2010 Convention Resolutions

Ending the Blockade of Gaza
Ending Military Aid to Israel
Closing of US Military Bases Outside Its Borders
Gaza Flotilla Support
VFP Membership in Earth Charter Initiative
Increasing Openness & Democracy in VFP
Condemnation of Israeli Defense Force Attack on Gaza Humanitarian Aid Flotilla
Resolution to Sanction Israel in Support of Us and International Law
Justice for Victims of Burn Pit Exposure
Opposing Military Intervention in Iran
Proper Recognition of Soldiers Who Commit Suicide

ENDING THE BLOCKADE OF GAZA

Whereas Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007 in violation of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention which states: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited”, and

Whereas Israel during Operation “Cast Lead” in December 2008 and January 2009 bombed and destroyed much infrastructure in Gaza – factories (219 estimated), schools, hospitals, offices, mosques, homes (over 3,000 estimated, with an additional 20,000 damaged) — in addition to killing over 1400 people, most of them non-combatants and children, and

Whereas Israel damaged or destroyed 48% of the 122 health facilities in Gaza during Operation “Cast Lead”, according to the World Health Organization, and

Whereas it is estimated that 60% of the children of Gaza suffer from malnutrition and estimates by the UN put the amount of food allowed in to Gaza by Israel at approximately one-quarter of the minimum amount necessary, and one-quarter of what came into the country prior to the siege, and

Whereas the World Food Programme UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that Israel has destroyed between 35% and 60% of the Gaza agriculture industry and that nearly all of the 13,000 families whose livelihoods depend directly on farming, herding and fishing having suffered considerable impairment, and

Whereas items like cement and glass, which could be used to rebuild Gaza, as well as numerous goods essential for mere existence, are prohibited from entering Gaza, and

Whereas in order to obtain life’s necessities Gazans are risking their lives as they tunnel out of the country, an exploit that has caused the deaths of over 200 people, and

Whereas the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls the situation “a massive destruction of livelihoods and basic services” and

Whereas John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), noted that a conference in Sharm el-Sheikh last year put the price tag at $4.5 billion to reconstruct Gaza and that “That’s $4.5 billion, at the moment, of despair and misery until such time that recovery and reconstruction gets under way”, and

Whereas Mr. Ging commented that “the physical suffering of so many continues on a daily basis, not just physical suffering, but psychological suffering because people are at their wits’ end to understand when all of this will come to an end”, and

Whereas the Statement of Purpose of Veterans For Peace asserts that we will: “restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations,” and that we will “seek justice for veterans and victims of war;”

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli blockade of Gaza that has caused so much suffering, and calls on the United States Government to pressure Israel to permanently lift the blockade and allow food, aid, and reconstruction materials to flow freely into Gaza.

Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


ENDING MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL

Whereas, Veterans For Peace has as a Statement Of Purpose, "To abolish war as an instrument of national policy" and military aid to any country is in conflict with that statement, and

Whereas, Noam Chomsky characterized the Israel 2006 attack on Lebanon as he “US-Israel invasion”, where 1,000 were killed, mostly Lebanese civilians, and

Whereas, an Israeli commander stated in December 2006 “We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon and that is widely forbidden by international law Phosphorous and cluster bombs were heavily used”, and

Whereas, Israel disproportionately killed 1,300 Palestinians in 2009 in retaliatory attacks on Gaza for the Hamas firing rockets indiscriminately that killed 13 Israelis, six of whom were reported to be civilians, and

Whereas the United States continues to supply military funding that supported the Israeli military attack that killed nine activists during the June humanitarian flotilla to Gaza, and

Whereas, in August 2007, the Bush Administration agreed to increase U.S. military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the following decade. Israel is to receive incremental annual increases of $150 million, starting at $2.55 billion in FY2009 and reaching $3.15 billion per year for FY2013-2018, and

Whereas, The U.S. funding that pays for the guns and ammunition, F-16 bombers, and Apache helicopters that are used to carry out Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and people serves neither Israelis, Palestinians, nor Americans, and

Whereas, Israel is the second highest recipient of U.S. military aid after Colombia, and

Whereas the U. S. continues to provide Israel over $7 million a month that entitles every Israeli free universal health care while U.S. citizens do not have universal government health care;

Therefore Be it Resolved that Veterans For Peace urges the United States government to immediately stop all military aid to Israel.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


CLOSING OF US MILITARY BASES OUTSIDE ITS BORDERS

Whereas, the United States has more than 725 military bases outside of our borders, at the cost of billions of dollars annually, and

Whereas, we are constantly being reminded that we are vulnerable to attack, signifying that the bases are not making us safer, and

Whereas, our country is suffering a major recession, resulting in drastic cuts in every service except the military;

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace calls for immediate beginning of closure of military bases outside of our borders.

Be It Further Resolved that we call for completion of the closures be accomplished by the year 2020.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


GAZA FLOTILLA SUPPORT

Whereas, it is imperative that all persons of conscience challenge U.S. Government policy that funds and supports Israel's cruel and illegal blockade of Gaza and it’s collective punishment of 1.4 million people, including 800,000 children, and

Whereas, the Free Gaza Flotilla has, at great cost and sacrifice brought the world's attention to this illegal blockade of Gaza, and

Whereas, there is now a U.S. campaign to purchase and outfit a U.S Boat which will sail in the next international flotilla to break the siege of Gaza;

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace encourages it's members, and Chapters, to do everything in their power to encourage and promote support for this U.S, boat, The Audacity of Hope, which will present a challenge to US foreign policy and affirm the universal obligation to uphold human rights and international law.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


EARTH CHARTER INITIATIVE VFP MEMBERSHIP
Whereas, as we should adopt as a sister Peace organization, the Earth Charter, and

Whereas, we should join and adhere to the Earth Charter Initiative, as our missions are very similar, and

Whereas, the mission of the Earth Charter Initiative is to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the Veterans For Peace organization join the Earth Charter Initiative which has the potential to save the planet with an ethical imagination and intelligence.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


INCREASING DEMOCRACY AND OPENNESS IN VETERANS FOR PEACE
Whereas, Veterans for Peace is "an organization that is both democratic and open", and,

Whereas, the democracy and openness of Veterans for Peace would be enhanced by increased member participation in the deliberations and decisions of the Annual Convention;

Therefore Be It Resolved it is requested that the Board of Directors appoint, within sixty days, a committee to study and make recommendations on how to enhance and facilitate participation in the deliberations and decisions of the Annual Convention by members who are unable to personally attend the convention; and

Be It Further Resolved that the aforesaid committee shall issue a report of its recommendations to the Board of Directors and to the membership no later than May 1, 2011.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


CONDEMNATION OFISRAELI DEFENSE FORCE ATTACK ON GAZA HUMANITARIAN AID FLOTILLA

Whereas, in humanitarian response to the continuing Israeli blockade preventing all commerce and delivery of civilian goods to Gaza, in the spring of 2010 an international gathering of humanitarian aid ships known as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was organized by a coalition of over 700 human rights activists for the express purpose of delivering civilian aid cargo to the isolated population of Gaza, and

Whereas, said Flotilla, comprised of some six civilian cargo ships loaded with some 10,000 tons of donated civilian aid goods embarked from Cyprus in late May, and continued on its peaceful mission through the Mediterranean sea toward Gaza, and

Whereas, during the evening of 30 May, the aid Flotilla was intercepted by Israeli warships (in International waters, well beyond any national territorial limits), and ordered not to continue toward Gaza, and

Whereas, leaders of the aid-flotilla clearly and repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces that the aid-flotilla carried no weapons or military supplies, and furthermore invited full inspection of the unloading of the humanitarian aid supplies once the flotilla reached Gaza, and

Whereas, the naval IDF responded that the blockade preventing delivery of all cargo to Gaza, civilian, humanitarian or otherwise would be fully enforced, and

Whereas, on the 31st of May, 2010, at approximately 04:30 GMT, (at Latitude:32.64113, Longitude:33.56727" in international waters, some 70 miles from the coast of northern Israel and 90 miles from Gaza), Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) operating from (its) Naval ships and military helicopters, under cover of darkness, instituted an unprovoked commando-style raid on the Egyptian registered cargo ship Mavi Marmara, ‘flagship’ of the aid-flotilla, and

Whereas, despite pleas by aid-delivery participants who urgently assured IDF forces that their numbers consisted only of non-combatant and peaceful civilians, IDF Commandos rappelled from helicopters to the deck of the aid-flotilla flagship and immediately initiated hostile and aggressive military action against peaceful, unarmed aid-delivery participants, utilizing deadly force, including, but not limited to military small arms, automatic rifles, tear gas, blinding lights and flares, and stun grenades, and

Whereas the IDF commandos quickly escalated the illegal boarding to the perpetuation of violent and ultimately deadly action against the flotilla civilians, and

Whereas said violence escalated to severe beating and the point-blank shooting of unarmed civilians, and ultimately the murder of nine (9) flotilla participants and serious injury to many others;

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace officially condemns the aforementioned blatant attack and calls on appropriate members of the Israeli government (and) the US State Department (and) the United Nations Human Rights Commission to join in official condemnation of this unprovoked violence.

Be It Further Resolved that Veterans for Peace calls for an official investigation of the raid under the power and authority of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague (aka the World Court) to determine if members of the IDF who participated in the raid, and/or members of the Israeli government who authorized the raid should face international criminal charges under international law and under auspices of said court.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


RESOLUTION TO SANCTION ISRAEL IN SUPPORT OF U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
Whereas, the U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibits non-defensive use of U.S.-supplied weapons, and

Whereas, Israel has launched massive, brutal and disproportionate violence and infrastructure destruction with U.S.-supplied weapons against the largely helpless population of Gaza as collective punishment, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international laws, and

Whereas, Israel has attacked an unarmed humanitarian flotilla on the high seas with U.S.-supplied weapons, violating the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas and the sovereignty of the U.S.-flagged Challenger 1 vessel, killing nine human rights activists including one American aboard the Mavi Marmara, and subjecting citizens of 40 countries including the United States to illegal abduction, torture, imprisonment and property theft, and

Whereas, Israel has attacked, intercepted, boarded and seized other Free Gaza vessels and their humanitarian cargoes in international waters in violation of international maritime law, and abducted, transported to Israel and imprisoned American citizens including former congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and former U.S. diplomat and VFP member Colonel Ann Wright, and

Whereas, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits foreign aid to any nation engaging in a consistent pattern of human rights violations, and

Whereas, Israel has continued to defy U.N. Resolutions 194, 242 and 338 demanding withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders and return of all U.N.-registered refugees to their homes as required under Articles 13 and 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and

Whereas, Israel has continued to impose limitations on mobility, association, commerce, property ownership, land use, marriage, and access to educational, medical and other community resources through discriminatory laws and policies, a wall determined illegal by the International Court of Justice, a network of Jewish-only roads that Palestinians cannot cross, and some 700 roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 13, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and

Whereas, Israel has destroyed over 24,000 Palestinian homes and over 300,000 Palestinian olive and fruit trees that provided the agricultural base of the Palestinian economy, and continues to confiscate privately owned Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Articles 17 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and

Whereas, Israel violates Palestinians’ rights to life, liberty and security required by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, having killed 1,449 Palestinian children since September 2000 and maintained a consistent population of over 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners under their military occupation system, and

Whereas, Israel violates Palestinians’ rights to equality, justice and protection from mistreatment under the law required by Articles 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, applying separate, unequal and discriminatory legal systems for Jews and non-Jews within both Israel and the West Bank, and

Whereas, Israel has ignored the long-standing offer of the Arab League, including Hamas, to provide diplomatic recognition and guaranteed security to Israel upon compliance with UN resolutions 194, 242 and 338, thereby prolonging its violation of Palestinian human rights, and

Whereas, Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and intends to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile with U.S. “cooperation” - as recently reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz citing Israeli Army Radio - which would cause U.S. violation of our commitments to the NPT and thereby violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution defining our treaty obligations as “the Supreme Law of the Land,”

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace shall recommend that:
(1) all military aid be withheld from Israel under the Arms Export Control Act, including any transfer of U.S. nuclear materials or technology; and
(2) all other foreign aid be conditional upon Israel's compliance with international law, in particular the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and long-established international laws of armed conflict, United Nations resolutions, and Israel's duties as a United Nations member state; and
(3) the United States discontinue its protection of Israel from international justice through use of United Nations Security Council vetoes, and
(4) VFP endorses the Palestinian civil society call for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Be It Further Resolved that the Executive Director is requested to, within thirty days, issue for broad media distribution a press release publicizing this resolution.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention

BURN PIT EXPOSURE, JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF

Whereas, since 2001, hundreds of contractor-managed (Halliburton Company/KBR, Inc.) open-air burn pits have exposed American soldiers, veterans and former employees of defense contractors who worked and lived on or near military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to toxic smoke, ash and fumes generated through the disposal of waste in open burn pits, and

Whereas, prolonged exposure to the pits’ smoke, ash, and fumes continue to cause injuries such as chronic illnesses, risk of illnesses and wrongful death, and

Whereas, current multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleges that these contractors used open burn pits rather than clean-burning incinerators at the majority of U.S. Military facilities in the Middle East in order to increase profits, and

Whereas, burn pits have been cited as the cause of maladies ranging from respiratory problems to cancers in veterans and former contractors who worked at bases, and

Whereas, the US military has been slow to acknowledge the numerous health problems allegedly associated with contractor-managed burn pits, and

Whereas, the American Lung Association called for the military to ban open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan on June 23, 2010;

Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace support the banning of open-air burn pits.

Be It Further Resolved that VFP formally support the Bishop Bill, HR-4477. The Military Personnel Toxic Registry Act, and its requirement of the Secretary of Defense to establish a medical surveillance system to identify members of the Armed Forces exposed to chemical hazards resulting from the disposal of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit the disposal of waste by the Armed Forces in a manner that would produce dangerous levels of toxins, and for other purposes.

Be It Further Resolved that VFP endorse regulatory agency action or legislative action by Congress, and all “presumptive” disability benefits for a number of disabilities related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan and exposure to burn pits.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


OPPOSING MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IRAN

Whereas, President Obama and members of his Administration have alleged that Iran poses an imminent threat to the United States, U.S. troops in the Middle East, and U.S. allies, and

Whereas, these allegations are similar to the lead-up to the Iraq War and U.S. Occupation, with the selective use of information and unsubstantiated accusations about Iran's nuclear program and its supply of weapons to Iraqi forces as centerpieces of a case to the American people for aggression against Iran, and

Whereas, the U.S. House of Representatives are currently considering resolution H.R. 1553 green-lighting an attack on the Iranian people by supporting Israel to use all means necessary to “eliminate nuclear threats” posed by Iran, and

Whereas, Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, and no compelling evidence has been presented to document that Iran poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the U.S. that would justify an unprovoked unilateral pre-emptive military attack, and

Whereas, top US military leaders have warned of the many dangers of military strikes against Iran, and

Whereas, we cannot ignore the history of U.S. government misinformation used to inspire U.S. aggression in Vietnam and again in Iraq, as embodied in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and more recently in what we know now as false claims of weapons of mass destruction, and

Whereas, Iranian activists have urged that even raising the specter of war undercuts the opposition in Iran, and

Whereas, a pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran would violate international law and our commitments under the U.N. Charter and further isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world, and

Whereas, an attack on Iran is likely to inflame hatred for the U.S. in the Middle East and elsewhere, inspire terrorism, and lessen the security of Americans, and

Whereas, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations have already cost the lives of more 5,600 American service men and women, and countless civilians, and

Whereas, the Iraq and Afghanistan War and occupation has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $1 trillion, depriving our cities of much-needed funds for services and infrastructure.

Therefore Be It Resolved Veterans For Peace hereby supports diplomatic engagement with Iran on nuclear issues; in pursuit of good faith negotiations toward peaceful resolutions as outlined for signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the United Nations Charter.

Be It Further Resolved that VFP opposes any U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran, and urges the Obama administration to continue to pursue vigorous diplomatic engagement with that nation.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention


PROPER RECOGNITION OF SOLDIERS WHO COMMIT SUICIDE

Whereas, in 2009, the VA reported that 178,000 veterans of our two current wars have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness, and

Whereas, a recent RAND study estimated 300,000 soldiers and veterans of our current wars have depression or symptoms of PTSD, and

Whereas, a 2009 report indicated the suicide rate in the U.S. Army now exceeds that in the general public (20.2 vs 19.5 per 100,000 people), and

Whereas, the U.S. Army suicide rate has more than doubled from 9.8 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 20.2 in 2009, and

Whereas the “suicide rate among veterans aged 20 to 24 was 22.9 per 100,000 in 2007—four times higher than non-veterans in the same age bracket, and

Whereas, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries and other mental illnesses are closely related to suicide, and

Whereas, President Obama in his August 2, 2010 address said “…PTSD is a pain like no other -- the nightmares that keep coming back, the rage that strikes suddenly, the hopelessness that’s led too many of our troops and veterans to take their own lives.”, and

Whereas, traditionally presidents have not sent condolence letters to the families of soldiers and veterans who have died from suicide, and

Whereas, historically presidents have sent letters of condolence to families of other soldiers who have been casualties of war;

Therefore Be It Resolved that soldiers and veterans who commit suicide after serving in U.S. wars be accorded the recognition they deserve for their wounds and their service; and

Be It Further Resolved that the VFP National Executive Director, Chapters, and members be urged to contact the White House and request the President send letters of condolence to families of service members and veterans of our current wars who commit suicide.
Approved at the 2010 VFP national convention

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