Diane Tosh Named Acting Executive Director
Peace Movement Swells in Israel
Something is Moving
Sara Bilezikian, 1978-2002
New Grants, December 2001-February 2002
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March 13, 2002
I cannot remember a time recently when so much war swarmed around us. Yet, in the midst of all this conflict, there are many people working for peace and justice. We made some final September 11 emergency grants in December, and continue to fund antiwar work through our regular grantmaking cycles. The Muste Institute is serving as fiscal sponsor for the 9-11 Emergency National Network, one of the coalitions organizing a demonstration in Washington on April 20. We hope for a good turnout, to show the world there are many people in this country who don't believe military action will bring us either peace or healing from the tragic events of September 11.
I want to thank all of you who responded so generously to our recent appeals. As you can imagine, the demands on our resources have been very high. Heading into spring, we are facing some additional expenses as we prepare, at long last, to print the new edition of The Essays of A.J. Muste. We hope the next issue of Muste Notes will announce its availability. An increased demand has also made it necessary to reprint some of our pamphlets. So, if you have not responded to our earlier appeals (or even if you have), any contribution now would provide us with timely support for our new publications and spring programs.
Starting in April I will be taking a one year sabbatical from my position as executive director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute. After 17 years on the job, I'm going to use this break to concentrate on being a "house husband" and full-time dad for my family. I also hope to spend this hiatus working with the Muste Institute Board of Directors to advance some of our long range strategic planning and to help formulate new projects and initiatives so the Institute can be in an even stronger position when I return. During the coming year, the Institute will be in the capable hands of our new Acting Executive Director, Diane Tosh--with help from Program Associate Jane Guskin, who has worked here since 1993. I am confident that the Muste Institute's programs promoting peace and social justice will thrive and grow during this period. I trust you will join me in continuing to support this work.
Yours in peace,
Diane Tosh Named Acting Executive Director
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute Board of Directors has chosen Diane Tosh to serve as Acting Executive Director during Murray Rosenblith's one year sabbatical. Diane will begin on April 1.
A native New Yorker, Diane recently returned to the city after twelve years living in Albany, NY and Cambridge, MA. She brings a lifelong history of nonviolent activism, coupled with wide experience in fundraising, organizing, promotion and administration.
Diane became an anti-war activist while a junior high school student in New York City, helping organize other young people to participate in major demonstrations between 1967 and 1972. She has worked with War Resisters League, American Friends Service Committee, Mobilization for Survival and the Rainbow Coalition. She operated her own promotion firm from 1982-1989 and helped a number of activist groups with events, promotional mailings and fund raising plans. While living in Albany and Cambridge, Diane worked for several different public advocacy and anti-poverty organizations, in addition to serving on the staff of progressive New York State Assembly representative Deborah Glick. Diane returned to New York in 2000 and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their three children.
The board and staff of the Muste Institute look forward to having Diane join us over the next year in our work promoting and supporting nonviolence and social change.
Peace Movement Swells in Israel
On Feb. 9, thousands of people took part in a historic peace rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, titled "The Occupation Kills All of Us." Among the numerous sponsoring organizations were past Muste Institute grantees Bat Shalom (Daughter of Peace) and Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc). Other sponsors included Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Ta'ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership, Women and Mothers for Peace (formerly Four Mothers), Women in Black, and Yesh Gvul, which supports the "refuseniks," Israeli reservists who have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories or otherwise take part in the Israeli government's war against the Palestinian people.
In an article about the rally posted on the Indymedia Israel website, Jerusalem resident Gila Svirsky wrote: "This was the largest pro-peace rally since this Intifada began in September 2000, with an estimated 10,000 participants--Jews and Arabs from all over Israel filling the large Tel Aviv Museum plaza. The mood is clearly swinging in Israel, and the homemade signs of people who had not attended a demonstration for years reflected the new thinking: 'Stop [President Ariel] Sharon before he kills us all', 'More conscientious objectors!', 'Occupation itself is a war crime', and all permutations of 'Share Jerusalem', 'Dismantle Settlements', and 'Bring our soldiers home'.
"By the time veteran peace activist Yehudit Harel opened the ceremony, the crowd was a mass of people amazed and buoyed by each other's presence, with a great deal of hugging by people glad to be sharing the moment. And then Yehudit's opening words in fluent Hebrew and Arabic set the tone for the entire evening--we Israeli Jews and Arabs together will no longer abide the crimes that the Israeli government is carrying out."
The Muste Institute made a $1,000 grant to Gush Shalom in 1993, and a $2,000 grant to Bat Shalom last May. We are encouraged by the new energy of the peace movement in Israel, and look forward to providing it with further support.
For more information:
Gush Shalom www.gush-shalom.org
Bat Shalom www.batshalom.org
Indymedia Israel www.indymedia.org.il
Yesh Gvul www.yesh-gvul.org
Something Is Moving
[. . .] It is difficult to fix the exact moment when it started. Perhaps after the demolition of some 50 homes in the Rafah refugee camp. Or at the mass?meeting called by Gush Shalom in Tel Aviv, when Colonel Yig'al Shochat, who had lost a leg in the Yom Kippur war, called upon his comrades, the airforce pilots, to refuse to execute orders that are manifestly illegal, such as bombing Palestinian towns, and when the philosopher Adi Ophir proposed to open files on IDF Israeli Defense Forces officers who commit war crimes.
Suddenly the public woke up to the possibility that war crimes are being committed in its name. The mental block was broken, a public debate about war crimes, and consequently about the occupation itself, began.
The announcement by 50 reserve officers and soldiers that they refuse to serve in the occupied territories broke a dam. The number of refuseniks grew quickly, the phenomenon shook the military?political establishment. For the first time, the leaders of the establishment saw in their nightmares the possibility of a big uprising of soldiers who say: This is where we stop, we will not go on.
When public opinion polls showed that nearly a third of the Jewish public supports the refuseniks, the panic grew. At the same time, hundreds of Israelis visited the besieged Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.
Then came the big, joint demonstration of the militant peace movements ("The Occupation Kills All Of Us!") in Tel Aviv's Museum Square. Organizations that had got used during the last 16 months to demonstrations of a hundred, two hundred people saw before them ten thousand enthusiastic demonstrators, who have left despair behind them and were demanding action.
This demonstration had, of course, an impact on the "established left", which is now compelled to confront the new mood of their own public.
This is the beginning of a process. Nobody can know yet how powerful it will become and how far it will go. But one thing is certain: something is happening.
The Muste Institute is sad to report that Sara Bilezikian took her own life on Jan. 12, 2002, a month and a half short of her 24th birthday. Sara (who usually spelled her name Sera) worked as a Freeman intern at the War Resisters League office in the summer of 1998. (Freeman interns receive a stipend from the Muste Institute, thanks to a bequest left by Harrop and Ruth Freeman.) Sara was active with WRL and YouthPeace even before her internship; a photo printed in the Fall 1997 issue of Muste Notes shows her at a leafleting action at Times Square for WRL's 1997 "Day Without the Pentagon." After her internship, she went on to participate in numerous actions for social and economic justice. Sara was a beautiful person, full of love and vibrant energy. We are lucky to have known her.
New Grants, July-November 2001
Andean Information Network
Cochabamba, Bolivia: $1,000.
AIN documents and addresses abuses in the implementation of US-sponsored drug policy in the Andes, with a focus on the coca-growing Chapare region of Bolivia, where security forces have killed more than 30 peasant coca growers since 1994. Our grant goes for education and advocacy around these issues.
Center on Conscience & War
Washington, DC: $1,000.
This group, formed in 1940 as the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), works to defend and extend the rights of conscientious objectors. Our grant goes to publicity and other expenses of distributing a newly revised edition of the "Draft Counselor's Manual."
Citizens Opposed to Defense Experimentation
Anchorage, AK: $2,000.
CODE is a coalition of ten faith-based, community action and public welfare groups that formed in 1999 to organize Alaskans to oppose the deployment of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system in Alaska. Our grant went to employ a full-time organizer for the next six months for the Alert Alaska project.
Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice
Lawrence, KS: $400
This September 11 emergency grant went to the Lawrence Peace Project - an affiliated 25-year old Lawrence coalition for grassroots organizing on the University of Kansas campus and in the surrounding community. Their efforts included leafleting, letter-writing campaigns, educational events and demonstrations against the war.
New Jerseyans for a Death Penalty Moratorium
Cape May, NJ: $2,000.
This group has recruited over 10,000 members since its founding in the summer of 1999. Our grant goes for the development of organizing materials such as flyers, fact sheets, etc. to build support in New Jersey for a moratorium on the death penalty.
Paper Tiger Television
New York, NY: $300
This September 11 emergency grant went for the 911 Media Project, including production and screenings of anti-war videos, educational events, and an internet database linking media producers in a network organized around the issues of the World Trade Center tragedy.
Oakland, CA: $500
Formed following September 11, this collective of organizations and individuals of color now calls itself United Communities Against War and Racism (UCaWAR). Our September 11 emergency grant went for grassroots anti-war organizing and educational events in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations (STARC) Alliance
La Jolla, CA: $1,500.
STARC Alliance is a national student network that works for social and economic justice. Our grant went for publicity and organizing expenses of a February 2002 "National Student/Youth Conference on Terrorism," bringing together young people from around the country to discuss the root causes of terrorism, and strategize about economic and political measures that will help prevent the loss of more innocent lives and achieve a lasting peace.
War Resisters League
New York, NY: $2,000. War Resisters League has been working to end war since 1923. This grant goes to respond to increased interest in anti-war activism prompted by the September 11 attacks and the US war in Afghanistan. Specifically, the grant goes for updating and maintaining WRL's website, and for literature distribution and trainings organized by the WRL New England regional office.
Washington Peace Center
Washington, DC: $500 This September 11 emergency grant went for film screenings and public forums in the Washington, DC area, part of an educational campaign called "Stopping the Cycle of Terror: An Examination of the Costs of War and Alternative Approaches to International Security."
Youth Forum for Peace and Justice
Kitwe, Zambia: $1,000.
In May of 1999, this youth group began working to help students in Zambia's copper belt region understand active nonviolence strategies as a means of social change. Our grant goes for the Peace Education Campaign, educating and training high school and college teachers to play a role in guiding students toward nonviolent activism.
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is May 6, 2002. To read our grant guidelines, click here.