2013 Annual Report

Long Island Alliance Annual Report 2013

              2013 has been a year of many challenges and opportunities. With our community peace partners, the LI Alliance has worked to prevent U.S. bombing of Syria, to promote diplomacy with Iran and not more sanctions, to call for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and to advocate for substantial cuts in military spending and shift those dollars toward meeting human security needs here at home and abroad. We have worked in concert with Peace Action New York State, United for Peace & Justice and Friends Committee on National Legislation. Our Alliance members and peace partners – Suffolk Peace Network, Pax Christi LI, Code Pink LI, Islamic Center of LI, Great Neck SANE/Peace Action, North Country Peace Group, Veterans for Peace LI, Social Justice Committee at UUCSR –  have made calls and visits with congressional representatives, held vigils and actively engaged the community around them in dialogue.

               The LI Alliance, in collaboration with Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement, initiated the Peace Fellows Program as a pilot project in the spring 2013 semester. Peace Fellows is a peace education and issue advocacy program on peace, nonviolence and alternatives to war and conflict. It represents the Alliance’s deep commitment to nurturing the next generation of peacemakers and social justice advocates. Nine Hofstra students participated in a ten-week program that included weekly briefing sessions on peace and war, nonviolence, Afghanistan, nuclear disarmament, global climate change, military spending and budget priorities and the keeping of a journal, submitted at the end of the program.  They also attended lectures on and off campus.  Peace Fellows organized a peace vigil on anniversary of Iraq War in March and facilitated deliberative discussions on the US role in the world in two classes and on global climate change on Earth Day. The program, funded by a bequest from the Norman Ackerman estate, a grant from The Herman Goldman Foundation and contributions from Alliance members, will continue in 2014.

Three Peace Fellows – Tara Hamilton, Denisse Giron and Blaine Volpe – are now Alliance Peace Interns this semester. With volunteer Peter Magistrale, the Peace Interns organized deliberative discussions on the US role in the world in two sessions of CCE’s Day of Dialogue and another session on Afghanistan with Kathy Kelly, Center for Creative Nonviolence who reported on her recent visit with the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. Our Assistant Director Ariel Flajnik facilitates monthly Skype meetings with Afghan Peace Volunteers and has promoted dialogue and involvement with APV among Hofstra students. The interns held a vigil marking the 12th anniversary of the Afghan war in October, presented the film “Dirty Wars” featuring investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to two classes on November 19. They are currently working on a drone education project at Hofstra to mark Human Rights Day. Both Ariel Flajnik and Denisse Giron attended the DC drone conference organized by Code Pink and other peace organizations in November.

               Programs this spring and fall at Hofstra and at Shelter Rock, co-sponsored by the LI Alliance included several  speakers: Kathy Kelly on Afghanistan, Medea Benjamin on drones, Bob Keeler on  the American War Economy  , Mel Goodman on the cost of war, Bernard Alter on US-Pakistan Policies, Roy Bourgeoise on the School of the Americas, Robert Jensen on Unchecked Capitalism and the Apocalypse, David Wildman on the Crisis in Syria, Kevin Martin on Endless War or Peace, Amy Goodman on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, and Sergio Argueta at the October 2 Annual Gandhi Commemoration on Keeping Peace in our Local Communities.  Programs were sponsored by Pax Christi LI, Great Neck SANE/Peace Action, Shelter Rock Forum and the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.

                  In 2014 we continue to advocate for a world without war – for the resolution of conflicts through diplomacy not bombs. We will continue to push for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons and call for US leadership to convene an international conference to begin negotiations toward a nuclear free world. The increased militarization of our public and private lives will be a strong focus of our work as we renew our efforts to cut military spending, reorder national priorities and use dollars to rebuild our communities. It will be extremely important to pay close attention to how the United States will end the war in Afghanistan and to continue to call for the withdrawal of all US troops.

               We are grateful for all of you who leap with us into the breach to repair the world – our community partners in the STOPWAR coalition and our Alliance members. We appreciate the hospitality and space provided by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock for organizing meetings and programs. We thank all of you who make a daily commitment to peace and to the saving the next generation from the scourge of war. 

Peace,   

Margaret Melkonian, Executive Director    

Andrea Libresco, President

December 7, 2013