“We Must Seize the Moment History is Providing Us”

The following remarks were presented by Alfred Marder to the International Conference for a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East, held in Haifa, Israel on Dec. 5-6, 2013. Mr. Marder is Honorary President of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, and the President of the US Peace Council.

Honorable Mayor Yahav, Mr. Chairman, Dr. Timm, Distinguished Guests, Brothers and Sisters,

It is a great honor and privilege for me to participate in this historic conference. I would be less than candid if I did not reveal that when we brought the news of this conference to the international community that practically everyone responded, “Wow it is in Israel!” It brought home the realization that like people everywhere there is a deep desire for peace and justice here. This, despite the policies and rhetoric that continue the crisis in the Middle East.

There are new winds blowing in the Middle East shifting what appeared to be immovable roadblocks.  We have gathered here to demand a Middle East Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone. Just imagine if such a zone had been created in 1974 when Iran proposed it at the United Nations! There would be no supposed threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. There would be no such thing as Syrian chemical weapons; there would be no such thing as Israeli nuclear weapons; there would be no such thing as Saudi Arabia negotiating with Pakistan for a nuclear weapons program. What would that have done to the political climate in the Middle East? What would that have done to reduce the tensions that are now at the boiling point?

There are cataclysmic political changes taking place in the region as we meet. Despite the setbacks, the resistance of the old order, in league with the imperialist powers, the people’s struggle continues throughout the Middle East.  The people are struggling for basic economic justice, jobs, food, shelter, human dignity and national sovereignty, a democratic order. This people’s movement will gather new strength. The conditions are becoming more pressing. The struggle will become more organized.

As a result of the tumultuous events, the US Empire is re-examining its position in the Middle East. It is clear that the people have identified the interlocking of US interests with those of the domestic ruling coterie and have become the target of their wrath.

Negotiations with Iran, despite the strange alliance and opposition of Israel and Saudi Arabia, are a clear, unambiguous indication that the Empire is reviewing its geopolitical interests in the region.

The American people have vetoed the intervention that the Commander of the Empire had proposed for Syria. The American people are weary of war after two failed excursions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The treasury of the United States has been strained by its war economy and the people are paying bitterly for it. This repudiation of aggression by the American people is playing a major role in the examination of American foreign policy.

We, in the international peace community, the American people and the people of Israel and the Middle East must seize the moment that history is providing us.  We must seize the offensive in demanding the convening of the postponed Helsinki Conference; a conference that was voted unanimously at a UN Conference in 2010. This conference was confirmed only this past week by the General Assembly calling for a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

We must demand the total abolition of nuclear weapons.  We must insist on negotiations between nations instead of military threats. We must insist on a just solution between Israel and the Palestinians so that the peoples can live in peace together. This will be a major contribution to peace in the entire region.

To that end, we pledge our support.

Thank you for the opportunity to share in our common struggle.



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