Tag Archives: Peace and Justice Center

Fasting to end sanctions that kill children

My friend, Sally-Alice Thompson, is a long-time peace activist. She’s a retired WWII Navy veteran approaching 96 years old. So she’s seen a lot in her day, and she’s always been action-oriented.

She has belted out protest tunes with the Raging Grannies; picked up her walking stick in 2014 and walked 13 days from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to spur action to get money out of politics; traveled 450 miles by foot and by bus with a group of Americans and Soviet citizens in 1987 from what was then Leningrad to Moscow to promote peace and nuclear disarmament; walked nine months from LA to DC in the Great Peace March against nuclear weapons; started the Albuquerque chapter of Veterans for Peace along with her husband, a former state legislator and also a veteran; was instrumental in founding and supporting the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center; and has taught school, written books, and sheltered refugees in her home. And this only skims the surface of what makes Sally-Alice tick.

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Sally-Alice walking to Santa Fe in 2014 (photo credit Santa Fe Reporter)

So when it became clear that US sanctions against Yemen, Iran, Haiti, Venezuela, Gaza and elsewhere were killing hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of children, Sally-Alice thought “someone should really do something to end this horrific foreign policy of sanctions against the most vulnerable.” Then she thought “I’m someone, and I can do something!”  

Sally-Alice launched her hunger strike to raise the public’s awareness. She started her Fasting Against Sanctions and Sieges (FASS) on June 16 in Albuquerque, NM. She’s asking people who support her to sign her petition, here.

“I am fasting because I empathize with the many hungry children of the world, so I am joining them in their suffering. I am outraged that our country is engaging in sanctions and sieges that result in starvation of babies and children. I am profoundly saddened that my government interferes in the affairs of other countries, refusing to acknowledge their sovereignty and to respect their dignity.

I especially grieve for the children. I grieve for the children of Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran, who are suffering because of the illegal sanctions imposed on those sovereign nations. I grieve for the hungry children of Gaza and Yemen, children who are hungry because of my country’s support for immoral sieges that deliberately prevent food from entering the places where they live.

I am almost 96 years old. The short remainder of my life is inconsequential. The remainder of the lives of those children may be very important. If allowed to develop normally, who knows what they may become? Are we depriving the world of a future great composer? Or maybe a talented playwright? One can only speculate, because they’re dying of starvation.

Those children have a right to live!

Permitting our country to continue down this road of genocide is completely unacceptable. So I have decide that instead of asking, ”Why doesn’t somebody do something about it?” I looked in the mirror and said, “You’re somebody, do something.”

I invite anyone who shares these feelings to join me in my fast, by skipping a meal or fasting for a day or longer. I would like to know and thank anyone who joins me.  PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE MY PETITION here.

Please contact me at sally-aliceanddon@juno.com. I hope this can start a movement to eliminate sanctions and sieges.

Sally-Alice explains her reason for fasting on this 20-minute Latitude Adjustment podcast, here.  She’s my hero.

Center for Peace and Justice celebrates 35th anniversary

Sally-Alice Thompson 2019 – photo credit Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal

 

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Filed under Hunger Strike, People, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

Taking sides for Peace and Justice

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Google “Peace and Justice Center” and you will find hundreds, maybe thousands, of these centers in the United States.  There’s one in my city too.

The folks at the Albuquerque P&J Center are currently wrestling with the Israeli-Palestinian “issue”. What position should the Center take? Which side should the Center support?

The majority want to stand firmly on the side of the Palestinians. A few want to remain neutral. When I heard that, I was stumped. What does neutrality mean in this context?  And what does it mean to take a side?

NEUTRAL: “Not helping or supporting either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.; impartial.  Having no strongly marked or positive characteristics or features.”

I suspect those well-meaning souls who want to remain neutral are either:

  • flummoxed by this long-term occupation, witnessing the atrocities that both sides have committed, and believe neither side is morally justified or without blame; or
  • fear that “taking sides” with the Palestinians means opposing Israel, which is an impossible conundrum for many Americans.

I suspect that those thoughtful individuals who want to stand on the side of the Palestinians believe:

  • they are standing on the side of justice because they have a firm grasp of the history of the occupation and the role of Israel as the occupier and the righteousness of resistance; or
  • they see the imbalance of power between the State of Israel and the stateless Palestinians and want to stand with the weak and oppressed.

This mini-crisis at the Albuquerque P&J Center mirrors the world’s stage in so many ways. If the individuals can work through their heartfelt differences to reach an amicable resolution, there is hope for the future.  If those holding the minority opinion feel unheard or dismissed, they will probably kiss the P&J Center goodbye and walk away. That would be a tragedy.

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In my humble opinion, we need to move beyond the notion of taking sides, of categorizing the right or wrong side, and we should also toss “neutrality” from our dictionary.

Since our brains are hard-wired to fit everything into boxes, and divide the world between the white hats and the black hats (“You’re either with us or against us!), I think it requires an evolutionary leap of faith that there is a world beyond what we imagine today where “sides” are an anachronism of the past.

The future I imagine is one where all people everywhere (Muslims, Jews, Christians, black, white, brown, young, old, rich and poor) are loved despite their flaws — for who is perfect?

The future I imagine is one where we can champion the needs of the weak and dispossessed while educating the occupier and the world beyond about the injustices that occur daily in Palestine. Everyone deserves a future free of fear and want. Everyone deserves dignity and respect.

Our minds must move beyond this zero sum mentality and the false idea that criticizing the actions of the occupier is somehow delegitimizing the State of Israel. Israel needs many more friends in the world willing to call a spade, a spade, and help it end the occupation.

There is no such thing as “neutrality” in this context. We might choose to be silent but our tax dollars will continue to flow to Israel to purchase weapons used to maintain the occupation. We might choose to take no action, thereby supporting the status quo. “Neutrality” is merely a code word for copping out of this intractable situation.

I choose the side of humanity with love and respect for every person regardless of which side of the Green Line they might live. I choose to be actively engaged, not an armchair pacifist. I choose to be an equal opportunity critic — of Hamas, Fatah, Netanyahu and Obama, and everyone else. I choose to think for myself and question everything, rather than a lap dog to Fox News and CNN.

If the folks at the Albuquerque P&J Center can’t find a common path to follow together with mutual respect, then I think they have all lost their way and should reexamine the notion of what “peace” and “justice” means for the future.

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