Peace Council Pages

Educate, Agitate, Organize


compiled by Carol Baum

Syracuse Peace Council
924 Burnet Ave., Syracuse, NY 13203
(315) 472-5478
OFFICE HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 10 am - 5 pm
STAFF and INTERN Email Addresses:
Andy Mager
Carol Baum
Jessica Maxwell
Aly Wane

Nura Jaber of the Muslim American Society Masjid Al-Huda Mosque speaks at the January 9 Syracuse demonstration calling for an end to the siege of Gaza. Photo: Carol Baum

 Cease Fire, Cease Siege
As the Israeli air assault on Gaza became increasingly deadly in late December, nearly 100 people turned out at an SPC emergency demonstration to express our outrage and sadness at the carnage underway.

The following week, working with the Islamic Society of Central New York and the Muslim American Society Al Huda Mosque, a much larger group of at least 300 people again protested at the Syracuse Federal Building. Both protests attracted significant media attention, helping to provide a small correction to the strong pro-Israel bias in the US media. It has been decades since SPC did more than respond to moments of intense crisis such as this in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We hope this latest round of organizing can become a more consistent effort working for a complete end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the creation of a viable independent Palestinian state. Contact Andy.

SPC’s Monthly Program

From Siege to Peace: A View from Gaza and Beyond

Thursday, February 19 at 7:45 pm

Islamic Society, 925 Comstock Ave.

Speakers: Raed Sharif and others

Refreshments. Free. 472-5478

SPC’s Iraq Organizingis Evolving
As the situation in the Middle East continues to be volatile, SPC’s Iraq Committee is moving ahead with local organizing efforts. We will maintain our focus on Iraq, while also increasing our attention to Afghanistan. We will continue to make the connections between the global (US actions in the Middle East) and the local (budget cuts, poverty and violence). In March, we will offer educational events on war tax resistance. In April, we hope to share information on LaOnf, an amazing network of Iraqi organizations organizing nonviolently for peace in Iraq.

Nationally, there are plans for spring demonstrations in Washington and NYC. In March, protests will mark the beginning of year seven of the US occupation in Iraq. Look for information soon on both national and local events. We also hope to support United for Peace and Justice’s call for an April 4 mobilization in NYC to End War and Fund Human Needs (commemorating the famous April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his assassination one year later). To get involved with local organizing efforts, contact Carol or Jess.

Strike for Peace – March 1
Get your team together now for SPC’s annual Strike for Peace Bowlathon! Registration forms, flyers and pledge sheets are available on the SPC website (c). We will once again be bowling at Flamingo Bowl in Liverpool. Sign-in for the first session begins at noon, for bowling 12:30-2:30 pm. Afternoon sign-in begins at 2:30 pm, for bowling 3-5 pm. We highly encourage outrageous costumes and team names (“Pre-emptive Strike” was a favorite last year). Prizes will be offered for team spirit, most age diversity on a team, creative names and costumes and more. Teams should be 4-6 people; individuals are welcome – we’ll match you with a team. Entry fee is $15 for adults, $10 for kids 12 and under, and includes two games plus shoes. Contact Jessica.

Reaching Out to Students
On January 16 SPC participated in the first Service Fair at Manlius Pebble Hill School, speaking to dozens of students interested in supporting our work. Several students remarked that the SPC display seemed very different from that of the other “service” organizations. We’re looking forward to working with a new group of college interns this semester. Caragh Frye, a Le Moyne communications major, is working with us on event planning, including the March 1 Bowlathon and exploratory work for a potential summer music and crafts festival. Another Le Moyne student, Brandon Clarke, will work with us on various video projects. As we go to press we’re also finalizing internship arrangements with Stella Adegite, President of the Caribbean Students Association at SU.
Then candidate, now Congressman, Dan Maffei looks at materials on the Iraq Veterans Against the War table at SPC’s 2006 Birthday Celebration. Photo: Ray Trudell

Congress Comes to SPC
The Syracuse Peace Council doesn’t believe that fundamental social change will come via the ballot box or through lobbying. Nonetheless, we find ourselves in a new political environment. For the first time in memory we have a congressional representative who understands that we are an important constituency and cares what we think.

A group representing the many programs of SPC met with Dan Maffei at our office on December 31, before he took office as the representative of the 25th Congressional District. John Burdick, Barbara Humphrey, Andy Mager, Jessica Maxwell, Lindsay Speer and Ann Tiffany met with Dan and his District Director Mike Whyland in an informal and wide-ranging discussion about SPCs history, current programs and concerns.

We focused much of our attention on the relationship of the US to the rest of the world, encouraging Dan to promote cooperation rather than unilateralism. We told Dan that an increased military presence in Afghanistan was counterproductive and would lead to the US empire facing the same fate as the British and Russians before us. He agreed with us “in terms of emphasis,” but argued that “there may be an appropriate military mission in Afghanistan. There is none in Iraq.”

We also pushed Dan on the need to drastically reduce military spending. While sympathetic to some reductions in such spending, Dan clearly sees part of his job as protecting and supporting the military related industries in his district such as Sensis, Martin Marietta and the Syracuse Research Corporation.

Dan expressed his lack of expertise on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Given the current Israeli assault on Gaza, and the centrality of this conflict to other Middle East issues, this is an area on which follow up is particularly needed.

In response to statements about US policy in Latin America, Dan promised to be an original co-sponsor of the new bill to close the School of the Americas. He also expressed sympathy with our concerns about the need to restructure “free” trade agreements and to reform US immigration policy.

Dan was interested in SPC’s Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation project and told us he’s already working to arrange a meeting with the sovereign Onondaga government.

An area that clearly will require more time with Dan is nuclear power. He expressed support for the abolition of nuclear weapons, but sees nuclear power as a better alternative than coal to generate electricity, citing “only one” accident in the decades of nuclear power operation in the US. He was unfamiliar with issues related to uranium mining and processing.

We cannot predict how things will develop. We’ll never rule out the prospect of “sitting in” in Dan’s office with important demands. However, it is certainly a new day when our congressional representative agrees with us on some of the issues so important to us, and takes the time to listen about the others.

Activist Appreciation Amber Coon
Amber joins with dozens of other SPC activists to block traffic as an expression of outrage at the continuing US War in Iraq on March 19, 2008, the 5th anniversary. Photo: Michael Greenlar

There are some people who are always willing to take on one more task – and who get it done, despite ridiculously busy lives of work and organizing. That’s Amber Coon. Always working a variety of jobs, she’s also active in the Syracuse Animal Rights Organization, currently coordinates tabling efforts for the Military Alternatives Education Project, and has actively participated in SPC’s antiwar efforts. Amber’s passion and commitment combined with her reliability and consistency make her a dynamic and effective activist. We’re thankful that Amber chooses to share some of her time and energy with SPC.

Help Organize on the Economy
About 30 people attended Isador Walliman’s presentation on building a social economy. If you are interested in joining a core group to keep this effort moving, contact Jessica at SPC. Isador’s presentation energized those who came, and notes will be sent out soon. In the meantime, people have been adding to the wiki (, so check it out. 

Celebrate Change and   Make it Real
SPC’s January Monthly Program was an inspiring and thought-provoking gathering attended by a diverse group of 50 people. The four panelists were united in their belief that Obama’s election, and the grassroots upswell which brought him to the White House, present valuable opportunities to realize our agenda for peace and social justice. The progress we make is likely more dependent on the effectiveness of grassroots organizing than on Obama himself.

A few highlights: SPC intern Aly Wane’s note to “celebrate and savor the moment and get back to grassroots organizing.” Ikaweba Bunting sharing the African perspective “I am because we are,” in deep contrast with US individualism. He closed by encouraging us to “re-aggregate the issues” rather than continue with the fragmented organizing currently common.

Join SPC’s Family of Pledgers

SPC’s new Steering Committee takes a break from the intense planning work at our first meeting of 2009. From left: Stephanie Leeds, Carol Baum, Ben Burdick, Andy Mager, Carole Resnick, Rose Viviano, Jessica Maxwell, Richard Vallejo, Herm Bieling, Jessica Azulay, Peter Sinatra, Sera Brown, Nick Cavanaugh, Jake Eichten and Wendy Yost.
Photo: Andy Mager’s camera

SPC is very fortunate to have over 40 people/families who commit to making a quarterly or monthly financial contribution. During times of economic downturn, this is especially appreciated – it is income we can predict and count on. Please consider pledging – no amount is too large or too small – even $5 a month adds up over the course of a year (it would buy a carton of colored copy paper).  You can either do it by automatic transfer through Cooperative Federal or our friendly pledge card system.

Contributions are always welcome too. If you want to make a tax-exempt donation, contributions of $50 or more can be made out to the Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice (please write SPC in the memo line).
To become an SPC pledger or learn more about SPC’s finances, contact Carol.

SPC Retreat
SPC’s Steering Committee has organized a weekend retreat for Saturday, February 7 and Sunday, February 8. Our goal is to review our previous three-year strategic plan and create a new one. Saturday will focus on program – evaluating our current program and identifying program/organizing priorities for the next three years. Sunday’s focus is infrastructure – such as finances, role of staff and membership.

Anyone who has an ongoing relationship with SPC is invited for all or part of the weekend. To join in the fun, contact Carol.