Hell on Earth, a Film about Syria

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace administrator

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Promoting Enduring Peace will be showing the film Hell on Earth in the Marett Seminar Room of the New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.) at 6 p.m. The room is in the back of the library’s first floor. Admission is free.

David Denby in the New Yorker describes the film in this way, “[…] a Syrian family tries to make sense of the disaster that has overtaken it. Two brothers, Radwan and Marwan Mohammed, along with their wives and small children, are holed up in a cement room somewhere outside of Aleppo, forced by Bashar al-Assad’s government troops and then by ISIS to flee the city. As the film chronicles with relent-less power, Syria, outside the family’s miserable shelter, has fallen into chaos.” It was produced by National Geographic and it’s co-produced by Sebastian Junger who made the classic documentary Restrepo, about an American combat unit in Afghanistan.

Some day before the event people are encouraged to see the exhibit at the Whitney Humanities Center by Mohamad Hafez. A noted architect, this Syrian has been making streetscapes of Syrian ruins, highlighting the situation of refugees. The Center is at 53 Wall St. It has limited viewing times, 3-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.

‘Syria: We Want Action’ public meeting 2 p.m. Jan. 7, Old Lyme

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace

A group of Syrian-American women in CT are spearheading efforts for Syria. They are not giving up despite horrendous casualties and war crimes. They met with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s staff in an effort to get airdrops to the million under siege in Aleppo. In mid-December some 60 Syrians and Egyptians and others marched in Hartford from CT’s Capitol building to the Federal building demanding justice for Syria.

On Saturday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. there will be a public meeting about Syria called “Syria: We Want Action” at the Sheffield Auditoium in the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Rd., Old Lyme.
The main speakers are Yasser Munif, a Syrian professor of sociology who teaches at Emerson college in Boston, and Dr. Ammar Traboulsi, a Syrian-American psychiatrist who is working on projects to help Syrian refugees in Jordan. The sponsors are also hoping for some music.

The main emphasis of the event will be to determine concrete proposals to help the Syrians in Syria and the Syrian refugees. There’s a big campaign in the UK to get airdrops of food to those under siege. Some 138,000 have signed a petition in favor of it and reportedly a majority of the Parliament is for it, but not the leadership of the parties at this time. We in the U.S. are far behind. The Left campaigned against U.S. bombing of the regime in 2013, but has generally dropped the ball since then. Under a misguided idea that only the U.S. and its clients can be imperialist, most of the Left has turned a blind eye to terrible human rights abuses by Russia and Iran. As Trump and Israel again stir up the pot of war against Iran, a just settlement in Syria would help pull the rug from under their plans. For more information, see http://www.pepeace.org and http://www.thestruggle.org.

Jews, Muslims Gather on New Haven Green to Protest Islamophobia, Hate Crimes

by Kate Ramunni, New Haven Register, Dec. 22, 2016

Two groups that have been the target of hate crimes joined together Wednesday [Dec. 21} night to jointly recommit to justice for both and urge others to do the same. Members of Jewish Voices for Peace and the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut gathered on the New Haven Green, where they sang songs, held signs and advocated for tolerance. More than 30 people huddled together and traveled from corner to corner around the Green as evening traffic rushed by. [….]

“It’s gotten difficult to be a Jew or a Muslim in American society,” said Patrick Korth. “They are irrationally targeting the wrong people,” he said as he stood with the others at the corner of Chapel and College streets.

Wednesday’s demonstration was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Network Against Islamophobia and set on the backdrop of Hanukkah, which starts Saturday night and runs through Jan. 1. The eight-day “festival of lights” celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. Signs the demonstrators held laid out their beliefs: “We will not be silent when encountering Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes. We challenge through our words and actions institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned anti-black violence. We welcome Syrian refugees and stand strong with immigrants and refugees. We stand with Jews against Islamophobia and racism, rekindling our commitment to justice. We stand against U.S. policies on the ‘war on terror’ that demonize Islam and devalue, target and kill Muslims.”

“We need to change the direction of this country to address the problems of the world,” Korth said, “and we are not getting there with our politics.”

Read the whole story here at the New Haven Register’s website: Jews, Muslims gather on New Haven Green to protest Islamophobia, hate crimes

Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation visit Syria

by Henry Lowendorf, Co-Chair, GNH Peace Council

From July 24 to July 30, I co-led a delegation of peace activists and journalists to Syria. In talking with leaders of many NGOs and government ministers, we learned that the vast majority of Syrians support their government and the Syrian Arab Army, which protect them from mercenaries that terrorize the populations they control and which are paid for by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and armed by the CIA. The CIA provides supplies and free passage into Syria through Turkey and Jordan. Syrians believe in, and the UN Charter supports, their right to determine their destiny without interference from the United States and its allies.

syria-mapMy co-leader, Gerry Condon, vice president of Veterans for Peace, said this: “Almost everything we read about Syria in the media is wrong…The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.”

“In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change,” continued Condon, “the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”

The Syrians we spoke with, especially Grand Mufti Hassoun and Orthodox Bishop Luca, refuse to see themselves split into narrow groups such as Sunni and Shia, or Muslim and Christian, or Kurdish or Arabic-speaking. This U.S. and Europe formulation is used to divide Syrians as it has with Afghans, Iraqis, and Libyans in order to weaken and conquer Syria. The Grand Mufti told us he is the Mufti of 23 million Syrians, the full Syrian population. The Bishop agreed.

The U.S. peace movement’s premier responsibility is to stop our government’s interference in Syria, its long-held policy of “regime change,” overthrowing the Syrian government to install a subservient client. We must allow Syrians to retain their national sovereignty. Once the foreign aggression ends, Syrians will decide who governs Syria.

For more information, call Henry Lowendorf at (203) 389-9547 or e-mail grnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com.

Campaign Ongoing to End Sieges in Syria

by Stanley Heller

In mid-January photos of skeletal men and boys from Madaya, Syria made news worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are under siege across Syria mainly from Assad-Hezbollah forces and some from ISIL and other Islamists. The U.N. Security Council declared the sieges illegal in 2014.
Promoting Enduring Peace http://www.pepeace.org and CODE PINK http://www.codepink.org have called for airdrops of food and medicine and had a joint letter to that effect printed in the New York Times. Thousands have signed the CODE PINK petition calling for the airdrops. A link to it is at the PEPEACE site.

In New Haven on Feb. 21, the Syrian architect/artist Mohamad Hafez spoke about his work and about his country at the United Church on the Green Parish House. He showed slides of his streetscapes that combined ruined areas topped by areas where the elite lived on in comfort. He explained that what is commonly called the Syrian Civil War started as a mass protest against the tyranny of the ruling family. For more info on this event visit http://peacenews.org/tag/mohamad-hafez.