Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Control the Future: Palestine native urges Beaver County to speak up for a Gaza ceasefire

By Andrew Stepke

Special to The Times

May 22, 2024, BEAVER - The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for nearly 76 years and boiled over last year after an Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, leading to an armed response in Palestine. But even though the resulting destruction and death has been in the news for months, it still likely feels distant for many Beaver Countians.

That is why Beaver County Peace Links recently sponsored a talk by Ahmed Arafat, a Palestinian native who now resides in Pittsburgh, and others at Beaver Area Memorial Library about the suffering that is going on in Gaza.

Palestine native Ahmed Arafat speaking May 18, 2024, at the Beaver Area Memorial Library urging a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict.

Speaking to those gathered at the Beaver library, Arafat said he wants to tell stories that help people understand what is happening in Gaza and why a ceasefire is so important for every party involved. A second Palestinian speaker, Arafat's wife, Eman, shared the medical status of Gaza residents, which is grim.

Israel-Hamas War:Israel pounds Gaza as top official gives Netanyahu ultimatum for postwar plan

Arafat talked about his childhood and familial roots in Gaza which extend far beyond his lifetime, as his family goes back generations. He said his grandparents, aunts, uncles and all family members have felt the war's effects.

Arafat spent most of his young life there, but went to school overseas. His father urged him to study when he was young because “as a refugee, the only thing you can do is get a good education.”

People gathered May 18, 2024, at the Beaver Area Memorial Library to hear Palestine native Ahmed Arafat talk about Gaza.

While the recent Gaza War is new, Arafat is no stranger to conflict. He said, “We didn’t have snow days [growing up], we had tank days.” When tanks would roll through his neighborhood, school was not an option for young Arafat.

Something important Arafat said he wanted to disprove is regular misconceptions about Palestinean people. Part of this talk was to help eradicate stereotypes. He said Palestinean education is not one that “teaches terrorism” or any other harmful practices.

“All the people of Gaza are family,”Arafat said, “the majority of Palestinean people have zero hate in their hearts.”

Other stereotypes would suggest women and children being used as human shields and that is the reason for high death numbers, but Arafat said that isn’t the case. He has four sisters living in Gaza and 14 nieces and nephews. One of his sisters has moved her family seven different times to escape the Israeli bombings.

Arafat said, “[I] hear a story every single day of civil servants dying tragically … Loss of life should not happen.”

In the end, Arafat said he wanted to point out some facts. “Since 2014, 17,000 children have died, [and] 25,000 are left orphaned with no family,” he said.

Arafat added, “It’s simple. If you get a ceasefire today, 50 kids will not die tomorrow.”

Putting an end to continual death and suffering is what Arafat pleads for, not just because they are his people but because they are human beings.

“If eight months later we’re looking for who’s to blame, we’re in the wrong place, talking to the wrong people … We need to be the voice to the voiceless, for the children [who have died]”

Commending the crowd gathered for the event, Arafat urged folks to speak up for a ceasefire.

“Just by being here, you are on the right side of history," he said. "While we can’t change the past, we have full control of the future.”

Also sponsoring the event were Beaver County Blue, Peace Action, United Electrical Workers Eastern Region and Pittsburgh Palestine Coalition.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

A Revolution in American Foreign Policy

Replacing Greed, Militarism, and Hypocrisy With Solidarity, Diplomacy, and Human Rights

By Bernie Sanders

Foreign Policy

March 18, 2024 - ad fact about the politics of Washington is that some of the most important issues facing the United States and the world are rarely debated in a serious manner. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of foreign policy. For many decades, there has been a “bipartisan consensus” on foreign affairs. Tragically, that consensus has almost always been wrong. Whether it has been the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the overthrow of democratic governments throughout the world, or disastrous moves on trade, such as entering the North American Free Trade Agreement and establishing permanent normal trade relations with China, the results have often damaged the United States’ standing in the world, undermined the country’s professed values, and been disastrous for the American working class.

This pattern continues today. After spending billions of dollars to support the Israeli military, the United States, virtually alone in the world, is defending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government, which is waging a campaign of total war and destruction against the Palestinian people, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands—including thousands of children—and the starvation of hundreds of thousands more in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, in fear-mongering around the threat posed by China and in the continued growth of the military industrial complex, it’s easy to see that the rhetoric and decisions of leaders in both major parties are frequently guided not by respect for democracy or human rights but militarism, groupthink, and the greed and power of corporate interests. As a result, the United States is increasingly isolated not just from poorer countries in the developing world but from many of its long-standing allies in the industrialized world, as well.

Given these failures, it is long past time to fundamentally reorient American foreign policy. Doing so starts with acknowledging the failures of the post–World War II bipartisan consensus and charting a new vision that centers human rights, multilateralism, and global solidarity.


Dating back to the Cold War, politicians in both major parties have used fear and outright lies to entangle the United States in disastrous and unwinnable foreign military conflicts. Presidents Johnson and Nixon sent nearly three million Americans to Vietnam to prop up an anticommunist dictator in a Vietnamese civil war under the so-called domino theory—the idea that if one country fell to communism the surrounding countries would fall as well. The theory was wrong, and the war was an abject failure. Up to three million Vietnamese were killed, as were 58,000 American troops.

The destruction of Vietnam was not quite enough for Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They expanded the war into Cambodia with an immense bombing campaign that killed hundreds of thousands more people and fueled the rise of the dictator Pol Pot, whose subsequent genocide killed up to two million Cambodians. In the end, despite suffering enormous casualties and spending huge amounts of money, the United States lost a war that never should have been fought. In the process, the country severely damaged its credibility abroad and at home.

Washington’s record in the rest of the world was not much better during this era. In the name of combating communism and the Soviet Union, the U.S. government supported military coups in Iran, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, and other countries. These interventions were often in support of authoritarian regimes that brutally repressed their own people and exacerbated corruption, violence, and poverty. Washington is still dealing with the fallout from such meddling today, confronting deep suspicion and hostility in many of these countries, which complicates U.S. foreign policy and undermines American interests.

A generation later, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Washington repeated many of these same mistakes. President George W. Bush committed nearly two million U.S. troops and over $8 trillion to a “global war on terror” and catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraq war, much like Vietnam, was built on an outright lie. “We cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” Bush infamously warned. But there was no mushroom cloud and there was no smoking gun, because the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. The war was opposed by many U.S. allies, and the Bush administration’s unilateral, go-it-alone approach in the run-up to the war severely undermined American credibility and eroded trust in Washington around the world. Despite this, supermajorities in both chambers of Congress voted to authorize the 2003 invasion.

The Iraq war was not an aberration. In the name of the global war on terror, the United States carried out torture, illegal detention, and “extraordinary renditions,” snatching suspects around the world and holding them for long periods at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba and CIA “black sites” around the world. The U.S. government implemented the Patriot Act, which resulted in mass surveillance domestically and internationally. The two decades of fighting in Afghanistan left thousands of U.S. troops dead or wounded and caused many hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilian casualties. Today, despite all that suffering and expenditure, the Taliban is back in power. Continue..,

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

BCPL Activists Visit Congressman Deluzio's Office Demanding Gaza Ceasefire


From left to right: Carl Davidson, Peter Deutsch, Jerry DeSena, Marcia Lehmann, Linda Stanley, Randy Shannon. Seated: Tina Shannon.

Beaver County Peace Links visited the local office of our Congressman March 5 to deliver a letter expressing our views of a immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and self-determination for Palestine, among other points. See the full text below. We also vigiled for a while along the highway outside the Center township shopping center where it is located. We plan regular vigils in the months to come outside the Courthouse in Beaver, PA.

Here's text text of our letter:

Dear Rep. Deluzio:

We are Beaver County Peace Links, a local peace/anti-war citizens group that formed in 1972. As your constituents, we write this letter with heavy hearts, knowing that our US taxpayer dollars are going to support Israel in its war of revenge that has broadened to genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. 

We must also speak out and oppose Israeli policies of 75 years of land-grabs, destruction of homes, unjust incarceration and killings of innocents by Jewish settlers and the IDF in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

We acknowledge the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th and the suffering of the Israeli people. We support all the inhabitants, Israeli and Palestinian, to live in peace with a just outcome. However, this vicious cycle of 75 years of cruel dispossession and fierce oppression against the Palestinians must cease! Americans are now awake to these atrocities.

We ask you to speak out and call on the Biden Administration to IMMEDIATELY enact the following:

1. A permanent CEASEFIRE NOW!
2. Stop US weapons to Israel - follow US arms-transfer laws, treaties & policies
3. Immediately restore UNRWA humanitarian aide to all Palestinians at prewar quantities
4. Self-Determination for Palestinian governance

Also, it is preposterous and contradictory that on one hand the US weapons reap horrific death, maiming and destruction upon the Palestinians, but with the other hand the US air
drops inadequate MRE’s to those same starving people. It will be even more difficult for the US to continue the rhetoric of establishing itself as a beacon of democracy in the world after these hypocritical acts of defying our own arms-transfer laws and policies, while being party to this level of intentionally-inflicted suffering of civilians.

We call on you to provide leadership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, use the UN Resolutions on the conflict as a guide, and take a stand with the four points above, as other progressive House Members have done.

Sincerely for real peace,
Beaver County Peace Links Steering Committee

Carl Davidson, acting President
Linda Stanley, Vice President
Peter Deutsch, Secretary
Marcia Lehman, Treasurer
Jerry DeSena
Sr. Kari Pohl
Nancy O’Leary
Rev. Todd Davis (Ret.)


Saturday, February 24, 2024

'Hands off Rafah!' protest in East Liberty


Hundreds of people participated in the "Hands off Rafah" protest organized by Students for Justice in Palestine from the University of Pittsburgh outside of Target in East Liberty on Feb. 16, 2024. Protesters marched down Penn Ave. demanding justice and calling for a ceasefire in Rafah, a city in Gaza.


Pittsburgh City Paper 

On Friday, February 16, hundreds of people participated in the “Hands off Rafah” protest organized by Students for Justice in Palestine from the University of Pittsburgh outside of Target in East Liberty. Protesters marched down Penn Ave. demanding justice and calling for a ceasefire in Rafah, a city in Gaza. 

Go Here for Slideshow of Pictures


Monday, February 5, 2024

Scores Of Gaza War Protestors Detained At PA Capitol

Police detain more than 100 people protesting at Pa. Capitol Monday who want Pennsylvania to divest from Israeli bonds

By Zack Hoopes

More than 100 people protesting the war in Gaza were detained at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Monday.

The protestors were handcuffed with zip ties by Capitol police and state troopers and taken into custody of the Capitol police after refusing to leave the Rotunda, the main hall of the Capitol, police said.

Those who were detained were released after being held for less than an hour. They were issued citations by Capitol police for $40.

The protestors organized a rally outside the East Wing of the Capitol Monday morning to call on the state to divest millions held in Israeli government bonds.

They moved inside the Capitol around noon holding banners reading “30,000 Killed in Gaza,” “Fund PA Schools and “Fund PA Transit.” The protestors were led away to a holding area in the Capitol about 1:30 p.m. and released around 2:20 p.m.