PETE SEEGER: IN LIEU OF A TRIBUTE


It was my hope that I would never have to write this post. My public silence on the issue at hand until now was my way of protecting the image of a man so great, a man who has been the inspiration to millions of activists throughout the world.  I tried to keep to myself what I am about to tell you all, hoping it would never happen.

But, it is happening, it’s official, Pete Seeger will be taking part in a Virtual Rally For A better Middle East. The event is sponsored by an organisation known as the Arava Institute. One of the major players is the Jewish National Fund.

The Arava Institute has not been hiding the fact that there is opposition to Seeger’s participation in the event. They published an article which originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post whitewashing the entire concept of the Boycott and Divestment Movement.

In part, the article states; What could be a more positive, non-political message of coexistence than that, right? Not according to over 40 organizations, led by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, which published a letter on Sunday calling on Seeger to “join the growing list of artists who have respected the Palestinian boycott call,” referring to cancellations this summer by the likes of Elvis Costello and the Pixies.The letter cited recent events in the Beduin village of Al- Arakib, where illegal structures have been torn down four times this year by the Israel Police. The letter also focused on the participation of the Jewish National Fund as a partner in the online presentation. 

“The JNF, a partner organization in ‘With Earth and Each Other,’ has been engaged in the ‘Judaization’ of Palestine for more than 100 years. After the 1948 expulsion of two thirds of the Palestinian people from their lands, the JNF planted fast-growing non-native trees on the ruins of Palestinian villages in a deliberate attempt to prevent refugees from returning to their land.”

In a separate letter to Seeger, Jeff Halper, chairman of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) wrote: “I hope that you will decide to join these artists of conscience and once again make a bold stand for justice.

The movement is gathering strength, the violators of civilized norms are fearful, and change is in the air.”

Seeger, long sympathetic with Left-wing causes, has been donating some his royalties for the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” to the ICAHD for over ten years.

Halper noted that one of the JNF’s most recent activities has been “the planting of a forest to cover a Beduin village [Al- Arakib] in the Negev from which the residents have been forcibly removed.”

 

From a very disturbing YNet article; Then, as now, Seeger whole-heartedly believed that songs can bring change. Seeger, America’s most important folk-music singer, says time and again that dialogue and non-violent actions are the only way to solve conflicts.

Many Palestinian organizations, including Adallah, signed a petition calling on Seeger to withdraw from the rally, but he won’t hear of it. That’s not to say that he supports Israel’s current policies. “My stand is supporting the boycott of Israeli products. I don’t know much about the artistic boycott taking place, but I understand the financial boycott. I don’t think there will be a human race here in another 50 years unless the entire world finds a way to communicate – whether it’s with pictures or music or food or sports. Words may come later, but we have to find a way to (talk) in some way”.

Now is not the time to sit around the campfire and sing Kumbayah!  In order to move forward people have to communicate, not talk.  A boycott is a very clear form of communication.  Aside from which, it is the method of communication chosen by the victims in this crime of occupation – and as such it should be respected. After an extremely honorable life, one bordering on sainthood, he is creating great harm in his final years.  As we can see, his act is being greatly exploited by the criminals . The silence of the students in Michigan this past week speaks much louder than Pete singing in that concert. Bottom line is, Pete has now made himself complicit in war crimes.

In his own words; “In 1967 I performed at a joint Israeli and Arab event (at the Hilton Tel Aviv, days before the Six Day War broke out). Before that I performed in Lebanon, where they asked me not to come to Israel. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse; Israel adopted large scale force while Palestinians use small scale force.

“Little by little I understood more how Zionism started. Of course, after the horrible experience of Hitler many people went to Israel. On the other hand, had I known more then, what was going to happen to Jews everywhere, I would consider how to prevent this terrible situation going on right now.”

There IS a way to prevent and stop the situation that is going on right now….. CHANGE YOUR MIND AND PULL OUT OF THE COMING EVENT! IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

The above was written out of love for the man, not out of anger. Pete Seeger has been a part of my life for over 60 years and a man I have known personally for over 50 of those years. He has always been there for humanity and has ‘paid the price’ for his dedication. I can honestly say, that despite all of the above, I love the man dearly, but at the moment I must say that I don’t like him very much.

Entertaining First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and WW2 Troops…


and more recently at President Obama’s innauguration…


DON’T TARNISH THE IMAGE ….. WE HAVE SEEN TOO MANY OF OUR IDOLS FALL ALREADY!

16 Comments

  1. October 24, 2010 at 11:29

    PEP…Progressive except Palestine..What’s new? You love him and that’s allright but we don’t have to..A guy who must have all the info he needs to take the right decision and he did just the opposite..End of the story..

  2. Don Robertson said,

    October 24, 2010 at 14:14

    Steve-

    Speaking of tarnished icons, I had no other way to reach you than to make this post. I wrote this, and when I finished it, I thought to myself, it’d be an even funnier article over on Desert Peace.

    http://americansjourney.blogspot.com/2010/10/adam-gadahn-and-lady-gaga-to-wed-in-tel.html

    Don Robertson

  3. desertpeace said,

    October 24, 2010 at 14:18

    Funny it is….. but I must say that neither were ever idols of mine ;)

  4. aufzuleiden said,

    October 24, 2010 at 16:13

    Considering that Gadahn was indicted on October 11, 2006 by a Federal Grand Jury, I sincerely doubt that he and his “bride” (not) will be having any sort of reception by Michelle Obama – the description of “An utterly-uncontrollably squealing -hysterical Michelle Obama- was right over-the-top with excitement in anticipation of the chance to meet a real movie star and a real terrorist on the same occasion[.]” is simply pathetic and a perfect example of the racially tinged attacks that have been leveled against her and Barack – for no other reason than the colour of their skin and the fact that they have the temerity to follow through on their promises (the GOP obstructionism notwithstanding).

    It’s fascinating to read the constant attacks by people who claim to “know things” yet consistently fail to understand anything.

    How pathetically American. Reminds me of this show with Gov./Seal/Wrestler Jesse Ventura – “Conspiracy Theory” … don’t worry – if the Bilderburgs (or is that Bilderbugs?) don’t get you, 2012 will. Wait for the 2013 followup. Right.

    Wie viel ist Aufzuleiden!

  5. aufzuleiden said,

    October 24, 2010 at 16:48

    As for Pete Seeger – can I say that I’m surprised or even disappointed? I don’t even know anymore. Somebody once told me that (as I composer – which is, theoretically, what I am) I shouldn’t involve myself in politics – to which I replied – Bullshit. Life is politics. Everything we do is effected, in some way, by a political decision – why SHOULDN’T I be involved in politics?

    If an Israeli musician found some of my music would I stop them from performing it? The short answer is – No. Would I go to the concert? No. What if they offered to pay for me to fly out there, all expenses paid? No.

    Now, I just accepted a commission for a new flute piece – the premiere will be in New York (not city, some where in NY State – Stony Brooke University). I won’t be going there (probably) either – it’s an issue of finances – I’m not boycotting the United States.

    It is easy for us to say we are not going to purchase something from Israel – and I don’t do that – but the arts are something that are supposed to transcend the human condition, they are supposed to communicate our aspirations and dreams across language barriers, across fences and barricades, across the bloody years of conflict.

    Yes, it is essential to boycott, divest and sanction Israel for what they are doing, for what they have done, but – at the same time – it is essential that we continue to work for peace and education is one of the best ways to promote that message. The fact that Pete Seeger has decided to endorse the work of the Arava Institute by participating in their virtual rally goes a long way in legitimizing the methods that they are using to spread a true message of peace.

    Can you honestly believe that after all of these years of working and believing in the cause of human rights, civil rights, and now – for the last 40 years, saving the Hudson River valley – that Pete Seeger would lend his name to something that he didn’t really believe in with all his heart? This is not a man that stumbles into things blindly – he takes slow, considered steps.

    As I was saying earlier – as a composer I have been cautioned regarding my involvement in politics – I have shunned such advice, perhaps to the detriment of my career (my views have not been concealed and have offended some potential performers). If such is the case, there’s nothing I can do about it: I shall not bend like a reed in the wind in order to “fit in” and “go with the flow” – that has never been my way.

    I was asked to write a piece for an Israeli performer – on a number of occasions. I refused. As I said, if an Israeli musician found – or asked for – one of my existing compositions, that’s an entirely different thing. Would I compose something for an anti-Zionist performer? Absolutely. What if they wanted to perform in Israel? I wouldn’t be there – but – I wouldn’t stop them either – if they are Israeli, why shouldn’t they perform there? Again, it’s a question for the individual – but for me, as a creative artist I have to ask myself what will I accomplish by denying someone the opportunity to hear my music? What do I accomplish by them hearing it?

    It would be tragic if the children growing up in Palestine never had the opportunity to hear a live concert because musicians thought this was “helping” them. Perhaps we could help them more by playing for them – giving them the money that would have been paid the performers … it’s called a benefit concert. How much medicine could be purchased, how much food? How many people could be helped from the profits that these acts could generate (when they played in Israel as well) – it could be stunning, I’m sure – and Israelis would be helping their enemies (though I’m sure some would pay with joy – I hope).

    This “dream” notwithstanding, I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn Seeger. He’s not giving a concert tour in Israel – he’s participating in a virtual rally: He’s going to be sitting (probably) in a studio (likely his home) in front of a video camera and computer getting zipped along the Internet to the rally … cripes – I could do that too from my own basement (I won’t – but I could). I’d rather see a group like Arava help change the minds of the 500 youth they’ve worked with then the continuing thousand’s that the IDF indoctrinate every year.

    Peace can only come through enlightenment.

  6. Milton said,

    October 24, 2010 at 18:20

    Links so people can sign the petitions?? TIA

  7. desertpeace said,

    October 24, 2010 at 18:23

    there are no links to the petitions as far as I know.

  8. John Ball said,

    October 24, 2010 at 18:44

    Wow.
    For shame.

  9. Eric Vaughan said,

    October 24, 2010 at 20:47

    Although I was a brat in his class, I will always fondly remember my grade school music teacher for having the guts to turn on his students to Pete Seeger’s Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream. (He was already gay so that was pushing it.)

  10. Thomas O. Anderson said,

    October 24, 2010 at 21:32

    The picture of good-hearted (but way too gullible) Pete Seeger at Obama’s party tells it all.

    How about Pete and Bruce get back on the National Mall and have us all sing-along again:

    (to the chorus of This Land is Your Land)

    These are the good wars,
    Obama’s good wars

    Those dead Afghanis,
    they had it coming

    And if Iran won’t
    do like we tell them…

    These wars were made
    for you and me!

  11. Big Joe said,

    October 25, 2010 at 00:37

    Thanks for bringing this news about Mr. Seeger to us in the US. This is truly horrible and places Pete in a different, darker light. It seems so unlike him.

  12. Laurie said,

    October 25, 2010 at 02:55

    My gut feeling is not to judge Pete Seeger too harshly for this. His words indicate he has the best intentions. My opinion is that he is naive to believe any action but American political pressure and a strict boycott of things Israeli will be an aid. He is a moral force in the world among liberals; here’s hoping the example of his life prior to this event will give PEP liberals something decent to reflect upon when deciding the future. (On the other hand – oiyks! – some liberals can be color blind in that they do/will not see evil or incompetence in “minorities” elected to power.) Hasbara is very powerful.

    In my old age (a decade younger than Israel :-) ), I feel I was played as a fool in my youth. As a child and younger person, I read the horrific accounts of experiences of Jews persecuted by Nazis, and came away with the lesson, “NEVER AGAIN!” To me this meant, never again to ANYONE, and it has been a guiding principle in my life and politics. What I am troubled by is that for Zionists, ‘Never Again” means ” Just Us Jews Never Again.”

    Message to Pete Seeger, regarding Israel, let me quote a great Jewish American man, Groucho Marx – “Who do you believe – me, or your own eyes?”

  13. Syd Walker said,

    October 25, 2010 at 05:21

    Idols with feet of clay.

    I’m still recovering from the shock of falling out of love with Suzanne Vega. Never too late to grow up, I guess :-)

  14. October 25, 2010 at 08:07

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nadia Sindi and Pascal Uccelli, Kelly. Kelly said: PETE SEEGER: IN LIEU OF A TRIBUTE: It was my hope that I would never have to write this post. My… http://bit.ly/daVd2p #flotilla #israel [...]

  15. Amer Al-bayya said,

    October 25, 2010 at 08:58

    TO THE WHOLE WORLD—-VERY IMPORTANT .. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/idf-stop-sexual-abuse-of-palestinian-children/ ….. MUST SEE—-READ IT….. WORLD….STOP THEM ALL BEFORE IT IS TO LATE..JFGFW-OI.

  16. Doug said,

    October 26, 2010 at 02:38

    I think we need to give Mr. Seeger a little room to make a decision and trust in that……he is a man of peace and I pray that he knows what he is doing…..if everyone can hear him sing songs of peace….jews and palestinians and then maybe we can find the common humanity in us all.


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