MAPA Responds to Rising Dangers, as US Engages in Proxy Wars

Peace Advocate December 2023

Photo of MAPA activists and allies at a Palestine solidarity standout in Harvard Square.

by Cole Harrison

As the year draws to a close, Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA) marks its passage by taking stock. How has the world changed in relation to this time last year and what are we doing to respond? How are we wrestling with the new challenges we face?

The Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Gaza conflicts dominated headlines this year. These two US proxy wars have revealed that our country’s government is primed to do whatever is necessary to preserve its global power. In response to these events and others, MAPA has intensified its level of activity, grown and matured, and organized four major campaigns to carry out our work.

To focus on just two of these vital efforts:


The Russia / Ukraine conflict has slogged on tragically with few signs of a resolution, resulting in more than 500,000 casualties, including at least 10,000 civilian deaths. The US has sent over $75 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine and authorized tens of billions more. We in MAPA, along with others in the peace movement, continue to demand a ceasefire and negotiations. But the Biden administration and Congress have pressed on, sending major weapons systems, crossing red lines, and pretending that Ukraine – even though its offensive has stalled – will somehow beat Russia. Ukrainians continue to pay the price for this US proxy war with their blood. Only recently has US aid faltered, as Republicans blocked additional weapons shipments; halting the flow of military aid is a positive development, but it has been cynically coupled with the requirement that the US effectively close the southern border to immigration.

MAPA organized the “Ukraine: A Time for Peace” campaign to focus our continued, determined opposition to this war. We held a series of rallies, beginning early in the year. More than 80 people rallied at six Mass. Congressional offices last January to protest President Biden’s decision to send tanks into the escalating conflict, then marked the first anniversary of the war on Feb. 24 with a Boston rally at Downtown Crossing which drew 50 people in the bitter cold, accompanied by rallies the same day in Worcester, Northampton, Springfield, Ipswich, Falmouth, and Greenfield.  Our outreach campaign gathered 1,988 postcards addressed to members of Congress at more than 20 events.   We hosted a series of well-attended educational webinars on Ukraine throughout the year, attended the International Summit for Peace in Ukraine, held in Vienna last June, and organized a rally at Park Street during the worldwide week of actions for peace.


The Israel-Gaza war quickly captured the attention of the world and led to the biggest upsurge in the U.S. peace movement since the height of the Iraq war in 2003-2006.   After the violent Hamas attack on both Israeli soldiers and civilians on Oct. 7, Israel’s murderous ongoing assault on Gaza has killed nearly 20,000 people, mostly civilian women and children, in little over two months. MAPA formed a Gaza / Israel Peace Campaign which continues to hold weekly meetings that draw 25-35 activists from across the state on Wednesday evenings. The campaign has subgroups in each of our state’s 9 Congressional Districts, focused on pressuring their member of Congress to call for an enduring ceasefire in Gaza. With other groups, we helped build four large Gaza protests which drew thousands in Boston, and participated in protests nearly every day in towns and campuses, large and small, across the state, targeting the offices of every Massachusetts member of Congress except Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who has stood firmly for a ceasefire since the start.

Other Major Campaigns

MAPA has formed two other major campaigns: the Twin Threats Campaign which tackles the two existential dangers of nuclear war and climate catastrophe; and the Peace Economy Campaign, which develops serious ongoing relationships with organizations in the fields of health care, education, and fighting poverty to address the deep damage wreaked by the military budget on all civilian aspects of our society.

For more information on the full array MAPA’s work, see our 2023 Year End Report. 

Cole Harrison is executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action.