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Front Page > Issues > 2003 > May

Activists ponder "What's next for peace movement?"

Editor’s Note: In the months leading up to the U.S. attack on Iraq, the peace movement grew at an unprecedented rate, manifesting itself in record-breaking demonstrations around the nation. As U.S. troops closed in on Baghdad, however, the momentum of the peace movement slipped markedly. In Portland, a 35,000-person march a week before war started was followed by a 20,000-person march and mass civil disobedience on the second day of the war. Only two weeks later, those numbers had dropped to less than 4,000. Meanwhile, movement organizers are struggling to find ways to keep up the momentum while shifting its focus to post-war issues. The Alliance spoke to several activists who have played some role in resistance to the war. We asked them what they saw as the next move for the peace movement. Their comments follow.
—Dave Mazza

Mazen Malik
Local Palestinian Activist

Human rights and peace activists need to speak up against the injustice and the brutality of the Israeli occupation. We have to put an end to the Israeli Apartheid imposed upon the Palestinians. It is time to acknowledge that Palestine is the real issue. Implement UN resolutions regarding this conflict first and foremost. Make it obvious in unequivocal terms that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must end immediately, and commit to a just resolution of the issue of the Palestinian refugees.
Remember that, we all need to stand firm on the side of law, justice and the supremacy of human rights. Real peace will come only by dealing with others as equals. Equality in turn will bring justice, and justice will bring peace. Once that happens the whole complexion of the Middle East will change so fast that it will become the new oasis of democracy and justice. It will return to be the bastion of civilization that it was for thousands of years. The US and the whole world will not have to suffer war and destruction in that part of the world any more.

Rev. Cecil Prescod
United Church of Christ

Among the challenges that the broad-based anti war movement faces is to remain a principled opponent to American expansionism. Opponents of the war stated that this was not a war for liberation but a war for continued global domination by corporate interests. We must challenge our government to end the occupation and oppose the manner in which business contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq are awarded. We must direct our energies to ensure that our government recognizes that a just peace can not exist in the region until Israel’s military occupation of Palestine ends, and the two states can exist in safe and secured borders.
I believe that one reason why the antiwar movement grew so rapidly is because of the international activism against globalization over the past decade. We must We must continue to educate and organize our communities around globalization and continue to work in coalitions with others in the social and economic justice movement. This means lending support to various struggles and seeking broad support for our own struggles.
Another area of focus should be resisting the steady decline of civil liberties. We can continue to educate and organize ourselves and our communities against the expansion of the USA Patriot Act . This assault on basic constitutional rights threatens our abilities to organize in the future. Our work for justice will become more difficult, if we ignore this clear and present danger.
Finally, we can model the type of world we seek. In our struggle to create a just society, we must act justly, not only with those who struggle with us, but with those who oppose us. We must be consumed by love and justice, not by hate and revenge. The Trappist monk Thomas Merton advised us, “ So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other [people] and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”

Theresa Mitchell
KBOO Presswatcher

1. We should pat ourselves on the back a little bit. We delayed the slaughter that the Bushites demanded, and we exposed and embarrassed them in front of the UN. At one point, 11.5 million people marched against the war—BEFORE IT BEGAN! We have demonstrated an unprecedented strength; we cannot be ignored, and if we keep going, we will not be stopped.
2. We should continue. This means everything from letters to the editor, to postering and broadcasting on people’s media— and it definitely means sending money to the Alliance! NOW!
3. Unresolved crimes should be constantly brought up: the election, the anthrax coverup, Afghanistan, DU, our two million people in prison (!!), the Patriot Act’s fascistization, global warming—that should be enough to mobilize anyone.
4. Abbie Hoffman once stopped the world and forced it to consider its materialism, simply by collecting a hundred one-dollar bills and tossing them over the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Trading stopped as the rich brokers shoved each to grab one-dollar bills. We can do that kinda stuff, too.
5. We need to ask ourselves: What do we want? Don’t we want a society in which the wealth is distributed rationally, in which political participation is based on education rather than propaganda? Or do we want to be ruled by the rich?

Ira Woodward
Peace activist

Portland’s Peace and Justice Movement should focus on ending further arms deals around the world and preventing corporations from getting government contracts to reconstruct Iraq—in their own interest.
The peace movement should: Argue for an end to U.S. occupation, immediate reparations for Iraq, and transitional UN government. Argue for a foreign policy based on human rights, on justice and on peace. Argue against a foreign policy that supports the brutal occupation of Palestine and the murderous “drug war” in Colombia, making the world safe for no one and liberating only the privileged few. Argue as well against the illegal, anti-labor, sexist and racist assault on the rights of the domestic U.S. population.
To realize these goals, the peace movement needs to focus on organizing as well as big protests: this means going door to door, talking to our neighbors, organizing teach-ins, distributing and improving alternative media, and any other method that will reach out to more and more people, and give them a chance to get involved in the movement.

Portland Anti-Capitalist Action

Affinity Groups — Portland is in desperate need of affinity groups. An affinity group is a small group of 5 to 20 people who work together autonomously on direct action or other projects. Finding relevant targets and acting on them takes only a few people. Coordinate with other affinity groups. (Important: Before going into an action with folks, be sure everyone has a clear understanding of the difference of being a “non-arrestable” and just not wanting to be arrested.)
Diversity of tactics — All of us in the anti-war movement, no matter how we identify, must acknowledge that diversity of tactics is the single most important aspect of this movement. Candle light vigils to strategic property redecoration, we need them all and we need to support them all. No more of this “we don’t support that tactic‚” to save credibility with the mainstream media bullshit. Solidarity not separation.
Targeted Direct Action — We know who they are and where they are. We need affinity groups to shut them down.
Mass Movement Building — We need to build a mass movement. We need to do outreach, and education on a much more aggressive and expansive scale than we have before. From door to door canvassing, to downtown leafleting, to teach-ins and rallies. We need to get our message out to people.
Boycotts — Hit them where their money is. Currently underway is the organizing of a city-wide boycott. Businesses who support and profit from american terror are being targeted. DO NOT SUPPORT THESE BUSINESSES. Talk to relatives, neighbors, co-workers, comrades, everyone you encounter and inform them of the atrocities these corporations are responsible for. Pull your funds from banks that profit from and support the war. Support local credit unions instead.
This is an action every single one of us can participate in and, if done correctly, will force these businesses to reconsider their backing of tyranny. With the organization and good old-fashioned grassroots word-of-mouth action we can make this boycott national. None of these organizations will support a war that actually costs them money. Contact for more information.



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Last Updated: May 1, 2003