May 8 2006 Program Update

Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East (WCUSP)
Water Campaign Program Update
Corporations V. Democracy
Advancing Human Rights
Building the Beloved Community

Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East (WCUSP)

Join our email list! To communicate with other WILPFers active in the WCUSP campaign, or simply for more information, please subscribe to our new email list:

Leadership Team Available for Branch / Community Visits
Leadership team member Libby Frank just got home from speaking to several Northern California branches, including San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palo Alto. She was also a featured guest on Pacifica radio last week. If you would like to hear from a member of our leadership team in person, and can provide travel expenses and hospitality, please contact our speakers bureau coordinator, Barbara Taft, at

Stop Cat Initiative

We encourage you to look into how the US government funds and facilitates the sale of Caterpillar equipment to the Israeli government for use in the destruction of homes and lives in Palestine. As you know, a Caterpillar bulldozer killed Rachel Corrie, a young American peace activist. Her family is currently suing Caterpillar and the Israeli government, and WCUSP is organizing to insist that the case be handled within the court system, rather than by the administrative or legislative branches. To become active in this initiative, please contact Marlene Santoyo at

Democracy Now! segment:
Stop Caterpillar campaign:
Jewish Voice for Peace:

Human Rights at Home and Abroad Initiative
We are extremely concerned for the fate of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who has been wrongfully imprisoned by the US government since February 20, 2003. He recently agreed to a plea agreement with the US government, with the understanding that he would immediately be freed and voluntarily deported from the US. Instead, the presiding judge sentenced him to more time in prison. To become active in this initiative, please contact Barbara Taft at

Background information from WILPF:
Arab American News reports on the plea agreement:
New York Sun reports on the biased sentencing:

Dual Occupation Initiative
Occupation is wrong, period. We call on our sister WILPFers who are active in anti-Iraq war actions, to join us in this initaitive. We want people to understand the connection between US and Israeli military occupations, and the collusion between the two governments. If you would like to be in touch with us on this issue, please contact Odile Hugonot Haber at

Study Guide Coming Soon
We realize that many WILPFers would like to use a study guide to delve into our campaign. Our subcommittee - Odile, Pat, Yvonne, and Barbara - has been hard at work gathering articles for this guide. We expect it to be available by the end of the month. In the meantime, please join our listserv and check both the main WILPF website and the WILPF blog for educational material.

respectfully submitted by C.J. Minster, WCUSP National Board member

Water Campaign Program Update: 5/8/2006
    * In Michigan, actions are being taken to prevent diversion of Great Lakes water by taking actions regarding SB 850 to HB 5366 so that any diversion of Great Lakes water would require approval by the legislature.  Current Water Resources Development Act -- a federal law that gives governors of the Great Lakes states the authority to veto  out-of basin diversions is not strong enough.   Nestle Water Corporation is challenged in a lawsuit.
    * Nancy Price attended Grassroots Action Festival in New York and presented the concept of “Precautionary Principle”
    * Cape Cod Group is creating a brochure describing adverse health effect of bottled water.
    * Santa Cruz branch is going strong with the Water Issue Study Group
    * Cleveland branch participated in Peace Week event held at Cleveland State University.     "In the Light of Reverence" was shown. 
    * The leadership team members accepted Angel Shannon's offer to be a point person.
    * Angel Shannon is proposing to write a statement re: Access to Water as Human Right. Nancy Price is proposing to write an article about Inside Bottled water.  Both offers were gratefully accepted by the rest of the leadership team.

Corporations V. Democracy
 Twenty plus people attended the 10-session "Challenge Corporate  Power" course initiated by the Des Moines branch, whose members are  planning a film festival for September.  The revision of the WILPF  study packet continues apace.  

Advancing Human Rights
WILPF intern Kriti Fults completed her project of designing a resource kit to encourage branches to hold workshops on Security Council Resolution 1325, and mailed out a prototype to AHR committee members last week. Kristi will be looking for feedback over the summer, before making the kits more broadly available. She has also decided to sign-on as a much welcomed permanent member of the AHR committee! Congratulations to Kristi on her graduation from Bryn Mawr and upcoming wedding.
 Also apropos SCR 1325: WILPF U.N. staff member Milkah Kihunah spoke at Columbia University on Thursday, May 4 on the topic of "Gender-Based Violence in the Conflict in Darfur."

AHR along with Disarm worked to enlist the US section of WILPF as an endorser of a national day of action to stop “Divine Strake,” a test planned for June 2 at the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone land. This operation will involve the explosion of a 700 ton “bunker buster.” Because the goal is to stop the test, and to not expose anyone to undue health risks from the actual blast, protest actions will take place at the Nevada Test Site Peace Camp, located across Highway 95 from the test site and in local communities on May 28th. A flyer describing Divine Strake and plans for the day of action was prepared and distributed at the April 29th rally and march in NYC by WILPF’s very capable program director, Kate Zaidan. Go Kate!

WILPF also signed on to a 50 page shadow report detailing “Gender and Sexualised Violence in the context of Detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan & Privately Inflicted Violence.” This report which connects U.S. use of sexualized torture to its complacent tolerance of domestic and intimate partner abuse was prepared by the International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic at City University of New York’s School of Law. Over the coming months, AHR committee members will be working to publicize the contents of this report among US women's organizations and the academic community. Follow-up work with committee members will by done by staff of WILPF International’s office in Geneva. The U.N. Committee on Torture questioned the U.S. about its record of compliance with the International Convention against Torture in Geneva on Friday, May 5. The AHR committee, and in particular Gillian Gilhool, is continuing work on a shadow report detailing U.S. violations of Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which will be taken up by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in July. 

AHR committee member Laura Roskos will be presenting at a workshop on “Lessons from Katrina: Engaging students in documenting violations of economic human rights in our communities” on May 16. This training will provide faculty and service learning professionals with a general framework for how to carry out a human rights documentation project and how to apply it as a service learning tool in the classroom. Participants will learn about what Economic Human Rights are and how they are protected by the UN system, will participate in hands-on exercises analyzing human rights violations after Hurricane Katrina, and will learn about ongoing human rights documentation projects that they can engage in with their classes. This workshop is sponsored by the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights and S.O.U.L.S. Community Service Center at Suffolk University, the Massachusetts CEDAW Project, Massachusetts Campus Compact, Human Rights Educational Associates, and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.  

WCUSP please note that Ellen Barfield, DISARM co-chair, is back from her latest trip to the Middle East and is available to speak to Branches.  This time she travelled to Israel and Palestine to meet with former Israeli and Palestinian enemy war fighters now seeking non-violent solutions. Ellen has considerable experience in Middle Eastern issues from which to share.  Save the Water please note that DISARM is working with a UFPJ alliance to feature Bechtel's role in nuclear weapons development during the HIroshima/Nagasaki week memorials and demonstrations.  DISARM and Save the Water can link on this issue, since Bechtel is a major corporation involved in water privatization, as featured in the video Thirst.  Go to our May-June DISARM UPDATE which can now be accessed at or indirectly through the WILPF home page. Download the latest EYE Alert: your letters and phone calls have resulted in another  victory since now the Senate and the House have both voted for no permanent bases in Iraq.  But now we have to fight the first funding for a laser anti-satellite weapon, a long step toward war in space.  Californians please note: the flier for the May 20 WILPF DISARM co-sponsored demonstration at Vandenberg Air Force Base can also be downloaded from the UPDATE, as well as lots of other current information.  The focus issue for May-June is Iran and India: Nuclear weapons and Nuclear Power. You'll plenty of information available, WILPF statements, and suggestions for action. Also read the Shoshone plans to resist the simulated nuclear test, Divine Strake, on June 2. WILPF has joined the supporting coalition and we urge WILPFers to help raise the issue in their local communities, or at the Nevada test site. And finally, access the great new WILPF Legislative Toolkit feature that will facilitate sending emails to Congress or newspaper editors directly from our WILPF website.  Thanks to Dave, our great webmaster! for this new feature!

Building the Beloved Community
      From Vickie Fouts of Fresno, CA...

I was one of the speakers at the Fresno May Day - A Day Without Immigrants event, representing WILPF and the only white speaker. I told the crowd I was mainly there as a white women, a social justice activist and a white ally to all people of color. I told them that HR4437 etc isn't just a brown issue, but must also be a white issue, especially for white progressives who say they are for social justice, just because it is the right thing to do. I told them that if undocumented workers are to become felons the new prisons, prison guards and cost to house the prisoners will mainly be paid for by white middle-class tax payers. The white middle-class who employs undocumented gardeners, housekeepers, nannies could also become felons. I asked my white brothers and sisters to join the struggle. I did forget to say that it is a human rights issue, not a race issue. But we often think of better things to say after the event.

My speech was interrupted several times with rounds of cheers and applause. When I returned to the crowd several people thanked me. It warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

There were few progressives and whites in the crowd As some have said this was an event for immigrants and not for white progressives, but I feel it was important for me to be there as an ally. Maybe next time there will be thousands of us who attend as allies.

I believe that WILPF was one of the very few progressive mainly white groups who endorsed the event. I believe I was asked to speak because I have worked hard the past four years to work with communities of color and have attended their events and have tried to be a good white ally as much as I can and personally knew almost all of the planners. We must walk our talk when we talk about working for diversity and with the working-class. It has been hard work but yesterday talking to a sea of 15,000 people made it all worth it. I felt proud, honored and strong to have been called to speak. You can check out pictures of the event if you wish at and see what I saw as I stood on the 2nd floor balcony of our City Hall and addressed the crowd. It was awesome!

I guess what I am saying that doing hard work to be a white ally does work and is noticed. It is worth the time and effort.

               From Donna Lamb of New York City, NY...
On April 11th I conducted my workshop "White Privilege: What Is it, and How Does It Show Itself?" at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Then, April 26 - 29 I was at the 7th annual White Privilege Conference, held this year at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, facilitating  2 sessions on "The White Response to Black Reparations."

               From Jeanmarie Simpson of Reno, Nevada...
On April 29, Cameron Crain and I presented "A Single Woman" in Santa Cruz for the annual fundraiser of the WILPF
branch there. It was a wonderful event, well attended and by such a warm, exuberant activist audience! I worry that we're preaching to the choir in those situations, but every once in awhile it's really great to be able to, as Brian Willson says, "remind the choir that they can be more revolutionary." And to be received so lovingly is a great shot in the arm that keeps us going.

               From Joyce McLean of Santa Cruz, CA...
Add that Jeanmarie's play got the choir at least four new members, funds to do our work and tons and tons of good

               From Sha'an Mouliert of Troy, VT...
My workshop proposal for "Theater of the Oppressed" has been accepted  by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) National Conference for College Women Student Leaders scheduled for June 7-9,
2006, in Washington, DC.  It is scheduled for Friday, June 9th, Session #3 at 3:00 - 4:30pm.  I'll be bringing some handouts for display at the registration table.  Many thanks to Phyllis Yingling of Cantonsville, MD for bringing this conference to our attention.

Last month, as a result of attending a pilot diversity and racial  justice program (Paij Wadley-Bailey of Montpelier, VT and I were involved), Interfaith Diversity Education Offerings sponsored by the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ's Uprooting Racism Task Force , several Sunday School students in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont staffed a booth on racism at a local Youth Town Meeting.  The booth provided music and pancake recipes from various cultures as  well as computers linked to the following site: which is informative and tests ones knowledge of race in this country...I highly recommend it.  Donna Lamb and I will be presenting Creating Caring Communities (part of the East Coast Tour) with the Pittsburgh, PA, branch May 20th.  For more information contact Edith Bell or Sha'an


Haiti Featured at the Venezuela Solidarity Conference:

In early March, WILPF Haiti Issue Committee members, Marge Van Cleef, Joan Drake, Jacqueline Nerrette and Shirley Pate, offered a workshop on Haiti at the National Venezuela Solidarity Conference that was held in Washington, DC.  The workshop was well-attended and included a lively Q&A session.  From solidarity activists to Venezuelan government officials, it appears that Haiti is a priority and will always have a place on the Venezuelan agenda.

Haitian President-elect, Rene Preval, Visits US:

The President-elect of Haiti, Rene Preval paid a visit to the United States during the week of March 27.   He first visited New York where he participated in a special UN Security Council session on Haiti.  In this session, Mr. Preval stressed the need for significant international assistance to help rebuild Haiti.  Further, he requested that the UN peacekeeping force, MINUSTAH, remain in Haiti a while longer to establish security in the country.  Yet, he specifically stated that he wants MINUSTAH to focus its resources on training Haitian police, whose numbers he plans to increase once he assumes the presidency.

Mr. Preval arrived in Washington on March 29.  Members of the Haiti Issue Committee participated in activities surrounding the visit of Haiti’s President-elect, Rene Preval, to Washington, March 28-30. Mr. Preval was received at the White House by George Bush and was received by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.  The final event in the US was a talk before (and with) the Haitian community of Washington.  Over 400 attended.

It should be noted that regardless of the venue, Mr. Preval was consistent in his remarks about the need to help the poor of Haiti.

A very insightful assessment of the challenges that lie ahead for  President-elect Preval and the people of Haiti can be found in the April 1, 2006 press statement of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) entitled, “Giving Haiti’s New President a Good Launch,” at:

May 18 – Day of International Solidarity with the People ofHaiti:

It was on May 18, 1803, during the slave revolution, that the flag that would represent the soon-to-be Republic of Haiti was born.  It is a huge holiday in Haiti and wherever Haitians are found in the Diaspora.  Over recent years, the Haitian military and ex-soldiers have tried to claim the holiday as their own.  But, the people maintain that it is a day to rejoice in their independence from colonial occupation and should have nothing to do with militarization.

In this spirit, several Haiti solidarity groups are sponsoring an international day of solidarity with the people of Haiti.  They are asking that those who wish to organize an event in their community consider organizing panel discussions and teach-ins, show Haiti films, hold a protest, etc.

Shortly, we will provide more information about background materials and more ideas on how you can demonstrate your solidarity with the people of Haiti on May 18.  If you have general questions, please e-mail Shirley Pate at

Submitted by Shirley Pate:

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