by Dale R. Suiter
Groups and organizations that promote peace (meaning absence of warfare) between nations have been uniformly unsuccessful in their efforts. To date – not once has any organized group or organization that promotes peace prevented warfare? Please correct me if I am in error? I know some so-called Peace Groups point to their immense efforts during issues including the Vietnam War and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Peace Groups did nothing to prevent past and current wars. They have a consistent record of failure. Chanting, dancing in the streets, demonstrations, silly clothing, singing and generally acting like fools entertains our Nation’s enemies but does nothing to prevent war.
People contribute to Veterans Today as their particular views of the world may determine – opinions and solutions to important national and international issues and problems. Many people who have never served in the Military are valued contributors. They have important data, information and opinions. We the people need help. Help preventing a fourth war! An entirely avoidable war!
Anti-everything American – drop the “I hate (everything) America” approach. Street demonstrators, direct action folks hiding behind facemasks come out into the open. Left wing, you may choose to prevent a war. Success in this venture means young people in different nations won’t slaughter each other. Those persons on the political right will have to give up profit, i.e. munitions and war related products sales but that is simply a by product of Peace. The political right can donate to a tax-exempt charity and recover some of their lost profit.
Please understand the grammar of Peace:
Throndike & Barnhart in their Advanced Junior Dictionary (circa 1970) defines –
Anti-, prefix meaning:
1. against; opposed of—
2. not; the opposite of—
3. preventing or counteracting—
4. preventing, curing, or alleviating of—
diplomacy: 1. management of relations between nations. the making of treaties, international agreements, etc. as an important part of diplomacy. 2. skill in managing such relations. 3. skill in dealing with others; tact.
diplomat: 1. representative of a nation who is located in a foreign country with the duty of looking after the interests of his own nation in the foreign country. 2. person who is skillful in dealing with others; a tactful person.
diplomatic: 1. of or having to do with diplomacy. 2. skilful in dealing with others; tactful.
diplomatically: in a diplomatic manner; with diplomacy.
diplomatic corps: all of the ambassadors, ministers, etc., of foreign nations at the capital of country.
peace: as in freedom from war …
peace maker: person who makes peace.
O.K. Folks, we know the grammar of Peace. What organizations can effectively implement? The United States of America State Department has many highly talented diplomats. Its mission is:
The State Department’s Mission includes:
Department Mission Statement
Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.
–From the FY 2010 Agency Financial Report,
released November 2010 (see state.gov)
The United States of America even has its own Peace Institute:
The United States Peace Institute:
USIP provides the analysis, training and tools that prevent and end conflicts, promotes stability and professionalizes the field of peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding: A Global Imperative
It is essential that the United States, working with the international community, play an active part in preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts. Fragile states, ethnic and religious strife, extremism, competition for scarce resources and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction all pose significant challenges to peace. The resulting suffering and destabilization of societies make effective forms of managing conflict imperative. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is dedicated to meeting this imperative in new and innovative ways.
USIP’s Mission and Goals
The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:
- Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
- Promote post-conflict stability and development
- Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide
The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.
USIP’s Programs and Activities
In order to achieve the above goals, the Institute undertakes a unique combination of activities, including the following: Operating on-the-ground in zones of conflict, most recently in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Colombia, Iraq, Kashmir, Liberia, the Korean Peninsula, Nepal, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda. Specific projects involve:
- Mediating and facilitating dialogue among parties in conflict
- Building conflict management skills and capacity
- Identifying and disseminating best practices in conflict management
- Promoting the rule of law
- Reforming/strengthening education systems
- Strengthening civil society and state-building
- Educating the public through events, films, radio programs, and an array of other outreach activities
The United States Institute of Peace draws on a variety of resources in fulfilling its mandate, including Institute staff, grantees, fellows, and a broad set of governmental and non-governmental partners:
- Institute Specialists: The Institute employs more than 70 specialists with both geographic and subject-matter expertise. These experts are leaders in their fields. They come from the government, military, NGOs, academia, and the private sector. .
- Partners/Grantees: The Institute works with an extensive network of partners, including non-profits, academic institutions, government agencies, international organizations, and the military. Through its grantmaking program, the Institute has invested $58 million in over 1,700 peacebuilding projects in 76 countries around the world.
- Jennings Randolph Fellows: The Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace awards residential fellowship annually. Since the program’s inception, Senior Fellows have produced more than 125 books and special reports. The Jennings Randolph program also awards non-resident Peace Scholar Fellowships to students at U.S. universities working on doctoral dissertations related to the Institute’s mandate. (usip.org)
O.K. there are two national institutions, one that can provides diplomacy and another with trained experts in Peace. How about all the folks that parade around, chanting, waving signs, blocking entrances to Military Recruiting Offices, singing and the serious ones. What can Peace Groups provide?
How about the Quakers? Fort Bragg North Carolina has a “Quaker House”. Perhaps the Quaker House can coordinate with their national program and get the Secretary of State to convince the President and Congress to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran? Quaker resources include:
The Resources for Peace Web Page
This page can help you find alternatives to war and violence. Our links page includes more than 150 links to peace and social justice groups. Our featured group page gives a link to an outstanding peace and justice group. Our featured service page links you to a helpful resource for peace and justice work. On our commentary page you will find a thought-provoking essay on war, and on our film page you will find a list of recommended films.
On this site you will also find information on how to order our publications on peace and alternatives to violence. We invite you to visit our main page, which has links to Desktop Resources, the publications consulting and Web page design company that provides this page as a public service, as well as to our bookstore and our page devoted to the historic Germantown neighborhood in Philadelphia.
American Friends Service Committee
The American Friends Service Committee’s programs touch a wide range of issues, countries, and communities. What unites them is the unfaltering belief in the essential worth of every human being, non-violence as the way to resolve conflict, and the power of love to overcome oppression, discrimination, and violence.
Note: The AFSC has dozens of offices throughout The United States of America and dozens of countries.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC. Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL’s multi-issue advocacy connects historic Quaker testimonies on peace, equality, simplicity, and truth with peace and social justice issues which the United States government is or should be addressing. FCNL is nonpartisan.
Quakers have many peace resources. There are many others.
About Peace Action
At Peace Action, we believe that war is not a suitable response to conflict, that every person has the right to live without the threat from nuclear weapons and that America has the resources and responsibility to both protect and provide for its citizens.
What we do at Peace Action…
We are the nation’s largest grassroots peace network, with chapters and affiliates in 30 states. We organize our grassroots network to place pressure on Congress and the Administration through write-in campaigns, internet actions, citizen lobbying and direct action. Through a close relationship with progressive members of Congress, we play a key role in devising strategies to move forward peace legislation, and, as a leading member of United for Peace and Justice and the Win Without War coalition, we lend our expertise and large network to achieving common goals.
About Peace Action, The Quakers, The State Department and The United States Peace Institute combined have the expertise, resources and legal authority to negotiate, conduct diplomacy and coordinate with the Executive and Legislative branches of government – to establish diplomatic relations with Iran and avoid war.
O.K. how about Israel? Many contributors to Veterans Today express concerns about Israel? There are many groups in or associated with Israel that wants peace. (Note: Long and detailed – worth reading however!)
Peace and Justice Groups in Israel (September 27)
I have been in Jerusalem since September 20th accompanying the team of Swedish Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) who are meeting with peace and justice groups based in Israel and run by Israelis. I have not been relocated for good and I am still hoping that I will be able to return to Jayyous soon.
The reason I am temporarily working in Jerusalem is because the United Church found that the travel insurance I was carrying, for accident, illness, injuries, and death, was only valid in Israel proper and did not cover the West Bank and Gaza. This necessitated my being pulled out of Jayyous. In order for me to be insured in the Palestinian territories, I have to have war and terrorism coverage. I am here reluctantly, waiting for the church to find the proper coverage. The whole situation does not make sense to me. I wonder if the insurance companies realize that suicide bombers attack Israeli cities like Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, not a West bank village like Jayyous.
While I am here in Jerusalem, the Program Coordinator said it was fine for me to travel with the Israel Team of the EAPPI, which consists of three Swedish EAs. The team”s mandate is to visit selected Peace and Justice groups in Israel to find ways for the EAPPI to support and work with them. The selection of these groups is based on whether they have the same aims and objectives as those of the EAPPI. Towards that end, the selected groups all have the same objectives as the EAPPI: to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, to ensure human rights and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis, and ultimately to bring peace to the region. It is a very worthwhile task, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
We walk a lot in West Jerusalem where most of the Jewish Israelis in the city live. We even passed the area called German Colony, where the most recent suicide bomb attack occurred. I was once in the café that was struck, two years ago. People there are afraid and, in some way, this is a kind of accompaniment in solidarity with people who live in fear. German Colony also happens to be where some of the Israeli peace groups, like Bat Shalom,* have their offices.
The work of making greater connections with the Israeli peace movement had already begun before the current EAPPI Israel Team started its efforts. A survey was conducted in June by two Swedish researchers. The goal of the work, commissioned by the EAPPI and the Swedish Council of Churches, was to list the Israeli organizations which would fit the EAPPI criteria. The result of this survey was a comprehensive list of Israeli organizations with which the EAPPI could work. So, we have an excellent guide to follow.
Last Wednesday, when Israelis were preparing for their New Year — Rosh Hashanah — they were startled to see in the newspapers a letter signed by 25 Israel Air Force pilots declaring their intention to refuse to carry out targeted attacks to assassinate leaders of “terrorist” organizations in the occupied territories. This letter came as a profound shock to the Israeli society because the Air Force pilots are an elite group — the pride of the nation. Many of the alumni occupy important positions in business, government, and politics. In the letter, they said, “We, who were taught to love Israel and contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in attacks on civilian population centres. It is immoral and unjustifiable.” The Jerusalem Post, which is owned by a former Canadian, Lord Black, of course, was full of condemnation of the action by those pilots.
I think my temporary assignment in Jerusalem is particularly important and interesting for me, because many Canadians do not realize how diverse opinions in the Israeli population are. It is refreshing to hear vigorous debates and disputes on public policies, or even a severe criticism of the actions of the military. Meanwhile, in Canada, there are those who call us anti-Semites whenever we criticize the Israeli government over actions we believe to be violations of human rights or international laws. These critics so often intimidate us. We very often criticize our own government or the United States. But we love Canada and we are not anti-American or racists. Likewise, we believe that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is wrong, not just for Palestinians, but also for Israel. We meet many Israelis who believe likewise.
For all the above-mentioned reasons, it is so helpful to meet with groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights. They have asked us to participate in their project to profile the Palestinian families whose homes are earmarked for demolition, often for the purpose of expanding the settlements in the occupied territories. They want to use the material to let the Israeli public know how morally wrong the occupation is. Often, they take direct actions. For example, when they know about the imminent arrival of a bulldozer, they stay with the family in their home. They think that the presence of EAs is particularly useful because Israelis are not permitted to enter certain areas of the occupied territories.
“Women in Black” is another major player in the Israeli peace movement. It was started by Israeli women in January 1988. They wore black and started to demonstrate every week, on the same day of the week and at the same time in the city centre, often at a major intersection. They silently carry placards that say, “End the Occupation.” They are like the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” in Argentina. Those Israeli women are still maintaining their demonstrations, now often joined by men. Of course, “Women in Black” is everywhere in the world today, demonstrating against violence on women, poverty, war, racism, and many other justice issues. I joined them once in Ottawa in a demonstration against homelessness.
Recently, an activist in “Women in Black” facilitated the formation of the “Coalition of Women for a Just Peace” with some Jewish and Palestinian feminist organizations. There are several member organizations already. “Women in Black” and Bat Shalom are two of which I have known for some time. This group is a mix of Zionist and Non-Zionist organizations but they are united in their call to end the occupation and negotiate a just solution. Most of them are volunteer organizations. Only Bat Shalom (Daughters of Peace) has an office and staff. They want EAs to participate in demonstrations. So, we went with them to Tulkarem to demonstrate against the separation wall. Palestinian partners did the same on the other side. Several “Women in Black” went to the wall, and presented the symbolic gifts of school supplies through a gap on the barrier. Bat Shalom, because it has an office, is willing to accept the services of interns and volunteer office helpers. That could be something that EAs can provide. Otherwise, EAs can always participate in demonstrations to show the solidarity of the worldwide Ecumenical community.
Some people may complain that those Israeli activists represent such a small minority of the whole population. I don”t believe in this assumption. I believe that the size of peace-loving people is quite large. Even if it is a tiny minority, so what? Have I seen any of the social justice issues The United Church of Canada advocated winning a landslide victory in the ballot box? We have inherited the tradition of the prophets. And they were more often than not in the wilderness. Listening to Gila of “Women in Black” under a huge leafy tree in a Jerusalem park, munching a falafel sandwich, or sipping spicy sweet tea made by farmer Ahmed under an olive tree waiting forever for a gate to open in Jayyous, I can assure all that we love peace and each other. There is hope, even here in Israel or in Palestine. There is hope.
On Shabbat of Rosh Hashanah
Many Western Nations have loudly condemned Iran. Slowly war moves toward an inevitable end between Iran and the United States. Organizations are in place. Groups exist with the expertise to bring two diverse people together. Can Iran and The United States of America establish diplomatic relations and co-exist peacefully? Sure they can. Iranian Americans are valued members of society in Michigan. No wars going on in Michigan. O.K. Peace Groups. Show the world what can be accomplished. Skip the parades, signs, hants and whining and get on with the business of Peace between Iran and America. Individuals can not complete this task. It takes organizations.
Regards and best wishes
Dale R. Suiter
March 21, 2011