Minutes for MPJC Meeting of February 8, 2012

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Rey, Pam, Lois

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for January 11: The minutes were approved as corrected. Under the MLK tabling section, Lois insisted that she had not given up trying to convince veterans to commit to nonviolence, so we adjusted the wording of the minutes to reflect that. She also said that the sentence about not being allowed to leave our literature in the Welcome Home Veterans room was not correct, so we omitted it. Peter noted that he had given the NWTRCC scarves to the Occupy folks who not only shared our table but filled the next unoccupied table with their literature. The Senate bill to allow felons to obtain food stamps is dead in the Indiana legislature at least for this term.

    2. Progress Reports

        a. Topic of the Month: MPJC position on Iran - Peter had prepared a draft statement and put it out on the list serv for comments. Very few came in and none offered substantial changes to the text. We reviewed the draft and had a few suggested additions: include Panetta's comments about Iran not building a nuclear weapon, and mention that Iran's possession of triggering devices has other industrial use. Peter will fix up the draft and send it out again for comments. After a couple of weeks, he will assess the comments and post the updated statement on the web. He noted that the website is no longer accessible. It appears that Michiana Free Net has changed web hosts and the new folks have eliminated the community websites, among which MPJC was listed. Peter will follow up and see if we need to find another host. Hopefully we can recover our files from Michiana free net.

        b. Martin L King Day tabling: The Welcome Home Veterans room was nicely done. Lois had a table right outside the room and was disappointed that more veterans did not take advantage of it. While there was no celebration of violence or war in the room, neither was there a focus on nonviolence. Lois hoped to have several relevant sayings of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the walls, but the person who copied them made them too small to read from very far away. Lois is still hopeful that her message of nonviolence will bear fruit. MPJC had a shared table with the Occupy South Bend folks and displayed the revised Cost of War brochure, a flyer about veterans against the war in Afghanistan, several posters and the bean poll. The latter was very popular, although several youngsters put their beans in the military jar because they thought it had so few that it needed more. Ellyn, Pam, and Ron set up the table; Wanda and Galen helped out during the morning and helped dismantle the table. Peter came in the afternoon to give the others a break for lunch. We carried the MPJC banner in the MLK march from the City County building to Century Center.

        c. Little Taste of Peace: Glenda Rae was not at the meeting but sent the following report: The LTP was very well attended with 117 there. Most of the evaluations were very positive. A few commented on the temperature of the place which was on the cool side. But as a kickoff for Study Circles, it did not do so well. Only 16 signed up for Circles. Seven were for Wednesday evening, five for Saint Mary's, and rest scattered scattered all over the place. Some were able to switch to Wednesday; others were not and were told to wait for the next series of Circles. We ended up with 16 for Wednesday, so have divided it into two groups and that is why she had to be one of the facilitators and why she had to miss the meeting. The last session will be on March 14.

        d. Tax Day Plans: We asked the Occupy folks if they wanted us to do a tax resistance workshop before Tax Day, which this year is April 17, but so far they have not responded. They meet every Wednesday at 5:30pm. Lois had just come from their meeting, and said about 15 were in attendance. Even though we had decided not to leaflet over the noon hour on Tax Day, we reversed that decision at this meeting. Ellyn will prepare a leaflet highlighting the bar graph showing how few jobs are created from military spending and also pointing out how Citizens United is subverting the democratic process. The leaflet should have few words so the message is easily grasped. We talked about leafletting and holding the bean pole on the four corners of Michigan and Jefferson. We had thought Tax Day was Monday, April 16, but it is in fact Tuesday, April 17. We will decide which day to leaflet at the next meeting. We decided to come out only if the weather was decent, so that may dictate which day we do it. Lois will get permission from DTSB to leaflet once Ellyn has prepared the flyer.

        e. Screen Peace movies: Rey and Glenda Rae attended all 5 films which were each followed by audience discussion. The theme this year was Trauma and Healing. The first film featured 5 vets from the war in Iraq suffering from PTSD. Their experiences were not good. Three of them were present and led the discussion after the film. One film was set in Sierra Leone and looked at FAMBUL TOK, a creole process for reconciliation between neighbors on different sides of a conflict - between the torturers and the torturees. The participants gather around a fire and engaged in a process of apologies and forgiveness with each side talking frankly about what had happened. It was a very powerful and successful process. Another film, Rebirth, followed 5 survivors or relatives of those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They were interviewed each year annually about how they felt about the attacks for 10 years and then the film was put together. Several harbored vengeful feelings at first, but by the tenth anniversary all five had forgiven Osama bin Ladin and al Qaeda. There was a film by a Cambodian young man who interviewed Pol Pot's #2 man many times over a period of time plus a couple of ordinary men who had been ordered to kill people in the villages. The two who were actual killers did become remorseful over what they had done but the higher up always remained guarded and eventually was taken into custody and put on trial by a combination Cambodian and international court. Very few were tried as the current gov't just wants to forget it and "move on". The film maker has boxes of tapes both audio and video that he will not turn over because he promised all the people that he would not. He hopes that some day the country will deal with it before all the participants have died. The 5th film was set in Chili where mothers have been searching the high desert for 20 years looking for the bodies of their loved ones who had been disappeared during the Pinochet regime. They have found a few extremities, but no complete bodies. The theory is that Pinochet's followers scooped up the bodies with bulldozers, breaking off parts, and then dumped the main body parts in the ocean.

Lois mentioned a Jewish Voices for Peace film she had seen giving the discoveries of a Bulgarian Jew who came to Israel with 50,000 other Bulgarian Jews after the 6 day war, and took over Palestinian homes, thinking that their owners had deserted them. Over the years she gradually learned that the owners had been forced to leave and the film talked of her angst at what she had done.

        f. Right to work for less legislation: The measure passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor to take effect immediately. Pam and Kathy took 5:30am buses down to Indy the day the Senate voted. Pam was impressed by how well behaved the thousands of union folks were on the Statehouse steps. One demonstrator even put away a sign which Pam told him was too provocative. The trip back was pretty depressing for all on the bus.

3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is $174.13 with $6 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We skipped over this as time was running out.

    2. Topic of the Month: We decided to complete the MPJC position on Iran.

    3. SOA speaker: Jenny had emailed about the upcoming visit of her friend Becca to northern Indiana later in February. Becca wanted to know if we knew of venues where she could speak to youth groups. Rey said that Agape Satyagraha is no longer functioning. Ellyn suggested the St. A's youth group and Peter will pass the information on to the director of that group.

    4. UFPJ Occupy Peace statement: Ellyn had suggested we discuss the following statement put out by Occupy Peace, not connected or endorsed in any way with Occupy South Bend: "What has not changed is the commitment of American leaders in both political parties to maintain a vast superiority in military power, and to make the use or threat of force a centerpiece of its foreign policy. We still have a long way to go: to stop the war in Afghanistan, to remove the thousands of private security forces from Iraq, to prevent a war in Iran, to halt US military interventions around the world, to eliminate the nuclear arsenal and to reduce the military budget."

Rey had emailed that military spending creates far fewer jobs than domestic spending. The web site he cited: http://www.ciponline.org/research/entry/military-spending-poor-job-creator was the source of the bar chart for our Tax Day flyer. We also noted that the Iraq embassy employed 200,000 military contractors. We noted that the government is going to cut the embassy staff in half which should reduce the need for the contractors. Even though Iraq has the largest embassy in the world, few of the staff can get out of the green zone to interact with Iraqi civilians. Also, private security firms have trouble getting Iraqi visas for their employees.

    5. The Economics of Happiness film: This film, available for loan from the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is 76 minutes long, and talks about localizing economics and creating sustainability at home. One criticism is that it romanticizes underdeveloped areas of the world. We could show it in a home for a small group, but if we want to show it in a community setting, we would have to pay at least $100. We decided to try to schedule an evening for viewing it.

    6. Other Topics and Issues: Lois brought a plea from the League of Women Voters to pressure Obama to nominate new commissioners to the FEC (Federal Election Commission). 5 of the 6 members are serving with expired terms. 3 of the 6 refuse to uphold the election law. No wonder Citizens United has taken over. We wondered if Congress would have to confirm the nominees. If so, it won't happen with this Congress.

Pam and Lois have seen the film about Margaret Thatcher (Iron Lady) and recommend it, although it made Pam's blood boil since she had personal experience with Thatcher. It appears that Thatcher and Reagan conspired to weaken the unions.

Lois went to four of the interfaith meetings at ND. One of the talks was by an Israeli who joined with Palestinian women and opened her house in Ramala for mothers to gather. She has a Peace Pole, donated from Japan, in her yard.

Peacemakers of Michiana have expressed interest in joining us at our weekly vigils. They are primarily concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but are committed to nonviolence. We would welcome their participation on Mondays.

Rey was invited to a talk in Kalamazoo put on by the peace group KNOW because he had acted as a peacemaker at an earlier talk. (See the stories of nonviolence section under issues on the website). Wanda, Galen, and Glenda Rae accompanied him. The talk was by Norman Finkelstein, an American Jew critical of Israel. He gave a reasonable talk and was especially impressive during the Q&A, answering each question completely. His solution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict was for Israel to return to the 1967 borders. This would include the settlements that Israel has been pushing so the proposal is to swap the land where the largest ones are with some other land in the north and relocate people from the smaller ones back to Israel with compensation. He said many of them were enticed to the settlements with monetary incentives by the gov't. in the first place. His argument is that there are various proposals out there and all people seeking justice need to unite behind one proposal and thus present a united front. Whether that will work or not who knows. There was no disruption from the audience this time. Rey was skeptical that Finkelstein's proposal had any chance of approval. Rey mentioned another proposal for a one-state solution with Palesinians being given full Israeli citizenship.

    6. Next meeting: Tuesday, March 27 at 7pm. Probably at Peter and Ellyn's.