Friday, July 28, 2006

UFPJ: Next Steps on Iraq and Middle East Crisis

This is an update from the anti-war group United for Peace and Justice about their latest activities regarding Iraq and the Middle East:

Please forward widely!

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, we reached out to you asking for your help in placing an ad in a major Iraqi newspaper. With our open letter to Prime Minister al-Maliki requesting a meeting with him, we hoped not only to bring attention in the U.S. to the Iraqi peace proposals, but also to make an important connection with the Iraqi people. Thanks to your generosity, the ad ran in Assabah Al-Jadid on Tuesday, July 25 (we will post a PDF of the ad on our website as soon as we receive it).

While al-Maliki did not meet with us, we did receive very positive feedback from Iraq. In fact, five Iraqi parliamentarians have contacted us to see if a meeting between them and a few representatives of the U.S. antiwar movement could be organized next week in Jordan. While we are not yet certain this meeting will happen, the fact that they reached out to us is an indication that more direct contact between the people of the U.S. and Iraq can be organized. We know that ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq and supporting Iraqis in the long-term project of rebuilding their nation will only be hastened by such people-to-people connections.

One of the obstacles in pulling together the meeting in Jordan is the funds needed to fly people there. It is very expensive and any contributions you can make to help cover such costs would be very helpful. If the meeting in Jordan does come together, we will certainly let you know what happened. We also want to acknowledge the hard work and leadership that CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a member group of UFPJ, has been putting into this effort.

On another front, we want to bring you up to date on our letter to John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, about Israel's horrific attack on Lebanon.

We were moved and encouraged by the positive response to our call for signatures on our emergency letter to John Bolton last week. Endorsements from more than 300 organizations and individuals poured in within 24 hours, and they keep coming.

We delivered the letter and that first batch of signatures to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. on Friday, July 21. Two hundred concerned individuals like you stood in the pouring rain, chanting, "Stop the killing, stop the crimes, from Lebanon to Palestine!" and "Stop bombing! Start talking!" Finally, a representative from Bolton's office came outside and accepted the letter from Leslie Cagan, UFPJ National Coordinator, and representatives from Jewish, Arab, Muslim and other peace groups. Your voices were heard! While Bolton is still blocking efforts in the U.N. to achieve a ceasefire, your action helped draw greater public attention to the Bush Administration's obstruction of international efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire and to keep this rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis from worsening.

Of course, the violence in the Middle East continues and there are no indications that Israel's massive assault on Lebanon and Gaza is letting up. We must keep up the pressure for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and massive humanitarian aid. We will be delivering the additional signatures to the letter as the list grows, but it is critically important that throughout the country we make our voices heard.

UFPJ and some of our allies have tentatively planned a nationally coordinated campaign in early August to pressure Congress to stop allowing the Bush Administration to send military and economic aid for Israel's war. As our plans are finalized, we will keep you posted.

We also encourage UFPJ member groups and allies to organize emergency actions all over the country; as many are already doing. Please check our online calendar to find an event near you. If you are organizing an action, please post it on our calendar so others can join you.

Now is the time for the antiwar movement to speak out loudly and clearly: U.S. support for the Israeli assaults in Lebanon and Gaza must come to an end, just as the U.S. occupation of Iraq must end!

Help us continue to do this critical work: Make a donation to UFPJ today.

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