Peace & Justice

Tuesday afternoon at Modesto Peace/Life Center

Tuesdays the Peace/Life Center will be open from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. Bring brown bag lunch. Come by for some coffee or tea or to chat or to see a film or browse through various books and magazines. Beverages will be provided.

20th Annual Peace Essay Contest

Reaching beyond our fears and taking action can go a long way to preventing conflict and creating an atmosphere of trust and hope in our communities and the world.

Students, grades 5 through 12 in Stanislaus County, are invited to reflect on how giving in to fear can get in the way of efforts to create understanding and peace in our homes, our communities, and our world. Contest flyers are now available. 

The deadline is December 2, 2005.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the Harvest Supper.  The benefit for the PEC was as enjoyable as always.

The Peace Essay Contest is a project of the Modesto Peace/Life Center.

ACTION: For a 2006 Peace Essay Contest flyer, please contact the Modesto Peace/Life Center at 529-5750 or, or download it

War Still Destroys Precious Lives on all Sides!

Two billboards carried the message War Destroys Precious Lives on all Side in the Winter of 2003, one of Highway 132/Maze Boulevard approaching downtown Modesto and the other on Highway 99 near Manteca, sponsored by a few local churches and the Modesto Peace/Life Center (see March 2003 Stanislaus Connections online).   Unfortunately, the billboard company replaced the message on Maze, and the one of Hwy 99 was ripped down.

Many have voiced the desire to replace the signs and sponsors have recently met.  However, Jim Costello reports at present no billboard space is available in Stanislaus County.

Vietnam War Memorial should be our nation's last such monument


My husband and I had one day to spend in Washington D.C., so on a beautiful autumn day we decided to see some of the outdoor memorials. The list is very long.

There are memorials honoring presidents and then there are the war memorials. There is the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown covering World Wars I and II and the Korean War. There are memorials for women in military service for America and one to honor women who served in Vietnam. The World War II Memorial is under construction.

Then there is the Vietnam War Memorial; the marble wall filled with the names of those who paid the ultimate price. Its understated design is so powerful. Every time I see it, I feel so sad and angry. I remember watching from my dormitory window the male students walking to a testing site at Michigan State University. The results of the test determined who stayed in college and who got drafted.

I remember looking in my world atlas to find out the location of Vietnam, and when I saw this small country thousands of miles away, I could not see how Vietnam would be a danger to us. It wasn’t. All the predictions of what would happen if the entire country became communist did not happen.

As we walked by the wall, we noticed the tributes people left: flowers, a teddy bear and a set of I.D. tags. After all these years, maybe the family of the deceased had found closure, and so they left the tags as a way of saying goodbye? Then I saw a man who had placed a piece of paper over a name and with chalk or crayon, he was rubbing the name onto the paper. Was this the son, nephew, or much younger brother?

For five nights a week for about six years, the network evening news gave a body count. There were more than 58,000 U.S. casualties. Thousands more were injured physically and mentally. More than one million Vietnamese civilians were killed and more than 6.5 million were displaced war refugees. More than 200,000 Vietnamese soldiers were killed. There were very graphic pictures on television and in the print media.

What did we learn from this? What have we shown the families and friends of those whose names are engraved on the wall? I had hoped that they would be shown that we learned our lesson, and that developing more sophisticated ways to kill people is not the answer. I had hoped our vast resources would be used to support more humanitarian efforts. I had hoped that our leaders would never again give us a faulty justification for sending our armed forces into combat.

On Jan. 27, 1973, the military draft ended. Our military is made up of men and women who volunteer. Each has their own reasons for wanting to serve their country, but all have willingly put their life on the line for us. We owe these brave people the utmost respect, therefore, we should never put these people in harms way unless it is absolutely necessary.

We are not shown the real horrors of the war in Iraq. With 76 percent of Iraqis living in the urban areas where the war is taking place, casualty estimates range from 50,000 to 100,000. With a volunteer army, public protest has been less effective. Also, we have been told that if we speak against the war, we are not supporting our troops. U.S. casualties are now more than 1400 killed in action and more than 10,500 wounded. Will the brave men and women of this war have a memorial as well?

I hope for the day when our political leaders will say this is the last war memorial. From now on all our efforts will be toward creating a peaceful world. There will be a cabinet level Department of Peace that will strive to fulfill Franklin Roosevelt’s wish that "we want to end the beginnings of all war".

President Bush stated in his second inaugural address that all people are entitled to enjoy the benefits of freedom and liberty. It can be done. The legislation has been written. All we need is enough sponsors in Congress to make it happen.

ACTON: For more on the Department of Peace campaign, see

Reprinted by permission of the author, a resident of Livonia, Michigan, and a member of the 11th District Citizens for Peace. Submitted by her sister-in-law Margaret DeMott Feldman of Modesto.

Information-Action Sheet: After Gaza, what next for peace

The author, a long-time Modesto Junior College English and Spanish professor, joined a delegation last summer to learn how Israelis and Palestinians perceive their conflict and their prospects for peace. Beyond meeting Palestinians and Israelis, and observing the situation first-hand, the trip provided delegates with a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, examined the effects of United States foreign policy in the region, The Fellowship of Reconciliation delegates expressed support for Israelis, Palestinians, and others working for a just and sustainable peace.

 The Modesto Peace/Life Center board member recently spoke on the “Journey Towards Peace” as part of Modesto Junior College’s Civic Engagement Project, and offered the following list of resources for further study of the Middle East.



1.      B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories:

2.      ICAHD: Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, coordinator Jeff Halper:

3.      Gush Shalom Israel-Palestine Peace Bloc (begun and led by Uri Avnery)

4.      Rabbis for Human Rights:

5.      Coalition of Women for Peace:

6.      Christian Peacemakers Team:

7.      Birzeit University’s “Right to Education Campaign”:

8.      The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network:

9.      Churches for Middle East Peace:

10.  Resource Center for Nonviolence (Santa Cruz):

11.  Fellowship of Reconciliation:

12.  Interfaith Peace-Builders: email:

13.  Foreign Policy in Focus:

14.  Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center:

15.  Middle East Research and Information Project:

16.  American Friends Service Committee:

17.  US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

18.  Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest (in San Francisco):

ACTION: What You Can Do

1. Read, learn, and share your questions and concerns with friends and neighbors. Books and websites are places to start.

2. Write elected representatives and letters to the Editor of The Modesto Bee. Two current issues you can write about:

a) Express your concern that the Bush Administration’s recent support of the Israeli government’s annexation of land east of East Jerusalem (to include the settlement Ma’ale Adumim) endangers the prospects of a negotiated peace. This support contradicts a long-time public policy of U.S. refusal to endorse Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The International Court of Justice in 2004 and the Israeli High Court have both ruled that the Wall should follow the Green Line, unless there are compelling security concerns. Demographic concerns don’t constitute a legitimate reason for deviating from this route. Some of the above websites have information on this latest development.

b) Learn more about the selective divestment campaign and write in support of selective sanctions, boycotts, and divestment. These actions will target companies and corporations that make or sell machinery, equipment, or weapons that are used to maintain the Occupation. Just as international commitment to such actions helped end Apartheid in South Africa, the hope is that strong international action might add to the pressure to end the Occupation.

3. Organize a home meeting, or a meeting with a group or church you’re a part of, and invite Dan or some other person to make a presentation and hold a discussion. Dan Onorato’s is number: 526-5436,

4. For students at MJC or any college or university, work to persuade the Associated Students of MJC to learn about the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University and support the campaign. Visit for information.

Nicaragua Network online newsletter
Submitted by Shelly Scribner

The most recent issue of Nicaragua Monitor, a newsletter of the Nicaragua Network, is now available online at www.nicanet.orgIncluded in this issue:

ARIZONA/SONORA: An open letter to U.S. Congressional staffers

Last week we visited, hoping to nurture just, effective and compassionate immigration law. You already know that current extraordinary levels of militarization/enforcement have failed to stem migration. Yet without exception, you seem to accept the increased militarization in border communities that will happen under a new immigration bill.

I find this position inconsistent with the intelligence and good-heartedness that I experienced among you. To honor your committed relationship with constituents, you must do better. You must resist the lie that offers battering blows of militarization as a solution.

We talked about the effects of that militarization. I told you about migrant deaths in the desert. One of you told me that ten years ago a rancher woke up and headed to the barn, found a small group of migrants huddled in a corner and bought them out a pot of coffee before seeing them on their way. Now the rancher takes a shot gun rather than a coffee pot. This is not security.

Militarization has increased the stakes in migration, has played into the hands of organized crime. Larger penalties, increased militarization and physical barriers in populated areas have created a situation where the guides of migrants are more likely to be beholden to a criminal syndicate, to be armed, to lead larger groups through the most dangerous, arid, remote areas, and to leave the weakest to die in the desert.

Militarized enforcement policies have also landed direct repeated blows on border communities. Helicopters buzz low over citizens. Video and drone surveillance violates every boundary of privacy. High amp lamps shine into windows. Border patrol jeeps speed through neighborhoods where children play, and tear up delicate, endangered and federally “protected” wilderness.

One of you asked me what further enforcement border communities would choose in exchange for keeping provisions favorable to immigrants in the bill. I know you mean well. On the hill it feels like you need to give in to further militarization. But it is a horrible question. It is a batterer asking his terrorized spouse, “Where shall I hit you this time? Where will the bruise not show?”

The answer is, “Don’t hit any more. Don’t batter, ever again.” Militarization needs to be rolled back so that communities can live unafraid. Border Patrol agents need to be accountable, to know that they cannot “do whatever they want” (a direct quote from an agent). Heavily armed vigilantes need to be restricted rather than encouraged as they impersonate law enforcement officials with hats that declare them “Border Patrol”— and hide the word “unofficial” on the brim.

Migrants are coming to the United States out of hope and economic desperation. People need the jobs. U.S. employers need the workers. This is not a flow to be dammed. Like the San Pedro, it’s a river that flows north, the treasure of water to a parched land. Let it flow humanely, legally, with welcome.

Calling for courage, decency and sanity in immigration reform,

Rev. Carol Rose
Co-Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams