NJ Coalition Against War on Iraq



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Letter to HS Faculty

I just want to share with you the letter I just sent to the faculty members of Montgomery High School.  In my district, the faculty e-mail addresses are at the district web site.  Perhaps this can be a fruitful task for you as well.  I am not sure if I will get any responses but I believe most of the faculty will read the letter.  Perhaps we will find our faculty advisor and will get a couple of responses.  Perhaps you can craft a similar letter to faculty in your town.

Sincerely, Bob Witanek, http://NoWarNJ.org/speak_out_against_the_us_war_on_iraq.htm ,

Dear faculty at Montgomery High School,

I am Bob Witanek, father of two and a resident in the Belle Mead section of Montgomery Township.  I have worked with some of you in the past, particularly Eleanor Williams, around the issue of privatization of the custodial services.

Recently I sent a letter to Dr. Schnur on the issue of the No Child Left Behind Act, particularly the aspect of it that requires districts to turn personal information on high school students over to military recruiters unless parents opt out.  I am seeking community and parental input on how that is being implemented.  Also, I made the point about the military recruiters in the high school and requested the opportunity to have similar recruitment for the vocation of advocating for a peaceful world.  I also offered to help arrange for veterans who can speak to students about aspects of military service that the recruiters might be forgetting to tell the students.  The letter to Dr. Schnur and a similar letter I placed in the Princeton Packet led to a Packet news article as well as a Trenton Times front page article on the topics of the No Child Left Behind Act and the military recruitment in high schools.  I have a request in with Dr. Schnur and Tom Barclay about setting up a table in the cafeteria to recruit advocates for peace (as the military is recruiting participants in the war through the same venue).

I am the initiator of an organization called SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE US WAR ON IRAQ! http://NoWarNJ.org/speak_out_against_the_us_war_on_iraq.htm  and am web master and an organizer for the NJ Coalition Against War on Iraq http://NoWarNJ.org/  .

The main reason I am contacting you is to let you know about a great bunch of MHS students I have the pleasure of coming to know.  These students are going out of their way to educate themselves about the truth of the U.S. war on Iraq and to take responsibility for the role of this country in the pending slaughter of innocents.  They have joined us in the weekly demonstration that we hold each Saturday at 2 – 3 pm at the SE Corner of Route 206 and Amwell Road in Hillsborough.  They joined us for an educational event at the Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill where Robert Allen of Campaign to End the Sanctions on Iraq presented a slide show on the history of the US role there.  And a couple of the students joined us and a million other people when we were penned up by the NYPD in New York City on February 15 as we rallied against the war there.

Mark Rahman, whose e-mail address is in the recipient section of this letter above has taken the initiative to issue the call for a MHS based organization entitled Youth Against Exploitation War and Racism (YAEWAR)  http://NoWarNJ.org/YAEWAR.htm  .  The students are seeking official recognition for the group so that they can enjoy the opportunity of access to school rooms for slide shows, talks and meetings.  Mark has been already collecting the names of other students who want to affiliate and join the new group. 

I have been functioning informally as the advisor for this student initiated organization.  Of course they need a faculty advisor in order to pursue the official recognition of the group from the principal and the school board.   Please e-mail Mark Rahman if you are interested:   or talk to him around the school.  You can contact me as well if you would like to talk about this: 908-281-7873 (or my e-mail address   ).

If you are not able to serve as advisor but are interested in the issues we are raising, in working with us to stop the war or in helping us provide a forum around these issues in the school, do be encouraged to contact us as well.  Some of the activities that YAEWAR is planning in co-sponsorship with SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE US WAR ON IRAQ! include:

1. More educational programs like the one we had at the library

2. A demonstration in front of the high school as part of the national student “books not bombs” strike against the US war on Iraq at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, March 5.  (I have been in contact with the Montgomery Police and was informed that about the first 12 feet of the grass is public domain and available for our use and I have informed Dr. Schnur that we might be out there at some point in the near future.  You are probably aware of that from times when you have found the need to protest around contract issues in the past.)  We are also planning a similar protest on the day of or after the attack in the event that we are unable to prevent the US administration from carrying forward with the pounding of Iraq.  [  Do be encouraged to join us!! ]

3. Some students will likely join us for a march on Washington DC on March 15 – we have bus transportation leaving from Hillsborough for the cost of $30 per seat (contact me if you are interested).

4. Students have initiated “drum protests” in downtown Princeton to demonstrate their opposition to the war.

Stopping this war on Iraq is the greatest moral and political question that we as a people face today.  Please see the letter from Mark below which outlines some of the costs and human suffering that the US has inflicted and is about to inflict.  Youth engagement in the debate around this topic is critical – especially since it is the youth who the government has deployed in the deserts of Iraq, on the gun boats, etc.  As teachers – you have an important role in promoting a critical viewpoint in our students – not one that blindly accepts the half truths and lies coming out of the US administration – but one that is informed by looking at those lies critically and analytically – a viewpoint that can lead to our students and young people taking up their roles as actors on the stage of history to bring about an end to wars of genocide built upon phony platitudes and lies.  The participation of students in the issues of the day – especially extremely critical ones as this one where millions of human lives could be at stake – is a positive way for young people to occupy themselves and builds self esteem and confidence while teaching many skills that are applicable to many other aspects of life.

You also might be interested to learn that many labor associations are taking up positions to reject the US administration’s ill advised obsession with war on Iraq as they see that it is children of working class families who will end up being stuffed into the body bags that could be streaming back into our airports soon.  Your association could be interested in affirming a position against the war like associations which lead millions of your sister and brother laborers throughout the country and throughout New Jersey are doing.  The following is the URL for NJ Labor Against the War, you can go there to see sample resolutions. http://www.njlaboragainstwar.org 

I would be happy to meet with your membership of MTEA to discuss such a resolution here.  I would also enjoy opportunities to present a slide presentation to a group of teachers – either as part of MTEA or as individuals.

If you are interested in inviting us in to speak to your classes, for assemblies, or any group large or small, we are very interested.  David Cline, president of Veterans for Peace http://www.veteransforpeace.org  and a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War http://www.vvaw.org   lives in Jersey City and I can probably invite him to participate.  Robert Allen of Campaign to End the Sanctions would certainly be willing to come present his slide show as well.  I would be willing to meet and talk with students in classrooms or assemblies as well.

Please be encouraged to reply to me if you want to be an advisor, if you agree, if you are in any way interested in this issue or even if you disagree.  Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  Below is the letter that Mark sent out to the list serve   to announce the formation of the student group.  I am sure he would be glad to hear from you if you are interested in helping out in any way.

Other list serves that you might be interested in include:


Bob Witanek (908) 281-7873

HS Organizing