"To live now, as human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." - Howard ZinnPeace
Last Saturday, February 4th, rallies were held around the world in support of peaceful negotiations with Iran. Escalating threats between Israel and Iran have increased the tension in the past week. The United States and Israel are not willing to compromise or ease up on sanctions. Both say they are ‘unwilling to take anything off the table’.
So far the U.S. has initiated sanctions that can damage the Iranian economy and the lives of millions of Iranians through depriving them of food, medicine and electricity. U.S. surveillance drones are flying over Iran, and three U.S. carrier ships are stationed off shore.
The demonstrations came as Europe and the United States slapped tough new sanctions on Iran, and Israel this week launched new threats of military intervention if the Islamic republic fails to rein in its suspected nuclear development program. There is heightened speculation that Israel is contemplating air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, fueled in part by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s comments to the Washington Post in which he said he believes there is a “strong possibility” that Israel will launch such air strikes this Spring.
Iran admits it has a nuclear program but insists it is for peaceful purposes like generating electricity. When Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors suffered meltdowns last March the stark reality that the risks of nuclear power far outweigh any benefits should have become clear to the world. As Helen Caldicott said “As the old quip states, nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water”. It’s the lobbyists who want nuclear power not the people.
Sixty peace and civil rights groups gathered in almost 80 cities, primarily in the U.S. and Canada to oppose moves by the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government to wage war on Iran.
The MV Rally was held at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven where many rallies have been held since the post 9-11 attack. The Council holds a rally on average of once every three months - often in frigid weather. The Council has partnered up with Occupy MV and organized the Iran rally in a week's time. Cold and desolate when it started, soon cars, trucks and bicycles were honking by and even people passing voicing "honk honk" joining in to show their support.
The MV Peace Council is a non-profit, non-partisan group established in response to the Vietnam War (1965). After the invasion of Iraq membership declined. Approximately two hundred people Island-wide are members or supporters and participate as often as possible.
The Council is responsible for bringing stellar speakers to the Island, like the late Howard Zinn; pacifist, anarchist and peace activist Colman McCarthy; anti-nuclear advocate Helen Caldicott and political activist David Swanson have packed the the majestic Old Whaling Church, Vineyard Haven Library and local venues. Summer visitors have been exhilarated as part of their holiday to bear witness to these heroes and role models up close and personal with the unique opportunity to ask questions.
Most importantly their goal is to educate and advocate. For the past few years the Council has handed out $500 scholarships for a graduating student’s essay on peace. Last year three scholarships were awarded. Rallies aren't the only way the Council affects change; they participate in parades; candlelight vigils; have tables at the Tisbury Street Fair and an annual sunrise prayer circle on the beach at the lighthouse in Gay Head (Aquinnah) on August 6, commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima.
Activities Organizer Chris Fried strives to stay abreast of what's going on around the world and organizes and partners accordingly. Then comes the task of emailing supporters of upcoming dates and events. Co-Chair Sarah Nevin; Treasurer Bruce Nevin; Co-Chair Reverend Alden Besse; Chris Riger and national activist Lisa Jeanne Vunk who initiated a petition to repeal corporate personhood are a few of the members that attended Saturday and most are present for meetings and events.
Once a month the Council meets to share ideas and thoughts, and discuss conflict resolution. As Reverend Alden Besse, the Council’s longest running member and Co-Chair says “Peace starts in the heart, home, community and world.”