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.

About Camp Peaceful Pines

Resting in 40 acres at the 6,200 foot elevation in the Stanislaus National Forest on the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River, Camp Peaceful Pines is located about 25 miles above Pinecrest off the Sonora Pass Road. Travel time from Modesto is 2 to 3 hours. The camp features:

Camp registration includes six meals, snacks, sleeping space, insurance and leadership costs. Partial financial aid, youth work/scholarships, and day rates also available. Camp is limited to 150 people.

To keep costs low, campers share in meal preparation, general camp cleanup, program administration, and other work.

Campers must provide their own bedding. A medical person will be on duty.

The camp officially opens with supper on Friday, June 23rd. Campers are welcome to arrive any time after 2:00  p.m. on Friday to enjoy unscheduled free time. Camp will close following lunch and cleanup on Sunday, June 25th. No pets, firearms, or firecrackers are permitted, nor are smoking, alcohol or other drugs.

Directions to the camp and camp schedule will be mailed to participants shortly before camp. Click here for registration

MEXICO/U.S. BORDERLANDS: “This is not a welcome mat!”


Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction program which places trained peacemakers in areas of lethal conflict around the world including Iraq, Columbia, Israel and Palestine.

We conceived “Operation Welcome Mat” when our Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) delegation recently toured the Mexico-US borderlands and saw the wall on the U.S. side for the first time.

Barbed-wire fences scar the landscape all along the Mexico-US border. On the outskirts of Douglas, AZ, an eleven-foot-high metal wall looms for miles, until the barbed wire takes over once again. At the end of the fences, naturally treacherous areas take over, until the next border town emerges. In the remote areas between towns and US Border Patrol stations, migrants trek across the border into the United States. More and more migrants die each year during these treks.

On the day of our visit, heavy construction vehicles passed us in both directions along the gravel and dirt access roads. The crews were paving new sections of the road, which indicates increased fortification of the border. I began to see the border fortification as an inhumane barrier that was contributing to the deaths of migrants on a quest for economic asylum.

CPT-Arizona and local townsfolk mourn migrant deaths with weekly vigils in town, and by painting white crosses along the border wall. Our delegation wanted to create our own memorial to fallen migrants.

When our team gathered to plan Ash Wednesday actions we agreed to incorporate two themes, denouncing the wall and welcoming the migrants: “The Wall Kills / El Muro Mata.”

After the service we would transform the new pavement into a “welcome mat“ with colored sidewalk chalk, a symbolic gateway, an Ellis Island of the Southwest.

En route to the site, we encountered U.S. National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers troops engaged in a bulldozing project. The military unit leader thought it appropriate to direct a racial slur at our Chicano friend, “We are working - something you know nothing about.”

We made our way to the site of the new road and began our action, dubbed “Chalk and Awe.” We transformed the pavement with large colorful words: “Operation Welcome Mat!” “Welcome to Turtle Island,” “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa,” and similar greetings.

Before long, a Border Patrol vehicle approached. Our legal spokeswoman explained to one agent that we were decorating the road to welcome our sisters and brothers from the south. We continued with our project while the two discussed the matter. Enlisted men stood by.

The agent in charge finally informed us in a loud voice, ‘THIS IS NOT A WELCOME MAT!” He threatened arrest if we did not cease chalking and vacate the area immediately. The transformation was complete, so our delegation complied with his request.

Our risk was negligible compared to the risk migrants face in their quest for a better life. We are committed to telling the migrants’ stories in our hometowns and will continue the work of transforming the intimidating and inhumane fortifications on our southern border.; email;

INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegations to Palestine & Israel

From May 27-June 10, 2006, there will be an INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegation to Palestine & Israel.

Learn more about a conflict that is portrayed as ‘rooted in religion’ and ‘thousands of years old.’

Participating in a delegation to Israel and Palestine will allow you to counter the myths that perpetuate the conflict. You will be an eyewitness to the situation — and your understanding of the conflict will be enriched and transformed. The delegation will meet with not only ‘ordinary’ Israelis and Palestinians, but also extraordinary people working for peace and justice. You will confront and analyze the US role in the conflict and wrestle with ways to translate your experience when you return home.

Dan Onorato, Peace-Life Center board member and Modesto Junior College professor recently returned from a similar delegation and has given several moving talks about his experiences there. Contact him at 209-526-5436 if you are interested in having him speak to your group.

What does it cost? $1750 includes: 15 days, hotel and home stay accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, local transportation, guides, speaker/event fees, basic tips and gratuities. The cost does not include domestic and international airfares.

Other delegations will be held July 15-29 and November 4-18, 2006.

ACTION: For information, contact: FOR Interfaith Peace-Builders; (202) 244-0821; 4545 42nd St. NW, Suite 209, Washington, DC 20016; E-mail:;

PUBLIC FORUM: Divestment and peace in the Middle East

Submitted by DAN ONORATO

The Middle East Study Group presents a public forum on “The Role Of Selective Divestment: To Help End Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories and Bring Peace with Justice to the Holy Land“ will be held on Sunday, May 21, 2006, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Walnut Creek Civic Park Community Center, corner of Civic and Broadway.

Program speakers:

Rev. Phillip Lawson, Interfaith Program Director of the East Bay Housing Organization; Dan Onorato. Modesto Junior College, with recent photo slides of the Occupied Territories; Rev. Will McGarvey, Presbyterian Church, Pittsburg; Penny Rosenwasser, Jewish Voice for Peace; Dr. Amer Araim, Dar-Ul-Islam Mosque, Concord Palestinian-American youth

The Middle East Study Group has devoted special attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has brought untold sufferings to the peoples of the Middle East, particularly Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military occupation since 1967. Today, twelve years after the Oslo Accords and the subsequent Road Map for Peace, the Israeli government still denies Palestinians the right to establish their own state on their own territories with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital, and refuses to recognize the right of return for Palestinian refugees as established by UN resolution 194.

Rather than work toward a two state solution, Israel has continued to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, usurped Palestinian water resources, bulldozed Palestinian homes, and established numerous checkpoints and roadblocks that deny Palestinians access to education, health care, and general civil society. The International Court of Justice has condemned the Separation Wall that Israel is building within the West Bank. Even after Israel‘s unilateral withdrawal of settlements from Gaza, that region remains under continued Israeli attack.

The recent Israeli elections have revealed that all three major political parties, Kadima of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Labor and Likud are determined to maintain a substantial Israeli presence in the West Bank. Olmert announced after the elections that the new government would withdraw unilaterally from a few of the settlements east of the Wall and annex Palestinian territory west of the Wall, where settlement blocks are being expanded. All of East Jerusalem is being annexed by Israel, as well as wide areas along the Jordan river in the east of the West Bank. As a result, Palestinian territories in the West Bank are being reduced by nearly fifty percent, divided into isolated cantons similar to the Bantustans created by the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

If Americans knew the reality of the occupation, they would not be surprised by the Hamas victory in recent Palestinian elections. Hamas won because it asserted what all Palestinians know: that the so-called peace process is not about peace with justice. Conditions on the ground have become progressively worse with no end in sight. Israel and its allies insist that Hamas recognize Israel and cease armed resistance. Yet there is no reciprocal insistence that Israel recognize a viable Palestinian state and cease military attacks on Palestinians.

Americans of conscience are called upon to inform themselves and curtail US support for a situation that will never lead to peace. Divestment is one method of nonviolent resistance that was successfully used to end the apartheid regime in South Africa. Selective divestment should be directed at companies that contribute to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel. One major company involved is Caterpillar, which manufactures huge military style bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Caterpillar equipment caused the death of Rachel Corrie, an American citizen killed while she nonviolently blocked the demolition of the home of a Palestinian family.

The Middle East Study Group, organized in 2004 by a diverse group of people in central Contra Costa County, is concerned about the events in Palestine/Israel and the fact that the American public knows little about the realities of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Since billions of US tax dollars support policies of the Israeli government, it is imperative that US citizens receive information from both sides of the conflict.

The Group‘s purpose is to contribute to peace and justice in the Holy Land and the entire Middle East through the exchange of information as well as encouraging serious and honest discussions on these issues with a view to finding peaceful resolutions based on mutual respect and understanding.

Peace in the area cannot be won by military action but only by providing justice for the Palestinian people. We therefore oppose US funding for illegal settlements and for arms that encourage aggressive actions. We also support actions that will lead to a nuclear free Middle East.

Co-sponsors: Social Justice Alliance of the Inter-Faith Council of Contra Costa, Middle East Children‘s Alliance, Jewish Voice for Peace, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Haiti Action Committee, Women in Black, Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center

ACTION: $5 donation. For more information call 925-228-5746.

April 30: Day of Conscience for Darfur

On Sunday, April 30, 2006, citizens of conscience will join together to demand an end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan in San Francisco, at a Vigil on the Golden Gate Bridge and at a Rally at Crissy Field. The events will deliver a strong message: Darfur's over 2.5 million displaced persons need multinational protection now.Our silent vigil will begin at 10 a.m. Participants will join hands across the entire span of the Golden Gate Bridge. This will be followed by a Rally on Crissy Field in the Presidio, featuring Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church, Jerry Fowler of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and several other community leaders.

A broad-based coalition of Bay Area groups—including Human Rights Watch, American Jewish World Service, Dear Sudan, and Stanford STAND—are organizers. We want our public leaders to do more to help Darfur’s over 2.5 million displaced victims.

NOTE: Tim Nonn, founder and director of Dear Sudan, will be a workshop presenter at Peace Camp, June 23-25.

ACTION: Visit the for the schedule, logistical information, and volunteer information.

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