BDS AND THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY

The use of name-calling like “anti-Semites” and “delegtimizers” is problematic for a number of reasons, not only because its claims are untrue, but also because it takes the focus off the real issue at hand – whether and how Israel is, in fact, violating international law and basic human rights principles – and, instead, recklessly impugns the characters of those advocating for Israel to be held accountable.

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Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and the American Jewish Community

 Donna Nevel*

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Photo credit: Jewish Voice For Peace

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Many American Jewish organizations claim to be staunch supporters of civil and human rights as well as academic freedom. But when it comes to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, they make an exception. In their relentless opposition to BDS, they leave even core principles behind.

The Palestinian-led call for BDS, which began in 2005 in response to ongoing Israeli government violations of basic principles of international law and human rights of the Palestinian people, is a call of conscience. It has strengthened markedly over the last few years among artists, students, unions, church groups, dockworkers, and others. Media coverage of endorsers of the boycott has gone mainstream and viral. Recent examples include Stephen Hawking’s refusal to go to Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference, the successful campaign surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s support for Soda Stream and its settlement operation, and the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution that endorsed boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Alongside BDS’s increasing strength have come increasingly virulent attacks on, and campaigns against it. These attacks tend to employ similar language and tactics – as if the groups are all cribbing from the same talking points – including tarring BDS supporters as “anti-Semitic” and “delegitimizers.”

These attacks simply don’t address or grapple with the core aspirations or realities of BDS. As described by Hanan Ashrawi, executive committee member of the PLO, in a recent letter in the New York Times, BDS “does not target Jews, individually or collectively, and rejects all forms of bigotry and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.” She goes on to explain that “B.D.S. is, in fact, a legal, moral and inclusive movement struggling against the discriminatory policies of a country that defines itself in religiously exclusive terms, and that seeks to deny Palestinians the most basic rights simply because we are not Jewish.”

The use of name-calling like “anti-Semites” and “delegtimizers” is problematic for a number of reasons, not only because its claims are untrue, but also because it takes the focus off the real issue at hand – whether and how Israel is, in fact, violating international law and basic human rights principles – and, instead, recklessly impugns the characters of those advocating for Israel to be held accountable.

Criticisms, even extremely harsh ones, of the Israeli state or calls to make a state democratic and adhere to equal rights for all its citizens are not anti-Semitic. Rather, anti-Semitism is about hatred of, and discrimination against the Jewish people, which is not anywhere to be found in the call for BDS, and these kinds of accusations also serve to trivialize the long and ugly history of anti-Semitism.

Most recently, the anti-BDS effort has moved to the legislative front. A bill, introduced in the New York State Assembly last month, would have trampled academic freedom and the right to support BDS in its quest to punish the ASA and deter any who might dare to emulate its endorsement of the academic boycott. Those supporting the bill were opposed by a broad coalition of education, civil rights, legal, academic, and Palestine solidarity organizations, as well as Jewish social justice groups. The bill was withdrawn, but a revised version has been introduced that is designed, like the original, to punish colleges that use public funds for activities related to groups that support boycotts of Israel, including mere attendance at their meetings.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) worked closely with the sponsors of the New York bill.

Like the JCRC, rather than engaging in substantive debate about the issues raised in relation to BDS, the Israeli government and many Jewish communal organizations choose, instead, to try to discredit and derail the efforts of those supporting BDS.

For example, as recently reported by Ha’aretz, the Israeli Knesset is debating how to continue to counter BDS efforts across the globe, that is, “whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.” It is also considering what the role of AIPAC might be in introducing anti-boycott legislation and how to best bolster military surveillance–which has significant funding behind it–against supporters of BDS.

American Jewish communal organizations have also expended massive resources and energy in their campaigns to demonize endorsers of BDS. The Israel Action Network (IAN)–which describes itself as “a strategic initiative of TheJewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), created to counter assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy”–has funded the anti-BDS effort to the tune of at least six million dollars over a three-year period.

The IAN website characterizes supporters of BDS as “delegitimizers”and says that, in order to gain support from “vulnerable targets,” which include “college campuses, churches, labor unions, and human rights organizations,” delegitimizers utilize Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) tactics, “the same tools used to isolate and vilify apartheid South Africa, Iran, or Nazi Germany. BDS activists, IAN continues, “present distortions, fabrications and misrepresentations of international law in an attempt to paint Israel with the same brush.”

In another example of name-calling without any substance, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) July 2013 report attacked Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), featuring ad hominem accusations (JVP “intentionally exploits Jewish culture”), rather than discussing JVP’s actual positions. (A JVP report on the ADL points out that the ADL not only targets JVP but is well-known for its long history of spying on Arabs and supporters of the Palestinian movement.)

On the charge of anti-Semitism, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its call to fight the BDS movement, urges it supporters to “learn the facts behind this hypocritical and anti-Semitic campaign,” and the ADL’s Abe Foxman echoed those same sentiments: “The BDS movement at its very core is anti-Semitic.” And most recently, in his speech to AIPAC, Prime Minister Netanyahu, after shamelessly drawing upon classic anti-Semitic imagery of Jews to speak of supporters of BDS, says: “So you see, attempts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, the most threatened democracy on earth, are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti- Semitism.”

The demonization of BDS is not only the domain of the Israeli government and the mainstream Jewish community. The self-declared liberal J-Street, in its seemingly relentless quest to stay under the Jewish “tent,” has also jumped on the anti-BDS bandwagon, sometimes in partnership with the IAN, which (precisely because J Street is positioned as a peace group) proudly documents its relationship with J Street in fighting BDS. Discussing how J Street is gaining acceptance in the mainstream Jewish community, JCPA’s CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow points to “its role in pushing back against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement…”

Further, the refusal of both liberal land mainstream Jewish groups to discuss substantive issues around Israel’s actions or BDS also reveals itself in language that admonishes BDS as being “beyond the pale.” Recently, for example, asreported by the director of JVP in an op-ed in the Forward, the director of the JCRC of Greater Boston, who has a history of involvement in liberal organizations, explained that “any organization that supports BDS…doesn’t belong at the communal table. In fact, he was referring specifically to Jewish Voice for Peace. He evenarguedthat opening the public conversation to BDS is roughly akin to welcoming the Ku Klux Klan.”

This attempted silencing of those simply discussing BDS plays out even in seemingly minor local skirmishes. For example, last year, the liberal rabbi of a large New York City synagogue cancelled the synagogue’s facilities-usage contract with a group of Jews who, he feared, might, on his premises, discuss BDS. That, he said, would be “beyond the pale.”

These attacks against BDS appear to be an almost desperate reaction to the increasing successes of BDS, not only in the world at large, but also within the broader Jewish community itself. Respected members of the liberal Jewish community as well as a few liberal Zionist groups that were vehemently anti-BDS are now calling for boycotts against products made in the settlements and are engaging with the issue publicly. Further, the mission and vision of groups like Jews Say No and Jewish Voice for Peace – “a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights” – are resonating with increasing numbers of Jews who support BDS as a natural outgrowth of their commitments. And that movement is growing in partnership with the broader Palestinian-led movement for justice.

How should the rest of the Jewish community respond? Ad hominem attacks on BDS just will not do. It is time for BDS opponents to take a deep breath. Consider this: BDS is a principled response to Israel’s actions and behavior as an occupier. It is a profound call by Palestinians – and supporters world-wide–for justice. It is not BDS that should be opposed, but, rather, the very policies and practices that have made BDS necessary.

*Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a long-time organizer for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. She was a co-coordinator of the 1989 landmark Road to Peace Conference that brought PLO officials and Knesset members together to the US for the first time. More recently, she was a founding member of Jews Say No!, is a member of the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and is on the coordinating committee of the Nakba Education Project, U.S.

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THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Or …. how this glorious Holiday almost wasn’t …..

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Clara Zetkin and International Women’s Day

By Naomi Zeveloff  FOR

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Clara Zetkin (left) with Jewish Marxist Rosa Luxemberg in 1910 // Wikimedia Commons

Today is International Women’s Day. Two German women, Clara Zetkin and Luise Zietz, first proposed the holiday in 1910 at the International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen. A year later, the holiday was celebrated for the first time. Neither woman was Jewish, but Zetkin, a member of the German parliament, was called a Jew by members of the Nazi press who wanted to prevent her from speaking at a government event.

According to a 1932 article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Ignoring the fact that Clara Zetkin, veteran Communist, is of Aryan stock, the Nazi press here calls her a Jewess and seeks to make stock from this fact for its propaganda, in connection with the possibility that, as the oldest member of Parliament, she may open the new Reichstag sessions in accordance with tradition. While the “Vossische Zeitung” insists that Clara Zetkin is of Aryan descent, and while it is known that her husband was a Jew, and not she, the “Angriff” writes: “Zetkin was never attached to Germany which is small wonder considering that she is not German, but a Jewess. We therefore ask whether it is to be tolerated that such shame be imposed upon the German nation as permitting a Jewess residing in Moscow and obeying orders from Moscow to open our Reichstag?” The “Voelkische Beobachter” also endeavors to establish that Clara Zetkin is a Jewess and uses the title “Jewish Woman wants to preside over Reichstag.” It is not only the irony of fate but symbolic that a Jewess from Moscow should open the Reichstag, the “Beobachter” asserts, expressing the hope that this Reichstag will be the last.

Read more about Zetkin here.

‘HELL NO! WE WON’T GO!!’

Reminiscent  of the protests during the Vietnam War, Israeli youth are now refusing induction into the Israeli Army.

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The teenagers said in their letter that they will not join the army in protest of “the ongoing occupation and the army’s invasion of civil life that deepens the notions chauvinism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism in society.” 

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In the US it started with just a few who put their personal freedom on the line for what they believed …

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Teenagers write to PM: We won’t join an army that commits war crimes 

Dozens of teens sign letter to Netanyahu declaring their intention to refuse to enlist to the IDF for moral reasons.

Dozens of teenagers sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday declaring their intention to refuse to enlist to the IDF for moral reasons.

The teenagers said in their letter that they will not join the army in protest of “the ongoing occupation and the army’s invasion of civil life that deepens the notions chauvinism, militarism, violence, inequality and racism in society.”

The letter’s authors urge Israeli youth nearing the age of 18 to reconsider “the meaning of army service.”

“The Palestinians in the occupied territories live under the Israeli government’s rule, even though they did not choose this government and they cannot influence its decision-making in any legal way. This situation is unequal and unjust,” the letter said.

The letter’s authors bemoaned the ongoing “human rights violations” and “acts that are considered war crimes according to international law” that happen in the West Bank, such as “executions without trial, settlement construction on occupied territory, administrative arrests, torture, collective punishments and unequal division of resources like water and electricity.”

According to them, the army service perpetuates the current situation, which is why “following our conscience, we cannot take part in a system that commits the aforementioned acts.”

The letter’s authors noted the problems in the military also seep into civilian life, shaping education, job opportunities, and “lead to racism and violence within society and to discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality and gender.”

“The army’s actions distance us from finding a solution and reaching peace, justice and security,” Mandy Kretner from Tel Aviv, one of the letter’s authors, said in a press release.

“The army serves the powerful people in society and not the citizens, who are only a tool. Me and my friends refuse to be cannon fodder,” Shaked Harari from Bat Yam, another signatory, said.

 

Source

URGENT APPEAL FROM MEDEA BENJAMIN AND CODEPINK

Medea welcomed home by loved ones at the airport in DC

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The remaining delegates waiting to go to Gaza, trapped in the Cairo airport.

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Send this letter to the Egyptian government with our demands

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Sign this petition to the Egypt Desk at the State Department

Just the other day I hopped on a plane to Egypt, eager to join the international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Little did I know I would be stopped at the Cairo airport, detained, held overnight in a cell, then in the morning brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. They threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, handcuffed me so tightly they dislocated my shoulder, and then deported me to Turkey.

Now the Egyptian authorities are blocking most of the remaining delegates from entering Egypt and traveling to Gaza. It has been frustrating and disappointing for us, but we cannot forget that almost two million Palestinians remained trapped in Gaza while the Egyptian Rafah border remains closed or tightly controlled.

What happened to me was traumatizing, but is minor compared to what Egyptian activists are going through, including women. Thousands of peaceful Egyptian demonstrators have been killed or jailed by the Military Junta since the July 2013 military coup.

Here’s how you can take action:

Despite frantic calls to the US Embassy during my 17-hour ordeal, they NEVER even got in touch with me. It is appalling that not only did the US government fail to intervene when an American citizen was being beaten, but that our government continues to send billions of US taxpayer dollars in military aid to the illegitimate and abusive Egyptian government.

Sign this petition to Egypt Desk at the State Department, then call them (202-647-4680). Demand to know why they did not assist a peaceful US citizen who was being abused by the Egyptian authorities, and let them know you want an immediate end to US military aid to Egypt.

Thanks for all you do for peace and justice,
Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODEPINK  

EGYPT OFFICIALLY UNDER ISRAELI CONTROL

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First read THIS from HaAretz ….

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If you still have doubts about the heading of this post read on …

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CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

 

On the night of March 3, 2014, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK Medea Benjamin was on her way to Egypt to join an international delegation of women going to Gaza when she was detained by border police in the Cairo airport, held overnight in a cell, and then brutally tackled (her arm badly injured), handcuffed, and deported to Turkey. During her time in the detention cell she had access to a cell phone, from which she contacted colleagues at CODEPINK about the poor conditions of the cell and chronicled her ordeal via Twitter. When the Egyptian police removed her from the detention center, they used such excessive force she sustained a fracture and torn ligament in her shoulder.

 

Calling from Istanbul, Benjamin gave the following statement: “I was brutally assaulted by Egyptian police, who never said what I was being accused of. When the authorities came into the cell to deport me, two men threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, pulled my shoulder out of its socket and handcuffed me so that my injured arm was twisted around and my wrists began to bleed. I was then forced to sit between the two men who attacked me on the plane ride from Cairo to Istanbul, and I was (and still am) in terrible pain the whole time.” Doctors in the Cairo airport said she was not fit to travel because of her injury, but the authorities forced her to board anyways.

 

She is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, receiving medical attention at a hospital before she returns to the US. It is still unclear why the Egyptians deported her. Medea’s colleagues at CODEPINK are appalled by the unnecessary use of force by Egyptian authorities.

 

In response to a call from the women of Gaza, Benjamin was traveling through Egypt to be a part of the CODEPINK contingent of an international coalition of 100 women traveling to Gaza to witness the hardships facing the 1.7 million residents, deliver humanitarian aid, and call attention to the need for a longer-term strategy to achieve peace and justice for Palestinians.

 

From a CodePink Press Release

THE LATEST HIPHOP FROM GAZA

… CHORUS …

The noise in our country is endless
We live and die, sticking out till the end
The noise in our country is endless
We live and die, stick it out till the end.

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Report on the above can be read HERE

SUPPORTING APARTHEID IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE IN THE USA

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Contrary to its self-styled image as a charitable organization dedicated to planting trees in Israel, the JNF is instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing expropriation of land for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis. The racial discrimination institutionalized by the JNF presents a major challenge to any effort to achieve a just peace in Israel-Palestine. A quasi-governmental organization, the JNF has charitable status in the United States, and consequently enjoys tax exemptions for its institutions and donors. This means, in effect, that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of Jewish-only settlements that violate both international law and stated U.S. policy.
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Tax-deductible apartheid: JNF raises $60 million a year for racially-discriminatory land purchases
SusanLandau
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“STOP THE MISINFORMATION, AND THE JNF”

As part of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week activates, spirited protesters from Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and local allies greeted attendees as they arrived at the annual Jewish National Fund Fundraiser in Philadelphia, PA.

Within minutes of assembling in the freezing cold outside Del Frisco’s Restaurant in center city Philadelphia on Thursday, February 27th the Regional Director of the JNF, Marina Furman, came outside without a coat to “thank us” for our presence, saying that over the years since we have been protesting JNF fundraisers, the number of people attending the event has increased. Essentially, she explained that we are ‘good for business.’ We reassured her that as long as the JNF continued their role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, we would continue to protest. A brief conversation ensued in which Marina challenged our claim that her organization was dispossessing the Bedouin in the Negev. She politely assured us that we were misinformed. She directed us to the JNF web site on which we would find photos of the cities the JNF was building for the Bedouin. Marina was almost convincing. She seemed earnest in her desire to believe the JNF was helping the Bedouin.

Contrary to its self-styled image as a charitable organization dedicated to planting trees in Israel, the JNF is instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing expropriation of land for the exclusive use of Jewish Israelis. The racial discrimination institutionalized by the JNF presents a major challenge to any effort to achieve a just peace in Israel-Palestine. A quasi-governmental organization, the JNF has charitable status in the United States, and consequently enjoys tax exemptions for its institutions and donors. This means, in effect, that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of Jewish-only settlements that violate both international law and stated U.S. policy.

Philly BDS, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine, and their local allies participating in Thursday’s action urge the United States to revoke the charitable status of the JNF. Playing on the fundraiser’s “Madness Poker Tournament” theme, protesters held signs that said “Land Theft is Nor Charity” and chanted slogans such as “BULLDOZING HOMES, STEALING LAND, THESE ARE THE CARDS IN THE JNF’s HAND” to “JUST BEHIND THEIR POKER FACES, WE SEE ALL THE STOLEN PLACES.”

While attendees mostly refused postcards available that described the action, passers-by were eager for information and conversation. Memorable were the few that took the time to thank us for our presence and our action.

Written FOR

THE VIDEO AIPAC IS TRYING TO HIDE FROM YOU

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Isn’t it bad enough that AIPAC controls Congress? Now they want to control YouTube as well …

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Is AIPAC trying to stop you from seeing this video?

Submitted by Ali Abunimah
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YouTube shut down the account that posted the original video. A new copy of the video should has appeared online and is viewable above. CODEPINK tweeted the new instance of the video:

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See Tweets at SOURCE

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Original post

The anti-war campaign group CODEPINK says the powerful Israel lobby organizationAIPAC is threatening to sue it over this video clip, a satirical version of an AIPAC policy conference promotional video.

“On 25 February, an AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] member called a CODEPINK staffer threatening legal action in response to a controversial video clip that he alleges was made by the peace group CODEPINK,” a CODEPINK press release states.

The video features real footage from AIPAC conferences interspersed with images of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights, and voiceovers from supposed conference-goers.

One of the voices says “It’s exciting to see so many people together who understand that sometimes you have to violate other people’s human rights if you want to take their land.”

CODEPINK does not say if it made the video but the group’s co-founder Medea Benjamin commented:

It is absurd for AIPAC to threaten legal action over such an obviously satirical video. It is interesting that they are reacting so strongly to the clip, though. Perhaps it’s because the content is really an accurate reflection of AIPAC’s dangerous foreign policies. AIPAC does, in fact, advocate for bombing countries such as Iran and Syria; it fails to condemn Israel’s continued building of settlements and its human rights abuses against Palestinians; and it lobbies Congress to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel to continue the occupation of Palestine. … What are they trying to hide by silencing this video?”

CODEPINK spearheads annual protests at AIPAC’s policy conference. The Electronic Intifada sent an inquiry to AIPAC’s media office and this post will be updated if a response is received.

WHY IS ISRAEL SO AFRAID OF CRITICISM?

Robust democracies do not just tolerate criticism; they welcome it as a part of freedom of expression.

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Why does Israel feel threatened by humanitarian workers?

Anne Irfan *

Humanitarian workers habitually find themselves unwelcome, detained or turned back at Israeli-controlled border crossings. (Joe Goldberg)

The Israeli detention of and denial of entry Western activists, academics and humanitarian workers sympathetic to Palestinians has received particular attention in recent years, following the targeting of high-profile figures including Richard FalkNorman Finkelsteinand Noam Chomsky.

During the first week in February, I was on the receiving end of Israeli detention practices myself when I attempted to enter the occupied West Bank from neighboring Jordan via theAllenby Bridge border crossing.

Once on the Israeli-controlled side of the crossing, I was detained and interrogated for 12 hours before being denied entry and sent back to Amman. I have been given a five-year ban on entering Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli authorities also detained and interrogated my friend and fellow traveler, who had never previously visited the region.

For those who follow events and developments in Palestine, my experience will be unsurprising; stories of random and unexplained clampdowns are depressingly familiar.

The opacity, lack of due process and disregard for human rights that characterize Israeli detention practices also typify the occupation authorities’ actions in the West Bank (including occupied East Jerusalem) and Gaza.

If the Israeli government will openly flout countless UN resolutions, it is hardly going to care about a traveler’s right to privacy.

Nevertheless, the nature and manner in which I was detained and interrogated remain of value for what they reveal about the Israeli occupation and how it continues to operate in 2014.

Opacity

Most fundamentally, the Israeli detention of “undesirable” travelers provides a terrifying insight into the daily lives of millions of Palestinians, who go without the protections of a Western passport.

For all the fear and horror of my experience, I ultimately knew that the worst thing the Israeli authorities could do was detain and eventually deport me.

Palestinians have no such guarantee.

Moreover, during my detention and multiple interrogations I came face-to-face with the impunity and unaccountability of the system, maintained by way of total opacity.

On a superficial but symbolic note, all the Israeli occupation personnel wore badges with information in Hebrew only — a language which the majority of detainees and travelers through this crossing will not be able to read. We were given no information or explanations as to what was happening.

No recourse

When I was eventually informed that I had been denied entry, one reason given was “some information we found.” My request for further details was denied.

As anyone who has passed through a checkpoint in the West Bank will know, this impunity and arbitrariness is a central part of how the occupation works, and how it continues to exert power.

The time one has to wait, and whether or not one is allowed through, can all too often depend on the mood and character of whoever is on duty.

Entry can be denied with no reason and if this happens, there is no recourse.

My detention was also indicative of Israel’s increased targeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

I have previously volunteered in Bethlehem in a program organized by a British NGO; more recently I worked for the London-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

My interrogators questioned me about this work at length, fixating particularly on pushing me to provide the names and contact details of Palestinians I knew in the West Bank (disappointingly for the Israeli staff, I was unable to oblige as nearly all the Palestinians I know are in the diaspora).

They were also interested in my journalistic work, asking me about the articles I have previously written for The Electronic Intifada.

While I had thought that a state facing a supposedly serious security threat might have a better use for its resources than interrogating a London-based humanitarian worker, it was interesting to discover just how gravely any work with Palestinians is regarded.

Unsurprisingly, my current employment with a poverty-relief organization that operates in sub-Saharan Africa was of little interest.

Strategic clampdown

On a similar note, the detention of international humanitarian workers is part of a strategic clampdown on non-violent activism. It was clear from how I was treated that the border staff did not believe I posed a physical threat.

I was frisked but not strip-searched and my belongings only went through the normal security checks. Although I was detained, interrogated and watched, I was not closely physically guarded.

Most of the time I was able to walk around the “waiting room” and go to the bathrooms without a guard accompanying me. My friend, who was also interrogated, was not searched at all throughout the detention period.

After 12 hours the Israelis announced that she was allowed to enter, although she chose to return to Jordan too.

This treatment is inconsistent if the border staff genuinely believed that I might pose a physical threat. It would appear that the intellectual threat is of greater concern.

Insecurity

Finally, the behavior of the Israeli border staff towards Westerners of Arab descent can be seen as a microcosm of the broader disregard with which Israel now routinely treats its international relations.

As a UK citizen, I remember the controversy that hit the headlines four years ago when it emerged that members of Mossad had carried out assassinations in Dubai on British passports, using identities stolen from people traveling through Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv (“Britons queued at Ben Gurion airport as Israeli officials cloned passports,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).

The incident sparked unprecedented fury, with the then foreign secretary David Miliband issuing a strongly-worded statement and expelling an Israeli diplomat from London (“Britain expels Israeli diplomat over Dubai passport row,” BBC News, 23 March 2010).

After this, the Foreign Office issued new guidelines advising Britons not to part with their passports when entering through Israeli-controlled frontiers (“Don’t hand passport to officials, FCO tells Britons travelling to Israel,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).

Notwithstanding the diplomatic row with a supposed ally, identical policies continue to operate in Israel.

Despite the ostensible show of strength that is central to detention practices, what my experience has ultimately revealed is the insecurity that lies at the heart of the Israeli state.

Robust democracies do not just tolerate criticism; they welcome it as a part of freedom of expression.

We are all used to hearing that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East,” according to a whole range of definitions. For now at least, those definitions continue to be stretched to the point of being unrecognizable.

*Anne Irfan holds a masters degree in Middle Eastern history. She is based in London and works in international development.

 

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BDS // WINNING, DESPITE ISRAEL’S ATTEMPTS TO DELEGITIMIZE IT

Just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once more drew attention to the power of BDS by tweeting an attack on activists and falsely claiming that BDS targets Jews rather than targeting Israel’s abuses against Palestinian rights

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Israel is losing the fight against BDS

 Ali Abunimah
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From 24 February this year, through the month of March, campuses and organizations all over the world, including in Brazil, Europe and across North America will be marking thetenth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

IAW, an international series of events, has become a major focal point to rally support and build up organizing for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

The tenth IAW comes at a time when the BDS movement has seen unprecedented growth and attention from world media as well as from Israel and the governments and institutions complicit with its ongoing crimes against Palestinians.

Yet Israel is losing its fight against BDS.

Israel worried

Just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once more drew attention to the power of BDS by tweeting an attack on activists and falsely claiming that BDS targets Jews rather than targeting Israel’s abuses against Palestinian rights:

BDS is an emphatically anti-racist movement, based on universal principles.

It targets structures of systematic injustice and exploitation, not people because of their religion or identity.

Yet speaking to a group of visiting leaders of American Jewish pro-Israel organizations this week, Netanyahu claimed that supporters of BDS were “classical anti-Semites in modern garb.”

He once more called for the Israeli state to fight back and “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”

Israel out of options

Netanyahu’s renewed call was absolutely nothing new. He is simply repeating the Reut Institute’s 2010 strategy – launched four years ago this week – to fight back against so-called “delegitimizers” – people who support Palestinian rights – with a strategy of “sabotage and attack.”

Indeed, last summer, Netanyahu put responsibility for fighting against the movement for Palestinian rights into the hands of the “Ministry of Strategic Affairs.”

Israel is also placing dedicated anti-BDS operatives in its foreign embassies.

Yet four years and millions of dollars later, the Reut Institute strategy, adopted by the Israeli government and Israeli lobby organizations all over the world, has utterly failed to stem the growth of support for Palestinian rights and the nonviolent movement designed to see them implemented: boycott, divestment and sanctions.

In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.

No mere PR problem

Netanyahu’s lashing out indicates that Israel has no strategy and no message that can cover up this evident truth: Israel does not have an image problem that can be fixed with better PR or by defaming those who criticize it.

Israel has a reality problem, with occupation, apartheid, colonization, racism and the systematic denial of the rights of indigenous Palestinians solely on the grounds that they are not Jewish.

This year’s IAW will be another opportunity to see how the movement to end these abuses is growing.

Watch the trailer above and visit apartheidweek.org for more information, including a listing of events.

Written FOR

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The Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings …. Remi Kanazi

GUTHRIE ON SEEGER // PRECIOUS FRIEND

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Arlo Guthrie Remembers Pete Seeger: “He Would Just Wave His Hand, and You Could Hear People Singing”

The iconic folk singer shares memories of his colleague and friend

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Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger

AP Photo

Folksingers Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger during a memorial service for actor Will Geer in New York City on May 12, 1978

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When Pete Seeger died on Jan. 27 at the age of 94, the world lost more than a folksinger, more than a songwriter, more than a moral leader who gave a soundtrack to social causes for three generations. We lost an artist who was uniquely American, the product of a musical tradition that was passed down by hand. Seeger took the torch from musical greats like Woody Guthrie and passed them down to a new generation of musical legends, including Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Woody’s son Arlo, with whom Seeger played for 50 years.

Arlo Guthrie, a folk legend in his own right, spoke with TIME about his friend and music partner who inspired generations with his music and activism.

TIME: Can you tell us about the first time you met Pete Seeger?

Guthrie: I could if I could remember, but I was just a little kid, probably about 3 or 4 years old. I really have no actual date or time in my mind I can go back to and say, “This is when I actually met him.” My father had entered into the hospital part of his life in the mid 50s, which was about the same time I probably met Pete. My mother had introduced me to a lot of my father’s friends because she believed that I would get to know the guy my dad was better through his friends than just in the hospital visits.

When I thought about this later on in life, I realized that Pete and my father and that crowd of people that included Lead Belly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee — all of these guys had grown up before recorded music. The songs that they knew circulated by word of mouth, not by radio or by records or any electronic media. They were handed down from one person to another, from generation to generation. It was not the kind of music you could take a course on; you couldn’t get a degree in it. Nobody went to school for it. It was the kind of music you heard around the campfire or hanging out with friends. It was very different from the music we were hearing on the radio.

What was it like to play with him?

Probably around 1968, when I was around 18, we did a concert together at Carnegie Hall. That is a tradition we continued, pretty much up until last November. Every year for about 30 years Pete and I had a regularly scheduled show the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. We took over that tradition about a decade ago without Pete, but every once in a while he said that he wanted to come and play.

I remember watching how he handled the audience. I wouldn’t have used the words master in those days, but he had an authority over the audience that allowed them to relax and sing along with him. My eyes just opened up and I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me. He would just wave his hand, and you could hear people singing. Of course over the decades that I worked with him, I began to realize that this isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you can learn. Other people have learned how to do that from him over the years. Anyone who has ever seen him knows what I’m saying, and someone who has not will find it hard to believe. It was almost as if he had some extra sense that allowed that kind of response. There’s no one else I have ever seen in my life that has had that, on any country, on any continent or in any city. Nobody came close.

He was well known for his banjo playing, but he also played the guitar very well. Did he have a favorite instrument?

It was whatever allowed the accompaniment to sound in the way he wanted. He also was a wonderful player of the recorder. There were moments in the concerts we did where he would play some Native American tune or an Irish tune, and you could hear a pin drop in a crowd that would fill some of these larger venues. You couldn’t hear a thing but this wafting air from that flute-like instrument, and it was just magic.

In later years he began to have difficulty singing. About 10 years ago, he must have been in his 80s, he said to me, “Arlo, I can’t do those big shows with you anymore. I can’t sing like I used to sing. I can’t play like I used to play.” I just looked at him and I said, “Pete, look at our audience. They can’t hear like they used to hear. It shouldn’t be a problem.” And he laughed and he said, “Maybe you’re right.” And every once in a while he would keep coming out, and that’s where he would transfer his own voice and say, “I can’t sing anymore, but you can sing.” And he would lead everybody in these songs. Those were wonderful times.

How did Pete approach writing songs?

He was the kind of songwriter who could remember a tune or a song that he’d heard somewhere in life, and he had a catalogue of hundreds of thousands of songs. I don’t know where the ones that he wrote came from, but I know that he had an awful lot to draw on that was part of his knowledge. He was quite a music scholar. Whenever I wanted information on a song, Pete was the first guy to go to: “where did this tune come from?” or “what about these lyrics?” and he’d say, “You know back in 1782, there was a guy…” and he’d know the names of the people who wrote the songs and where the songs originated. He was fascinated by it and it was natural for him. Every once in a while, as the occasion permitted or demanded, he would just come up with lyrics, write something and try it out.

Did you have a favorite Pete Seeger song?

Not really, although if I did, it probably wouldn’t be one of his most well known songs. He wrote some really hauntingly beautiful melodies. I’ve recorded some of the ones I always loved. And like any musician, he had songs and melodies that were important to him, but he didn’t think were for the public, and he would sing those and play those, either backstage or just goofing off with other people. There was a song called “Melody of Love,” and he just loved playing it. It felt good to play. There were songs like that that were part of our relationship that were never public.

Off the stage, what was it like to be in a room with Pete?

It was funny. I remember one time we went to play this venue Wolf Trap outside of Washington, D.C., which is one of these big, shed-type venues. We went downstairs to the dressing rooms before the sound check and there was food backstage, and there was a big chocolate cake sitting on the table. Pete he cut what I thought was a fairly reasonably sized piece of cake, then he left the piece and took the rest of the cake into the dressing room. He came out 20 minutes later with a big smile on his face, and he looked around and said, “Anyone want that last piece of cake?” His wife was yelling, “You can’t do that.” It was very funny.

Just recently he had gone into the hospital for some surgery. His kids called and asked if there was something I could do. I said, “Buy him a cake.” They were brought up to eat very healthy, so the Guthrie family sent a chocolate cake to Pete. Because at 84, who the hell cares? The man needs cake. After the surgery, his family went out and bought him another cake. It was not a very good idea to get between Pete and a cake, and no one ever did.

He has been noted for his heroism, standing up to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, especially when we look back on that episode with some distance. But at the time, it must have been a frightening experience to be hauled before Congress, refuse to testify and be held in contempt and nearly imprisoned. Did he ever talk about that time?

Not really to me personally. I was with him on occasions when reporters would bring that up. I have to tell you, though, just two days ago, somebody posted a release from the Kennedy Library of a letter I had written to President Kennedy about Pete. I have no memory of it; I must have been 13 or 14 years old. I said something like, “Dear Mr. President, do what you can for my buddy Pete.” So I was aware of it at the time, but I don’t remember him really talking about it very much.

I’m sure he didn’t look forward to those kinds of confrontations because he wasn’t a confrontational guy. But he would not back down, either. He wasn’t looking for trouble, but he wasn’t purposely avoiding it.

What do you think drove his lifelong effort for his many causes and convictions?

Pete had a real vision of what the country was about. He came from a long line of Puritan stock. His family had been in the country a very, very long time, and he had a sense of history. He wasn’t just a scholar of music; he was also a political scholar and a historical scholar. He loved the idealism of a nation founded on the principles he thought were important, and he spread that wherever he went.

I think to be asked about his religion, or about his beliefs, or about his political thoughts, was such an insult to him, because it was insulting to every American. He had a way of taking these personal events in his life and moving them forward so that they included everyone. If it had just affected him, he wouldn’t have said anything; he wouldn’t have written about it; he wouldn’t have made a big deal. But because it affected everyone, he was involved. I think that’s one of the things that motivated him about the environment, the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement. Sometimes he was right; sometimes he was wrong, but he was right most of the time. And he set out to make the country in what he imagined it was meant to be, what it could be. Whatever was going on, he was there because he had a sense of how it impacted everyone. It was not just personal. It was America.

He said something wonderful a few years ago: “My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” That seems to perfectly capture what he did with his life.

He really believed that the more people do things together, the quicker you can get things done. That is not a concept he invented; that’s a concept the United States invented. That’s why it’s called the United States. These commonwealths or provinces didn’t stand a chance against the big economies of the world. But together, they could do incredible things. Of course that’s history, but you have to apply that. So his fight for unions did not arise from some ideology. He saw that as being American.

A lot of people ascribe political reasons to his becoming involved in different causes, but they were bigger than that. They were not an ideology; they were part of his soul, and part of the American soul.

What will be the lasting legacy of Pete Seeger?

I think it’s too soon to tell, but I think for me personally it is the incredible feelings that can change a moment in time when people sing. When people voice their opinions together in song, or at a meeting, or in a congress, there are moments that change everything. I remember walking down the street with Pete and half a million other people at the rallies in the 60s and the empowerment that people felt singing together, walking together, standing side-by-side. It changed my life, and it changed everyone’s life who was there, whether they became singers or writers or insurance brokers. Whatever they did in life, those feelings remain an integral part of who they are. They know what’s possible because they were there to feel it. That is the legacy Pete leaves me personally.

 

The above appeared AT

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More Tributes to Pete can be found

Here

Here

Here

And Here

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Without Pete Seeger, the state of our union is far worse today than it was yesterday.

 

ON THE UGLY SIDE OF THE WALL

Bill Fletcher Jr. – Traveling Through Palestine

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Bill

Bill Fletcher Jr.

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Last month, a small delegation of African American artists traveled through Israel and Palestine to get a firsthand look at the daily lives of Palestinians. What they saw shocked and angered them, and their eyewitness accounts are sure to spark debate here as heated as any confrontation in the Middle East. Bill Fletcher Jr., senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, led the delegation and shares his perspective on the region.

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On the Ugly Side of the Wall
By Bill Fletcher, Jr*

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2014-01-06 11.50.48

 

“It felt like being in a huge prison.” That was how I responded to questions I was asked after leading a delegation of African Americans on a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories this past January. Yes, there are other ways of describing the experience. The land is beautiful; the people are generous; and with every glance, one sees reminders of a history dating back thousands of years.

Yet the feeling one gets is of being imprisoned; of being vulnerable; of not knowing. This was what we felt as African American visitors to the Holy Land. The reality for Palestinians is far worse.

 

2014-01-06 11.38.14

 

At every turn, we never lost sight of the ignominious “separation wall”, as the Israeli government politely references it; the “apartheid wall”, as much of the rest of the world describes it. A wall with guard/sniper towers, running, not along the Green Line (the armistice line that was agreed upon in 1949), but through almost whatever terrain the Israelis choose. A wall that frequently separates Palestinian farmers from their own lands, making it next to impossible for them to consistently cultivate their crops.

My delegation and I found it both frightening and sadly familiar that the Palestinians have few rights that the Israeli authorities are bound to respect. Land has been seized—illegally—by the Israeli authorities, allegedly for security reasons, or sometimes, quite ironically, for archeological reasons! And it is never returned to the Palestinians; instead, it is turned over to Israeli settlers.

There are roads on which Palestinians cannot drive without special permission. We discovered this firsthand as we traveled with a Palestinian guide who needed a permit to use particular highways. But even with this permit, she had to exit our van at checkpoints and walk through, while our delegation was permitted to remain in our van during and after inspection.

 

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In the mainstream media, we have frequently heard or read about Palestinian terrorism or military actions. Yet, in our brief experience, we felt no unease or fear when we interacted with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding our interactions with Israeli soldiers. The young Israeli military men and women, frequently carrying automatic weapons, were quite full of themselves and felt no need to be polite to our delegation, let alone to the Palestinians. The Palestinians were treated with the sort of contempt one would expect to be experienced by a prison population.

Blink once, and you saw apartheid South Africa; blink twice, and you saw the Jim Crow South of the USA; blink three times, and you realized that you were not in the past, but in a very dangerous reality where an entire population is facing the prospect of perpetual marginalization and dispossession.

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*Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor, and global justice activist and writer. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us!’: And 20 Other Myths about Unions”. He recently traveled to Israel and Palestine with an African American fact-finding team. 

 

Source (including link to Talk Show)

THE BRAVE, AMAZING CHILDREN OF PALESTINE

Bless them all and may they soon see a FREE PALESTINE!

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Ahed Tamimi, a brave Palestinian girl

Ahed Tamimi, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who stood up to Israeli soldiers who had arrested her brother, was invited to Turkey by the Başakşehir Municipality as a guest of honor.

Ahed Tamimi and her mother Neriman Tamimi landed in Turkey yesterday at around two pm, arriving to Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight via Amman. Thirteen-year-old Tamimi and her mother were greeted by students with flowers and waving flags from a ‘knowledge center’ named after the late Cevdet Kılıçlar, who was killed on the Mavi Marmara.

While Ahed made the sign of victory to news reporters, students had arrived to the airport wearing t-shirts with images of the young girl standing up to Israeli soldiers.

Expressing how pleased she was to be in Turkey, Ahed Tamimi said, “I love Erdoğan very much. I feel very happy to be in Erdoğan’s homeland.” When asked to relay what happened with the Israeli soldiers, Ahed Tamimi stated, “I wasn’t scared of the Israeli soldiers. I let them feel the Palestinian spirit and fear.”

TAMIMI TO RECEIVE AWARD FOR COURAGE

While in Turkey, Ahed Tamimi will be the recipient of the Handala Courage Award handed out by the Başakşehir Municipality and will also participate in a panel on Palestine where she will provide a child’s perspective on the painful events happening in her nation.

Ahed Tamimi, whose father is already in prison, stood up to Israeli soldiers when they arrested her brother, in a display of courage talked about all over the world.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROSA PARKS

 

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Rosa is 104 today

Rosa

By Tom Karlson

She is supported  yes

Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mother Jones, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Lucy Parsons,

and la rage des oublies

She stands, then sits and fifty thousand walk

(three hundred and eighty days)

CNN wants us to believe

this small framed seamstress…chosen by god…mother of the civil rights movement… humble… meek…tired

YES TIRED of Jim Crow, racism, lynching

yes tired

but this is no stripped down fox-murdock retelling

her’s is no spur of the moment

forty-two years of forged steel

and three hundred years of chained ghosts

this is the time

of

Emmet Till

joe mccarthy-j edgar hoover

and the Highlander Center

where Marx and Gandhi sing songs of struggle

and students, auto workers, and coal miners

are schooled on integration, sit-ins, boycotts and strikes

as the NAACP and A Phillip Randolph fight for freedom

half a century later

Rosa lies in state

and brings honor to the Rotunda

a smile to the great liberator

(where twenty three years before j edgar was deposited briefly before burial)


ROGER WATERS KEEPS KNOCKING DOWN THE WALL

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has fiercely criticized Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson over her decision to endorse SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.

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Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters slams Scarlett Johansson over Israel

 Ali Abunimah
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Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011. (Wikipedia)

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Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has fiercely criticized Hollywood actress Scarlett Johanssonover her decision to endorse SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.

Waters writes that in his previous encounters with Johansson, the actress struck him as a “young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love.”

Now, the rock legend says that Johansson’s decision to quit her role with the charity Oxfamin order to represent occupation profiteer SodaStream “is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.”

He has also written privately to Johansson and to musician Neil Young urging them to respect the Palestinian call for the cultural and economic boycott of Israel.

The Canadian-born Young faces growing calls to cancel a scheduled performance in Tel Aviv this summer.

Waters – who has been an outspoken supporter of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) – made the statements in a note he posted on his Facebook page.

Here’s Waters’ note in full:

In the past days I have written privately to Neil Young (once) and to Scarlett Johanson (a couple of times). Those letters will remain private.

Sadly, I have received no reply from either.

And so I write this note on my Facebook page somewhat in bewilderment.

Neil? I shall ponder all of this long and hard. We don’t really know each other, but, you were always one of my heroes, I am confused.

Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett. I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There’s no fool like an old fool. A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of SodaStream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.

I would like to ask that younger Scarlett a question or two. Scarlett, just for one example, are you aware that the Israeli government has razed to the ground a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Southern Israel 63 times, the last time being on the 26th of December 2013. This village is the home to Bedouin. The Bedouin are, of course, Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship. Well, not quite full rights, because in “Democratic” Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.

I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws (they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space. But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and “Equal rights.” Really? Equal Rights? Do they?

Do they have the right to vote?

Do they have access to the roads?

Can they travel to their work place without waiting for hours to pass through the occupying forces control barriers?

Do they have clean drinking water?

Do they have sanitation?

Do they have citizenship?

Do they have the right not to have the standard issue kicking in their door in the middle of the night and taking their children away?

Do they have the right to appeal against arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment?

Do they have the right to re-occupy the property and homes they owned before 1948?

Do they have the right to an ordinary, decent human family life?

Do they have the right to self determination?

Do they have the right to continue to develop a cultural life that is ancient and profound?

If these questions put you in a quandary I can answer them for you. The answer is, NO, they do not.

The workers in The SodaStream Factory do not have any of these rights.

So, what are the “equal rights” of which you speak?

Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think SodaStream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.

Love
R.

Written FOR

INTERNATIONAL CARTOONISTS ENDORSE BOYCOTT OF SODASTREAM

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The letter comes as SodaStream increasingly is targeted by an international boycott due to the presence of its primary factory in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The day before, headlines were made when actress Scarlett Johansson ended her seven-year relationship with the charity OxFam over disagreements stemming from her role as a paid spokesperson for SodaStream.
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CARTOONISTS TO DIRECTOR OF ANGOULEME FESTIVAL: DROP SODASTREAM
Over forty cartoonists protest sponsorship by Israeli settlement manufacturer
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FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2014– Over forty cartoonists and illustrators from a dozen countries around the world released an open letter today to Franck Bondoux, director of the International Festival of Comics at Angoulême, asking the festival to drop its relationship with the Israeli drink manufacturer SodaStream.
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Among those signing the letter were French cartoonists Siné, Baudoin, Carali, and Chimulus, Americans Joe Sacco, Eric Drooker, Ben Katchor, Peter Kuper, Matt Madden, Seth Tobocman and Sue Coe, as well as Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, Lebanese Mazen Kerbaj, Sudanese Khalid Albaih, Tunisian Willis From Tunis, Israeli Amitai Sandy, Brazilian Carlos Latuff,Spanish Elchicotriste, Italian Gianluca Costantini, and many more.
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The letter comes as SodaStream increasingly is targeted by an international boycott due to the presence of its primary factory in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The day before, headlines were made when actress Scarlett Johansson ended her seven-year relationship with the charity OxFam over disagreements stemming from her role as a paid spokesperson for SodaStream.
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The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the largest in Europe, and the second-largest in the world. The announcement that it would be sponsored this year by SodaStream drew immediate condemnation from French activists.
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The full text of the letter and list of signatories follows:
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Lettre ouverte à / Open letter to:
           Monsieur Franck Bondoux
                 Direction du Festival international de la bande dessinée
                  71 rue Hergé
                  16000 Angoulême
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Nous, dessinatrices et dessinateurs de tous les pays, sommes surpris, déçus et en colère de découvrir que SodaStream est un sponsor officiel du Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême.
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Comme vous le savez sûrement, SodaStream est la cible d’un appel international au boycott, pour sa contribution à la colonisation de terres palestiniennes, avec son usine dans la colonie illégal de Ma’ale Adumim, son exploitation de travailleurs palestiniens, et son vol de ressources palestiniennes, en violation du droit international et des droits humains.
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Angoulême a joué un rôle important dans la prise en compte de la bande dessinée comme une forme d’art depuis 40 ans. Il serait triste que SodaStream profite de ce festival pour essayer d’effacer ses crimes.
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Nous vous demandons de couper tous les liens entre le Festival et cette entreprise honteuse.
Cordialement,
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We, cartoonists and illustrators from all countries, are surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
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As you must know, SodaStream is the target of an international boycott call for its contribution to the colonization of Palestinian land, due to its factory in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, its exploitation of Palestinian workers, and its theft of Palestinian resources, in violation of international law and contravening international principles of human rights.
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Angoulême has had an important role in the appreciation of comics as an art form for over 40 years. It would be sad if SodaStream were able to use this event to whitewash their crimes.
We ask you to cut all ties between the Festival and this shameful company.
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Sincerely,
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Khalid Albaih (Sudan)
Leila Abdelrazaq (USA)
Avoine (France)
Edd Baldry (UK/France)
Edmond Baudoin (France)
Steve Brodner (USA)
Berth (France)
Susie Cagle (USA)
Jennifer Camper (USA)
Carali (France)
Chimulus (France)
Gianluca Costantini (Italy)
Jean-Luc Coudray (France)
Philippe Coudray (France)
Marguerite Dabaie (USA)
Eric Drooker (USA)
Elchicotriste (Spain)
Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz (USA)
Ethan Heitner (USA)
Paula Hewitt Amram (USA)
Hatem Imam (Lebanon)
Jiho (France)
Ben Katchor (USA)
Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon)
Lolo Krokaga (France)
Nat Krokaga (France)
Peter Kuper (USA)
Carlos Latuff (Brazil)
Lasserpe (France)
Lerouge (France)
Matt Madden (USA/France)
Mric (France)
Barrack Rima (Lebanon/Belgium)
James Romberger (USA)
Puig Rosado (France)
Mohammad Saba’aneh (Palestine)
Joe Sacco (USA)
Malik Sajad (Kashmir)
Amitai Sandy (Israel)
Siné (France)
Seth Tobocman (USA)
Eli Valley (USA)
Willis From Tunis (Tunisie/France)
Jordan Worley (USA)
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Si vous êtes dessinateur et que vous voulez vous associer à cette lettre ouverte, merci d’écrire à:lettertoangouleme@gmail.com
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If you are a cartoonist and you want to endorse this open letter, please write to:lettertoangouleme@gmail.com

PALESTINIAN (CHECKPOINT) HIP-HOP

Up-and-coming Pittsburgh Emcee Jasiri X releases “Checkpoint,” a chilling music video documenting his experience visiting Palestine in 2014. The video features footage Jasiri himself captured of Israeli soldiers, as well as newsreel clips of IDF brutality against Palestinians and internationals. Watch closely, Ferrari Sheppard of Stop Being Famous has cameo in this powerful video.

Share and Enjoy.

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And here are the lyrics:

Journal of the hard times tales from the dark side
Evidence of the settlements on my hard drive
Man I swear my heart died at the end of that car ride
When I saw that checkpoint welcome to apartheid
Soldiers wear military green at the checkpoint
Automatic guns that’s machine at the checkpoint
Tavors not m16s at the checkpoint
Fingers on the trigger you’ll get leaned at the checkpoint
Little children grown adults or teens at the checkpoint
All ya papers better be clean at the checkpoint
You gotta but your finger on the screen at the checkpoint
And pray that red light turns green at the check point

If Martin Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint
He wake with loud screams from the scenes at the checkpoint
It’s Malcolm X by any means at the check point
Imagine if you daily routine was the checkpoint

Separation walls that’s surrounding the checkpoint
On top is barbwire like a crown on the checkpoint
Better have ya permits if your found at the checkpoint
Gunmen on the tower aiming down at the checkpoint
The idea is to keep you in fear of the checkpoint
You enter through the cage in the rear of the checkpoint
It feels like prison on a tier at the check point
I’d rather be anywhere but here at this checkpoint
Nelson Mandela wasn’t blind to the check point
He stood for free Palestine not a check point
Support BDS don’t give a dime to the checkpoint
This is international crime at the checkpoint
Arabs get treated like dogs at the checkpoint
Cause discrimination is the law at the checkpoint
Criminalized without a cause at the checkpoint
I’m just telling you what I saw at the checkpoint
Soldiers got bad attitudes at the checkpoint
Condescending and real rude at the checkpoint
Don’t look em in they eyes when they move at the checkpoint
They might strip a man or woman nude at the checkpoint
Soldiers might blow you out of ya shoes at the checkpoint
Gas you up and then light the fuse at the checkpoint
Everyday you stand to be accused at the checkpoint
Each time your life you could lose at the checkpoint

If Martin Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint
He wake with loud screams from the scenes at the checkpoint
It’s Malcolm X by any means at the check point
Imagine if you daily routine was the checkpoint

At the airport in Tel Aviv is a checkpoint
They pulled over our taxi at the checkpoint
Passport visa ID at the checkpoint
Soldiers going all through my things at the checkpoint
Said I was high risk security at the checkpoint
Because of the oppression I see at the checkpoint
Occupation in the 3rd degree at the checkpoint
All a nigga wanna do is leave fuck a checkpoint

Sheppard and Jasiri X were traveling together in Israel/Palestine on a delegation organized by the Carter Center of prominent African-American journalists and artists. You can read more about the trip on Sheppard’s site here, here’s an excerpt:

In Jerusalem, I witnessed great religious and ethnic diversity. I saw Arabs, Asians, Europeans, Africans, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Christians, all scrambling in Old City Jerusalem towards their various destinations. It was postcard worthy.

The variety of cultures in Jerusalem is outstanding. Similar to many societies however, Palestine-Israel presents a polished version of itself to tourists, where 5-star hotels in Tel Aviv and tourist attractions in Jerusalem cloak its brutal realities. The fact remains that our delegation was subject to a type of racism I’ve only experienced in the southern states of the United States of America. Of course, to a Jew or a middle class Palestinian living in Jerusalem or Nazareth, my observations may sound like exaggerations, but for the African migrant sleeping on the ground in South Tel Aviv, or for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, my evaluations are dead on.

The blatant, systemic subjugation and profiling of Arabs was most pronounced when our tour guide, a middle class Palestinian woman, was forced by IDF soldiers to exit our tour van and pass through a checkpoint on foot. As all Palestinians must do, she was told to place her thumb on a scanner to pass through a turn-style at a checkpoint. The members of our delegation were no exception to IDF scrutiny. The light skinned blacks in our delegation were interrogated and asked bluntly if they were Arab, and if not, what the last names of their fathers’ were.

Palestinians and progressive Israelis told our delegation story after story of the abuses and degradation they’ve suffered at the hands of Israeli settlers or soldiers, and we witnessed some of this treatment first hand. Along with the rampant home and land confiscation in the West Bank (in which settlers receive state subsidies), agricultural violence is on the rise, as settlers uproot and destroy the olive trees Palestinians rely on for income and nourishment. More sinisterly, public beatings, arrests and shootings are common, particularly in the West Bank. Without charges, a Palestinian can be imprisoned and held for months or years under administrative detention. The same law does not apply to Jewish Israelis. In fact, Israeli citizens can commit a range of crimes against Palestinians with near impunity.

 

Originally posted AT

TRIBUTES TO PETE SEEGER ~~ A TRUE PRINCE OF PEACE

A Prince that never abdicated his throne …
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From all sectors of the media tributes continue to pour in honouring this remarkable human being. His name was never a household word, but there are few houses where his music has not been heard at one time or another.
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His life spanned 2 World Wars, a depression, a Civil War in Spain, a Cold War, wars in Korea, Vietnam and in America itself …. BY AMERICANS! His music captured it all. He was truly a gift to the people of America and the world at large ….
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Following are some of the tributes that are worth mentioning  ….
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From the Jewish Telegraphic News Agency
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From The Forward
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An Appraisal in today’s New York Times was a pleasant surprise …
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Pete Seeger, a Folk Revivalist Who Used His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s

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The singer and champion of progressive causes died on Monday at 94. via Reuters
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Pete Seeger sang until his voice wore out, and then he kept on singing, decade upon decade. Mr. Seeger, who died on Monday at 94, sang for children, folk-music devotees, union members, civil-rights marchers, antiwar protesters, environmentalists and everyone else drawn to a repertoire that extended from ancient ballads to brand-new songs about every cause that moved him. But it wasn’t his own voice he wanted to hear. He wanted everyone to sing along.

Although Mr. Seeger summed up Vietnam-era frustration when he wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and created a lasting antiwar parable with “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” he wasn’t simply a protest singer or propagandist. Like his father, the musicologist Charles Seeger, and his colleague the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger was devoted to songs that had been passed on through generations of people singing and playing together. He was determined — in an era when recording was rarer and broadcasting limited — to get those songs heard and sung anew, lest they disappear.

That put him at the center of the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, in all its idealism, earnestness and contradictions. Collectors found songs that had archetypal resonance, sung in unpretty voices and played with regional quirks, and transcribed them to be learned from sheet music. The folk revival prized authenticity — the work song recorded in prison, the fiddle tune recorded on a back porch — and then diluted it as the making of amateur collegiate strum-alongs. Mr. Seeger and his fellow folk revivalists freely adapted old songs to new occasions, using durable old tunes to carry topical thoughts, speaking of a “folk tradition” of communal authorship and inevitable change. They would warp a song to preserve it. (In succeeding years, copyright problems could and did ensue.)

It was an era of purists generating the impure, and, sloppy or saccharine as it could be, it turned out well. Folk-revival ditties pointed their more dedicated listeners — particularly musicians — back to original versions, extending the reach of regional styles. The hootenanny movement spurred people to play music instead of passively consume it, and the noncommercial, do-it-yourself spirit — though not the sound of banjos and acoustic guitars — would resound in punk-rock, which had its own kind of protest songs.

Mr. Seeger in 1967, when the folk revival was developing into an antiwar movement. D.Steinberg/Associated Press

Even more important, the folk revival, with Mr. Seeger as one of its prime movers, introduced American pop to a different America: the one outside Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood, where a volunteer gospel choir could sing with more gumption than a studio chorus, and where a decades-old song about hard times could speak directly to the present. The folk revival reminded the pop world that songs could be about something more than romance — a notion that the revival’s greatest student and transformer, Bob Dylan, would run with. Mr. Seeger also learned and performed songs from abroad; there were folks there, too.

Mr. Seeger’s discography runs to dozens of albums: topical songs, Mother Goose rhymes, banjo instruction, African songs, lullabies, blues, Civil War songs, Spanish Civil War songs and far more. His canon was selective but not exclusive; he wanted all those songs to get more chances. His cultural mission was democratic.

In 2011, Pete Seeger, 92, joining Occupy Wall Street by marching from a concert at Symphony Space to Columbus Circle. Marcus Yam for The New York Times

His mission was political too, of course. In 2012, Mr. Seeger told aninterviewer on WNYC how he would like to be remembered: “He made up songs to try and persuade people to do something,” not just say something. As the 1940s began, he recorded songs reflecting the Communist party line; accusations of Communist Party affiliations got him questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted during the McCarthy era. More felicitously, Mr. Seeger recast traditional songs to rally unions, civil-rights groups, Vietnam War protesters and environmentalists. Mr. Seeger was a longtime mentor for topical songwriters. The best of his own songs, like the biblical “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reach for cycles and archetypes, not ephemeral complaints.

Pop tastes quickly turned away from the folk revival; the Beatles were more fun. In the 21st century, folky protest and topical songs have generally been shunted to the far sidelines. Although Bruce Springsteen has taken songs from Mr. Seeger’s repertory to arenas, social consciousness is now disseminated more widely through metal and hip-hop. Yet the plink of acoustic instruments is still a token of sincerity. The banjo has resurfaced in groups like Mumford & Sons, while fascination with the folk-revival era animates the Coen brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Yet Mr. Seeger wasn’t aiming for pop celebrity anyway. He had all the audiences he needed: at Carnegie Hall or at Barack Obama’s inauguration or at a local coffeehouse, in a high-school classroom or at a union meeting. He had the kindly demeanor of a favorite uncle and the encouraging tone of a secular preacher as he picked his banjo and taught another chorus to yet another audience, beaming as the singalong grew louder and more confident, turning one more group of folks into a community.

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Here is my own tribute to this great man which was posted yesterday.

A SAD DAY FOR HUMANITY AS PETE SEEGER TAKES HIS LEAVE OF US

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Pete Seeger, a personal friend and comrade died yesterday at the age of 94, just months after the passing of his wife of 70 years, Toshi.

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Despite his advanced age, he did not live long enough to see the free world that he envisioned throughout his active political life.

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He was more than just a Folk Singer, he was a singer for the folk. Those of us that had the opportunity and blessing of knowing him will miss him dearly. His legacy and music will live on for eternity which will ease our sorrow a bit, and will serve as a  continual reminder that his work is undone and we must continue with it.

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MAY HE REST IN PEACE IN A WORLD AT PEACE

Bella Ciao Dear Comrade

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The New York Times published the following obituary today … (including photos)

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Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

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Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.

His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.

Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew the songs on his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” from Mr. Seeger’s repertoire of traditional music about a turbulent American experience, and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural. At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”

Although he recorded more than 100 albums, Mr. Seeger distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom. He invariably tried to use his celebrity to bring attention and contributions to the causes that moved him, or to the traditional songs he wanted to preserve.

Mr. Seeger saw himself as part of a continuing folk tradition, constantly recycling and revising music that had been honed by time.

During the McCarthy era Mr. Seeger’s political affiliations, including membership in the Communist Party in the 1940s, led to his being blacklisted and later indicted for contempt of Congress. The pressure broke up the Weavers, and Mr. Seeger disappeared from television until the late 1960s. But he never stopped recording, performing and listening to songs from ordinary people. Through the decades, his songs have become part of America’s folklore.

“My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

Peter Seeger was born on May 3, 1919, to Charles Seeger, a musicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, a concert violinist. His parents later divorced.

He began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a private boarding school in Connecticut. His father and his stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, were collecting and transcribing rural American folk music, as were folklorists like John and Alan Lomax. He heard the five-string banjo, which would become his main instrument, when his father took him to a square-dance festival in North Carolina.

Young Pete became enthralled by rural traditions. “I liked the strident vocal tone of the singers, the vigorous dancing,” he is quoted in “How Can I Keep From Singing,” a biography by David Dunaway. “The words of the songs had all the meat of life in them. Their humor had a bite, it was not trivial. Their tragedy was real, not sentimental.”

Planning to be a journalist, Mr. Seeger attended Harvard, where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. After two years, he dropped out and came to New York City, where Mr. Lomax introduced him to the blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly. Mr. Lomax also helped Mr. Seeger find a job cataloging and transcribing music at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.

Mr. Seeger met Mr. Guthrie, a songwriter who shared his love of vernacular music and agitprop ambitions, in 1940, when they performed at a benefit concert for migrant California workers. Traveling across the United States with Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Seeger picked up some of his style and repertory. He also hitchhiked and hopped freight trains by himself, trading and learning songs.

When he returned to New York later in 1940, Mr. Seeger made his first albums. He, Millard Lampell and Mr. Hays founded the Almanac Singers, who performed union songs and, until Germany invaded the Soviet Union, antiwar songs, following the Communist Party line. Mr. Guthrie soon joined the group.

During World War II the Almanac Singers’s repertory turned to patriotic, antifascist songs, bringing them a broad audience, including a prime-time national radio spot. But the group’s earlier antiwar songs, the target of an F.B.I. investigation, came to light, and the group’s career plummeted.

Before the group completely dissolved, however, Mr. Seeger was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a unit of performers. He married Toshi-Aline Ohta while on furlough in 1943.

When he returned from the war he founded People’s Songs Inc., which published political songs and presented concerts for several years before going bankrupt. He also started his nightclub career, performing at the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village. Mr. Seeger and Paul Robeson toured with the campaign of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate, in 1948.

Mr. Seeger invested $1,700 in 17 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River in Beacon and began building a log cabin there in the late 1940s. In 1949, Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman started working together as the Weavers. They were signed to Decca Records by Gordon Jenkins, the company’s music director and an arranger for Frank Sinatra. With Mr. Jenkins’s elaborate orchestral arrangements, the group recorded a repertoire that stretched from “If I Had a Hammer” to a South African song, “Wimoweh” (the title was Mr. Seeger’s mishearing of “Mbube,” the name of a South African hit by Solomon Linda), to an Israeli soldiers’ song, “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” to a cleaned-up version of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene.” Onstage, they also sang more pointed topical songs.

In 1950 and 1951 the Weavers were national stars, with hit singles and engagements at major nightclubs. Their hits included “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Mr. Guthrie’s “So Long (It’s Been Good to Know Yuh),” and they sold an estimated four million singles and albums.

But “Red Channels,” an influential pamphlet listing performers with suspected Communist ties, appeared in June 1950 and listed Mr. Seeger, although by then he had quit the Communist Party. He would later criticize himself for having not left the party sooner, though he continued to describe himself as a “communist with a small ‘c.’ ”

Despite the Weavers’ commercial success, by the summer of 1951 the “Red Channels” citation and leaks from F.B.I. files had led to the cancellation of television appearances. In 1951, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee investigated the Weavers for sedition. And in February 1952, a former member of People’s Songs testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that three of the four Weavers were members of the Communist Party.

As engagements dried up the Weavers disbanded, though they reunited periodically in the mid-1950s. After the group recorded an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes, Mr. Seeger left, citing his objection to promoting tobacco use.

Shut out of national exposure, Mr. Seeger returned primarily to solo concerts, touring college coffeehouses, churches, schools and summer camps, building an audience for folk music among young people. He started to write a long-running column for the folk-song magazine Sing Out! And he recorded prolifically for the independent Folkways label, singing everything from children’s songs to Spanish Civil War anthems.

In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.

Mr. Seeger was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress. He was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison, but the next year an appeals court dismissed the indictment as faulty. After the indictment, Mr. Seeger’s concerts were often picketed by the John Birch Society and other rightist groups. “All those protests did was sell tickets and get me free publicity,” he later said. “The more they protested, the bigger the audiences became.”

By then, the folk revival was prospering. In 1959, Mr. Seeger was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival. The Kingston Trio’s version of Mr. Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reached the Top 40 in 1962, soon followed by Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of “If I Had a Hammer,” which rose to the Top 10.

Mr. Seeger was signed to a major label, Columbia Records, in 1961, but he remained unwelcome on network television. “Hootenanny,” an early-1960s show on ABC that capitalized on the folk revival, refused to book Mr. Seeger, causing other performers (including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary) to boycott it. “Hootenanny” eventually offered to present Mr. Seeger if he would sign a loyalty oath. He refused.

He toured the world, performing and collecting folk songs, in 1963, and returned to serenade civil rights advocates, who had made a rallying song of his “We Shall Overcome.”

Like many of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “We Shall Overcome” had convoluted traditional roots. It was based on old gospel songs, primarily “I’ll Overcome,” a hymn that striking tobacco workers had sung on a picket line in South Carolina. A slower version, “We Will Overcome,” was collected from one of the workers, Lucille Simmons, by Zilphia Horton, the musical director of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., which trained union organizers.

Ms. Horton taught it to Mr. Seeger, and her version of “We Will Overcome” was published in the People’s Songs newsletter. Mr. Seeger changed “We will” to “We shall” and added verses (“We’ll walk hand in hand”). He taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton, who would join the Weavers in 1962, and Guy Carawan, who became musical director at Highlander in the ‘50s. Mr. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention.

The song was copyrighted by Mr. Seeger, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Carawan and Ms. Horton. “At that time we didn’t know Lucille Simmons’s name,” Mr. Seeger wrote in his 1993 autobiography, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” All of the song’s royalties go to the “We Shall Overcome” Fund, administered by what is now the Highlander Research and Education Center, which provides grants to African-Americans organizing in the South.

Along with many elders of the protest-song movement, Mr. Seeger felt betrayed when Bob Dylan appeared at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a loud electric blues band. Reports emerged that Mr. Seeger had tried to cut the power cable with an ax, but witnesses including the producer George Wein and the festival’s production manager, Joe Boyd (later a leading folk-rock record producer), said he did not go that far. (An ax was available, however. A group of prisoners had used it while singing a logging song.)

As the United States grew divided over the Vietnam War, Mr. Seeger wrote “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an antiwar song with the refrain “The big fool says to push on.” He performed the song during a taping of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in September 1967, his return to network television, but it was cut before the show was broadcast. After the Smothers Brothers publicized the censorship, Mr. Seeger returned to perform the song for broadcast in February 1968.

During the late 1960s Mr. Seeger started an improbable project: a sailing ship that would crusade for cleaner water on the Hudson River. Between other benefit concerts he raised money to build the Clearwater, a 106-foot sloop that was launched in June 1969 with a crew of musicians. The ship became a symbol and a rallying point for antipollution efforts and education.

In May 2009, after decades of litigation and environmental activism led by Mr. Seeger’s nonprofit environmental organization, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, General Electric began dredging sediment containing PCBs it had dumped into the Hudson. Mr. Seeger and his wife also helped organize a yearly summer folk festival named after the Clearwater.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s Mr. Seeger toured regularly with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, and continued to lead singalongs and perform benefit concerts. Recognition and awards arrived. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1993 he was given a lifetime achievement Grammy Award. In 1994, President Bill Clinton handed him the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest arts honor, given by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1999, he traveled to Cuba to receive the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest cultural award, for his “humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism.”

In 1996, Mr. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” reached No. 1, only to add, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.” Mr. Seeger made no acceptance speech, but he did lead a singalong of “Goodnight, Irene,” flanked by Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and members of the Jefferson Airplane.

Mr. Seeger won Grammy Awards for best traditional folk album in 1997, for the album “Pete,” and in 2009, for the album “At 89.” He also won a Grammy in the children’s music category in 2011 for “Tomorrow’s Children.”

Mr. Seeger kept performing into the 21st century, despite a flagging voice; audiences happily sang along more loudly. He celebrated his 90th birthday, on May 3, 2009, at a Madison Square Garden concert — a benefit for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater — with Mr. Springsteen, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Emmylou Harris and dozens of other musicians paying tribute. In August he was back in Newport for the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.

Mr. Seeger’s wife, Toshi, died in 2013, days before the couple’s 70th anniversary. Survivors include his son, Daniel; his daughters, Mika and Tinya; a half-sister, Peggy; and six grandchildren, including the musician Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, who performed with him at the Obama inaugural. His half-brother Mike Seeger, a folklorist and performer who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009.

Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

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Another tribute can be read HERE

ISRAELI LEADERS FEEL THREATENED BY THE BOYCOTT

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It’s clear that where the so-called “international community” of governments has done nothing but coddle and appease Israel, international grassroots activism is at last making its most intransigent and racist leaders feel some pressure.

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Boycott “greatest threat” facing Israel, leaders say

 Ali Abunimah

Tzipi Livni (left), says Israel is living in a “bubble.” (Matty Stern / US Embassy Tel Aviv)

While Israeli hasbara (propaganda) initiatives continue to bravely deny that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is having any impact, two statements from prominent politicians indicate otherwise.

Israeli justice minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the moribund negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, told a conference last week that Israel was living in a “bubble.”

Boycott advancing “exponentially”

“Livni said that a country usually only finds out the cost of living in a bubble after it bursts, such as in the case of South Africa,” Ynet reported.

Noting that there was a growing international movement focused particularly on boycotting Israel’s illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, Livni warned, “It won’t end there. The boycott is moving and advancing uniformly and exponentially … Those who don’t want to see it, will end up feeling it.”

Livni said that Israel was turning itself into “a lone settlement in the world.”

“Greatest threat”

Livni nominally supports a “two-state solution,” including the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel to a Palestinian bantustan in a fraction of the West Bank.

But at the other side of Israel’s extremely narrow political spectrum, there is agreement about the threat of BDS.

Ayelet Shaked, chair of the Habayit Hayehudi party, warned that a “two-state solution” would be “national suicide,” The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday.

Habayit Hayehudi, with 12 seats in parliament and a member of the ruling coalition, calls for outright annexation of the entire West Bank.

Shaked called “for an Israeli response to the cultural and academic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, saying it was the greatest threat faced by the country,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

It’s clear that where the so-called “international community” of governments has done nothing but coddle and appease Israel, international grassroots activism is at last making its most intransigent and racist leaders feel some pressure.

 

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