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Marianne Torres and Michael Poulin are the authors of Palestine Papers, a bi-monthly column in the Sonoma County Free Press. Both spent many years working in the San Francisco Bay Area with Palestinian solidarity groups. The Sonoma County Free Press offered them a place for regular publication of their reflections on their work and the situation in Palestine.

Marianne was a social worker and community organizer in Alameda and Marin Counties in California, working primarily with the homeless, and Michael is a small-business owner. They were two of the primary organizers of 1988's "Measure J" in Berkeley (the ballot measure that would have declared Jabaliya, Gaza, a sister city to Berkeley - see Jabiliya - a Stone's Throw Away) and a number of other educational and/or material aid campaigns for Palestine. They now live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and can be reached at .

Michael worked in the Bay Area with solidarity groups supporting the democracy movement in El Salvador in the early '80's, and during that time learned how skillful was the American Left at compartmentalizing its work for struggling peoples. Most of the people with whom he worked to bring freedom and independence to El Salvador and Nicaragua specifically refused to speak out against Israel's murderous policy of making war on women and children when they killed more than 20,000 civilians in three months during their invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Marianne was an organizer for the "BART Ad Campaign", in which a coalition of Arab, Jewish, ecumenical and grass roots organizations paid for and placed large, graphic ads in Bay Area (California) Rapid Transit stations from Fremont to Oakland, San Francisco to Hayward. The ads called for a suspension of aid to Israel until Israel agreed to end the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Most of the ads, which were to have remained in place for 30 days, were "mysteriously" removed after two days. The ensuing two-month struggle to have them replaced (assisted in great measure by the American Civil Liberties Union) provided an excellent opportunity to educate the community about the Middle East issue and about the way relevant information is controlled in the American media, as the struggle garnered regular and vociferous press over the following month. All the ads were ultimately replaced, and ran in the stations for yet another month.

A number of people in the Bay Area worked tirelessly to change this country's policy of supporting Israel, both financially and politically, at the expense of peace in the region and of the integrity of the greatest government money can buy - the U.S. Congress. First among those people is Jeffrey Blankfort, author of Desert Storm at Home and Abroad. Mr. Blankfort is the Editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin, which published crucial labor-related information about the condition of Labor in the Middle East between 1985 and 1995. We hope, in time, to place that invaluable resource on the World Wide Web, as well.

Marianne and Jeffrey Blankfort are two of 19 named plaintiffs in the successful class action suit against the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith and the San Francisco Police Department for illegal spying on political groups and individuals.

Both Marianne and Michael have spent considerable time educating themselves on the situation, its background and context. We think that effort is reflected in these articles.

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