LETTER: “Peace Activists” Take Exception to Being Called out in VP Story

To the Editor:

In a recent article, Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan attacks Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA) as an “anti-Semitic, pro-terror organization” that is “masquerading” as a peace group (“State Senator Barbara L’Italien’s Trip Israel: Part II”).

Duggan provides no evidence for these inflammatory accusations. But for the record, MAPA is an affiliate of Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots peace organization. Peace Action began in 1957 as SANE (the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy). MAPA’s current priorities include nuclear disarmament; ending wars and preventing new ones from starting; a foreign policy based on diplomacy rather than militarism, and a reduction in military spending so that increased funds are available for domestic needs. We advocate for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and oppose U.S. aid, currently $3.1 billion a year and scheduled to increase, to the Israeli military while it is used to support Israel’s violations of international law. We firmly oppose all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and we oppose terrorism whether committed by the weak or the strong.

MAPA complained to the State Ethics Commission because nine state senators accepted gifts of expensive overseas travel from a lobbying organization that advocates one-sidedly pro-Israel policies, and in the same month, adopted a one-sidedly pro-Israel resolution lobbied for by that same organization. Pointing out this conflict of interest is hardly terrorism, but an exercise in good government.

The Ethics Commission depends on citizen complaints – some thousand of which are submitted every year – to bring serious conflict of interest issues to its attention.

There can be legitimate differences of opinion about the merits of a particular complaint. In discussing such differences, however, one would expect the publisher of a reputable newspaper to set a tone of reasoned and respectful debate, rather than resort to baseless accusations and name-calling.

Cole Harrison
Executive Director
Massachusetts Peace Action