Visiting Branch Congressional delegations with Gaza and Peace is Possible Post Cards
I’ve just completed a ten day period in Washington D.C. (Feb 19 to 29). I want to report to you on the visits, in which Tzili Mor of AHR/CEDAW and Ellen Barfield of DISARM! Dismantle the War Economy also participated. Ellen Thomas served as a collection point in D.C. for post cards, and she and Elisabeth Leonard in Philadelphia provided hospitality.
Our most significant meetings were on behalf of AHR/CEDAW national committee and their wonderful shadow report on the child soldier protocol. These meetings should be of particular interest to all Branches working on counter recruitment in our schools and deserve a second blog on their own. That should follow shortly.
But first I want to let Branch members know that we did lots of Gaza and Peace is Possible post card deliveries,(/strong> and made contacts with staff on your behalf as well. In addition to deliveries to staff noted below, we also had significant meetings with aides from California, Michigan Texas and Wisconsin delegations.
I especially want WILPF members in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey to know that we delivered your post cards calling for the U.S. to press for an immediate cease fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The text also urges the US to demand that Israel lift the inhumane Gaza blockade and fulfill its obligations under international law as an occupying power.
We hope more of you sent your cards directly to your members in Congress. If not, please do so now. It is very difficult at present for the Philadelphia office to manage hand deliveries to Congress, and these post cards are actually appropriate for individual posting. Cards get through to Congress relatively quickly. It is letters that are still taking a couple of months, ever since the “anthrax scare” in 2001. (We have long understood that the anthrax used in those letters originated from Fort Detrick. It may be far fetched to think this was a “plot” on the part of some deranged soul or group in the military or elsewhere in government, but it certainly has cut off a significant channel for citizen communications with Congress!)
We had intended to deliver the actual WILPF statement on Gaza, printed on letterhead, to members of Congress and the State Department, but that proved impossible. I had formatted the statement and planned to print it out on letter head obtained in the WILPF Philadelphia office. However, as you know, the office is now closed for most purposes, and the kind volunteer who met me there did not know any better than I how to access a computer and printer.
For the same reason I was unable to print out the materials on letterhead we had planned to deliver on behalf of DISARM! Dismantle the War Economy committee re nuclear weapons abolition, ratifying the CTBT as a first step, and once again zeroing out funding for the Reliable Placement Warhead and rebuilding the entire nuclear weapons complex. We urge you to take Branch and individual action on these issues in any case. You will find background information under the focus issue on our January-February DISARM UPDATE.
In D.C. we also delivered at least two hundred Peace is Possible post cards on H Res 146 and a variety of other issues. Once I am back home next week I plan to send key members in each of your Branches the names and email addresses for staff in those offices. Your most important contacts are with local offices and the Congress people themselves, but it is the aides in D.C. that you sometimes need to contact re questions on specific issues and when you want to share important information. It is good to build positive relationships with them as well as with local staff. They are the eyes and ears of the Congress people, do the research, and have the most knowledge on specific issues.
One suggestion for all of us: we need to educate those who sign their cards about their own Congressional delegation. We received cards addressed to lawmakers no longer in Congress, and others asking Senators to support House bills and vice versa. Many were addressed to no specific person and in that case I simply printed in the name of a Senator. Although it is possible to track Representatives by zip code on FCNL, Vote Smart, Thomas and other internet sites, I had limited internet access and too little time to do that.
I would suggest every Branch have at least one copy of a Congressional Directory on hand, and especially when tabling. Very good ones can be obtained from FCNL cheaply, or even without cost. Every citizen should know who represents them in Congress, and cultivate positive relationships when possible. For your Branch the legislative correspondent could check zip codes of members and find who represents them in Congress. This knowledge can be very useful for particular issues, as well as knowledge of the committees on which your members serve. Some of you actually have very influential committee chairs in your districts!
And when working on DISARM issues please email Val Mullen of DISARM EYE on Congress about your experiences, or send copies of your communications! You can also ask her for help on rounding up specific information.
If you want to accompany us on the next DISARM team visit to D.C. in April, whether it be on a DISARM issue or a primary concern of your own Branch, please contact Carol Urner. Dates will probably be April 21 and 22.
We also urge those of you who can manage the time to join some of our DISARM team for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability D.C. Days April 13 to 16. ANA organizes some of the best lobbying in D.C. This is your chance to join in effective action and also learn a great deal from citizen lobbyists who serve as dedicated watch dogs at nuclear sites around the country.
Co-chair DISARM! Dismantle the War Economy Campaign