapons, in 2000, declared in Haifa: “The security of Israel will not be safeguarded by disastrous war threats, but by achieving a political solution, in the framework of a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East. This is the new wind that is blowing from Geneva, this is the new wind that is blowing from the agreement reached in Syria about their Chemical weapons arsenal, and this is the wind blowing on all the peoples of the region and the world in this day and age. For this message to be realized, all sides are needed to attend the UN-sponsored Helsinki Conference on a WMD and Nuclear Weapons’ Free Zone in the Middle East.”

Please share news of this exciting new Israeli peoples’ peace initiative with your elected representatives, your fellow activists, and your friends!

Keep Up the Pressure on Congress!

Call both of your Senators, toll-free, at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927). If they are co-sponsors of  S.1881, the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act” let them know you want them to withdraw their name. If they are not co-sponsors, let them know you expect a NO vote! If they have publicly taken a position in opposition to this dangerous bill, thank them. Click here to find out where your Senators stand. http://dlvr.it/4qlM1B

The following is a call issued by dozens of organizations in the United States for national days of action from June 28 to July 17 “to oppose the U.S./NATO and Israeli war on Syria.”

The White House’s June 13 announcement that it would begin directly supplying arms to the opposition in Syria is a dramatic escalation of the U.S./NATO war against that country.  Thousands of U.S. troops and intelligence personnel are training opposition forces and coordinating operations in Turkey and Jordan.

Israel, the recipient of more than $3 billion annually in U.S. military aid, has carried out heavy bombing raids against Syria. The Pentagon has developed plans for a “no-fly” zone over Syria, threatening a new U.S. air war.

The pretext for this escalation is the assertion, presented without any actual evidence, that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the conflict that has been raging for more than two years.  Like their predecessors, President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials pretend to be concerned about “democracy” and “human rights” in Syria, but their closest allies in the campaign against Syria are police-state, absolute monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  Once again the so-called “Responsibility to protect,” R2P, is used as a pretext for NATO to dominate this region.

Just as the false claim of “weapons of mass destruction” was used as justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the allegations that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian military is meant to mask the real motives of Washington and its allies. Their aim is to carry out “regime change,” as part of the drive to create “a new Middle East.”

The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S.-backed Israeli war in Lebanon in 2006, the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya, the now-escalating war in Syria and the growing threats against Iran are part of a coordinated regional effort by the United States, Britain and France to dominate this oil-rich and strategic region.

The U.S. government cuts basic services and has eliminated hundreds of thousands of public sector workers’ jobs in the last three years in the name of a discredited austerity which has destroyed the economy, but has unlimited billions available for wars of aggression and NSA surveillance of almost every American.

We join together to call for National Days of Action, June 28-July 15, 2013, to demand:

Stop the U.S./NATO/Israeli war and all forms of intervention against Syria!

  1. Self-determination free from outside intervention for the Syrian people!
  2. Fund people’s needs, not the military!
  3. U.S. Out of the Middle East!

Endorsers:

  1. United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
  2. ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism)
  3. United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
  4. AFI3RM
  5. All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)
  6. Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
  7. Arab Americans for Peace
  8. Arab Americans for Syria – AA4S
  9. BAYAN USA
  10. CRI-Panafricain
  11. Freedom Road Socialist Organization
  12. Global Network Against Nuclear Power in Space
  13. Green Party of the United States
  14. Honduras Resistencia USA
  15. International Action Center
  16. International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
  17. Iran Working Group VFP
  18. KmB Pro-People Youth
  19. March Forward!
  20. May 1 Workers and Immigrant Rights Coalition
  21. Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
  22. Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL)
  23. Revival of Panafricanism Forum
  24. SI Solidarity with Iran
  25. Socialist Action
  26. Syrian American Forum
  27. The Green Shadow Cabinet
  28. U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
  29. U.S. Peace Council
  30. Ugnayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland)
  31. Veterans For Peace
  32. Workers World Party
  33. World Can’t Wait
  34. Akbar Muhammad, International Representative, Nation of Islam
  35. Ardeshir Ommani, President, American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)
  36. David Swanson, RootsAction
  37. Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report (organization for identification purpose only)
  38. Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild
  39. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, candidates, Green Party
  40. Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild/Los Angeles
  41. Margaret Flowers & Kevin Zeese, PopularResistance
  42. Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report (organization for identification purpose only)
  43. Nada Khader, WESPAC
  44. Prof. Jared Ball, radio host
  45. Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
  46. Ron Jacobs, journalist
  47. Sami Ramadani, journalist and scholar
  48. Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival
  49. ANAKBAYAN Los Angeles and San Diego
  50. BAYAN-SOCAL
  51. Bob Carter, Justice for Palestinians, Houston (organization for identification purpose only)
  52. Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
  53. Community Futures Collective
  54. Eugene E Ruyle, Peace and Freedom Party
  55. Habi Arts
  56. Kevin Akin, California State Chair, Peace and Freedom Party
  57. LEF Foundation
  58. Los Angeles Peace Council
  59. Maine Code Pink
  60. Peace and Freedom Party, Santa Cruz County
  61. Peoples Video Network
  62. Puerto Rican Alliance-LA
  63. RI Peoples Assembly
  64. RI SOS Save Our Schools Coalition
  65. RI Unemployed Council
  66. Sabah Jawad, Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
  67. School of the Americas Watch – LA (SOA Watch-LA)
  68. SiGAw-GABRIELA USA
  69. Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC)
  70. Stop the War Machine, New Mexico
  71. Teach Peace Foundation, Sacramento, Calif.
  72. The Dream Team 2013, RI
  73. Union of Progressive Iranians
  74. West County Toxics Coalition, Richmond, Calif.

See unacpeace.org to endorse or for more information.

By Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

The U.S. anti-war movement was always a lot less than it appeared to be. At its height, activists claimed that the sheer weight of visible public opinion would shake power relationships to the very foundation. But it turned out that many of the anti-war legions were actually comprised of partisan Democrats who only opposed Republican wars. “For the phony anti-warrior, imperialism with a Democratic face, is just fine.”

A Letter from Leslie Cagan, Phyllis Bennis, Bill Fletcher & Other UFPJ Founders

UnitedForPeace.org ”

Friends,

Let’s not beat around the bush. We’re writing this letter to encourage you to make a donation to United for Peace and Justice, a generous donation.

As the world watched the U.S. get ready to go to war against Iraq, we were part of the small group that convened in the fall of 2002 to say something had to be organized in the U.S. to stop this madness. A great deal of anti-war sentiment was already being voiced, so there was a reason to be optimistic about creating a new, nationwide coalition. What we didn’t know then was that the ground we were breaking would lead to the largest peace coalition in this country’s history.

At its height, UFPJ had some 1,400 member groups – both national organizations and local groups, groups that were decades old along with those just forming. We were able to do some amazing things over those years: organize the largest mobilizations against the war in Iraq; give support to those in the military opposing the war along with those working to end the economic draft; develop working groups that included coalition members and addressed a range of issues from the attack on civil liberties, to the bloated military budget and the urgent need to fund social programs at home, to linking the struggle for climate justice to the work for peace; and much more. Several of UFPJ’s working groups have remained strong over the years, still bringing together people from around the nation to develop resources, organizing materials and common programmatic work. This includes the Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security, the Legislative and the Jobs Not War working groups.

There is something else, something less tangible, that UFPJ has provided. The work of previous years laid the foundation for more recent important efforts. For instance, a few months ago the U.S. was poised to take military action in Syria, action that could have easily escalated into regional warfare with the U.S. in the middle of it all. But the quick action of the peace movement (and others) helped make visible the widespread public opposition to such action. There are at least two things that made it possible to move quickly and effectively:

* in no small measure, our collective work against the war in Iraq had taught us valuable lessons about how to pressure Washington, and
*  a set of relationships between organizations had been built by working together in the UFPJ coalition and we could skip the getting-to-know-one-another phase of movement work.

Of course, it’s no secret that UFPJ is not the same coalition it once was. The world has changed in the 11 years since it was created, and activism has taken new twists and turns. Over the years, UFPJ has shifted from a coalition structure to being more of a network that shares information and affords opportunities for groups that want to work together on specific issues and projects to do just that. An infrastructure has been built and this is no small feat, nor something that should be given up lightly.

Now, the current leadership of United for Peace and Justice is once again struggling with hard questions: what is needed, how can this network make the most effective contribution, how to maintain a structure that both serves the work of today and could be the foundation for something larger and more powerful in the future? One critical task they have taken on is checking in with the hundreds of local groups and national organizations that still view themselves as part of UFPJ to see what they need and what they might contribute. This work is well underway, but it will take some time before the project in completed.

While that all unfolds, UFPJ needs your help–more specifically, it needs your financial support! We know this is the time of the year when virtually every organization is asking for donations, and we know you are probably already giving to many groups. Nonetheless, we hope you will take a moment to recall the incredible work done by UFPJ over the years, take stock of the ongoing efforts UFPJ is giving leadership to, and consider what it would mean to lose the structure that has been built over the years. 

Yes, it is that serious. Without your support – and the support of others in every corner of the country – the future of UFPJ is in danger. There are many things we would love to have disappear from the planet – senseless wars, theft of resources, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, corporate greed and control over the lives of so many, racial and gender hatred and violence, degradation of the Earth and our climate. But losing UFPJ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it’s totally preventable, if you take action today.

As people who helped found United for Peace and Justice and played a part in building it over the years, we encourage you to show your support, and to do so now.

We hope you enjoy the holidays and we look forward to standing with you – and UFPJ – in the year ahead as we take on the next phases in the struggles for peace and justice.

Yours,

Leslie Cagan – UFPJ National Coordinator 2002-2008
Bill Fletcher, Jr – Racial Justice, Labor and International Activist
Phyllis Bennis – Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies
Van Gosse – Co-Founder, Historians Against the War
John Cavanagh – Director, Institute for Policy Studies
Steve Cobble – Co-Founder of Progressive Democrats of America

Click Here to Donate!

Donations to United for Peace and Justice are tax exempt to the extent permitted by law. The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is UFPJ’s 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor.  If you would like to make a donation by check, please make it payable to “FOR” and write “UFPJ” in the memo line.

Mail to: UFPJ c/o Fellowship of Reconciliation, 521 N. Broadway, Nyack, New York 10960. http://dlvr.it/4WqLWR

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