Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Peaceforce at Bowie HS

We were glad to table again today at Bowie HS, and we had a great crew of 5.  The t-shirts went fast, with students doing research on the spot to name the five basic First Amendment freedoms.  Bowie's JROTC students were required to wear uniforms or JROTC t-shirts today, and several of those students came to the table to see what we were about.  There was good interest, especially during the first lunch, and two teachers shook our hands and thanked us for coming.  Thank you, Bulldogs!

Stenciled by hand on recycled t-shirts

Thanks to Susana, we got a new stack of these cards from the Fellowship of Reconciliation

Students can sign these and send them in for the FOR to keep on file.

Some cool hall posters.  Sounds like a great class!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

50 Israeli draft resisters: "We refuse to Serve in the Occupation Army"

Just got this good news about a new group of Israeli draft resisters:

50 Young Israelis Send a Letter to Netanyahu:
“We Refuse to Serve in the Occupation Army”

Yesterday morning, dozens of young Israelis sent Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, a letter in which they declared their refusal to serve in the Israeli military[*]. This is the largest group of Israeli draft refusers in the history of Israel; it is the first act of its kind in five years, but follows a long tradition of communal conscientious objection. The current Israeli government is trying to widen the army draft to all ethnic groups within Israel against their will and young people from all over the country are reacting by refusing to serve in the Israeli Army.

The purpose of this statement is to protest against the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories where, according to the signatories “human rights are violated and acts defined by international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” They are also protesting the way in which the army influences civilian life, deepening the sexism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism present in Israeli society.

Mandy Cartner, a 16 years old signatory from Tel Aviv said: "The actions of the army distance us from finding a solution and from creating peace, justice and security. My refusal is a way of expressing my opposition to the wrongs done daily in our name and through us."

Shaked Harari, a 17 years old signatory from Bat Yam, said: "The army serves the people in power and not the civilians, who are only a tool. My friends and I refuse to be cannon fodder."

Roni Lax, a 20 year old signatory from Bnei Brak: “We stand in solidarity with the ultra-orthodox youth and the Arab youth – Christian and Druze, some of whom are currently in an army prison.”

Contact Info:
Dafna Rothstein Landman – 0522470123 – dafna.e.r.l@gmail.com
Itamar Bellaiche - 0547484248 - itabellaiche@gmail.com

[*] The following is their statement:

"We, citizens of the state of Israel, are designated for army service.
We appeal to the readers of this letter to set aside what has always been taken for granted and to reconsider the implications of military service.

We, the undersigned, intend to refuse to serve in the army and the main reason for this refusal is our opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinians in the occupied territories live under Israeli rule though they did not choose to do so, and have no legal recourse to influence this regime or its decision-making processes. This is neither egalitarian nor just. In these territories, human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis. These include assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water. Any form of military service reinforces this status quo, and, therefore, in accordance with our conscience, we cannot take part in a system that perpetrates the above-mentioned acts.

The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli society too: it shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination.

We refuse to aid the military system in promoting and perpetuating male dominance. In our opinion, the army encourages a violent and militaristic masculine ideal whereby 'might is right'. This ideal is detrimental to everyone, especially those who do not fit it. Furthermore, we oppose the oppressive, discriminatory, and heavily gendered power structures within the army itself.

We refuse to forsake our principles as a condition to being accepted in our society. We have thought about our refusal deeply and we stand by our decisions.

We appeal to our peers, to those currently serving in the army and/or reserve duty, and to the Israeli public at large, to reconsider their stance on the occupation, the army, and the role of the military in civil society. We believe in the power and ability of civilians to change reality for the better by creating a more fair and just society. Our refusal expresses this belief.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ft. Hood sex assault prevention officer charged in prostitution ring

This is an awful case of sexual abuse within the armed forces at nearby Ft. Hood, TX.    Note, too, that the victims, who were enlisted women, are described as being "cash-strapped."  That is certainly part of the problem: military pay is not as high as most enlistees think it will be, and many recruits wind up in financial difficulty.  The US Senate vote yesterday was very disappointing.  What more evidence do legislators need to show that the chain of command structure is a major factor in military sexual assaults continuing at such high rates?  The last sentence of this article is something every woman or man thinking of enlisting should think very hard about.

Fort Hood sex assault prevention officer charged in prostitution ring

Army officials on Friday charged a former Fort Hood sexual assault prevention officer with 21 counts of abusive sexual contact, pandering, conspiracy and adultery among other charges in a case that had focused national attention on the issue of military sexual assault.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen is accused of setting up a prostitution ring at Fort Hood and recruiting young, cash-strapped female privates to have sex with older soldiers. At the time he served as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention officer for a battalion within Fort Hood’s III Corps headquarters. He has since been suspended from that post.
According to investigative documents obtained by the American-Statesman, the alleged ring was revealed when a young private told authorities McQueen tried to recruit her and then sexually assaulted her during what she termed an “interview.” The soldier said another female soldier told her she made “like $400-$500” at Fort Hood parties, according to the documents.
The private later told a staff sergeant that McQueen “preys on young females who are in bad financial situations and that he keeps their pictures on his cell phone,” according to a sworn statement.
In December, Master Sgt. Brad Grimes, who was accused of taking part in the ring, was found guilty of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicit adultery. He was ordered reprimanded and reduced in rank one pay grade.
A pre-trial evidentiary hearing is scheduled to begin March 20 that will determine whether McQueen faces a court-martial on the charges. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday what McQueen’s maximum punishment could be.
When the investigation into McQueen was first revealed last year, it helped spur efforts to revamp the military’s rules on prosecuting sexual assault cases. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate blocked a bill that would have removed prosecution of such cases from the purview of military commanders and put it in the hands of military prosecutors.
Critics say the change would have resulted in the reporting of more sexual assaults. A Pentagon study showed that almost 90 percent of military sexual assaults aren’t reported.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Loyal Forever at Austin HS

Tami, Hart, Susana and I really appreciated our time tabling today at Austin HS.  Since the t-shirts go pretty quickly and we didn't have many, we added a challenge to win a free one.  We asked students to name the 5 freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.  One student named them all without hesitation, but all others had to do a little research first (smart phones rule).  A few students said "The right to bear arms."  Nope, not in the First Amendment.  For a t-shirt, we also asked students to do the Penny Poll, try the Peace Wheel of Fortune and try a pull-up.
It was good to see posters up in the halls advertising such positive things as a student Gay-Straight Alliance and a new African-American History class.
A number of students lingered at the table and talked with us, and a few teachers came by, too.  A good lunch period at Austin HS  --  Thanks, Maroons!


student art

Flier for African-American History class 
Flier for African-American History course
Austin HS student's art on 2014 Art Show poster -- very nice!
'forbidden art,' a security guard said, but I liked it

student art

Encouraging hallway posters...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

SOY visit to Akins HS

Tami, Hart and I had a good visit yesterday at Akins HS for their two lunch periods.  They asked us to bring the chin-up bar outside, so we set up in the breezeway outside the cafeteria.  Our newly stenciled t-shirts went fast.  We met one student who said he was already enlisted as a 17 year-old and had done basic training during the summer at Ft. Benning.  He was curious about us and talked with Hart about military realities like the objectification of people that begins early during basic training -- leading to more and more separatism between "us" and "them."  Hart shared some info and a GI Rights Hotline card with him.

Hart and Susan at SOY table, Akins HS
New stencil design