The following workshops are scheduled at the Massachusetts Peace Action Annual Meeting:
Seeing Through the Smokescreen:
Reflections on Continued War in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Speakers: Kathy Kelly and Rachel Williams
After 13 years of military occupation of that country, the U.S. plans to maintain its forces in Afghanistan until 2024. The draft agreement would allow the Pentagon to continue to control nine airbases across the country. Is the U.S. waging a humanitarian war to defend the people of Afghanistan as it claims or fighting for geopolitical influence in Central Asia?
How can peace activists ensure that Afghanistan and Pakistan remain visible to the American people, who are in favor of ending the war, and work to end the U.S. military presence and drone war? How can we spread the word about Afghanistan and Pakistan to a new generation of Americans?
Kathy Kelly, Voices of Creative Nonviolence. Kelly will report and show pictures from her January trip, the most recent of nine recent visits to Afghanistan, where she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers and lives alongside ordinary people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul.
Rachel Williams, Massachusetts Peace Action and Helping Women Heal. A Groveland, Mass. Resident, Williams raises funds for girls’ schools in rural Pakistan and has traveled there multiple times in recent years. She will give an update on the drone war and Pakistani politics.
Organizing to Stop a War with Iran:
Stop Congressional Sabotage– Support a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East
Presenters: Dr. Shahin Tabatabaie and Jeff Klein
Facilitators: Shelagh Foreman and Guntram Mueller
After more than 30 years of rancor and distrust and many lost opportunities to mend fences, Presidents Obama and Rouhani have successfully initiated an agreement and framework for a peaceful resolution of our differences. Dr. Tabatabaie will describe the background for these negotiations from an Iranian perspective.
On January 20th the US and Iran embarked on a critical phase of nuclear negotiations, while a growing number of Senators are preparing to kill this interim deal with Iran and pass new sanctions to put us on the path to war.
59 Senators have already cosponsored this new sanctions bill, S.1881, that would not just result in an end to negotiations with Iran, but would also promise U.S. support for Israeli strikes on Iran.
Blocking this bill is our TOP priority. There can be peace between the U.S. and Iran in 2014…but ONLY if this bill is blocked and diplomacy can continue.
Mass. Peace Action is working with Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on a concerted campaign to block the sanctions.
We will discuss the strategies and tactics necessary to organize a winning campaign, develop a time line from January 20 – July 20, 2014, and find roles for everyone.
Part of this project is the concurrent and complementary effort towards a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. All Arab states and Iran voice support for a WMDFZ. Israel, the only nuclear weapons state in the region, has also expressed interest, but only under conditions of a comprehensive regional peace. When comparing a Middle East with the potential of further nuclear weapons proliferation to a WMDFZ in the Middle East, there may be a basis for progress on a regional agreement.
Jeff Klein, Mass. Peace Action board member and expert on the Middle East, attended, and will report on the recent (non UN sponsored) conference on a WMDFZ in the Middle East. It was held in Haifa and attended by a number of current and former Israeli Knesset members as well as delegations from other countries around the world.
Dr. Shanin Tabatabaie is an Iranian-born urologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.
Guntram Mueller, Mass. Peace Action board member and Chair of the Nuclear Weapons Abolition task force, will bring this into focus and tell us how we can help to make it happen.
Shelagh Foreman is Program Director of Massachusetts Peace Action.
Transitioning Towards a Peace Economy
Facilitator: Mike Prokosch
Presenters: Mike Prokosch, Carol Coakley, and a representative of 350 Massachusetts (tba)
The Pentagon’s humongous budget feeds a permanent war lobby of military contractors and bases. Can we dismantle their war economy piece by piece at the grassroots level and start building a peaceful, sustainable, and democratic economy for our children? This workshop will look at Peace Action’s work in other states and a new working group in Massachusetts that is trying to bring together the peace, environmental, and new economy movements.
Mike Prokosch is a labor educator and popular educator, the founder of Dorchester People for Peace, and national coordinator of the New Priorities Network.
Carol Coakley, a Massachusetts Peace Action board member, is convener of Metrowest Peace Action. She represents the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex state senate district on the Democratic State Committee.
Seeking Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel
Presenter: Hilary Rantisi, Director of the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Facilitator: Eva Moseley, Massachusetts Peace Action board member and member of its Palestine/Israel Task Force
Hilary Rantisi grew up in the West Bank under the rigors of Israeli occupation. She says of her family’s life in Ramallah, “Curfews, imprisonment, shootings, home demolitions and land confiscation are all realities we have experienced intimately.”
Using Ms. Rantisi’s current perspectives and personal history as a springboard for group discussion, we will examine the US role in the ongoing suffering of Palestinians, and consider actions we can take that would support a real “peace process” based on justice, human rights and international law. This is also an opportunity for members with divergent views on Mass Peace Action’s current focus on Israel/Palestine to hear one another’s concerns.
US Strategic Pivot to Asia/Pacific and the Trans Pacific Partnership
Duncan McFarland, United for Justice with Peace
John Ratliff, Massachusetts Peace Action, economic justice coordinator
With the drawdown from the wars in the Middle East, the Obama administration is shifting long term US strategic focus to the Asia/Pacific. This huge region is developing rapidly and is already referred to as the
economic growth engine of the world. Rising China presents a special obstacle for US hegemony and increasing tensions are evident. The response is to build up US military forces, support the rebirth of Japanese militarism and strengthen the US economic position through a giant NAFTA-like trade agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership. The workshop will present the basic pivot strategy and action steps to join the campaign to stop the TPP.