A General Meeting for USC4P&J was held at The Beehive on May 23. Attending were: Anna, Chérine, Gene, Jenny, Maria V., Marilee, Michael, Michelle, Patrick, Stephanie and Toni.
We first addressed appointing an Elections Administrator for the upcoming elections of the Coordinating Committee members to be held in June. Anna volunteered to be the administrator, which will entail collecting nominations for candidates, receiving and counting the votes as well as communicating the results. More news on elections will be sent to the list.
Next on the agenda were the many upcoming events in Rome and the U.S.
June 2: Arrival of the Peace Caravan and Counter Military Parade - it is not entirely clear what is being organized and by whom. It was decided we would attempt to gather more information before deciding to support this event.
June 2-3: Non-violence for a Change (film + debate + workshop) - we had already decided to support this event, organized by Translators for Peace, at a previous meeting. An update on the event was presented as follows: Denise Drake, a member of the Quaker Peace & Social Witness project, Turning the Tide, will be in Rome for a screening of the film "Non- violence for a Change" (in English with Italian subtitles) followed by a panel discussion the evening of June 2. Stephanie has been invited to speak on behalf of our group and photos of our Impeachment Day actions will be included in a small photographic exhibition on non- violent action. The following day, June 3, a workshop will be held on non-violent action. Members are encouraged to participate and more information will be sent to the mailing list.
June 10-11: The World Says No to Israeli Occupation + Lobby Day in the U.S. - we discussed various ways to support this national demonstration in the U.S. and other countries on the 40th anniversary of Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Options included organizing our own event at the U.S. embassy, participating in one of the events organized by Italian and/or Palestinian groups, and participating in the Lobby Day via fax. It was decided that we would gather information on events being organized in Rome and decide which one to attend rather than trying to organize our own at the embassy, noting that what is important is to be visible as U.S. citizens opposing the occupation and our own government's financing of it. We would also set up a means on our own web site to send a fax to chair(s) of the proper committee(s) in order to participate in the Lobby Day, checking with organizers of the lobbying efforts in the U.S. as to whom we should target.
June 9: Bush's visit to Rome - the rest of the discussion centered on the visit by Bush to Rome. The Italian movement is split and two separate demonstrations are being organized. Copies of both appeals were circulated and are link below.
One is a "No Bush No War" protest march organized by Cobas and various anti-war groups, which will probably wind through the center of Rome and end up in piazza Navona. In the past we kept our distance from a number of these groups, feeling that highly aggressive stances risk driving people away from the peace movement and also for their support of the armed resistance. This time, however, Cobas and some of the others are distancing themselves from the more aggressive anti-war groups, so the question we asked was: Should we encourage this change by supporting them this time? (Note: The more aggressive groups have stated they plan to show up anyway, even though they are not endorsing the appeal since it does not mention support of the armed resistance.)
The other event on the 9th is a demonstration organized by Arci, FIOM, various peace associations and a few political parties from the left of the Italian spectrum are also endorsing this appeal. It will be held (probably) in piazza del Popolo; there will be music and many speakers, including several activists from the U.S. as well as an Israeli and a Palestinian since this date falls close to the 40 th anniversary. There the message will also be "No Bush No War" but rather than attacking Prodi, the appeal calls on Italy to change course, opposing the base in Vicenza, the F-35s, the missile defense system, etc. Patrick added that it is more correct to attack Italy's perennial acquiescence to (and support of) Washington's military adventures, whoever the Prime Minister be.
In the end we voted to support officially (and participate in) the Arci/Fiom demonstration -- the one in Piazza del Popolo. Those wishing to attend the other event, the protest march, can do so as individuals. Some members may even opt for both. In addition, we decided to endorse officially a last minute appeal for unity between the two groups signed by several well-known Italian personalities.
Besides participating in the Italian event(s), we may also try to do something on our own. A meeting to talk about specific details of our participation in this event will be called in the near future.