The monthly meeting of U. S. Citizens for Peace and Justice convened at the home of Peter and Gretchen at 7 pm on Tuesday, November 21, 2006.
Present: Stephanie, Peter B., Gretchen, Gene, Patrick, Barbara P., Michelle, Julienne, Nick, Peter, Kristine, Frances and Giuliana.
Celebration of mid-term election results
Demonstration in Vicenza on Dec. 2
Position on Israel/Palestine
Position on participation as USC4P&J (ref. to marches on Nov. 18 in Rome and Milan)
USC4P&J business: suggestions for initiatives, call for elections, email communication outside meetings
1. The celebration for the election results During the celebration for the Democratic victory, members expressed both their delight and their perplexity for the future.
Stephanie informed the attendees that three States (Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Illinois) had included a ballot initiative asking citizens to vote for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, thanks to the work of local peace activists. Every single ballot measure passed. Stephanie also reported on a series of articles in the Atlantic Monthly where 7 conservatives expressed their hope of losing in the midterm elections so that the Republican Party could regroup and prepare for 2008. Various members expressed sentiments of pessimism about the present political situation in the US.
2. Update on the Vicenza demonstration on Dec. 2 Stephanie announced that USC4P&J was asked to lead the march in Vicenza. She explained that there are plans to convert a civilian airport (Dal Molin) into a military base as an addition to the already existing base of Camp Ederle, which would make Vicenza the largest U.S. military installation in Europe. The Florence group has endorsed the march. Stephanie encouraged members to attend.
3. On the position on Israel/Palestine Members were reminded that the I/P Sub-committee had previously recommended that the organization not define a specific position on this issue. However some members now expressed a desire to work one out: Peter B. proposed that we call for the White House and the State Department to use an even-handed policy (currently one side receives most of the aid and support, etc.); this saves us from having to take sides or point fingers. Others suggested an even less attackable policy of simply calling for a "peaceful solution" to the conflict: no shooting and no retaliation on either side. A focus on the role of U.S. foreign policy and military aid in the conflict was also discussed. The discussion will continue at some future date.
4. On USC4P&J participation at events organized by other groups. Since the march on November 18 in Rome was not endorsed by USC4P&J as a group, 14 members marched as individuals. There ensued a lengthy discussion on whether USC4P&J should condition its participation in events organized by Italian (or other) groups, according to who the groups are and their platform /demands. Some members felt these things should be taken into account, while others felt that if the cause were right, USC4P&J should participate anyway. Of the 14 people who took part in the march on November 18th, only four attended the general meeting. The majority of the attendees agreed that official USC4P&J participation should be decided case by case, taking into consideration the fact that we are living and operating in Italy and should thus be mindful of who we associate with in this context. In any case, members can always march as individuals (such as 14 did on March 18th under the banner "US Citizens for Palestine"). One of the marchers suggested using a less ambiguous name in the future, like "Americans for Palestine" (we also have members from South America).
5. USC4P&J business
Initiatives Julienne suggested supporting US soldiers resisting the war and explained the importance of Lt. Watada's trial since he is the first officer to challenge the legality of the war. There will be activities planned by the organization "Courage to Resist" from 8-10 December. Julienne was encouraged to proceed with the event.
Email communication On a couple of occasions i n the past, discussion of issues initially brought up at meetings has continued via email among meeting attendees. This happened recently with the discussion over participation in the Rome march on November 18th . This method was deemed ineffective since it will inevitably leave out some interested members. It was decided that when any issue needs to be discussed via email, a single message will be sent to the entire list encouraging those interested to form a mini-list.
A related communication problem was discussed: some participants in the debate about the November 18th march shared their ideas only with members of their choice , citing the tone of the correspondence as the reason. It was suggested that members in a given list be encouraged to "reply to all" and avoid one-to-one emails; t hey should also watch the tone.
Elections Though we have no by-laws or specific election terms, it has been assumed that officers serve for one year, with the current term ending Nov 2006. Since Kathy is away, Stephanie asked that elections be postponed until after Kathy returns early 2007.
Patrick recommended that Giuliana write a report on the march of Nov. 18 for the section "Articles" on the USC4P&J website. This drew concern from a couple of members. No vote was taken but none is mandatory for publication in the "articles" section, which hosts descriptions of the initiatives of individual members.
The meeting ended with warm thanks to Peter and Gretchen for their gracious hospitality.
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