‘SHOOTING’ AGAINST THE OCCUPATION

camera_as_a_weapon

*

Anti-war demonstrations during wartime are not unusual in Israel. They rarely bring out more than a few hundred people, as did this one. It was an event that most Israeli news outlets deemed not important enough to cover, especially when Hamas’s rockets were flying all over the country. But Oren Ziv was there with his camera.

*

 

Full report HERE

PHOTOS ~~ THOUSANDS PARICIPATE IN COALITION MARCH FOR PEACE IN NEW YORK

SONY DSC

*

The demonstration and march, organized by a coalition of groups supporting justice in Palestine, began at Foley Sq. where the names of children murdered in Gaza were read.  Some in the crowd of approximately 2,000 were weeping.  Led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra the mile and 1/2 march weaving west through the busy streets of lower Manhattan to the shore of the Hudson began.  It was a noisy chanting group carrying Palestinian flags and signs demanding an end to the U.S. funding of Israel, an end to the occupation, and a cease to the slaughter by Israel in Gaza.

*

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

Also see THIS report from the Forward

*

Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

MARTYNA STAROSTA
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

HOSTILITIES FROM BOTH SIDES MUST END NOW!

Today the war in Gaza enters its eighteenth day. The eighteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet is CHAI …. meaning LIFE. NOW is the time to give it meaning!

Millions of Jews throughout the world wear this symbol around their neck …. it MUST become a reality, not just a symbol.

GP10193263

Call it a ceasefire, call it a truce …. call it whatever you want! JUST DO IT NOW! There is NO justification for either side to target innocent civilians, especially children. The West and the rest of the world are watching …. doing NOTHING. It must be done from here!

END THE MADNESS NOW!!

*

Things_That_Can_Go_Wrong

*

Here a rocket from Gaza hits near a school in Sderot ….

*

Here is the Israeli response ….

*

Here is DesertPeace’s response to WHAT CAN AND SHOULD BE

enfant-juif-et-arabe2

*

It CAN …. It WILL be done! We have NO OTHER CHOICE!

BREAKING NEWS FROM GAZA ~~ BEYOND HORRIBLE!

NEVER AGAIN UNTIL NOW!

UN shelter in Gaza ‘struck by Israeli shells’

Click HERE for source and video

Gaza health ministry says Israeli shells killed at least 15 people and injured 200 in a UN-run school in Beit Hanoun.

*

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured when shells hit a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the school in Beit Hanoun came under fire on Thursday. She said sources had told Al Jazeera that up to 30 people had been killed in the bombardment.

The Gaza health ministry told Reuters that Israeli fire had killed at least 15, and 200 injured.

An Israeli military source however told Al Jazeera that Palestinian rocket fire had been detected in the area and that the rocket fire might have fallen short and hit the shelter.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN’s humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.

“We gave the Israelis the precise GPS coordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to coordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted.”
He said he could neither confirm nor deny that Hamas fighters were near the building, but said Israel and Hamas “must respect the inviolability of UN premises, and humanitarian law”.

He called the attack “tragic and appalling”.

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.

“This is a designated emergency shelter. The location was conveyed to the Israelis,” he said.

“This was an installation we were managing, that was monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.”

“We always call on all parties to ensure that civilians are not harmed.”

Israel has attacked UN schools before, saying that they were being used as safe havens for the armed Palestinians.

The UN has also previously criticised the Palestinian groups for using UN schools to hide fighters and weapons.

A witness who arrived at the Kamal Adwan hospital after the bombardment told Al Jazeera: “We were sitting in the school, because we were told it is safe.

“By God, there was not a single fighter, not a single shot was fired from the school. Why did they shoot at the school?  Why? Can someone explain that to me?  Why would they shell the school?”

Thursday’s strike is the fourth time a UN facility has been hit in the 17 days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

At least 730 Palestinians have been killed and more than 4,500 injured in Israeli assault.

Two Israeli civilians have been killed by fire from Gaza since the offensive began.

The total number of Israeli soldiers killed since the start of the military assault stands at 32. One more soldier has been listed as missing and is believed to be dead.

THE WAR IS MAKING ‘CRIMINALS’ OF ALL OF US

Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

*

Following is a letter I received this morning from The Jewish Voice of Peace

*

Dear Steve,

Yesterday, I was part of a delegation of activists from Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! who took over the Friends of the IDF headquarters in New York.  Until we were arrested, we read the names and ages of the dead and sang songs of mourning, often with our voices breaking and tears rolling down our faces. We stood there for an hour, reading the names steadily, and still did not read them all.

As I was taken out in handcuffs to face a sea of about 30 police officers, I asked a staff member of the Friends of the IDF standing nearby, “Did you hear the names we read? Did you see that we read them for an hour and didn’t reach the end? Is this what you support? Are these the Jewish values you grew up with?”

As Jews, so many of us have been brought up on stories of our families’ lives hanging in the balance based on the courage of someone who had the choice to speak up or remain silent.

We are in that kind of moment now. And that is why I, and so many other people like me, are taking action. And why we need you to stand up with us.

Over 600 people in Gaza killed in the last three weeks. Thousands of homes destroyed, another 4,000 people wounded. US tax dollars have helped pay for that army, and Israel claims to act in the name of all the Jews the world over.

But you can do something about it. We all must do something about it.

Click here to send a message to President Obama and Congress demanding they withdraw support for Israel’s unacceptable, intolerable actions.

The glimmer of hope I have in these very dark days comes from you – our members, supporters, and allies who are standing up, all over the world.

In Washington, D.C., Jewish Voice for Peace members, alongside members of CodePink, interrupted a Christians United for Israel conference while Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer was speaking. Despite being violently attacked, they continued their protest.

In Boston, over a thousand people, JVP’ers and a large coalition of allied organizations rallied in front of the state house and blocked traffic for several hours.

In Chicago, five activists from JVP and AFSC were arrested protesting at Hewlett Packard, and in the Bay Area JVP’ers conducted a die-in at HP to protest its profiting from Israel’s war crimes. Seattle members did the same at Boeing.

I could go on and on:  protests in Ithaca; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; St. Louis, Jersey City. There are more places than I can count, and more to come.  Everywhere we—you—are getting our pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-equality message out. We are taking a stand.

All over the world, you’ve signed Open Letters, gone to rallies, contacted elected officials, written Letters to the Editor, shared educational materials, and dared difficult conversations with your family and friends.

But the attack continues. The siege continues. We’re going to have to continue to step it up.

I hope you’ll join us in action, as long as it takes. Click here for a listing of actions nationwide JVP is participating in.

It is our shared responsibility to end this bloodshed. And I know we can.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director

*

And here you can see a debate between Ali Abunimah and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward. The topic, needless to say is the war on Gaza …..

PHOTO OF ONE OF THE SADDEST THINGS THE GOD OF ABRAHAM EVER WITNESSED

So sad when a Father has to watch His children act this way ….

*
547891422762395490490no

Photo: Twitter Screenshot

*

Astronaut sees rocket fire from space: ‘My saddest photo yet’

Image taken hundreds of miles from earth captures IDF strikes on Gaza, rockets launched from Strip fly over Israel.

*

According to Gerst, the photo that was taken from more than 200 miles from earth documents Israel and Gaza during an evening of rocket attacks and aerial strikes. The dark part at the top of the picture is the Mediterranean Sea.

Source

*

And Latuff’s latest spoof ….. One child killed every hour

quase-150-criancas-palestinas-ja-foram-mortas-em-gaza-alerta-unicef

*

Jewish Law is not necessarily God’s Law

*

Rabbi Lior: Jewish law permits destruction of Gaza to bring safety to Israel

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 1.37.38 AM

Senior national religious leader and Chief Municipal Rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron Rabbi Dov Lior published a letter this week saying that according to Jewish law it would be permitted to destroy the entire Gaza strip to bring peace to southern Israel.

Lior said that he had received questions about whether it is permitted according to Jewish law to harm a civilian population not directly involved with the combatants.

“At a time of war it is permitted for the people who are attacked to punish the enemy population with measures such as blocking supplies or electricity and to shell the entire area according to the considerations of the minister of the army and not to needlessly endanger soldiers but rather to take crushing warning steps to exterminate the enemy,” Lior wrote.

Addressing the current hostilities with Hamas, the rabbi continued “In the case of Gaza, it would be permitted for the Minister of Defense to even order the destruction of all of Gaza so that the south will no longer suffer  and to prevent injury to our people who have been suffering for so long from the enemies surrounding us.”

Lior added that “talk of humanism and consideration are as nothing when weighed against saving our brothers in the south and across the country and the restoration of quiet to our land.”

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On condemned Lior’s comments and called on the Attorney General to open an investigation into him for incitement.

“The racist comments of Rabbi Dov Lior have for some time not been protected by freedom of speech. We’re talking about a man who praises mass murder, stands behind those who murder innocents and took part in the incitement that led to the murder of a prime minister,” said Gal-On in reference to Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated in a politically motivated murder.

“These type of comments are not made in a vacuum but are rather an inseparable part of the dangerous and tempestuous atmosphere prevailing in Israeli society in recent weeks,” said Gal-On.

 

FROM

 

TAKE A LOOK AT THE ‘TERRORISTS’ THAT ISRAEL IS BOMBING

*

Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave

*

When we say “Crimes Against Humanity” – what “humanity” are we talking about?Here is the humanity of the Gaza Strip in Palestine. It features footage mostly of my family in the summer of 2013.It is juxtaposed against a stark call for help by a journalist during the Shuja’iyah massacre in Gaza in July 2014.

*

Taken from THIS appeal from The War Resisters League

HOW TO SILENCE THE PRESS IN GAZA

Lieberman accused the Qatar-based channel of being a mouthpiece for Hamas, and said the foreign ministry was taking steps to prevent it from broadcasting from Gaza, according to Israel’s Channel 2 TV.

Here are the steps taken ….. as seen by Carlos Latuff

avigdor-lieberman-aj-jazeera-gaza

*

Al-Jazeera Gaza offices evacuated after direct hit by Israeli fire

Israel denies deliberate targeting of TV station, but staff claim that ‘two very precise shots’ were fired
Al-Jazeera journalists evacuate their building in Gaza

Al-Jazeera journalists evacuate their building after it came under fire in Gaza. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Rex Features
*

Israel‘s army has denied targeting the Gaza offices of al-Jazeera TV after the network’s correspondents reported that the building had come under fire on Tuesday.

Staff in Gaza said their 11th floor bureau was hit by two Israeli bullets as a crew was preparing to broadcast live from the balcony. “Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building,” said Stefanie Dekker. “We are high up in the building so we had a very strong vantage point over the area. But we have evacuated.” Al-Jazeera aired footage of their staff standing outside the building.

A spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said no warning shots had been fired but could not confirm or deny whether there had been indirect damage to the building from firing at nearby military targets, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The incident came a day after Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for al-Jazeera to be banned.

Lieberman accused the Qatar-based channel of being a mouthpiece for Hamas, and said the foreign ministry was taking steps to prevent it from broadcasting from Gaza, according to Israel’s Channel 2 TV.

Al-Jazeera “has abandoned even the perception of being a reliable news organisation and broadcasts from Gaza and to the world anti-Israel incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists,” he said.

“All the big networks operate in Israel, some of them are not exactly pro-Zionist, and yet as a democratic state we allow them to operate here. In the case of al-Jazeera it is not an issue of freedom of the media but of a terrorist wing that currently fights against Israel.”

A statement posted on the al-Jazeera website said: “Al-Jazeera network considers statements made against it by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman a direct incitement. (It) considers (his) comments as a very serious matter. Israel is accountable for the safety of al-Jazeera teams working in Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

Al-Jazeera also reported that Israel’s communications minister, Gilad Erdan, has asked Israeli cable and satellite providers to stop airing al-Jazeera, calling it an “enemy” broadcaster. The request is not mandatory.

Al-Jazeera said: “Our journalists have been doing an outstanding job in reporting to our mass audience in the region what is happening on the ground. A threat to one is a threat to all, and this is a dark sign for all journalists operating in the territory. Journalists must be protected while doing their job of giving the public information they have the right to know, helping them understand what is going on. Journalism is not a crime!”

Al-Jazeera has often come under fire in war zones and been banned, at different times, from almost every country in the Middle East. Its most recent troubles have been in Egypt, where three journalists working for al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.

WHO WILL PROTECT ISRAEL’S PURSE STRINGS

Gaza is losing lives, Israel is losing money ….

Oy Vey!

*

US and European Airlines Suspend Flights to Israel

Rocket strike near airport leads American flight agency to temporarily ban travel to Ben-Gurion Airport.
*
American airlines temporarily halted flights to and from Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday following a rocket strike in the area. According to some reports, the change is due to a decision from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
*
Today alone …..
*
Over 80 flights canceled Wednesday (Photo: Reuters)
Over 80 flights canceled Wednesday (Photo: Reuters)
*
*
*
*
 *
Meanwhile, the world stands with Palestine
stand with palestine

AS THE WAR EFFORT GROWS, SO DOES THE JEWISH OPPOSITION TO IT ~~ IN PHOTOS

SONY DSC

*

They say .. “The little boys who were blown-up by the IDF while playing soccer on the beach were there to hide a missile launcher so their blood is really on Hamas’ hands.”

*

We say .. “Not another nickel, not another dime.  No more money for Israel’s crimes” and “Jews stand with Gaza.  End the occupation”.

*

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

*

The home of the Friends of the IDF in NYC

SONY DSC

 *

And their best friends …

SONY DSC

*

Watch here as they arrest 9 of the activists …. warning them in advance, not unlike the IDF that warns Gazans that their home will soon be bombed … (From Alex Kane at Mondoweiss)

*

*

And the friends of humanity …

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

YOU WANT A CEASEFIRE? ~~ HERE’S WHAT WE WANT

It’s all about justice for Gaza

*

We call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:

  • Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
  • Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
  • Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
  • Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.

Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries, and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve.

*

No ceasefire without justice for Gaza

EDITORIAL FROM

*

We will not “return to a living death” of siege and blockade, say Gaza civil society leaders.

(Ashraf Amra /APA images)

*

As academics, public figures and activists witnessing the intended genocide of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, we call for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the blockade and the restoration of basic freedoms that have been denied to the people for more than seven years.

Our foremost concerns are not only the health and safety of the people in our communities, but also the quality of their lives – their ability to live free of fear of imprisonment without due process, to support their families through gainful employment, and to travel to visit their relatives and further their education.

These are fundamental human aspirations that have been severely limited for the Palestinian people for more than 47 years, but that have been particularly deprived from residents of Gaza since 2007. We have been pushed beyond the limits of what a normal person can be expected to endure.

A living death

Charges in the media and by politicians of various stripes that accuse Hamas of ordering Gaza residents to resist evacuation orders, and thus use them as human shields, are untrue. With temporary shelters full and the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, there is literally no place that is safe in Gaza.

Likewise, Hamas represented the sentiment of the vast majority of residents when it rejected the unilateral ceasefire proposed by Egypt and Israel without consulting anyone in Gaza. We share the broadly held public sentiment that it is unacceptable to merely return to the status quo – in which Israel strictly limits travel in and out of the Gaza Strip, controls the supplies that come in (including a ban on most construction materials), and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.

To do so would mean a return to a living death.

Unfortunately, past experience has shown that the Israeli government repeatedly reneges on promises for further negotiations, as well as on its commitments to reform.

Likewise, the international community has demonstrated no political will to enforce these pledges. Therefore, we call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:

  • Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
  • Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
  • Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
  • Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.

Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries, and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve.

Signatures:

  • Akram Habeeb, Assistant Professor of American Literature, Islamic University of Gaza (IUG)
  • Mona El-Farra, Vice President and Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society
  • Ramy Abdu PhD, Chairman of the Euro-mid Observer
  • Abdullah Alsaafin, Palestinian Writer/journalist
  • Ali Alnazli, Businessman
  • Adel Awadallah, Head of the Scientific Research Council
  • Hanine Hassan, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Sheren Awad, Journalist
  • Yahia Al-Sarraj, Associate Professor of Transportation, IUG
  • Tawfik Abu Shomar, Writer and political analyst
  • Hasan Owda, Businessman
  • Ibrahim AlYazji, Businessman
  • Walid Al Husari, Chair, Gaza Chamber of Commerce
  • Nael Almasri, Dentist
  • Wael El-Mabhouh, Political researcher
  • Rami Jundi, Political researcher
  • Ashraf Mashharawi, Filmmaker
  • Mohammad Alsawaf, Journalist
  • Hasan Abdo, Writer and political analyst
  • Kamal El Shaer, Political researcher
  • Omar Ferwana, Dean of Medicine Faculty, IUG
  • Iyad I. Al-Qarra, Journalist, Palestine newspaper
  • Musheir El-Farra, Palestinian activist and author
  • Khalil Namrouti, Associate Professor in Economics, IUG
  • Moein Rajab, Professor in Economics, Al-Azhar University – Gaza
  • Basil Nasser, Planning advisor
  • Hani Albasoos, Associate Professor in Political Science, IUG
  • Arafat Hilles, Assistant Professor, Al-Quds Open University
  • Imad Falouji, Head of Adam Center for Dialogue of Civilizations
  • Moin Naim, Writer and political analyst
  • Yousri Alghoul, Author
  • Mohammad Jayyab, Editor of Gaza Journal of Economics
  • Mousa Lubbad, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University
  • Iskandar Nashwan, Assistant Professor in Accounting, Al-Aqsa University
  • Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Adnan Abu Amer, Head of Political Department, Al-Umma University
  • Wael Al Sarraj, Assistant Professor in Computer Science, IUG
  • Said Namrouti, Lecturer in Human Resource Management, IUG
  • Khaled Al-Hallaq, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, IUG
  • Asad Asad, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, IUG
  • Hazem Alhusari, Lecturer in Finance, Al-Aqsa University
  • Shadi AlBarqouni, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Deya’a Kahlout, Journalist, Al-Araby newspaper
  • Raed Salha, Assistant Professor in Geography, IUG
  • Sameeh Alhadad, Businessman
  • Tarek M. Eslim, CEO, Altariq Systems and Projects
  • Sami Almalfouh PhD, Senior engineer
  • Fayed Abushammalah, Journalist
  • Fadel Naeim, Chairman of Palestine Physicians Syndicate
  • Zeyad Al-Sahhar, Associate Professor in Physics , Al-Aqsa University
  • Iyad Abu Hjayer, Director, Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution
  • Wael Al-Daya, Associate Professor in Finance, IUG
  • Younis Eljarou, Head of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Donia ElAmal Ismail, Head of the Creative Women Association
  • Zeinab Alghonemi, Head of Women for Legal Consulting Association
  • Amjad AlShawa, Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network (PNGO)
  • Mohsen Abo Ramadan, Head of Palestinian Nongovernmental Organziations Network (PNGO)
  • Abed Alhameed Mortaja, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, IUG
  • Talal Abo Shawesh , Head of Afaq Jadeeda Association
  • Zohair Barzaq, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Marwan Alsabh, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Ghassan Matar, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Rania Lozon, Writer
  • Ashraf Saqer, IT Specialist
  • Samir AlMishal, Mishal Cultural Centre
  • Jamila Sarhan, Independant Commission for Human Rights
  • Jalal Arafat, Union of Agricultrual Work Committees
  • Khalil Abu Shammala, Aldameer Association for Human Rights
  • Jamila Dalloul, Association Head of Jothor ElZaiton
  • Maha Abo Zour, Psychologist
  • Psychologist Ferdous Alkatari
  • Yousef Awadallah, Health Work Committee
  • Yousef Alswaiti, Al-Awda Hospital Director
  • Taysir Alsoltan, Head of Health Work Committees
  • Taghreed Jomaa, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
  • Imad Ifranji, Journalist, Alquds TV
  • Jehal Alaklouk, Activist
  • Adel Alborbar, Boycott Committee
  • Hatem AbuShaban, Board of Trustees of Al-Azhar University – Gaza
  • Saleh Zaqout, Secretary of the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip
  • Mohammed Alsaqqa, Lawyer
  • Nihad Alsheikh Khalil, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, IUG
  • Mohsen Alafranji, Lecturer at Media Department, IUG
  • Nedal Farid, Dean of Business Faculty, Al-Aqsa University
  • Salem Helles, Dean of Commerce Faculty, IUG
  • Ahmad Ali PhD, Economic Analysis
  • Raed M. Zourob PhD, Head of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health
  • Mosheer Amer, Professor of Lingusitics, IUG
  • Moheeb Abu Alqumboz, Lecturer
  • Fatma Mukhalalati, Supreme Court judge
  • Fahmi Alnajjar, Supreme Court judge

IDENTIFYING WITH THE CHILD VICTIMS OF GAZA

boy-playing-soccer

*

There is a brand of Judaism that declares, “It happened to us, so it shouldn’t happen to us again.” This is what I see too much of right now. Yet I’m not giving up on the idea that suffering can create fair-mindedness and justice. My version of Judaism — shared by more and more Jews — goes like this: “it happened to us, so it should never happen to anyone, ever. Especially not at our hands.”

To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza, who only yearned to run around outside and be free. It will hurt tremendously, but it might free you, too.

*

Those Boys on Gaza Beach Remind Me of My Brother

By Sarah Seltzer FOR

*

Sarah Seltzer with her twin brother as children.

*

I have a twin brother who, as a kid, frequently ran around outside with a ball and his friends — usually in New York’s parks. Woe to the teachers at our Jewish day school who denied them gym or recess: they acted up extra-rambunctiously when they were cooped up. One of the cardinal lessons of my childhood was this: If you don’t let kids run around, everyone suffers. So that, in part, explains why the boys on the beach in Gaza proved my breaking point — boys who had been shut in for over a week and just wanted to kick a ball around, for a blessed few hours, and feel the air.

I was no fan of Israel’s actions in Operation Protective Edge up until that moment — in fact I was appalled by what I read in the Forward and elsewhere — but when I saw the footage of those lanky boys running on the beach, and their parents’ stricken faces when they learned their boys had fallen at the hands of Israeli shelling, I totally lost it.

They could be my family. They are my family. I see myself, my loved ones in them. So that’s what I keep saying to people when they bring up Operation Protective Edge — those boys reminded me of my brother and his pals, and sometimes me, running around with them, trying to get a good kick or two in. Some might say it is naive, and small, of me to reduce this conflict to miniscule, selfish dimensions rather than use the broad social strokes that many on both sides encourage in online discourse: this is about colonialism, imperialism, say some. This is about terrorism, say others.

Personal hatred, prejudice, antipathy and the thirst for vengeance — these common human feelings are the fuel that feeds the massive machines of terror, occupation and imperialism. And at the moment, it seems to me that a lot of the organized Jewish community — with clear exceptions — is as warped by antipathy and alienation, in the same way our leaders have long accused the Palestinians of being warped. “They don’t see us as human,” I’ve been told. But based on the Facebook posts I’m seeing, many of us don’t see them as human, either. Many of my timeline buddies are not even allowing a window, a second to mourn, so quick are they to pin the blame anywhere but at Israel’s feet. “I’m sorry for the loss of life, but…” they say. Why, why do we have to insert that “but”?

Perhaps the issue is this: to accept that Israel is utterly in the wrong here, that her government faced a moral test and flunked it with flying colors, is to accept something profoundly sad about our warped species: oppression doesn’t necessarily breed compassion. And by extension, Jews are not chosen. We are not chosen for anything except being another flawed people in a world of flawed peoples, unable to wield massive power without using that power toward brutal ends (just like everyone else, no worse but no better).

Maybe it’s easier for me, a girl who went to Israel at 16 and felt a sense of homecoming, to swallow this bitter pill after watching progressives tear each other down for a decade. Feminists can be racist. Queer people can be transphobic. Those who have been barred from spaces often feel justified excluding others. No formula exists that compels those who have suffered to be noble.

There is a brand of Judaism that declares, “It happened to us, so it shouldn’t happen to us again.” This is what I see too much of right now. Yet I’m not giving up on the idea that suffering can create fair-mindedness and justice. My version of Judaism — shared by more and more Jews — goes like this: “it happened to us, so it should never happen to anyone, ever. Especially not at our hands.”

To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza, who only yearned to run around outside and be free. It will hurt tremendously, but it might free you, too.

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website

 

JON STEWART DISCOVERS IT’S NOT KOSHER TO CRITICISE ISRAEL IF YOU ARE JEWISH

*

Meanwhile, Israel is learning that war is not good for business …

*

US, European airlines cancel flights to Israel after rocket hits near airport 

Transportation Ministry urges airlines to reverse decision, saying flights in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport are safe and guarded.

 

Full AP Report HERE

DAY 14 ~~ WE ARE GOING THROUGH HELL IN GAZA

WHO AND WHY I AM WHO I AM

words415

*

I went rambling through the archives on this Blog today and wanted to give you all a pretty good picture of who I am …. So be sure to click on all of the links and then you might have a better understanding of WHO AND WHY I AM WHO I AM.

*

A post from yesterday began with ….

Growing up in my Jewish family, it was a given that Jews supported civil rights, opposed the Vietnam War and believed in education, science and progress. This didn’t make it easy to be a teenager in a small working-class town in central Pennsylvania, an area not known for either diversity or liberal views at the time. Israel was a distant place where survivors of the brutal European Holocaust struggled to live in peace, occasionally beset by terrorists and attacking armies from the surrounding countries.

*

Except for the part about growing up in Pennsylvania, I could have written those opening lines. In an open letter that I wrote to Neil Sedaka four years ago, asking him to cancel an upcoming concert in Israel, you can read a bit about my own personal background. (The letter was ignored)

*

I am thankful that there are many of us, Jews that oppose the ethnic cleansing and genocidal policies sanction by  the State of Israel. Most are no longer silent, they are quite vocal and active in their beliefs as can be seen in THIS post.

*

THIS link will take you to a post from the archives that is long, but it is a must read for anyone who is Jewish. It explains the Arab position on many problems still facing us today. It could be an eyeopener for many who refuse to look at the ‘other side’.

*

For the non Jew to speak out against Israel, there could be ugly consequences. The truth hurts, especially if it is muttered by an ‘outsider’ as in the case of Helen Thomas. The truth has always been the greatest enemy of zionism.

*

Yes, Jews suffered …. but that does not give them licence to inflict suffering on others. NEVER AGAIN means just that! NEVER AGAIN …. to ANYONE. There are others today with identifying tattoos on their arms as well …

*

*

As can be seen in THIS post, not all Palestinians agree with my own personal beliefs. There are various opinions, but hopefully we will all be able to live together as family. I can’t think of one Jewish family I know where all of the members are in agreement (on anything).

*

So, why do I Blog? Why open myself up to attacks? THIS POST  might explain that. 

*

There are many people who might wonder why all Jews don’t come to live in Israel … THIS post might explain why. As for those that do live in Israel, there are the GOOD as well as the bad …. never forget that. This is also recognised by many a Palestinian …. one example can be found HERE. Some might wonder why I myself live here … THIS should explain that.

*

Bottom line is that PEACE IS POSSIBLE. It is not a distant dream that will never be. Living in Israel for 30 years has only strengthened my convictions about that. HERE’S a glimpse of my own neighbourhood in Jerusalem. 

*

I will end this by posting a thread that I wrote eight years ago …. it is as valid now as it was then.

*

A MESSAGE TO MY FELLOW JEWS

*

IF YOU LOVE ISRAEL SPEAK UP FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE!

*
I have often said that it is very difficult to remain objective towards something when the subjective circumstances seem to be stronger.

*
The case of Israel and Jews is one of the cases that comes to mind. Many Jews outside of Israel support Israel blindly. The attitude is very similar to the American attitude during the Vietnam War… “My country right or wrong”..

*
That concept alone is wrong. If you really love something than you let it know when it is wrong… this is not happening in the case of Israel. If you really love Israel then you must treat it as you would treat your own child. Not to do so will only make a very bad situation that much worse. As a result, Israel will think it has a ‘green light’ to pursue its policies of occupation, apartheid and most recently, brutal aggression towards its neighbours. Since the war started in Lebanon, the aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza has not subsided. Do not let our brothers in Palestine think we have forgotten them..

*

If you support these policies and actions, then you do not love Israel as you claim you do. You are, in effect, helping Israel self destruct.
In order to survive and flourish, Israel needs peace. There is no other way. The Torah is the Law that governs the lives of observant Jews. Rabbi Hillel said the following regarding the Torah…

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. 
That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.”

*

Answer the following questions….

*

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT…
*Peace in the Middle East will only come about with mutual recognition and respect and must be seen as just by both sides.

*
*Peace requires the end of illegal occupation and settlement.

*
*Violence against civilians is unacceptable.

*
*Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza are breeding hatred and resentment.

*
*It is crucial that Jews speak out for Palestinians’ human rights.

*
*The values of Israeli society have been corrupted by the Israeli State’s human-rights abuses.

*
*A lasting peace must be seen as just by both sides.

*
*Britain, the EU, the USA, Russia and the UN must be persuaded to implement UN resolutions on Palestine.

*

If you answered yes to all or most of the above questions then you must act on the situation. To remain silent is to be as guilty as the government of Israel is. To remain silent is to witness the very destruction of the State of Israel… from within. 

*
Show your support for justice by speaking out against the wall of apartheid.
Speak out against the occupation of Palestine.

*

Boycott Israeli goods until Israel becomes a State worthy of your support.

*
Show that you truly love Israel and fight for PEACE and JUSTICE… nothing else will do!

MORE GAZA SPOOFS

Images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Blowing up the ‘terrorists’

shejaiya-massacre-gaza-altagreer

*

Shhh ….. Bibi and Obama at work

nao-perturbe-criminosos-de-guerra-trabalhando

ANOTHER SANE JEWISH VOICE IN AN INSANE WORLD

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.”

*

Gaza—Ellen_web

Ellen Davidson (center) participates in a vigil for Palestinian rights. Photo: Carl Strock

*

This Jew can’t support Israel

*

Growing up in my Jewish family, it was a given that Jews supported civil rights, opposed the Vietnam War and believed in education, science and progress. This didn’t make it easy to be a teenager in a small working-class town in central Pennsylvania, an area not known for either diversity or liberal views at the time. Israel was a distant place where survivors of the brutal European Holocaust struggled to live in peace, occasionally beset by terrorists and attacking armies from the surrounding countries.

When I went to college, naturally, I became active in the late-1970s campus movement for divestment from South Africa. Somewhere along the line, I realized that Israel was the only country in the world that violated the international arms embargo on the apartheid state, and that Israel was on the wrong side of all the struggles for freedom and national liberation I supported, that it backed dictatorships in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere.

The more I learned about Israel, the more I realized that what I had been taught growing up was a lie. But I also discovered that, even in the progressive movements in the 1980s, the issue was contentious. I spent my twenties working at the Guardian radical newsweekly, a paper that staunchly supported Palestinian rights; periodically we would lose a significant segment of our readership due to our alleged “anti-Semitism,” and we would receive occasional bomb threats from the Jewish Defense League, a nasty organization whose members would physically attack participants in pro-Palestine demonstrations.

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.” The needle on this debate has moved considerably since the 1980s, when just to say the word “Palestinian” was considered inflammatory, even in some left circles.

These days, as Israelis rampage through the streets of Jerusalem calling for killing all Arabs and Gaza is once again bombarded in a storm of collective punishment, the racist underpinnings of the Jewish state become harder to ignore. This is drawing larger numbers of people into pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of this country.

Indeed, at a July 13 vigil I attended in Woodstock, New York, there were many faces I had never seen before. But not everything has changed. A hostile group of tourists walked by and began berating us for our stance. “You should try talking to some Jews,” said one man. “We are Jews,” two of us answered simultaneously. “Then you’re fucked up,” he snapped.

In the past decade, I have made a point of traveling to Israel/Palestine, so that I can both show my solidarity in person and bring back firsthand accounts of the conditions in the occupied territories and within the formal borders of Israel. I have never encountered anything but warm welcome from the Palestinians I encountered.

When I return, every time I speak as a Jew of personally seeing demolished Palestinian houses, military checkpoints, the concrete wall separating communities from their farmland, the overcrowded refugee camps built as temporary solutions 60 years ago, I like to think that it widens the crack that has been opening up in the U.S. Jewish community, leaving just a little more space for honest discussion of what is being done in our name.

PHOTOS OF THE CARNAGE IN GAZA

The latest massacre brings to more than 420 the number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, now entering its second week. More than 3,000 people have been injured and tens of thousands have fled their homes, with many seeking shelter in UN-run schools.
*

Massacre in Shujaiya: Dozens killed as Israel shells eastern Gaza City – photos

A Palestinian boy wounded by Israeli shelling, receives treatment at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, 20 July.(Ali Jadallah / APA images)
*

Dozens of men, women and children were killed in the early hours of Sunday as Israel indiscriminately shelled the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

Some sixty bodies have already been removed from the rubble of homes and apartment buildings, and the number of injured is more than two hundred, Palestinian health ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra told local media.

*

Smoke rises after an Israeli missile hit the Shujaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, 20 July.   (Ashraf Amra / APA images)
*

But the true death toll could be even higher. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it coordinated a two-hour “humanitarian truce” to allow the rescue of the injured and the removal of bodies.

*

Palestinian medics carries the body of girl killed during Israeli shelling, outside al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, 20 July.  (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

 

The latest massacre brings to more than 420 the number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, now entering its second week. More than 3,000 people have been injured and tens of thousands have fled their homes, with many seeking shelter in UN-run schools.

*

Palestinians flee the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City during heavy Israeli shelling on 20 July. (Ezz al-Zanoun / APA images)

*

Gaza is a small territory, home to 1.8 million people, and no place in the territory has been safe from Israeli land, sea and air attacks. Egypt’s military dictatorship, closely allied with Israel, has kept the Rafah crossing tightly sealed.

*

The bodies of Palestinians lie on the ground of al-Shifa hospital morgue in Gaza City on 20 July following a massacre in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiyeh. (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

*

Eyewitnesses to aftermath

Some journalists entered Shujaiya during the pause in the Israeli attack and tweeted images of what they saw. Others tweeted images from in or near Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital.

*

Medics at al-Shifa hospital mourn their colleague who was targeted and killed in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya neighbourhood earlier in the day on 20 July. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

*

NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin posted these images on his Instagram account today from the morgue at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, where many of the massacre victims have been brought:

FROM GAZA WITH PAIN AND DIGNITY

Forcing people out of their homes is a crime against humanity let alone bombing those who remain. But CNN and other western media run by Zionists interview colonizer leaders like Netanyahu who is a habitual liar and do not interview representatives of the victims or the resistance.

*

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

*

It is hard not to cry watching the unfolding horror in Gaza, children with heads blown off, pregnant woman with body torn by a shell, babies with missing limbs, targeting of playing children, targeting hospitals, targeting ambulances, and even a handicap center killing two handicap children.  Israeli forces then ratcheted up their attacks committing large scale massacres in places like Shujaia and Beit Hanoun. 80% of the victims are elderly, women and Children (over 110 children so far). Though mainstream western media self-sensors to comply with the Zionist lobby, the truth is coming out and the videos and pictures are horrific. Our friends in Gaza issue desperate calls to us. Israel cannot absolve itself by saying we asked people to evacuate (110,000 are homeless already). Forcing people out of their homes is a crime against humanity let alone bombing those who remain. But CNN and other western media run by Zionists interview colonizer leaders like Netanyahu who is a habitual liar and do not interview representatives of the victims or the resistance.

Gaza is very heavily populated thanks to the ethnic cleansing done to create the racist colonial state of Israel. Two thirds of the people are refugees denied their basic rights including right to return to their homes and lands. Israel tries to dehumanize its victims while blaming the few people who resist as “the problem.” Unfortunately as I stated repeatedly before, colonization and ethnic cleansing are the violence, and resistance is actually part of the remedy. I repeatedly explained that Zionism lost and Zionists will get very violent here before they finally give up privilege based on racist ideology. They refused to abide by basic human norms and insisted that through money and military might they could achieve their goal of a racist ethnocentric chauvinistic state. I always held the hope that the elites among them will be able to step back and avoid this suicidal path. If only they admit the folly of their ways, and ask their victims for forgiveness. I always thought it is possible and is the only way to peace here. I always feared though the Zionist strategy would lead to a lose lose scenario. In this case, they will lose more since there are some hundreds of millions of Arabs and only at best 2-3 million Zionists. Many Jews did see this folly and became anti-Zionist or post-Zionists. But Zionists were influential and powerful and intimidated and silenced millions including some Arabs and Muslims (look at our “leaders” like Abbas and Sisi). The Egyptian government even denied medical relief convoys from entering Gaza. Spoiled Zionists used to privilege on the expense of others are acting mad since they can’t get their way to silence their victims. They decided to go all out and having failed to stop the resistance decided to take on civilians.

For those of us who have been through this many times, we feel there is something different this time suggesting that it maybe indeed the last Zionist tantrum. It is hard to imagine what else Netenyahu and his racist gang can try. They have tried to destroy Gaza and Lebanon before but in every round, the resistance only grows stronger. They even went into this bizarre idea that they can succeed to mobilize the world against Political Islam by training and funding killers through Arab regime puppets and sent them to kill people (christians, Shia, democrats, etc) to simply say “look they are horrible”. Instead of intimidating everyone, the obvious and now exposed game creates a backlash and awaken a lot of people to join the ever spreading wave of real resistance aimed at justice which is the only route to peace. Zionists are unleashing the only tool they have (their military) and whipping up even more frenzied racism among their people (e.g. Israelis cheering the slaughter in Gaza). Another sign of the endgame is the scurrying of western puppets around the world capitals to try and show their people that we are “doing something.” I think that explains Abbas in Cairo and Istanbul and his calling for a three day mourning period for the victims of last massacre while still working overtime to undermine resistance. Another massacre was committed and his police force prevented demonstrators in the West Bank and his spokesman tried to act as if Israel and Gaza are two children querreling and he is the grown-up. Our choice is certainly not between Western created Israel (and Arab puppets) and Western created fanatics beheading fellow Muslims and forcing Christians to flee for their lives! The steadfastness of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza is creating a ripple effect that could end this theater of the absurd for good. Maybe that is why both sides of Western creations are acting desperately (killing, butchering, and trying so hard to create fitna/division!). Maybe that is why we need not despair but instead focus on building some positive and credible movement for peace with justice. We need more actions for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). We need more demonstrations. We need more movement against quisling and weak “leaders”. We need to force mainstream media to stop their compliance. We need to ridicule and embarrass politicians who support racism and apartheid. We need to support the Palestinian people in their Sumud (resistance and resilience). But that is tomorrow.. today we need all to work to end the horrific slaughter of Gaza civilians by a fascist government. All of us need to turn off our computers and our TVs and go down to the streets (after we tell others to join us !)
*

Mads with a patient in Gaza
*

Below is a letter from Dr. Mads Gilbert, a physician working in Gaza.

Dearest friends -

Last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.
The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!
Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).
My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.
Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes,cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hrs. enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals.But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous resolute.
And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!
An then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made and paid in and by US.
Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?
I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.
I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.
Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” onslaught on Gaza.
The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.
Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.MadsGaza, Occupied Palestine
Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Norway

SEEGER FEST FOR PEACE

seegerfest

*

At Lincoln Center – zillions of people came to celebrate Pete & Toshi.  It was like a hootenanny that went on for almost 4 hours with lots of performers singing Pete’s songs with the audience joining in.  There was one totally beautiful speech by Harry Belafonte who praised Pete’s dedication to humanity and added that when he sang Tsena, Tsena he never dreamed that the country would turn into the horrible spectacle of children’s destroyed bodies lying on a beach in Gaza.  He saw an opportunity to speak truth and he took it.

*

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

Pete Seeger brought the world together

Pete Seeger, who died in January, was a modern-day troubadour for social justice who was on the frontline of every key progressive crusade in his lifetime. Peter Dreier pays tribute to a great artist and human being.

‘TO everything, there is a season,’ Pete Seeger’s song, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes, tells us. ‘A time to be born, a time to die.’

Seeger died on 27 January at 94. In the spirit of that song, he spent his time on earth planting, healing, laughing, building, dancing, loving, embracing and advocating peace.

Seeger brought the world closer together with his music. Every day, every minute, someone in the world is singing a Pete Seeger song. For over six decades, he introduced Americans to songs from other cultures, like ‘Wimoweh’ (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’) from South Africa, ‘Tzena, Tzena’ from Israel (which reached number two on the pop charts) and ‘Guantanamera’ from Cuba, inspiring what is now called ‘world music’. The songs he has written, including the antiwar tunes, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’, ‘If I Had a Hammer’ and ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, and those he has popularised, including ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’, have been recorded by hundreds of artists in many languages and have become global anthems for people fighting for freedom. His songs are sung by people in cities and villages around the world, promoting the basic idea that the hopes that unite us are greater than the fears that divide us.

Seeger was a much-acclaimed and innovative guitarist and banjoist, a globe-trotting song collector, and the author of many songbooks and musical how-to manuals. In addition to being a World War II veteran, he was on the frontlines of every key progressive crusade during his lifetime – labour unions and migrant workers in the 1930s and 1940s, the banning of nuclear weapons and opposition to the Cold War in the 1950s, civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, environmental responsibility and opposition to South African apartheid in the 1970s, and, always, human rights throughout the world.

For the past decade, Pete has kept coming out of semi-retirement to do one more concert, give one more interview, write one more book, record one more album. His remarkable spirit, energy and optimism kept him going through triumphs and tragedies, but he outlived all his enemies and remained one of the greatest American heroes of this or any other era.

Several biographies of Seeger have been published in the past decade, including David King Dunaway’s How Can I Keep from Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger, Alec Wilkinson’s The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger, and Alan Winkler’s To Everything There Is a Season: Pete Seeger and the Power of Song. Six years ago Jim Brown produced a wonderful documentary film, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.

Pete, who was modest and self-effacing despite his remarkable accomplishments, never wrote an autobiography. But two years ago he published a collection of his writings, Pete Seeger: In His Own Words. The book presents Pete in his own voice. With Pete’s cooperation, Rob Rosenthal, sociology professor at Wesleyan University, and Sam Rosenthal, a musician and writer, dug through Pete’s extensive writings – letters stored for decades in his family barn, notes to himself, published articles, rough drafts, stories, books, poems and songs – to chronicle and illuminate Pete’s incredible life as America’s troubadour for social justice.

Making music for change

The son of musicologists Charles and Ruth Seeger, Pete spent two years at Harvard, where he got involved in radical politics and helped start a student newspaper, The Harvard Progressive. He quit in 1938 in order to try his own hand at changing society by making music. He worked at the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song, where he learned many of the songs he would sing throughout his career, travelled around with Woody Guthrie singing at migrant labour camps and union halls, and perfected his guitar- and banjo-playing skills.

In 1941, at age 22, Seeger formed the Almanac Singers with Lee Hays and Millard Lampell, later joined by Guthrie, Bess Lomax (daughter of musicologist John Lomax) and several others who rotated in and out of the group. The Almanacs drew on traditional songs and wrote their own songs to advance the cause of progressive groups, the Communist Party, the Congress of Industrial Organisations unions, the New Deal and, later, the United States and its allies (including the Soviet Union) in the fight against fascism. The Almanacs were part of a broader upsurge of popular progressive culture during the New Deal, fostered in part by programmes like the federal theatre and writers’ projects. Even so, the group was hounded by the FBI, got few bookings and was dropped by its agent, the William Morris Agency. After Seeger and Guthrie joined the military, the group disbanded in 1943.

The Almanacs cultivated an image of being unpolished amateurs. Guthrie once said that the Almanacs ‘rehearsed on stage’. Among them, however, Seeger was the most gifted and disciplined musician, with a remarkable repertoire of traditional songs. He carefully crafted a stage persona that inspired audiences to join him, a performing style that he perfected when he began working as a soloist. Every Seeger concert involved a lot of group singing.

Immediately after World War II, American radicals and liberals sought to reignite popular support for progressive unions, civil rights and internationalism. The left’s folk-music wing hoped to build on its modest successes before and during the war. In 1946 Seeger led the effort to create People’s Songs, an organisation of progressive songwriters and performers, dominated by but not confined to folk musicians, and People’s Artists, a booking agency to help the members of People’s Songs get concert gigs and recording contracts. They compiled The People’s Song Book, which included protest songs from around the world, sponsored a number of successful concerts, and organised chapters in several cities and on college campuses.

When Henry Wallace ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, his campaign relied heavily on folk music. Seeger travelled with Wallace during the campaign, distributing song sheets at every meeting or rally so that sing-alongs, led by Seeger, could alternate with Wallace’s speeches.

By 1949 folk music’s popularity had grown, with performers like Burl Ives, Josh White and others gaining a foothold in popular culture, but the folk music of this period had lost much of its political edge.

For a brief period, as a member of the Weavers folk quartet, Seeger achieved commercial success, performing several chart-topping songs that reflected his eclectic repertoire. The group was formed in 1948 by Seeger and Hays (both former Almanacs), along with Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. They exposed audiences to their repertoire of songs from around the world as well as to American folk traditions, but without the overt advocacy of left-wing political causes. Decca Records signed the Weavers to a recording contract and added orchestral arrangements and instruments to their music, a commercial expediency that rankled Seeger but delighted Hays. The Weavers performed in the nation’s most prestigious nightclubs and appeared on network television shows.

In 1950 their recording of an Israeli song, ‘Tzena, Tzena’, reached number two on the pop charts, and their version of Lead Belly’s ‘Goodnight, Irene’ reached number one and stayed on the charts for half a year. Several of their recordings – ‘On Top of Old Smokey’, ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, ‘Wimoweh’, and ‘Midnight Special’ – also made the charts. Their 1951 recording of Guthrie’s song ‘So Long It’s Been Good to Know You’ reached number four.

The blacklist years

But the Weavers’ commercial success was shortlived. As soon as they began to be widely noticed in 1950, they were targeted by both private and government witch-hunters. The FBI and Congress escalated their investigations. A group of former FBI agents founded the newsletter Counterattack in 1947 to expose Communism in American society; in 1950, the newsletter issued a special report, ‘Red Channels: the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television’. It listed 151 actors, writers, musicians, broadcast journalists and others whom it claimed were part of the Communist influence in the entertainment industry – including Seeger and the Weavers. Hollywood studios, TV shows and other venues blacklisted people on the list. A few performers, notably Josh White and Burl Ives, agreed to cooperate with the investigators and were able to resume their careers; others refused to do so, and some were blacklisted. The Weavers survived for another year with bookings and even TV shows, but finally the escalating Red Scare caught up with them. Their contract for a summer television show was cancelled. They could no longer get bookings in the top nightclubs. Radio stations stopped playing their songs, and their records stopped selling. They never had another major hit record.

Seeger left the Weavers to pursue a solo career, but he was blacklisted from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s. In 1955 he was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to discuss his political affiliations at a hearing called by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, although he never spent time in jail. (The conviction was overturned on appeal in May 1962.) Many colleges and concert halls refused to book Seeger. He was kept off network television. In 1963 ABC refused to allow Seeger to appear on Hootenanny, which owed its existence to the folk music revival Seeger had helped inspire.

During the blacklist years, Seeger scratched out a living by giving guitar and banjo lessons and singing at the small number of summer camps, churches, high schools and colleges, and union halls that were courageous enough to invite the controversial balladeer. In 1966, on New York City’s nonprofit educational television station, he hosted a low-budget folk music programme, Rainbow Quest, that gave exposure to many little-known country, bluegrass and folk singers. The station had a limited viewership at the time, but fortunately the programmes were taped and are now available on YouTube.

Eventually, Seeger’s audience grew. In the 1960s he sang with civil rights workers at rallies and churches in the South and at the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He popularised the song ‘We Shall Overcome’ in the United States and during his concerts around the world. In a letter to Seeger, Martin Luther King Jr thanked him for his ‘moral support and Christian generosity’. In 1967 Tom and Dick Smothers defiantly invited Seeger onto their popular CBS television variety show, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. True to his principles, Seeger insisted on singing a controversial antiwar song, ‘Waist Deep in the Big Muddy’. CBS censors refused to air the song, but public outrage forced the network to relent and allow him to perform the song on the show a few months later.

Role model

Seeger helped catalyse the folk music revival of the 1960s, encouraging young performers, helping start the Newport Folk Festival, and promoting the folk song magazine Sing Out! that he had helped launch. His book How to Play the 5-String Banjo taught thousands of baby boomers how to play this largely forgotten instrument. He continued to bring audiences songs from around the world, often sung in their original languages.

Tons of prominent musicians – including Bob Dylan, Bono, Joan Baez, the Byrds, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Morello and Bruce Springsteen – consider Seeger a role model and trace their musical roots to his influence. Many of his 80 albums, which include children’s songs, labour and protest songs, traditional American folk songs, international songs and Christmas songs, have reached wide audiences. Among performers around the globe, Seeger became a symbol of a principled artist deeply engaged in the world.

In 1969 Seeger launched the nonprofit group Clearwater, near his home in Beacon, New York, and an annual celebration dedicated to cleaning up the polluted Hudson River. The effort, at first written off as simplistic and naive, helped inspire the environmental movement. The Hudson, once filled with oil pollution, sewage and toxic chemicals, is now swimmable.

Through persistence and unrelenting optimism, Seeger endured and overcame the controversies triggered by his activism. In 1994, at age 75, he received the National Medal of Arts (the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the US government) as well as a Kennedy Center Honor, when President Bill Clinton called him ‘an inconvenient artist, who dared to sing things as he saw them’. In 1996 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because of his influence on so many rock performers. In 1997 he won the Grammy Award for his 18-track compilation album, Pete.

In the 21st century, some of the nation’s most prominent singers recorded albums honouring Seeger, including Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. In May 2009 more than 15,000 admirers filled New York City’s Madison Square Garden for a concert honouring Seeger on his 90th birthday. The performers included Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Rufus Wainwright, Bela Fleck, Taj Mahal, Roger McGuinn, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dar Williams, Tom Morello, Ani DiFranco and John Mellencamp.

In 2012 Pete released two new albums. A More Perfect Union featured 16 original songs written with singer-songwriter Lorre Wyatt and includes duets with Springsteen, Morello, Earle, Harris and Williams. The two-CD Pete Remembers Woody honoured his friend as part of the centennial celebration of Guthrie’s birth. It includes reminiscences, songs and anecdotes.

In the past year, Seeger released the music video and single of ‘God’s Counting on Me, God’s Counting on You’, performed with Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall; shared the stage at New York’s Beacon Theater with Harry Belafonte, Jackson Browne and others to celebrate the life of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, and issued an audiobook titled Peter Seeger: The Storm King, Stories, Narratives and Poems (which was nominated for a Grammy).

Toshi, his wife of 70 years who helped manage Pete’s career, died in July. Despite the enormous loss, Pete kept on singing. He sang ‘I Come and Stand at Every Door’ on Democracy Now! on 9 August to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. He sang ‘This Land Is Your Land’ (adding an anti-fracking verse) at the Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs in September (joined by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews). In December, he performed at a concert in Nyack to benefit the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a peace group. He was scheduled to receive the first Woody Guthrie Award from the Guthrie Foundation and Grammy Foundation in February.

Probably no song reflects Pete’s indomitable spirit more than ‘Quite Early Morning’, the song he sang on the Colbert Report in 2012.

Don’t you know it’s darkest before the dawn

And it’s this thought keeps me moving on

If we could heed these early warnings

The time is now quite early morning

If we could heed these early warnings

The time is now quite early morning

Some say that humankind won’t long endure

But what makes them so doggone sure?

I know that you who hear my singing

Could make those freedom bells go ringing

I know that you who hear my singing

Could make those freedom bells go ringing

And so keep on while we live

Until we have no, no more to give

And when these fingers can strum no longer

Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger

And when these fingers can strum no longer

Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger

So though it’s darkest before the dawn

These thoughts keep us moving on

Through all this world of joy and sorrow

We still can have singing tomorrows

Through all this world of joy and sorrow

We still can have singing tomorrows

Pete’s fingers can strum no longer, but, thanks to him, people around the world can have many ‘singing tomorrows’.

 

From

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,112 other followers