> Students United for a Responsible Global Environment -
> www.unc.edu/surge
> "Edward L. Whitfield" <elwhit@earthlink.net>
> Date: Sat, 6 Jul 2002 01:14:29 -0400
> Subject: [TrianglePeaceCoalition] Lessons from The
> Fourth of July in Greensboro
> Lessons from The Fourth of July in Greensboro
> by Ed Whitfield
> Greensboro, NC
> July 5, 2002
> Folks who believe the official line that the support
> for the current US policies in the war on terrorism
> and the new domestic measures at home is nearly
> unanimous need to know what happened in Greensboro
> North Carolina on the 4th of July.
> The Greensboro Peace Coalition heeded a firm
> suggestion by one of its leading younger members that
> it should have an entry in the city's
> annual 4th of July Parade. After some hesitation, we
> decided to register an entry and spread the word
> widely among our contacts that we were going to claim
> our piece of the public space and utilize that day of
> patriotism to spread our message of opposition to
> Bush's "war on terrorism".
> To coincide with our entry into the parade, we bought
> a half page ad in the local daily paper, the
> Greensboro News and Record and had them
> print the "Not In Our Name -- Statement of
> Consciousness" along with names of over 100 prominent
> national signers.
> We were never sure how many people would show up. Some
> of our members and supporters were afraid that the
> parade entry would be too agressive a tactic. They
> feared that in the light of the patriotic outburst
> since 911 an entry in the city's parade would be too
> much in the face of those who would be waving the flag
> that day. Some of the same folks who have stood weekly
> on a busy street corner in a vigil for peace every
> since October when the US started bombing Afghanistan,
> felt that the parade entry would be a bit too much.
> Some of them changed their minds and came to the
> parade anyway. The were all glad that they did because
> those negative fears turned out
> on this 4th of July in Greensboro North Carolina to be
> wrong.
> We had over 50 people -- black and white, young and
> old, professional and laboring and unemployed -- come
> to march with us behind a large banner that said
> "Greensboro Peace Coalition -- Not In
> Our Name".
> Along the route we passed out small flyers with the
> "Not In Our Name" pledge of resistance on one side and
> a statement from the Greensboro
> Peace Coalition on the other. The theme of the Parade
> was "American Heroes". Our delegation marched with
> posters of Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Fredrick
> Douglas, Martin Luther King, and other great Americans
> who have stood for peace and against militarism and
> agression.
> As we walked the mile and a half parade route, many of
> the people along the street began to applaud. There
> were a few hecklers, but only a few. There were far
> more smiles, peace signs and applause. Two
> city police on bicycles pulled into the parade to
> follow our group.
> We passed the reviewing stand where there was a live
> broadcast on the local radio. The announcer seemed a
> bit surprised as he announced "And here is ... the
> Greensboro Peace Coalition." We let out a cheer
> for ourselves that could be heard on the radio.
> After the parade, we set up a table among the groups
> who participated in the day long "Fun Fourth"
> activities. We were in between the table
> of a businessman running for US Senate, and a young
> man selling digital phone service for AT&T. Many
> people came by our table to pick
> up more literature and to talk. So many times that day
> we heard how glad people were to see someone with the
> courage to express concerns about the nation's
> direction.
> A real surprise came when officials from the event's
> organizing committee came to our table to give us the
> award for "Best Interpretation of Theme" in the
> Parade.
> After the day was over, I looked at the emails coming
> to the Greensboro Peace Coalition. Some of them were
> caustic and critical of us for having the nerve of
> going against "mainstream America". One
> said that what we were doing and saying was not "in
> vogue" and that this wasn't the 60's. Many others
> however expressed real joy that someone was standing
> up for what was right and asking how to get more
> involved.
> We are following up by getting people involved in our
> regular meeting and inviting them to other special
> events like the speaker from Colombia who will talk
> about the US military involvememt there at a
> covered dish dinner here in just over a week.
> There is a real lesson in this. If you scratch the
> surface of the poll numbers about Bush's and
> Ashcroft's overwhelming support, you
> get down to a lot of people with a lot of questions, a
> lot of concerns and a lot of fears. Some of them are
> afraid that they are alone in what they are thinking.
> What it takes to get them excited and to get them
> involved is for them to see someone standing up so
> that they will know that they are not alone. We should
> have been doing this in every city across the country
> that had a 4th of July parade. If we had the forsight
> and the courage, we could have turned this day of flag
> waving into a day of introspection and dialogue and
> building this important movement against repression
> here at home and agression abroad.

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Spreading the Secret

One of the best kept secrets in Israel is that most
Israelis are fed up with the occupation, and just want
to get out.

According to June's findings by Mina Zemach, Israel's
foremost pollster, 63% of Israelis are in favor of
"unilateral withdrawal". In fact, 69% call for the
evacuation of "all" or "most of" the settlements.

Mina's numbers are corroborated by everybody else: The
Peace Index of Tel-Aviv University's Tami Steinmitz
Center found that 65% of Israelis "are prepared to
evacuate the settlements under a unilateral separation

A poll commissioned by Peace Now a month earlier
revealed that 59% of Israelis support immediate
evacuation of most settlements, followed by a
unilateral withdrawal of the army from the occupied

Here's another "secret" revealed by Mina Zemach: 60%
of Israelis believe that Israel should agree to the
establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a peace

Is this too much good news all at once? To temper it,
here are a few more findings by Mina Zemach: 74% of
Israelis say that Sharon is doing a good job and 60%
believe that the Israeli army should be allowed to
attack the refugee camps in Gaza.

To quote Mina Zemach's closing remarks (at a lecture I
heard her give in Tel Aviv yesterday, sponsored by the
New Israel Fund), "Similar trends appear on the
Palestinian side in surveys conducted by my Palestinian
colleagues. Both sides want their leaders to be very
aggressive, but most are willing to have a peaceful,
two-state solution."

Mis-perceptions and Manipulations

The findings alone are impressively pro-peace, but
there are two more amazing aspects, in my opinion. The
first is that most Israelis are not aware that the
majority want the occupation to go away. To
illustrate, I report an informal experiment conducted
by peace activist Ron HaCohen in his Tel-Aviv
University class. When asked what opinion the students
believed was most common among Israelis, they guessed
"dismantle most" or "dismantle only a few" of the
settlements. Little did they suspect that the
category "dismantle ALL the settlements" was the one
most commonly chosen. Ron's students guessed that the
Israeli public was much more pro-settlement than it
actually is. Most people, I believe, feel this way.

The second amazing aspect relates to the fact that the
government can get away with ignoring this information.
To quote columnist Hannah Kim in yesterday's Ha'aretz,
"This has been and still is one of the great mysteries:
How is it that there is no political expression of the
fact that most of the Israeli public is in favor of
evacuating the settlements?" For months, I have been
asking people their thoughts about this. The following
answers seem to sum up the views I heard:

(1) First, Mark Mellman, one of the top political
consultants in Washington, was not surprised. He said
that it's not unusual for policymakers to ignore
majority views, and that it's our job to get them to
sit up and notice.

(2) Ron HaCohen said, "Our main source of information
about what people think, feel or believe is the mass
media. The media portray the Israeli people as much
more pro-settlements than they really are."

(3) Hanna Kim suggests that the power of the
settlements is a combination of their integration into
the Israeli economy [Boycott settler goods! - GS] and
the effectiveness of their Knesset lobby. This fits
into what is generally known about the power of small,
but determined lobbies...on many issues and in many

To all the above, I would add the determination of the
Sharon government to play deaf to this view. When
asked about abandoning even remote, isolated
settlements, Sharon sidesteps the question. When
pressed, he recently responded that Netzarim - the Gaza
settlement that everyone loves to hate - is as dear to
his heart as Tel Aviv. In other words, not a single
settlement is negotiable.

I was privileged to hear a great panel discussion this
evening, sponsored by Bat Shalom, on the subject of the
"fence" that Israel has begun to erect between Israel
and Palestine. All the panelists (five Israeli and
Palestinian women professors who are also peace
activists) felt that the fence would conceal the real
issue - the Palestinian suffering on the other side as
a result of the occupation - and would replace a
negotiated peace agreement. Galia Golan also pointed
out that the fence was being used to grab more land, as
it was not being built on the Green Line, and that it
ultimately would provide little protection, as mortars
and rockets could go right over it. Other speakers
were Rima Hamami, Inas Haj, Naomi Chazan, and Tanya

The most impassioned plea of the evening came from
Tanya, who begged the audience to listen to the polls
and trust that people mean what they are saying. "Now
is the time to call for leaving the territories
immediately, unilaterally," said Tanya, "just as we did
in Lebanon."

I think she's right.

Gila Svirsky Jerusalem

Coalition of Women for a Just Peace:

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