Saturday, July 29, 2006
http://www.hvgreens.org ph. (734) 663-3555
Adopted by consensus at the regular business meeting of the Huron Valley Greens on May 8, 2006.
WHEREAS the stated mission of the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Peaceworks (hereafter "Peaceworks") is: "Peaceworks is a grassroots organization dedicated to peace, democracy, civil rights, and civil liberties. To that end, we undertake education and action on local and state levels to influence U.S. foreign and domestic policy;" and,
WHEREAS the stated "major goal areas" of Peaceworks include: providing "accurate information and analysis about the 'War on Terrorism' and nonviolent alternatives;" fostering and promoting "a viable community organizing model (a philosophy, style of work, and goals that serve to mobilize community action);" and creating and maintaining "a safe space for dissent;" and,
WHEREAS the Ann Arbor-based Peaceworks is one of Michigan's largest organizations dedicated to peace; and,
WHEREAS based upon the overlap of Green values with the purported values of Peaceworks, there is likely to be a significant number of Greens attracted to or already supporting Peaceworks; and,
WHEREAS, based upon the testimony of persons with direct, personal knowledge of the matters described below, the Huron Valley Greens make the following findings of fact:
- Peaceworks' predecessor, the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace (AAACP), was nominally a membership-based organization.
- A struggle over internal democracy in Peaceworks (then AAACP) came to a head in late 2002 and early 2003 after Steering Committee members overwhelmingly voted against and refused to implement the group's "Call for Peace in the Middle East."
- The Call was the result of months of work by a duly appointed subcommittee and was approved by 78% of voting members before the Steering Committee's action and committed the organization to supporting "the Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers ... who call on their fellow citizens to renounce violence" and "solidarity with all those working for peace in the Middle East."
- The row led to the resignation of two Steering Committee members and the Call was removed from the Peaceworks web site in 2004-2005.
- Sometime in 2004-2005, Peaceworks dissolved its membership and is now governed by a self-selected, as opposed to member-selected, Board of Directors.
- In 2004, Peaceworks staged a march and rally on the first anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and Peaceworks organizers imposed a gag rule on discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict by invited speakers.
- On short notice Peaceworks retracted its speaking invitation to Teresa Al-Saraji, the mother of a US soldier in Iraq, apparently, due to her association with the Blue Triangle Network, an immigrant rights group.
- Ann Arbor City Council member Joan Lowenstein, a prominent local Zionist, was allowed to sit on the dais and speak at the 2004 rally.
- Peaceworks has refused to endorse or publicize the City of Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission’s "Resolution in Support of Ending U.S. Military Support for Israel" and did not support an Israel divestment resolution put before the Michigan Student Assembly in March, 2005.
- Peaceworks is not supporting the current campaign by University of Michigan faculty, students and staff to get the University Regents to appoint, under an apartheid-era Regents resolution, an advisory committee to investigate whether divestment from Israel is warranted.
- This divestment effort has been endorsed by, among others: Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Ann Arbor's Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Michigan Peace Team, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Kathy Kelly.
- The 9/11 Commission Report and others have identified uncritical US support of Israel as a major source of anger and strife in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
- There is significant evidence that the interests of Israel were a major factor in the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
- In 2005, then-President of Peaceworks Eric Van De Vort physically assaulted a fellow peace activist at the September 24th Peaceworks march because he didn't like the sign the man was holding.
- According to the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, Van De Vort repeatedly shoved him, "slammed his body" into him, and physically impeded his attempts to evade Van De Vort.
- The victim said he repeatedly asked Van De Vort to stop but he continued his attack until Peaceworks Board member Nazih Hassan intervened.
- An eyewitness to the assault, Dr. Thomas Kaeding, has confirmed details of the incident.
- Responding to a September 28th e-mail message sent to Van De Vort, Peaceworks staff, and the rest of the Board members, Hassan confirmed his knowledge of the incident and of the victim's identity. His only other response was: "If he has a complaint he can send it directly to the Board." Van De Vort and other Board members did not respond to another inquiry sent on October 8th
- Neither Van De Vort nor Peaceworks has ever publicly acknowledged, nor apologized to the victim for, the incident; and,
WHEREAS "Greens promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and guide our actions toward lasting community and global peace;" and,
WHEREAS "Greens support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system;" and,
WHEREAS the "Green Party of the United States (GPUS) publicly calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized;" and,
WHEREAS to "maximize the effect of the Green Party's support for divestment and boycott of Israel … The party calls on all civil society institutions and organizations around the world to implement a comprehensive divestment and boycott program. Further, the party calls on all governments to support this program and to implement state level boycotts."
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Huron Valley Greens find that Peaceworks' structure and practices are inconsistent with its own stated mission and "major goal areas;" and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Huron Valley Greens find that Peaceworks' structure and practices are inconsistent with Green values and the policy of the GPUS; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Huron Valley Greens discourage Greens and other people of conscience from supporting—financially and otherwise—Peaceworks until such time as it:
- Becomes a truly grassroots organization with a membership empowered to actively participate in Peaceworks' decision-making process; and,
- Publicly supports and works for a just peace in Palestine including:
- Full equality for Arab and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel; and,
- An end to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights; and,
- The return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and property in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
- Publicly acknowledges, and apologizes for, the mistreatment of Teresa Al-Saraji and of the victim of Eric Van De Vort; and,
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Huron Valley Greens encourage the Green Party of Michigan to take actions consistent with Green values and this resolution to publicly censure Peaceworks.