Dear Friends: Welcoming 2016 with expanded
We’re welcoming 2016 with:
Expanded grants: Our Social Justice Fund grants are up to $5,000 each, and we’ve broadened our criteria. See our website for details, and help us share this exciting news!
A new home: We’ve signed a five-year lease on a beautiful office loft in Manhattan. The space is bright, wheelchair accessible, and large enough for all our tenant groups and some new ones. We’ll move by June; until then, you can find us at 339 Lafayette Street. We’re planning a party to say goodbye to our old home—and you’re invited! Sign up on our website to stay informed.
Great people: Our board and staff are managing this transition with vision, inspiration, and hard work. We’re pleased to welcome Ivy Schwartz as our new Operations Manager. With gratitude for their dedicated service, we bid goodbye to Ellen Luo and Bruce Cronin, who stepped down from the Muste board to focus on other projects.
Thanks most of all to YOU—our generous donors, sustainers, and grantees—for your commitment to grassroots nonviolent action for social justice. We’re counting on your help in 2016.
“Despair Is Not an Option”
How can we end occupation and violence in Israel/Palestine? Our grantees respond.
How do you hold on to hope? What motivates you to keep resisting?
We do not always hold on to hope. But, even if sometimes without hope, we can and will express that we don’t agree. As Palestinians cannot stop being occupied, we owe them at least this solidarity.
We hold onto hope when Palestinians approach us and let us know that our presence in the military courts, or in the checkpoints, makes a difference. We also feel hope when we take Israelis of all ages to see the checkpoints and to meet Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and they tell us afterwards how we have challenged their views and perspectives. We say that we will not finish our work until the Occupation is over, and the military administration is dismantled.
My hope springs from the many people I meet who desire the same changes I do, people from both sides of the conflict. Despair is both the easiest and most impossible choice for us. I can speak for the people who work with me when I say that we feel personal responsibility to find a way forward. I wake up every morning with an understanding that there is no other choice than a shared society between Israeli Jews and Arabs.
When we think of those who are living the struggle every moment—the family whose home Rachel stood before in Gaza, our many friends there and throughout a very turbulent Middle East, our Palestinian friends in the U.S. and throughout the world steadfastly challenging displacement, and our colleagues inside Israel who work endlessly for change despite great threat and many obstacles—we know we must resist with them. It is energizing, because it is right.
Despair is not an option. We believe that we have no alternative but to continue the struggle for a just resolution of the conflict. And as neighbors whose fates are intertwined—someone once called us Siamese twins—we are committed to continuing to work together, for the sake of future generations of both peoples.
What impact do you see for your work in 2016?
That “they” will not succeed to silence us, and that the more “they” try, the more we will be heard—inside Israel and worldwide.
To advance transparency by monitoring and reporting on the Israeli military courts, and to raise awareness within the Israeli and international public about how the checkpoints violate people’s rights and should not be accepted as “normal.”
I see us continuing on our path of working together, changing the reality and stereotypes on both sides, and facilitating activities that encourage cooperation.
Our goal will remain much as it has been for the past twelve years—to inform and educate about this issue and to inspire action among our friends, youth, our leaders, and the public. One of our mentors has said that it continues to be about “education, education, education.” We can grow ourselves and support others in better understanding and internalizing how this and other social justice issues share connections and root causes.
We will continue to create important resources about the core issues of our conflict, tools for our target audience of students, researchers, civil society activists, opinion and decision-makers in Israel, Palestine, and the international community.
What can people around the world do right now?
Multiply our protest; support us with donations; ask your governments to use their leverage influencing Israel toward an end of the occupation; show your opinion also by what you buy and don’t buy.
As the majority of us are retired, we travel a lot and give lectures around the world. We are always looking for new audiences, and invite you to contact us to speak to your community. If you visit Israel/Palestine, we can take you on a tour of the checkpoints.
People around the world can help organizations such as ours that promote co-existence and help endangered populations. If a strong lobby outside of Israel can truly influence the political echelon of society, this would only be praised.
We would hope in 2016, all of us would work harder to operate from a place of love. There are many tools—reading, talking, writing, learning, connecting with organizations and individuals working on the issue, supporting BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). Connect. Act constructively. Magnify this issue so that those in power must follow our lead.
To those who do not live in the Middle East, our conflict does not only “belong to us”, it is played out on the international stage, and you all have a role to play to help end the occupation and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for the sake of both peoples.
Bernice Lanning: In Fond Memory
Bernice Lanning, a founding board member of the Muste Institute, died in New York City on December 2, 2015, with her daughters Nike and Nile Lanning at her side. When we were setting up the Institute, it was Bernice who got us the essential 501c3 status which made it possible for contributions to the Institute to be tax exempt. Ralph DiGia, Bernice and I made it down to the vast Wall Street law offices of the firm of Rose, Mudge, Mitchell and Nixon. The Vietnam War was raging. Nixon was President, Mitchell was Attorney General, but in one of those paradoxes of American life, Bernice knew an attorney at that firm who was a tax expert and agreed to draft the necessary papers.
Bernice, a Quaker, joined the Prison Visitation and Support organization in 1983 and for many years regularly visited prisoners at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal prison in Manhattan. From the Muste board, she helped to facilitate grants for projects promoting prisoners’ rights and criminal justice reform. She remained active on the board until her health failed a few years ago.
Promoting Grassroots Radio
Members of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) upgrade their grassroots radio skills at a workshop in La Esperanza, Honduras. The training was supported by COMPPA (Comunicadores y Comunicadoras Populares por la Autonomía), which received a Social Justice Fund grant in April 2015 to develop a comprehensive training manual for popular communication and community radio. (Photo: Anna Jover)
Where Your Money Goes – Year Ending June 30, 2015
Complete financial statements will be posted here.
2015 Grants – What You Helped Support
Social Justice Fund — 18 grants ($34,950) in the U.S. and beyond for community peacebuilding, prisoners’ rights, popular communication and nonviolence leadership trainings, environmental justice, youth empowerment against incarceration and deportation, organizing against wage theft, education about the cost of war, and campaigns against apartheid, occupation, and impunity. (Read more about our Social Justice Fund grants in 2015 and 2014.)
International Nonviolence Training Fund — 1 grant ($4,000) for a training workshop in collaboration with the Africa Solidarity Network, helping diaspora activist leaders from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda living in Durban, South Africa guide their communities to apply nonviolent means in seeking democratic change. (Read more about our INTF grants here.)
NOVA Fund — 3 grants ($46,000) in Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico for indigenous rights and empowerment, environmental organizing, and peace education. (Read more about our NOVA Fund grants in 2015 and 2014.)
Sponsored and endowment grants — $867,448 to support 16 projects in the U.S. and beyond promoting feminism, self-determination, human rights, international justice, and nonviolent resolution of conflicts; opposing war, militarism, imperialism, occupation, and displacement; and educating about climate change, nuclear power, and the environment. (Read more about our current sponsored projects here.)