Shut It Down For Palestine Roundup

I was able to attend two of the many, many actions in solidarity with Palestine in my state this week.

On Friday evening I joined 150 at a demonstration held outside the state capitol building fence, sponsored by the newly minted Maine Coalition for Palestine (which I’ve now joined). Truly excellent speeches by well-informed activists were interspersed with chants like “Free, free Palestine” and a whole lot of honking from passing motorists. The crowd assembled was quite different from the group I stood with about a month ago at a same time, same place demo. Not nearly as many people of color or Arabic-speaking college students this time. Maybe they have peeled off to join demos nearer to them in our sprawling, sparsely populated state? The crowd last Friday had more oldsters but was predominately white 20 and 30 somethings from coalition organizations like the PSL* and Student for Justice in Palestine.

One of my old friends who has done social work with children in Palestine told another friend who was there of her desire to get arrested opposing Israel’s genocide, and to spend Christmas Day in jail. We’ll see where that goes.

All Topsham Nov 18 photos by Mary Beth Sullivan

On Saturday we had our regular monthly antiwar meetup with a statewide coalition that now includes the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), *Party for Socialism & Liberation Maine, Libertarian Party of Maine, People’s Party of Maine, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Veterans for Peace – National, and United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). 

We began the monthly event over a year ago with a focus on objecting to funding a proxy war on Russia, but soon expanded to include a robust set of demands mostly borrowed from UNAC.

I’m glad we did that and especially that we held on to the demand about Israel (when I was on the Jimmy Dore Show in April he read out our demands and commented, “Strong words!” about that one).

I’m glad because our monthly gathering on Saturday had clearly morphed into a Palestine solidarity demonstration with flags, kufiyahs, and messaging around stopping the genocide in Gaza. There were 30 of us if you count Beans the dog, who is a regular, and ages ranged from 90+ years to 17 months. Our chanting wasn’t as loud as the Augusta group’s but it was just as passionate. With an anti-imperialist perspective, it’s possible to oppose all the empire’s wars without the contradictions that the two corporate parties run into when they brand each war as D or R depending on who’s in the White House.

Shared on @pslmaine’s Insta feed with other photos from Nov 17 Shut it down event in Augusta

One of the best signs I saw in Augusta called out all of Maine’s congressional delegation which includes two Democrats (Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree), a Republican (Susan Collins), and an Independent (Angus King). All are supporting Israel’s genocide in Gaza with our tax dollars and Mainers are pissed. All have failed both at representing their constituents and at being decent human beings.

Stay tuned for lots more actions in the days to come!

Can’t get out to a demo? Maybe boycott some of these brands doing business with Zionist occupiers.


Last night I attended a screening of the veterans’ documentary WHAT I WANT YOU TO KNOW. After garnering the audience favorite award at last summer’s Maine International Film Festival the film attracted sponsors including peace organizations I belong to that worked to bring the film to more audiences here in Maine. Attendance at the November 13 screening in Brunswick was sparse — about 20 people — but an engaging discussion after the film was facilitated by veterans’ counselor Robyn Belcher.

Archival footage of the wars the U.S. waged in Afghanistan and Iraq following 9/11 was interspersed with contemporary interviews of multiple veterans of those wars. Organized loosely by chronology of the enlistees’ journeys from private citizens to imperial cannon fodder, the narrative arrived at moral injury — a final resting place where one veteran predicted he will still be dwelling decades from now.

The film’s theme is futility and the sensation that all the limbs and lives lost, plus the civilians terrorized or slaughtered, was for nothing. Several clips of a succession of U.S. presidents speaking conveyed the lies that combat veterans now believe they were told in the course of their enlistment. 

This photo and the one at the top are stills from the film’s website.

There was no clear mission and, once in country, soldiers literally drove around in circles waiting for their turn to be blasted by an IED. They arrested the wrong men, they shot blindly into crowds of civilians, and in their view absolutely nothing was gained.

Ostensible reasons for being there i.e. bringing “democracy” or advancing the rights of women were quickly exposed as fraudulent. Insurgents had the support and loyalty of the people, and woe betide those who threw in with the occupying forces as interpreters only to be cast aside as the U.S. military departed. These acts of disloyalty contributed to the moral suffering described by veterans, and to the moral decay in evidence as soldiers whoop and congratulate themselves on shooting down from helicopters onto unarmed civilians.

U.S. soldier Steven Green hung himself in prison after being among a group of soldiers convicted of rape and murder committed in Mahmoudiyah, Iraq in 2006.  Photograph: AP

The film has a tight focus but I thought there were some glaring omissions in the moral injury department. No discussion of rape except in the context of Afghan warlords and their exploitation of boys? Really? Who can forget the gang-rape and murder of 14 year old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi by U.S. Army soldiers who then killed her entire family in order to eliminate the witnesses. 

And why was there no discussion of opium production in Afghanistan used to fund the war while driving an opioid epidemic in the West until the Taliban again eradicated it after the occupiers departed? Plenty of veterans have died of suicide by overdose in the intervening years.

Suicide was touched on as it’s well known that more active duty soldiers die in “accidents” or by their own hand than die from enemy fire. Soldiers described feeling betrayed by their leaders and demoralized by the things they both saw and did while deployed, a potent combination that eroded their will to stay alive.

Most of the audience discussion focused on damaged vets and how to help them help themselves. I have to admit that was not my focus as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in situations like this. Why not celebrate the fact that largely because of their suffering the will to enlist in the U.S. military is at an all time low? Even military families, traditionally the best source of volunteers, are telling their younger generations not to enlist. Decades of war for profit with dishonor have gutted what was once a proud military that believed in its mission (however deluded that notion might have been). 

The U.S. imperial mission in Ukraine and now in Israel have been spectacular failures that the government and its obedient press are still lying about today. Those in the know understand that Ukraine could not beat or even weaken Russia, and that Israel cannot win against Hamas, Hezbollah, and Resistance coalitions coming together to fight them and their U.S. sponsor. Attacks on illegal U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq are reported almost daily. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and millions across the globe continue marching to demand an end to the genocide happening right now to Palestinians.

Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip on Salah al-Din Street in Bureij, Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The long downfall in morale that began with the Vietnam War has proven far more enduring than freedom.