2019 Annual Meeting Breakouts

workshop

The following breakouts will be run during our Annual Meeting on March 9, from 3:15 to 4:35 pm.

The Green New Deal—how should the peace movement respond?

Facilitators: Rosalie Anders and John MacDougall, co-conveners, MAPA Peace & Climate working group; Rosemary Kean,  convener, MAPA Racial Justice & Decolonization working group

The Green New Deal (GND) offers an exciting positive response to the climate crises.  It does this in 3 ways: a) radical policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; b)second, government leadership in creating jobs in clean energy etc.; c) ensuring that all policies are socially equitable.  But war-mongering and the military budget are not top priorities in the GND.  So in this breakout group we will consider: how can the GND help us work towards a less warlike world, and what might positive peacebuilding planks in the GND platform look like?

We will first briefly consider whether a strong peace plank in the GND platform will deprive it of crucial support, by making the GND seem too radical for many people.  We will then discuss in small groups how peace issues can be inserted into the GND platform, e.g. by focusing on the wasteful military budget, and on international cooperation to address climate change.

Action steps may include: a) possible public statements on GND by MAPA for legislators and/or the general public; b) encouraging MAPA members and supporters to take actions supporting GND bills etc. at the federal and state levels; c) encouraging MAPA members and supporters to sign petitions etc. by peace organizations urging that there be peace planks in the GND platform

Cosponsored by Mass. Peace Action working groups on Peace & Climate, and Racial Justice

Yemen and Raytheon: a Massachusetts War and the new anti-war movement

Presenters: Brian Garvey, MAPA Next Gen; Paul Shannon, Raytheon Antiwar Campaign

Entering its fifth year this month, the Saudi war in Yemen has become the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. Virtually invisible for 3 years, the gory murder of Jamal Khashoggi has suddenly opened a window into the vicious nature of the Saudi regime and the extent of U.S. government and U.S. war contractor’s involvement in Yemen war crimes. The result has been the growth of a still small, but multi-faceted anti-war movement in which young people and students are taking more and more leadership. There have been numerous articles and protests about the collaboration of local Universities with the Saudis and with companies selling weapons to the Saudis. There have been rallies at B.U., Tufts, MIT and Northeastern against allowing recruiters from war companies on campus. College officials have been forced to justify their continuing relationships with the Saudis. A new project has emerged that focuses on trying to make colleges transparent about the money they take from brutal regimes and destructive corporations. A bill has been filed in the statehouse calling for divestment of the Mass. Pension plan from companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.

A central focus of this movement has been Raytheon, based right here in our backyard, that not only sells the bombs and other weapons to the Saudis, but brags of its long-term relationship with Saudi Arabia and its efforts in Riyadh itself to strengthen the Saudi military.

This workshop will help you see where you might connect to this growing movement against the U.S.-Saudi-university-war profiteer alliance and its deadly consequences for the people of Yemen and the region. Open to all. Students and young people looking for ways to join this movement for peace are especially welcome.

Action steps will include protests at war plants and Mass. institutions connected to the war against Yemen; asking state legislators to pass the Raytheon divestment bill; writing local letters to the editor; getting the faith community involved; attending or organizing public forums; creating student groups on campuses

Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba: Responding to the US Assault on Latin America’s Left

MAPA has not worked on Latin America in recent years, but with the recent increase in U.S. regime change threats against Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, we have recently endorsed and participated in several actions, events and planned actions. 

This breakout session will invite those interested in working in solidarity with Latin America to discuss how MAPA can contribute to this work.  Discussion will be enriched and facilitated by contributions from:

Richard Krushnic, member of Venezuela Solidarity Committee, recently returned from Nicaragua (convener)

Jose Aleman, former consul general of El Salvador in Boston

Rev. Mike Clark, former executive director of Witness for Peace, traveled 7 times to Venezuela

Andrew King, UMass Boston graduate student in political science

Moving Peace Issues in Congress

Presenters: Carol Coakley and Pat Westwater-Jong, MAPA Legislative/ Political Committee

We have been told by aides more than once that “No one ever talks about these issues with us”.

In this workshop, we’ll discuss a variety of ways to get our message to Congress, with a focus on meeting in person.

Facilitators will share their experiences of building relationships with Congresspeople and their aides and solicit the same from attendees. Attendees are encouraged to bring questions that we’ll address as a group, as time permits.

The Peace Agenda in the Massachusetts Legislature

Presenters: Jonathan King, chair, MAPA Nuclear Disarmament working group and vice chair of MAPA board; Kea van der Ziel, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility; Peter Casey, MAPA Nuclear Disarmament working group.

The issues of nuclear disarmament, endless wars and bloated Pentagon budgets are all in the realm of the US Congress. However, Congressional action on these fronts has been laggard in recent decades. This suggested the need to pull back and build a stronger political base from below.

One step was the formation of the Mass State Peace and Justice Network. One outcome of these meetings was the need to bring these national issues into the political life of the State Legislature and therefore more deeply  into the political life of the Commonwealth. Some three dozen volunteers – working with supportive State Legislators – succeeded in having 9 bills introduced into the State Legislature for the coming 2019-2020 two year session. We refer to the bills as the Commonwealth Peace and Justice Agenda. More than 55 State Representatives and State Senators have signed on as sponsors or co-sponsors of these bills. State Legislative rules guarantee each of these bills a Hearing before an apppriaate committee.

At this breakout we will review the political content of the bills, begin to organize to mobilize testimony for the hearings to come, and discuss how to promote this approach in other states acrosss the nation. Historically initiatives begun in the Mass State Legislalure, such as divestment from tobacco companies, were then taken up in other states and amplified nationally.

Withdrawing from nuclear arms control agreements and the new arms race

Presenters:

Gary Goldstein; Guntram Mueller, Michael VanElzakker, Elaine Scarry, Subrata Ghoshroy (invited)

The US has withdrawn from the Iran agreement, which had kept Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It is about to drop out of the INF Treaty, endangering Europe’s security and opening up the US and Russia to developing new intermediate range nuclear missiles. The US is planning to provide nuclear reactor technology to Saudi Arabia, allowing them to develop reactors for the production of material for nuclear bombs.

The “modernization program” is underway to upgrade existing nuclear arms and to develop new classes of threatening weaponry at an estimated cost of $1.3 trillion. The latest government report on nuclear arms production, and conditions for deployment, fosters increasing risk of accidental or intentional nuclear attacks. There is considerable uneasiness about the presidential authority to launch nuclear attacks – there are some congressional efforts to counter that authority.

Participants will discuss contacting congressional reps about supporting arms control efforts, renewing the Start Treaty, retaining the INF treaty, restoring the Iran agreement, supporting and strengthening the renewal of the non-proliferation treaty, and following up on the state legislature’s actions on nuclear disarmament issues.

Rep. Ilhan Omar: Reacting to the ongoing backlash, turning the tables

Conveners: Noble Larson, Munir Jirmanus, Jeff Klein

Brief description of the work MAPA’s Palestine/Israel working group had been engaged in over the last year.
  – Cite (or if possible play youtube video of) what Rep. Omar said. (If use youtube video, good audio alone should suffice.

 – How can we support her? 

 – A new rep had finally spoken truth about AIPAC, maybe clumslily, and immediately she’s getting viciously attacked. How do we SHIFT THE FOCUS from the “controversy” of one new rep to the real underlying issues which are now visible?

 – how can we turn the current backlash against her to one against itself? I.e. “turn the tables”?

 – how to break the prohibition against talking about AIPAC and criticizing Israel?

 – what should she do differently? Can we help her? Will she even listen to us? Is she talking with Betty McCollum?

 – what actions can we take: letters to reps, meet with reps/aides, talk with reps at public events (coffee shop meetings, senior centers), bird-dogging, letters to papers (local as well as Globe), street theatre (Code Pink, e.g.), Al Jazerra AIPAC video

 – Smaller group discussions during the breakout period, if attendance warrants:
      – if lots of attendees break out into subgroups
      – if only a few decide which action we want to discuss and do so as a single group.