Gideon Levy at his best ….


Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.


Shalom, ‘Oslo criminal.’ Late diplomat Ron Pundak was a peace hero

Alas, this great diplomat is now a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the peace process is set to give up the ghost.

By Gideon Levy

Ron Pundak.

Ron Pundak. Photo by Nir Keidar

He was an “Oslo criminal,” perhaps the “Oslo criminal.” In a country where war criminals are heroes and peace heroes are criminals, Ron Pundak was a different sort of hero.

With the exception of Uri Avnery, who at 90 has just published the first part of his fascinating Hebrew-language autobiography — “Optimistic,” he titled it — Pundak was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. He was an incorrigible optimist where peace was concerned, and no less an optimist about his long, cursed illness. A man full of hope who is no more.

Pundak was the youngest, and nearly the last, of the believers in peace. After him, the abyss. He wanted peace for peace’s sake, without pathos or guilt. Simply peace.

He wasn’t anti-Israel; he was a Zionist and a lover of Israel. He wasn’t an Arab-lover; he was clearheaded, one of the last few who still met with Arabs and saw them as equal human beings. Nor was he a romantic.

His dreams were realistic, even if they fit a reality much saner than the crazy one we’ve created here. Pundak didn’t miss a single initiative. He came to peace from a very patriotic place. The fire that burned in his soul was ignited not by injustice to the Palestinians but by the future of the country he loved and that never repaid him for his labors.

Fire? Pundak was a cool man, as befits someone who grew up in a Nordic home, a Scandinavian-Israeli. His father Herbert (later Nahum) was perhaps the only journalist in history to be the editor of two newspapers in two countries at the same time — Denmark’s Politiken and Israel’s Davar Hashavua. (And he also worked for the Mossad at one point.)

He and his wife Susie have now lost their second son. Their eldest, Uri, the great hope of Tel Aviv’s Ironi Aleph High School graduating class of 1970, died in the Yom Kippur War.

I remember Ron on the beach of the legendary Sinai resort Aqua Sun, another province of dreams that is no more. Only once did he join his sister Michal and the special group that vacationed there regularly. Not once during his stay did he take off his safari jacket or obligatory moccasins.

Ron didn’t like the sun and sand. Maybe it was no coincidence that two of the main Oslo architects, Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld, of Danish and Austrian descent, respectively, weren’t your typical backslapping Israelis.

Something went wrong with their Oslo. To his dying day, Pundak remained convinced that the problem was the execution, not the plan or vision. In his Hebrew-language book “Secret Channel” — like another work he published in 2013 presumably knowing his days were numbered — he describes the incredible, rocky path that he, Hirschfeld, Yossi Beilin, Uri Savir and a handful of others traversed on their way to Oslo. It was from there to the White House Rose Garden for the signing ceremony, to which Pundak was not invited.

Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.

Once, at a modest birthday celebration that Beilin held for Shimon Peres in his home, in a corner near the stairs, Ron sat on the floor — pale, bald, weak and clearly in pain. Even then he didn’t complain. I’ll never forget that sight. On April 11, 2013, one year before his death, Ron, with chilling precision, texted me: “Your op-ed should have been the front-page lead.” The op-ed was titled “A letter from a ghost.”

Now Ron is dead, a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the moribund peace process is set to give up the ghost. The man who wrote in his book, without even a touch of cynicism or desperation, “Fundamentally, the chance for a peace agreement remains,” would surely find fragments of hope even in these dark days. Now Ron won’t speak either. No one will speak of peace in Israel anymore.



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


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


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


More Tributes to Pete can be found




And Here


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



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


Moving Tribute from Pete’s sister Peggy Seeger
Woody Guthrie’s declaration about songs that tear people down, and songs that give people strength. Studs Terkel with Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, and Fred Hellerman. An excerpt from a 1976 PBS tribute to Woody Guthrie.
Harry Belafonte and Arlo Guthrie induct Pete Seeger into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
With Pete and children, it was always one young soul to another … decade after decade. In this song, one young hero helps to defeat a giant that threatens the whole village.
Click HERE for more musical tributes


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


Pete Seeger, 1919 – 2014

 By Nima Shirazi
“A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for.

The great Pete Seeger has passed away at the age of 94.

Obituaries recounting his activism and folk singing, his moral strength and indelible contributions to not only American folk music, but the struggles for civil rights, equality, peace and justice, are now everywhere. He sang for freedom; he sang for labor; he sang for the oppressed, he sang for the land and the air and water; he sang for the tired and poor. He sang about dangers and he sang out warnings. He sang out love. He sang for you and me.

Reflecting on his life and career during an interview in 2010, Seeger said, “The most important thing is that I did not want to become rich, not become a part of the establishment.”

I share a hometown with Seeger; we were born and raised on the banks of the same river. I’ve had the privilege of wading waist-deep in the mud and pulling weedsalongside him in the shallows of the Hudson. I have sailed on the sloop Clearwater and have sung with him around a campfire. For this, I consider myself lucky. And today I am sad.

The twang of Pete Seeger’s five-string banjo and the tremble in his unmistakable voice – the People’s voice – taught me not to study war and told me we were not alone and not afraid. He told me to take it easy, but take it. And I learned from Pete that we shall overcome. Someday.

I can think of no better tribute to him – consistent champion of the ninety-nine percent, a true American hero walking that freedom highway – than to let his own words speak for themselves, words not found in his music, but rather on the floor of the United States government’s House Un-American Activities Committee on August 18, 1955. The text is below.

Subpoenaed to testify during the dark days of McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunts, he refused to invoke the Fifth Amendment, instead chastising Fascistic Congressmen for their loathsome line of questioning. He never named names. He was blacklisted, found in contempt and held his head high. His testimony is a damning indictment of power and fear and an inspiration to those who refuse to remain silent in the face of injustice, of greed, of hatred, and of violence.

“I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody,” he told the committee.

“Singing is my business,” he said.

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

RIP, Pete. Take it easy, we’ll take it from here.

Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955

. . . Mr. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from theDaily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight—Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

Mr. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from theNew York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

Mr. TAVENNER: I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.

Mr. SCHERER: He hasn’t answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn’t answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.

Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer.

Mr. SEEGER: Sir, the whole line of questioning—

Chairman WALTER: You have only been asked one question, so far.

Mr. SEEGER: 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. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

Mr. TAVENNER: Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?

Chairman WALTER: He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.

Mr. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

Mr. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

Mr. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

Chairman WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

Mr. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.

Chairman WALTER: What is your answer?

Mr. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel—

Chairman WALTER: What is your answer?

Mr. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

Chairman WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

Mr. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

Chairman WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.

Mr. SCHERER: I think that there must be a direction to answer.

Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.

Mr. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.

Mr. SCHERER: Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?

Mr. SEEGER: No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.

Mr. SCHERER: And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?

Mr. SEEGER: No, I am not, sir. . . .

Mr. TAVENNER: You said that you would tell us about the songs. Did you participate in a program at Wingdale Lodge in the State of New York, which is a summer camp for adults and children, on the weekend of July Fourth of this year?

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. SEEGER: Again, I say I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business.

Mr. TAVENNER: I am going to ask you.

Mr. SEEGER: But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.

Mr. TAVENNER: Did you sing this song, to which we have referred, “Now Is the Time,” at Wingdale Lodge on the weekend of July Fourth?

Mr. SEEGER: I don’t know any song by that name, and I know a song with a similar name. It is called “Wasn’t That a Time.” Is that the song?

Chairman WALTER: Did you sing that song?

Mr. SEEGER: I can sing it. I don’t know how well I can do it without my banjo.

Chairman WALTER: I said, Did you sing it on that occasion?

Mr. SEEGER: I have sung that song. I am not going to go into where I have sung it. I have sung it many places.

Chairman WALTER: Did you sing it on this particular occasion? That is what you are being asked.

Mr. SEEGER: Again my answer is the same.

Chairman WALTER: You said that you would tell us about it.

Mr. SEEGER: I will tell you about the songs, but I am not going to tell you or try to explain—

Chairman WALTER: I direct you to answer the question. Did you sing this particular song on the Fourth of July at Wingdale Lodge in New York?

Mr. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer to that question, and all questions such as that. I feel that is improper: to ask about my associations and opinions. I have said that I would be voluntarily glad to tell you any song, or what I have done in my life.

Chairman WALTER: I think it is my duty to inform you that we don’t accept this answer and the others, and I give you an opportunity now to answer these questions, particularly the last one.

Mr. SEEGER: Sir, my answer is always the same.

Chairman WALTER: All right, go ahead, Mr. Tavenner.

Mr. TAVENNER: Were you chosen by Mr. Elliott Sullivan to take part in the program on the weekend of July Fourth at Wingdale Lodge?

Mr. SEEGER: The answer is the same, sir.

Mr. WILLIS: Was that the occasion of the satire on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

Mr. TAVENNER: The same occasion, yes, sir. I have before me a photostatic copy of a page from the June 1, 1949, issue of the Daily Worker, and in a column entitled “Town Talk” there is found this statement:

The first performance of a new song, “If I Had a Hammer,” on the theme of the Foley Square trial of the Communist leaders, will be given at a testimonial dinner for the 12 on Friday night at St. Nicholas Arena. . . . Among those on hand for the singing will be . . . Pete Seeger, and Lee Hays . . . and others whose names are mentioned. Did you take part in that performance?

Mr. SEEGER: I shall be glad to answer about the song, sir, and I am not interested in carrying on the line of questioning about where I have sung any songs.

Mr. TAVENNER: I ask a direction.

Chairman WALTER: You may not be interested, but we are, however. I direct you to answer. You can answer that question.

Mr. SEEGER: I feel these questions are improper, sir, and I feel they are immoral to ask any American this kind of question.

Mr. TAVENNER: Have you finished your answer?

Mr. SEEGER: Yes, sir. . . .

Mr. TAVENNER: Did you hear Mr. George Hall’s testimony yesterday in which he stated that, as an actor, the special contribution that he was expected to make to the Communist Party was to use his talents by entertaining at Communist Party functions? Did you hear that testimony?

Mr. SEEGER: I didn’t hear it, no.

Mr. TAVENNER: It is a fact that he so testified. I want to know whether or not you were engaged in a similar type of service to the Communist Party in entertaining at these features.

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. SEEGER: I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. That is the only answer I can give along that line.

Chairman WALTER: Mr. Tavenner, are you getting around to that letter? There was a letter introduced yesterday that I think was of greater importance than any bit of evidence adduced at these hearings, concerning the attempt made to influence people in this professional performers’ guild and union to assist a purely Communist cause which had no relation whatsoever to the arts and the theater. Is that what you are leading up to?

Mr. TAVENNER: Yes, it is. That was the letter of Peter Lawrence, which I questioned him about yesterday. That related to the trial of the Smith Act defendants here at Foley Square. I am trying to inquire now whether this witness was party to the same type of propaganda effort by the Communist Party.

Mr. SCHERER: There has been no answer to your last question.

Mr. TAVENNER: That is right; may I have a direction?

Mr. SEEGER: Would you repeat the question? I don’t even know what the last question was, and I thought I have answered all of them up to now.

Mr. TAVENNER: What you stated was not in response to the question.

Chairman WALTER: Proceed with the questioning, Mr. Tavenner.

Mr. TAVENNER: I believe, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will have the question read to him. I think it should be put in exactly the same form.

(Whereupon the reporter read the pending question as above recorded.)

Mr. SEEGER: “These features”: what do you mean? Except for the answer I have already given you, I have no answer. The answer I gave you you have, don’t you? That is, that I am proud that I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I have never refused to sing for anybody because I disagreed with their political opinion, and I am proud of the fact that my songs seem to cut across and find perhaps a unifying thing, basic humanity, and that is why I would love to be able to tell you about these songs, because I feel that you would agree with me more, sir. I know many beautiful songs from your home county, Carbon, and Monroe, and I hitchhiked through there and stayed in the homes of miners.

Mr. TAVENNER: My question was whether or not you sang at these functions of the Communist Party. You have answered it inferentially, and if I understand your answer, you are saying you did.

Mr. SEEGER: Except for that answer, I decline to answer further. . . .

Mr. SCHERER: Do you understand it is the feeling of the Committee that you are in contempt as a result of the position you take?

Mr. SEEGER: I can’t say.

Mr. SCHERER: I am telling you that that is the position of the Committee. . . .

Mr. SEEGER: I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them….

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area (Entertainment): Hearings, 84th Congress, August 18, 1955

Written FOR



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.


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


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.



Bella Ciao Dear Comrade



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


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


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.”


Another tribute can be read HERE


Shulamit Aloni died on Friday at the age of 86. She was a rebel within zion, a former lawmaker, always a friend of Palestine and one of Israel’s greatest advocates of Peace. She will be missed and her memory will forever be cherished by those who shared her values.


cry aloud


Former political allies and opponents alike lauded her on Friday as a boundary-breaking pioneer for peace, “a moral compass,” “a special breed,” “an inspiration for all women” and a “pillar of fire.”


From a Democracy Now interview …


Her obituary from today’s New York Times ….


Shulamit Aloni, Outspoken Israeli Lawmaker, Dies at 86



Shulamit Aloni, a longtime left-wing Israeli minister and Parliament member who was an early champion of civil liberties, challenger of religious hegemony and outspoken opponent of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, died Friday at her home in Kfar Shmaryahu, a Tel Aviv suburb. She was 86.

One of her sons, Nimrod, said she had not been seriously ill, “just very old.”

Mrs. Aloni, an elected lawmaker for 28 years, was the author of six books, including one of Israel’s earliest texts on civics. She was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 2000 “for her struggle to right injustices and for raising the standard of equality.”

In 2008, at age 80, she published  “Israel: Democracy or Ethnocracy?” a harsh assessment of her homeland. She wrote on the cover, “The state is returning to the ghetto, to Orthodox Judaism, and the rule of the fundamentalist rabbinate is becoming more profound.”

Reuven Rivlin, a Parliament member from the conservative Likud Party, described Mrs. Aloni on Friday as “the last politician in her generation who said what she thought.” But her outspokenness also made for problems.

In 1992, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin rebuked her for questioning the biblical version of Creation and speaking in the same breath of the Hebrew matriarch Rachel and the prostitute Rahav. The next year, after Mrs. Aloni’s challenging of religious political leaders provoked a coalition crisis, Rabin demoted her from education minister to minister of communications and science and technology.

After Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994, she was among the first to call for the expulsion of hundreds of Jewish settlers from the West Bank city of Hebron. She also said that high school trips to Holocaust sites were turning Israeli youths into xenophobes, and she incited outrage by holding official meetings abroad in nonkosher restaurants.

Former political allies and opponents alike lauded her on Friday as a boundary-breaking pioneer for peace, “a moral compass,” “a special breed,” “an inspiration for all women” and a “pillar of fire.”

“It was impossible not to admire such a combative woman who fought for what she believed in and was prepared to pay the price,” said Geula Cohen, who founded a right-wing faction and frequently faced off with her in Parliament.

Yossi Sarid, who in 1996 successfully challenged Mrs. Aloni for leadership of the far-left Meretz Party, called her “a phenomenon” who feared “absolutely nothing.”

“How did we first become acquainted with civil rights? How did we first discover the occupation?” Mr. Sarid, now a political analyst, asked rhetorically Friday morning on Israel Radio. “She wanted to change the national and social agenda, and she did so, on her own, by virtue of her own capabilities, and attained great and unparalleled achievements.”

Although some sources say she was 85, her son Nimrod said she was 86 and was born in December 1927. Born Shulamit Adler in Tel Aviv to Polish immigrant parents, she fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

She started her political career with the Labor-Alignment faction, then helped create the Citizens’ Rights Movement and, later, Meretz. She was married for 36 years to Reuven Aloni, who died in 1988. She is survived by their three sons, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her death was a reminder of the decline of the left among Jews in Israel. Labor’s last prime minister was Ehud Barak in 2001, and Labor and Meretz combined hold 21 of Parliament’s 120 seats today. When Mrs. Aloni left elected office, they had 56.

“The pillar of fire has been extinguished,” the advocacy group Peace Now lamented in a statement.





The Empire State Building lit in the colors of the South African Flag to observe the passing of Nelson Mandela, New York City, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.AP



A man holds up candles to a mural in Harlem depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela on Dec. 5, 2013. (credit: Getty Images)


People Around The World React To News Of Nelson Mandela's Death

The marquee at the historic Apollo Theater announces the death of former South African President and civil rights champion Nelson Mandela, on December 5, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff



The very powers that ardently support Israel’s apartheid state are the ones shedding the most crocodile tears at the passing of Nelson Mandela. Where were their tears and support when he sat in prison for 27 years? Where are their tears for the thousands of Palestinians who perished under Israel’s occupation of their land?


The Obamas

The Harpers

The Camerons

Even The Royal Family …..

See THIS report to see who else

Their tears are literally dropping on the checks they are sending in support of Israeli apartheid …..


Hypocrisy  at its greatest.


Don’t miss this post from last night


As he sat in prison he dreamt of seeing the end of apartheid both in South Africa and Israel. Half of the dream has been fulfilled.


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos  Latuff


After 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl (Cap Town), South Africa. The event was broadcast live all over the world.
‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’



11 February 1990

Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans.

I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.

I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.

On this day of my release, I extend my sincere and warmest gratitude to the millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who have campaigned tirelessly for my release.

I send special greetings to the people of Cape Town, this city which has been my home for three decades. Your mass marches and other forms of struggle have served as a constant source of strength to all political prisoners.

I salute the African National Congress. It has fulfilled our every expectation in its role as leader of the great march to freedom.

I salute our President, Comrade Oliver Tambo, for leading the ANC even under the most difficult circumstances.

I salute the rank and file members of the ANC. You have sacrificed life and limb in the pursuit of the noble cause of our struggle.

I salute combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe, like Solomon Mahlangu and Ashley Kriel who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom of all South Africans.

I salute the South African Communist Party for its sterling contribution to the struggle for democracy. You have survived 40 years of unrelenting persecution. The memory of great communists like Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and Moses Mabhida will be cherished for generations to come.

I salute General Secretary Joe Slovo, one of our finest patriots. We are heartened by the fact that the alliance between ourselves and the Party remains as strong as it always was.

I salute the United Democratic Front, the National Education Crisis Committee, the South African Youth Congress, the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congresses and COSATU and the many other formations of the Mass Democratic Movement.

I also salute the Black Sash and the National Union of South African Students. We note with pride that you have acted as the conscience of white South Africa. Even during the darkest days in the history of our struggle you held the flag of liberty high. The large-scale mass mobilisation of the past few years is one of the key factors which led to the opening of the final chapter of our struggle.

I extend my greetings to the working class of our country. Your organised strength is the pride of our movement. You remain the most dependable force in the struggle to end exploitation and oppression.

I pay tribute to the many religious communities who carried the campaign for justice forward when the organisations for our people were silenced.

I greet the traditional leaders of our country – many of you continue to walk in the footsteps of great heroes like Hintsa and Sekhukune.

I pay tribute to the endless heroism of youth, you, the young lions. You, the young lions, have energised our entire struggle.

I pay tribute to the mothers and wives and sisters of our nation. You are the rock-hard foundation of our struggle. Apartheid has inflicted more pain on you than on anyone else.

On this occasion, we thank the world community for their great contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. Without your support our struggle would not have reached this advanced stage. The sacrifice of the frontline states will be remembered by South Africans forever.

My salutations would be incomplete without expressing my deep appreciation for the strength given to me during my long and lonely years in prison by my beloved wife and family. I am convinced that your pain and suffering was far greater than my own.

Before I go any further I wish to make the point that I intend making only a few preliminary comments at this stage. I will make a more complete statement only after I have had the opportunity to consult with my comrades.

Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organisation and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy. The destruction caused by apartheid on our sub-continent is in- calculable. The fabric of family life of millions of my people has been shattered. Millions are homeless and unemployed. Our economy lies in ruins and our people are embroiled in political strife. Our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement will be created soon so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle.

I am a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress. I am therefore in full agreement with all of its objectives, strategies and tactics.

The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. No individual leader is able to take on this enormous task on his own. It is our task as leaders to place our views before our organisation and to allow the democratic structures to decide. On the question of democratic practice, I feel duty bound to make the point that a leader of the movement is a person who has been democratically elected at a national conference. This is a principle which must be upheld without any exceptions.

Today, I wish to report to you that my talks with the government have been aimed at normalising the political situation in the country. We have not as yet begun discussing the basic demands of the struggle. I wish to stress that I myself have at no time entered into negotiations about the future of our country except to insist on a meeting between the ANC and the government.

Mr. De Klerk has gone further than any other Nationalist president in taking real steps to normalise the situation. However, there are further steps as outlined in the Harare Declaration that have to be met before negotiations on the basic demands of our people can begin. I reiterate our call for, inter alia, the immediate ending of the State of Emergency and the freeing of all, and not only some, political prisoners. Only such a normalised situation, which allows for free political activity, can allow us to consult our people in order to obtain a mandate.

The people need to be consulted on who will negotiate and on the content of such negotiations. Negotiations cannot take place above the heads or behind the backs of our people. It is our belief that the future of our country can only be determined by a body which is democratically elected on a non-racial basis. Negotiations on the dismantling of apartheid will have to address the over- whelming demand of our people for a democratic, non-racial and unitary South Africa. There must be an end to white monopoly on political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratised.

It must be added that Mr. De Klerk himself is a man of integrity who is acutely aware of the dangers of a public figure not honouring his undertakings. But as an organisation we base our policy and strategy on the harsh reality we are faced with. And this reality is that we are still suffering under the policy of the Nationalist government.

Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.

It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured. We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid.

Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters’ role in a united democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.

In conclusion I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are true today as they were then:

‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’



Yesterday was 50th anniversary of the bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed the 4 little girls. Angela Davis made a good speech on the occasion saying that , in part, we are still using bombs so resolve situations that we don’t like and that racists, homophobics, zenophobics, etc are as violent today as 50 years ago.




Angela Davis Looks Back at the 16th Street Church Bombings 50 Years Ago

Davey D speaks with activist, scholar and freedom fighter Angela Davis about the 50th anniversary of the 16th street Birmingham bombings of 1963.


Davey D speaks with activist, scholar and freedom fighter Angela Davis about the 50th anniversary  of the 16th street Birmingham bombings of 1963.

Angela grew up in Birmingham when it was called Bombingham. This was due to the fact the Ku Klux Klan conducted a campaign of terror on Black people and frequently firebombed people’s homes. The gravity of that of that terrorism has not been fully appreciated or understood. Leading up to the 16th street church bombings, there are estimates that close to 80 bombs were set off in Birmingham.

Davis said Black people were under seige but were determined to fight back. The 16th Street Baptist Church had become a symbol of Black Resistance and was a key organizing center for the Civil Rights Movement. After the huge and very successful March on Washington a few weeks earlier, the historic church became even more of thorn in the side for white supremacists and was eventually targeted with fatal results.


16th street Baptist church..4 girls


On the morning of September 15th 1963, a bomb was placed in the basement of the church. 4 young girls, Denise McNair, who was 11 along with Addie Mae CollinsCarole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley who were all 14, were killed when that bomb went off. Davis who was friends with two of the girls Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson who she noted lived two houses down from hers.

In fact the day of the bombing Angela’s mother drove Carole’s mother to the church to pick up her daughter. They had heard about the church being bombed, but sadly didn’t know Carole was one of those killed.

Davis talked at length during our Hard Knock Radio show about how and why this incident was a key turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. It was a wake up call that moved everyone to get more involved.

Davis also noted that on that day two other Black teens, both boys Virgil Ware and Johnny Robertson were also killed. One by the Klan sympathizers and the other by police who sadly had a working relationship with the KKK.


16th street Baptist church


She also noted that there was a rebellion , the largest of its kind in Birmingham, which has been erased from the history books. She also noted that because of all the bombings, her father and numerous other men in the community began patrolling their neighborhoods armed with guns.. That helped turn the tide on bombings in her neighborhood which was known as Dynamite Hill, but sadly it didn’t prevent the bombing of the 16th street Baptist church…

During our conversation, Davis made it clear that it was important to connect the struggles of 1963 and the tragedies of that day with the struggles and resistance to racial violence going on today. She drew parallels to the case of Oscar Grant and how that a key turning point for many in the Bay Area and how other cases including the one involving Trayvon martin were also key turning point incidents.


16th street baptist church fight latinos


We also talked about how the 16th Street Baptist Church has in recent years been used as a staging area for protest in the fight to end discrimintaion agaisnt undocumented Latinos who now live in Birmingham. Last year thousands gathered at the church to protest an anti-immigrant SB 1070 type law known in Alabama as HB56. A strong coalition of Black and Brown leaders came together to show unity. Davis talked about the importance of connecting those dots between the Civil Rights struggle of the past with the current fight around immigration.

We concluded our interview with Angela Davis by talking about the plight of political prisoner Herman Wallace who was given 2 months to live and is one of the Angola 3. We also talked about the legacy of Attica and the huge uprisings that took place 41 years ago this week.

Below is our interview with Angela Davis. Also if you are in the Bay Area Angela Davis along with fellow Birmingham resident and Civil Rights attorney Margret Burnham will be speaking at First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison St in Oakland from 5-7:30pm

Later in the HKR show we hear a commentary from political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal speaks about death row inmate James “Shorty” Dennis


Click the link below to download or listen to the HKR Intv

Hard Knock Radio Angela Davis 16th Bombings 9-13-13_

Written FOR


Darwish will live on this way among his people. Mahmoud Darwish died on 9 August 2008, yet his spirit remains present even in the absence of his being.

The poetry of absence: remembering Mahmoud Darwish five years on

Sonja Karkar*

Portrait of Mahmoud Darwish illuminated by candles

Mahmoud Darwish wove the poetry of politics and protest with the wonder of life and love.

 (Jamal Nasrallah / EPA)


Exiled. Stateless. Displaced. Dispossessed. Uprooted. Refugee.

Each word shatters the myth of human progress and our essential humanity. Mahmoud Darwish’s anguished, poetic narrative of his and his people’s exile is the defining expression of that continuing human tragedy that callously, violently turned Palestine into Israel with no place — then or now — for those who belong.

Darwish (1941-2008) described exile thus: “Absent, I come to the home of the absent,” and when he was asked who he is, he responded, “I still do not know.”

His answer can best be understood in his words “Perhaps like me you have no address” while more questions follow and linger heavy with pathos over the human condition:

What’s the worth of a man
Without a homeland,
Without a flag,
Without an address?
What is the worth of such a man?

As an internal refugee in Israel, Mahmoud Darwish’s status was bizarrely given legal recognition as a “present-absent alien.” And then, after 25 years in exile, moving from one foreign city to another — Moscow, CairoBeirut, Tunis and Paris — he came to see his journey as an epic voyage of the damned: neither here nor there.


To him it was all about dignity. With his poetry, Darwish created a space of belonging that had been lost to him in the reality of his life — an existential reality in which he said “I cannot enter and I cannot go out.”

It was in that space that he wrote his famous early poem “Identity Card”:

Write down I am an Arab
You stole the groves of my forefathers,
And the land I used to till.
You left me nothing but these rocks.
And from them, I must wrest a loaf of bread,
For my eight children.

In that very space of belonging, his fellow exiles flooded in, embracing their Palestinian identity and heritage with the honor that had been returned to them. Mahmoud Darwish had encouraged them to “be present in absence.”

In an interview with Newsweek in 2000 he said poems “can establish a metaphorical homeland in the minds of people. I think my poems have built some houses in this landscape.”

Yet, even as Darwish’s poetry was fueled by his exile, earning him the title of the poet of Palestinian resistance, the genius of the man is in the way he was able to weave the poetry of politics and protest with the wonder of life and love and hope and bring the people with him on the journey of his own aesthetic development that was so important to him the poet.

Fragile dream

In his poem “I Waited for No One” he told those who might feel that hope is but a fragile elusive dream to:

… look behind you to find the dream, go
to any east or west that exiles you more,
and keeps me one step farther from my bed
and from one of my sad skies. The end
is beginning’s sister, go and you’ll find what you left
here, waiting for you.

Perhaps it was his quest for the humanity in all of us that brought him to the attention of literary circles around the world. Here was a Palestinian who, despite the human rights cruelly denied him and his people, was able to see the same ebb and flow of life in the victim and oppressor alike — where love and hate, reason and fear, compassion and tyranny, life and death are no different.

His poetry stroked the human ego even as he admonished it. His words often sung of love and helped the burdened souls soar to places that only his imagination could take them. He challenged people to look inside themselves, to see themselves as they would have others see them.

It is through him that the world is able to peer through a window of Palestine and be drawn not only into the human catastrophe it helped create, but to see the Palestinians as no less human than themselves.

Non-Arab audiences saw in his poetry that forgiveness, reconciliation and a moving forward are all possible when the Palestinians are treated with respect and dignity that is their due, neither more nor less than is due to others.

Darwish’s art was born and nourished out of his exile. Darwish said: “The man who is in harmony with his society, his culture, with himself, cannot be a creator. And that would be true even if our country were Eden itself” (“A poet’s Palestine as metaphor,” The New York Times, 22 December 2001).

Nevertheless he lamented, “How difficult it is to be Palestinian, and how difficult it is for a Palestinian to be a writer or a poet … How can he achieve literary freedom in such slavish conditions? And how can he preserve the literariness of literature in such brutal times?” (“The laureate of all Arabs,” The Guardian, 12 August 2008).


Despite these misgivings, Mahmoud Darwish did build on his literary accomplishments.

He was not just a poet revered by the Arab world. His books and poetry have been translated into more than 22 languages.

He won numerous awards, including the 1969 Lotus Prize from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers; in 1983, the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize; in 1993, France’s highest medal, the Knight of Arts and Letters; the Netherlands’ 2004 Principal Prince Claus Award in recognition of his “impressive body of work.”

Even Israel considered introducing his work into the high school curriculum in 2001, until then Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared that “Israel is not ready” for Darwish’s work (“Mahmoud Darwish: Palestine’s poet of exile,” The Progressive, May 2002).

But, it was the 2001 Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom carrying a $350,000 award that brought Darwish’s extraordinary talent into the United States, where he had been virtually unknown. On accepting the award, he said, “I also read the prize at a political level, as perhaps representing a better understanding of the role I have played in my country.”

Poetry has been and is a living, breathing form of expression in the whole Arab world, something that has been lost in the West, if indeed it ever existed in the daily life of Western culture.

It is recited in the form of greetings, advice, warnings, accolades, compliments and for just the sheer pleasure of hearing and saying the words, of being able to finish the lines forgotten, of delighting in remembering a line or two or being praised for being able to recite an hour’s worth of poetry.

Darwish will live on this way among his people. Mahmoud Darwish died on 9 August 2008, yet his spirit remains present even in the absence of his being.

*Sonja Karkar is the founder of Women for Palestine, a Melbourne-based human rights group and co-founder of Australians for Palestine, an advocacy group that provides a voice for Palestine at all levels of Australian society. She is the editor of the website

Written FOR


 It is with sadness that I inform my readers of the passing of Toshi Seeger. She was the wife of our dear Brother and Comrade Pete for 70 years.
Our hearts go out to Pete and family on this tragic loss.

Toshi Seeger at Clearwater

credit – Clearwater / Econosmith


An obituary and interview can be found here …..

 Toshi Seeger - R.I.P. – Progressive Organizer, Mother, Filmmaker, Gardener, Wife of Pete Seeger, Veteran Peace and Environmental Activist


Bella Ciao dearest Toshi



“He could perform in a courtroom in a trial, and then he could write an excellent brief. Then he could do transactional work. Many lawyers can do one but not the others.”

Leo Branton Jr., Activists’ Lawyer, Dies at 91

Associated Press

Leo Branton Jr. with Angela Davis during her 1972 trial on murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges. She was acquitted.


Leo Branton Jr., a California lawyer whose moving closing argument in a racially and politically charged murder trial in 1972 helped persuade an all-white jury to acquit a black communist, the activist and academic Angela Davis, died on April 19 in Los Angeles. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Howard Moore Jr., another lawyer who represented Ms. Davis.

Mr. Branton, a black veteran of World War II who served in a segregated Army unit, represented prominent black performers, including Nat King Cole and Dorothy Dandridge, argued cases on behalf of the Black Panthers and the Communist Party, and filed numerous cases alleging police abuse. But the case with which he was most closely associated was that of Ms. Davis.

“Friends of mine said we couldn’t get a fair trial here in Santa Clara County,” Mr. Branton told jurors in his final remarks, on June 1, 1972, in a courtroom in San Jose, Calif. “They said that we could not get 12 white people who would be fair to a black woman charged with the crimes that are charged in this case.”

Ms. Davis, a 28-year-old former instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles, was accused of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1970 death of a state judge who was shot with one of several weapons she had bought. The year before, Ms. Davis had lost her teaching job after she expressed support for the Communist Party. After the charges were filed, she became a fugitive, one of the F.B.I.’s 10 most wanted. She said the weapons had been stolen from her.

Her flight had been an important part of the prosecution’s case. But Mr. Branton, who had argued numerous cases of police abuse in the 1950s, urged jurors to view her behavior in the context of centuries of slavery, racism and abuse against blacks.

At one point he showed jurors a drawing of Ms. Davis bound in chains. Then he removed the drawing to reveal another showing her freed.

“Pull away these chains,” he said, “as I have pulled away that piece of paper.“

Some jurors cried, and after she was acquitted, so did Ms. Davis. She also hugged the jurors.

“Angela Davis Found Not Guilty by White Jury on All Charges,” said a headline in The New York Times on June 5, 1972.

Decades later, Mr. Branton said the case stood out to him not just because of the verdict or the distinctiveness of his final appeal, but also because of the defense’s preparations. During jury selection, defense lawyers hired psychologists to help them determine who in the jury pool might favor their arguments, an uncommon practice at the time, he said. They also hired experts who undermined the reliability of eyewitness accounts, which were important to the prosecution.

Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and defense lawyer who met Ms. Davis in 1970 when she was being detained before trial and he was an undergraduate at Stanford, said in an interview on Friday that Mr. Branton had emphasized to the jury “who she was as a person.”

“He didn’t want her convicted because of her race or her politics,” he said.

Mr. Branton was born on Feb. 17, 1922, in Pine Bluff, Ark., the oldest of five children. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in 1942 before serving in the Army. He earned his law degree at Northwestern University in 1948 and soon moved to California.

In 1952, Mr. Branton represented 14 members of the California Communist Party who were accused of advocating the overthrow of the government through force. They were convicted in lower courts, but the convictions were vacated by the United States Supreme Court in 1957.

His survivors include three sons, Leo L. Branton III, Tony Nicholas and Paul Nicholas; a brother; a sister; and five grandchildren. Geraldine Pate Nicholas, his wife of more than 50 years, died in 2006.

Mr. Branton began representing Nat King Cole in 1958 and eventually helped him secure ownership of his master recordings from Capitol Records, said Mr. Moore, his fellow lawyer in the Davis case. Many years later, Mr. Branton represented the estate of Jimi Hendrix until he and others were sued by members of the Hendrix family. The suit was dropped in 1995.

Mr. Moore said he first met Mr. Branton when they represented different clients in civil rights cases in Mississippi in the 1960s. Mr. Branton was already well known for his work in Hollywood and before the Supreme Court.

“Leo was good in his seat and on his feet,” Mr. Moore said. “He could perform in a courtroom in a trial, and then he could write an excellent brief. Then he could do transactional work. Many lawyers can do one but not the others.”



Six Actions for Peace
Actions speak louder than words so here are 6 actions YOU can take to advance peace (at least select three for this week).
Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
We salute and mourn lost comrades.  We mourn the loss of our young friend Mahmoud Al-Teety shot dead by Israeli apartheid forces who invaded his village.*  We mourn President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who lifted millions out of poverty and showed that governments can serve people needs rather than corporate greed.  We mourn Stephen Hessel, survivor of the genocides committed by the Nazis and a human rights defender who supported Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel and also helped spread ideas of universal human rights and rejected racist ideas of uniqueness and chosenness. We also commemorate ten years since the murder of our friend Rachel Corrie (US citizen, 23 year old) by Israeli soldiers in Rafah.  May we always remember those who worked for human rights and against tyranny and oppression.
I just returned from my whirlwind tour of South Africa exhausted but energized.  I met with hundreds of people including leadership of the trade union COSATU.  The BDS movement is picking up steam in South Africa thanks to the effort of hundreds of local activists (facing a few rich racist Zionists). I need to digest some information before I write more about this experience (and already it will be useful for a chapter I am working on that talks about Palestinian future options/strategies).  But in the meantime, actions speak louder than words so here are 6 actions YOU can take (at least select three for this week).
Action 1: During Israel Apartheid week kicks off in 250 cities wortldwide.  One of the 95 events in South Africa was hosted by COSATU, and I spoke to labor leaders about the situation on the ground in Palestine.  For more events and information and how you can help, SEE 
Action 2: (from Barbara W) It is clear from the number of elected officials who DECLINED to speak this year at the AIPAC convention (including Obama), that the power of their lobby is eroding.  Code Pink built miniature settlements and a replica of the Israeli Apartheid Wall in front of AIPAC’s convention center.   See just a few of the colorful props, street theater, music and humor.  Jewish Voices for Peace posted billboards all over the D.C. metro system saying, “We are proud to be Jewish and AIPAC does not speak for us”.  Obama is coming to the Middle East and he met with Arab Americans in the US ahead of his visit (we would like him to meet with Palestinian Americans living here and see life of dispossessed Palestinians instead of Presidential Compounds in Ramallah).  There is a lot of work to do in the US as Congress is still Israeli occupied territory and even at state level Zionists infiltrated; Ohio (USA) state treasury used taxpayer money to support Apartheid. So US citizens should write and pressure their government officials to respect human righst and not support apartheid.  The Council for National Interest provides resources.
Action 3: Palestinian Agricultural Organizations and Civil Society Networks Call for Ending International Trade with Israeli Agricultural Companies
Action 5: Please Mark your calendar for Sabeel’s Global Young Adult Festival July 1-6, 2013 
and Sabeel’s 9th International Conference 19 – 25, November 2013 
Action 6: Actipedia is an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism. It’s a place to read about, comment upon, and share experiences and examples of how activists and artists are using creative tactics and strategies to challenge power and offer visions of a better society. Actipedia draws case studies from everywhere: original submissions, reprinted news articles, snippets of action reports. We think that by learning from each other we can learn how to better change the world. Join us! Actipedia is a joint project of the Center for Artistic Activism and the Yes Lab.  You can add your events.
*Photos of the week: Israel killed a friend/peace activist near Hebron
La Luta continua
Stay human



 The official seven day mourning period (Shiva) for Rabbi Menachem Froman ends today, but the tributes to this great man of peace continue to pour in. The following, from HaAretz is the latest …

Farewell to a freedom fighter

Remembering Rabbi Menachem Froman, the one of a kind, idiosyncratic settler rebbe, whose calls for peace were embraced by religious and secular alike.

By Yair Ettinger
Froman's funeral
Mourners and followers attend Rabbi Froman’s funeral in Tekoa on Tuesday. Photo by Ahikam Seri

“Come and meet me in chemo,” he suggested. “There’s lots of time to pass there.” I knew Rabbi Menachem Froman, who passed away this week, for seven years, during which I realized that in order to connect with him, really connect with him – you had to play the game or give up in advance. To play as he did: to immerse yourself in it entirely, with profound seriousness, and never to forget the irony. That was the only way to touch Rabbi Froman’s crazy theater, to understand a single scene from a ramified, exciting and problematic play.

Even when I insisted on rules and limits, he had different plans. Until the first interview, in 2006, he didn’t know me at all. He asked me to pick him up in the evening from the Moussaieff Synagogue in Jerusalem, so that we could drive to his home in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa and conduct an orderly interview – with a notebook and recording device – about his desire to conduct negotiations with the Hamas government that had just been established in the Gaza Strip.

The prayers at the synagogue took a long time (that year, he took it upon himself to say Kaddish three times a day for left-wing leader Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, who had just passed away ). And after that he convinced me to accompany him on a nighttime shopping excursion for shoes, replacing ones that had torn. There was no interview that night. The notebook stayed in my bag even when we finally arrived in Tekoa, but there was a story and a meeting.

So when he suggested that we meet in the oncology department of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem while he was receiving chemotherapy treatment, it somehow sounded reasonable. The soundtrack was the annoying beep of medical equipment, but the rabbi was focused. Alive, sharp, in a great mood. “Are you nauseous?” asked a nurse, interrupting the conversation. The reply was a joke and a kabbalistic midrash that dragged her into the conversation, too.

In general, that period – the winter of 2011 – was in many senses a high point. His body was riddled with cancer, which had in effect gone out of control, but Froman’s life looked like a huge trance party with lights and colors. The local cultural elite – headed by those he dubbed “the chief rabbis of the left,” writers Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua – doffed their hats to him, and all came to Tel Aviv’s Tzavta Theater for the occasion of the establishment of his movement, Eretz Shalom (Land of Peace ). The media covered the event and finally granted recognition to the rabbi who had always been considered a strange bird.

However, his meetings with leftists and Muslim leaders – which were always good photo-ops – diverted attention from the real revolution led by Rabbi Froman, which was actually more successful in terms of results. It was a revolution among the Jewish public rather than one aimed at the Middle East.

Froman led a revolutionary religious stream whose members participated in his funeral by the thousands this week. The main impetus for this movement, although not the only one, were the gatherings he called “Torah-Shira.” What began six or seven years ago in a small Tekoa synagogue or in his home – a lesson in the basic book of kabbala, the Zohar, accompanied by songs – turned into a powerful force during the years of his illness.

The hard core were his students from the neo-Hasidic Tekoa Yeshiva or the Shefa Institute for Judaic Studies in Jerusalem. When his illness began, the movement expanded to include hundreds of young people from the settlements, and then to broader religious circles – both urban and rural – as well as secular people who somehow ended up there. There was nothing exclusive about these encounters. You could join no matter how you looked and what you believed. Not all the thousands who came to these meetings over the years were members of Eretz Shalom.

Man of action

Because of his political and spiritual views, Rabbi Froman was for years considered “the village clown.” During the years of his illness, although he made no changes to his philosophy – on the contrary, he reinforced it to the point of supporting a binational state – half the village joined him. The gatherings grew and became increasingly sophisticated, largely thanks to his son, Shivi, who was his producer, with leading artists lining up to join in. The evening before our chemo meeting, the Mifal Hapayis Building in Tekoa was full to bursting with 600 or more people in a study session, with Rabbi Froman accompanied by singer Eviatar Banai.

“Many of my lifelong dreams are coming true these days,” he said, as the poison dripped into his body. “I’ve always thought that Torah and song should be brought together. I call it Torah-Shira. Song creates freedom, it creates wings. I have an entire philosophy about that based on the Zohar. So every week a different singer comes. Eviatar, Kobi Oz, Shlomo Bar, Berry Sakharof, Micha Shitrit, Ehud Banai, Erez Lev Ari. Every week is different. Every singer is different, all wings are different. I sit there next to the singers and think ‘What will I give to G-d?’”

Although he was a profound speaker, Froman was first and foremost an actor. Blogger Amit Assis wrote this week that he was “a man of action” – one of those people “whose religious revelation was not expressed in ready-made ideas about what’s forbidden and what’s permitted, and regular forms of prayer, but existed in the body, the soul, in action.”

During that same meeting in chemo, Froman said that the young people who follow in his footsteps are “not a generation that speaks, but a generation that lives. The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, says the Zohar … the Tree of Knowledge is the world of speech. When you know and speak, the Tree of Life is above speech.”

Froman’s movement flourished during a period of extremism, and said a great deal about his personality. Price tag acts of retribution? Froman’s disciples might have looked like hilltop youth, but these were the beautiful and refined ones who play music and sing and embrace and love. Indeed, during our encounters in the settlements, nobody was armed.

“I’ve been saying for years that the goal of Zionism is the feminization of the Jewish religion, changing it from masculine to feminine,” he said. “This wave of life, this undefined wave, is the hope of a free religion in Judaism’s future – not of peace or politics, which can be a by-product. Everyone searches for the source of the commandment to get married. They can’t find a verse, so they say ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ I say that’s a mistake. The main thing is to love, that’s where children come from. Not that the purpose of love is children – that’s a by-product, and by-products are always less than the event itself.”

While we were talking, he said he was beginning to understand why he chose to add to his name “Hai Shalom” (Life Peace ) a few days earlier, in order to help his recovery, making his full name Menachem Hai Shalom Froman. “Explain why I called myself Hai Shalom, because peace will grow out of life. How? I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Other things will grow, including a new religion. A living, liberated religion, not people who look at the Shulhan Arukh and frame everything according to what is written there. You know that the Zohar identifies halakha [Jewish religious law] with the Tree of Knowledge, but the Zohar is the Tree of Life. That’s what it says about itself. A new spirituality, neither religious nor secular, neither right nor left. It has no actual form, except to remain free.

“The movement we established is called Eretz Shalom mainly because it sounds good in Arabic – ‘Ard al-Salam,’” he continued. “But the intimate name I use is not Eretz Shalom, it’s Eretz Hahofesh [Land of Freedom]. The entire issue of peace is religious freedom, to become liberated. At the end of the event with Kobi Oz, I had the audience stand up and we sang ‘Hatikva’ with an emphasis on the line ‘To be a free people in our land.’ It was very powerful. He gave this Tel Aviv-style performance – don’t ask! – in Tekoa, and after the performance I said Kobi: ‘I thank you for introducing freedom into the religious world, you are bringing me close to the vision of Zionism, to be a free people in our land.’ And we sang, we stood and sang ‘Hatikva.’ I was really moved.”

The chemo was over. The outpatient clinic emptied out and his oldest son, Yossi – who always sat next to him at Torah-Shira evenings – came to drive him home.

“We have to leave. You’re the last one,” said his son. “I’m the last one? I’m the last of the Mohicans.”

Last Sunday Rabbi Menachem Froman was lying on the bed in his home, unconscious. He had less than 24 hours left. Outside the modest house, some of his regular Sunday students had gathered. The lesson was taught by others instead of Rabbi Froman, and his son Yossi sat with them. “Every Sunday was preparation for this Sunday,” Yossi said.

They studied the chapter in the Zohar in which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai plans to leave the world, surrounded by his students. Between passages, Froman’s students played, sang and danced. The sounds burst into the house as he slept. At the end of the evening, Yossi invited anyone who so desired to stand before his father and say farewell.

I preferred to remember his ironic smile.


“He lived his life beyond the borders of consensus, without considering conventions. He did not act out of political symbols, but out of the love of man.”

"הוא האמין שאנשי הדת יכולים לקרוא 'אללה הוא אכבר', ולפתור את הסכסוך". הרב פרומן עם חברו, השייח' אברהים, בחתונת בנו הצעיר (צילום: אבישג שאר-ישוב)

Rabbi Froman with his friend, Sheikh Ibrahim (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)


Right, Left mourn Rabbi Froman’s death

Chief rabbi of Tekoa, who was both settler and peace activist, leaves huge void among wide and often opposing publics. ‘Rabbi Froman proved that religion can be a bridge to peace and coexistence,’ Peace Now says in statement. Yesha Council: He worked to reinforce settlement enterprise

Ynet reporters

Rabbi Menachem Froman died Monday evening at the age of 68, after a three-year battle with cancer, leaving behind a huge void among wide and often opposing publics.

Many in the Right and in the Left, in the Arab sector and in the Religious Zionism movement, are lamenting the death of the man who was both a settler and a peace activist, a rabbi and a spiritual leader, who embodied a distinguished halachic personality – as well as a graceful personality.

Froman was considered one of the most colorful and modernistic rabbis in the Religious Zionism movement in general, and among the settler public in particular. He was one of the pioneers of the Hasidic movement in Religious Zionism and was also known as a poet and artist.

He was considered very moderate politically. Despite his objection to the removal of settlements for ethical reasons, he was established close ties with Palestinian and Muslim leaders, with whom he attempted to reach a formula that would allow coexistence and pave the way to a peace agreement.

As the “leftist marker” among settlers, Froman established the Eretz Shalom (Land of Peace) social movement, which works towards the advancement of peace and dialogue between the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Judea and Samaria.

The Peace Now movement lamented Froman’s death on Monday, saying in a statement that “Rabbi Froman was a symbol of peace between Jews and Arabs. While most people see religion as grounds for battle between people, Rabbi Froman proved that religion can be a bridge to peace and coexistence rather than a tool for increasing conflicts and radicalizing opinions. His legacy will live on until the day the conflict is over.”

The Yesha Council mourned Froman’s death too, saying that “Rabbi Menachem Froman did a lot to reinforce the settlement enterprise, both openly and secretly. Through his special way of life he connected to diverse sectors among the Jewish people – and thereby succeeded in strengthening the love of man, Torah and land.”

‘He had the innocence of a child’

Former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Rontzki was Rabbi Forman’s student at the Machon Meir Center for Jewish Studies at the time he became religious. He says the deceased rabbi left a significant mark on him.

“We were a small group of students just starting our path in the world of Torah,” Rabbi Rontzki told Ynet. “And already then, I felt a strong connection to his innocence. At the time you could see it in the teaching, in the way he lived it, in the way he would jump, get excited and almost cry, and later in the other things he was famous for. He had the innocence of a child, it was like he lived in the afterlife.

“When I served as chief military rabbi, he would offer to help the IDF with the Palestinians, because he lived in another world and really believed that religious officials on both sides can chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) together and solve the crisis or bring about Gilad Shalit’s release. We need such innocent people in our world, which is very formal, businesslike, technical and realistic.”

‘One of settlement’s central pillars’

Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav, considered one of the leading candidates for the post of chief Ashkenazi rabbi, eulogized Rabbi Froman as well.

“I remember him when I was a young student in Har Etzion Yeshiva, sitting and studying Torah in good company. For me, his special personality was a fascinating meeting with the world of Torah. Later on, Rabbi Froman escorted our work in Tzohar in many ways and was connected to our activity in his body and soul.

“Alongside his pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, he saw the connection of the Israeli society to the Torah as a great value. In the past few weeks I got to talk to him several times, and these conversations strengthened us greatly in all our work.”

Knesset Member Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi), who studied with Rabbi Froman in Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, said: “I still remember how devoted he was to the study of Torah, which was an inner part of him.”

He defined Froman as “a person who led the Tekoa community, while connecting knowledge and different colors of the Jewish people, into a united community. I regret the fact that we did not get to fully enjoy his work.”

Froman, the chief rabbi of the settlement of Tekoa in Gush Etzion, was a well-known figure among his neighbors in the Palestinian villages as well, but that did not reduce his status in the eyes of the moderate settler public.

Gush Etzion Council head Davidi Perl referred to Froman after learning of his death as “a huge scholar, with a great soul, who loved people and brought them closer to Torah. He was one of the central pillars of the settlement enterprise in Gush Etzion and all of the Land of Israel, and bestowed a legacy of loving fellowmen and making peace.”

Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, said that “the State of Israel and the Judea and Samaria settlements lost an important rabbi and spiritual leader. Throughout his life, Rabbi Menachem Forman of blessed memory used original and diverse ways to strengthen and expand the settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria and the entire Land of Israel.”

Bennett: A Jew with a huge heart

Many others in the political arena expressed their sorrow over the rabbi’s passing as well. MK Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) said, “This land lost a great man. Rabbi Froman of blessed memory was one of the land’s greatest fighters and lovers. A peace lover and a peace seeker, who hated disagreements, loved people and brought them closer to Torah. He could always see the person beyond the dispute and respect him.”

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett referred to Froman on his Facebook page as “a peace lover and a peace seeker, a Jew with a huge heart.”

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said that Rabbi Froman was a special person. “He lived his life beyond the borders of consensus, without considering conventions. He did not act out of political symbols, but out of the love of man.”

Froman served as the rabbi of Tekoa while teaching in the local yeshiva and in the Otniel Yeshiva in South Mount Hebron. He is survived by his wife Hadassah and 10 children.

In 2010 he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was treated in conventional and natural means, and survived much longer than doctors predicted. Upon learning of his disease, Froman added the name Hai Shalom (living peace) to his last name and declared that he would devote himself to peace and coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

In the last few months of his life he decided to carry on as usual, delivering sermons and giving interviews. His final days were spend at home. “He wanted to experience what he was going through with his family,” his son said.

Final goodbye

On Sunday, about 200 of the rabbi’s students took part in a music and study evening in his house’s backyard, where he had delivered a lesson on the mystical book of Zohar every Sunday.

Many of the participants saw the event as a chance to bid farewell to their beloved rabbi following the significant deterioration in his condition. He had just been released from the hospital several days earlier and lost consciousness.

“We wanted to wrap him up with the students he loved so much, and the Torah which was the air he breathed,” explained his son, Shivi Froman. “With the melodies, the music and singing he was surrounded by, especially in the past two years.”

He added that “father still lives and exists, and we live and exist with him. Father will always influence us.”

Kobi Nahshoni, Itamar Fleishman and Moran Azulay contributed to this report


 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
The President that did more to help the poor people in the United States than Obama himself ….

Hugo Chavez Gives Heating Aid to U.S. Poor Following Obama Budget Cuts

Read the full report HERE
Bella Ciao Dear Comrade

10 Memorable Hugo Chávez Moments

President Hugo Chávez was known for his grand overtures and bold attacks. A exceptionally gifted orator who relished media attention, he continually came up with show-stealing lines. Below are 10 of the many moments that made Mr. Chávez such a distinctive force in Venezuela and across the world.
Click HERE to see the multi media report from the New York Times
Cindy Sheehan adds the following tribute to a wonderful human being ….

In Loving Memory: Hugo Chavez Frias 1954-2013

Hugo Chavez Frias, Presente!
Cindy Sheehan
A wonderful human being has passed.
What do I do when I am angry, happy, or sad? I write.
Back in 2004, shortly after my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, a grief counselor advised me to write a letter to my son in a journal every night. I filled up three journals in the terrible months after his death. I often wrote at his grave and those journals did help me deal with the unspeakable loss.
Today, I write from a great well of sadness, but not just for me, for the world. My dear friend in peace and justice, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just lost his fierce and valiant battle with cancer.
Many people know about Hugo Chavez, the president, and constant thorn in the side to El Imperio the meddlesome and harmful Empire to the north. But I want to eulogize Chavez the man I knew.
He was my dear friend and comrade in a way where we were united in the struggle for peace and economic justice and equality. It’s not like I could text him, or we would chat about current events, but whenever I had the privilege to be with him, warmth radiated from his heart and I was able to connect with him in very real and human ways. Compared to the palpable realness of Chavez, most of the US politicians I have met with are walking and talking ice sculptures.
The first time I met him in Caracas was in early 2006 at the World Social Forum. I had been invited to sit on the stage while he gave a speech to those gathered there from around the world. He introduced me as, “Señora Esperanza,” “Mrs. Hope,” in contrast to his nickname for George Bush: “Señor Peligro,” “Mr. Danger.” However, our brother, Hugo Chavez, was the one who gave us much hope.
I have met and interviewed so many people in Venezuela whose lives were immeasurably improved by the vision and dedication of Hugo Chavez. How can one put a price on going from being illiterate to being able to read? A 65-year-old woman told me her life was transformed by the adult literacy program. It really made me appreciate the fact that I have always known how to read (it seems). What would I have done without my best friends, my books? Wow. I guess Capitalism would tally the cost of educating one student and, of course education here in the US is now just another commodity, but the look of wonder in my Sister’s eyes was priceless!
Another woman showed me her perfect teeth in a huge grin. She told me that her teeth used to be so bad, that she would never smile before, but now, due to her new set of false teeth provided by the national dental program, she walks around grinning like a lunatic all day, which made me laugh with joy! Again, Capitalism would say: One set of false teeth equals X amount of dollars. I say, being able to smile after years of embarrassing humiliation is worth more than any amount of gold.
Those are just two stories out of millions and my heart breaks with sorrow for the People of the Bolivarian Revolution that must be even more devastated than I, today.
I witnessed Chavez the proud “abuelo” (grandpa) once on a long flight from Caracas to Montevideo that I took with them. We chatted about out “nietos” (grandchildren) and felt a mutual connection there. I hugged my grandbabies a little harder today when I found out that Chavez died, because I know the wonderful connection that he had with his. My heart breaks for his children and his family, and his brother, Adan, who seemed to be constantly at his side. It’s just a very hard day.
I was with Chavez in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the presidential inauguration of Felipé Mujica. I was amazed that Chavez could just plunge into the crowds and interact with the people without a phalanx of bodyguards, anti-aircraft missiles and assault weapons. His security detail was prepared, but not paranoid like up here in the Empire. Someone who is universally loved by the 99% need have no fear. Chavez had no fear.
Chavez’s courageous battle against the Empire was more successful than his battle against cancer. Chavez was able to inspire more leftist leaders in Latin America and my friends in Cuba will always be grateful for the friendship between Venezuela and Cuba. The struggle against neo-liberalism and the Empire has been far advanced under Chavez’s inspirational leadership.
This is a sad day and I am angry that the so-called leaders of my own country made Chavez’s life a virtual hell, but he survived one coup attempt and the many other attempts through the media and financing of his opposition to undermine the revolution.
When in the hell is this country going to mind it’s own goddamn business and realize that not every drop of oil belongs to our oil companies and not every democratically elected leader must pledge undying obsequiousness to the Evil Empire?
I am immensely proud of Chavez and I am immensely proud of the people of Venezuela who have worked with him to improve their lives and because they really understand the concept of “national sovereignty.”
I know the upper echelons of The Empire think they have won a victory today (if it didn’t give Chavez his cancer in the first place—don’t even start and say I am a “conspiracy theorist” everyone knows that the Empire is fully capable of it, they couldn’t kill him, or depose him, outright) and all the oil will now flow back into the hands of our big oil companies, but The Empire underestimates the people of Venezuela and their dedication to the Bolivarian Revolution and love for their leader, Hugo Chavez.
As we sorrowfully say, “vaya con la paz” to our Brother, Hugo Chavez, let’s also say, “long live the revolution.”
Chavez will never die if we honor his vision and continue our struggle against The Empire.
US Presidents come and go with destructive, yet boring and predictable regularity and are numbered for History’s convenience when they should all have had black and white striped clothing and be behind bars. However, it is my belief that Hugo Chavez Frias will go down in World History as one of the most significant figures of the early 21st Century and his passing is a tragic and profound loss to us all, as his life was an inspiration.
A-dios, Señor Esperanza.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Your light is far too bright to be extinguished by something as cruel as death and your light shines in all of us whose hearts burn with revolution and love for all the people.
My life and our world are far better today because of your life and the struggle continues until victory! 


A settler, a rabbi with a conscience

As I write this, Rabbi Menachem Froman, Chief Rabbi of the settlement Tekoa is being lowered into his grave at the settlement which he helped found. He died last night at the young age of 68 after a long battle with cancer. Rabbi Froman was a unique man, a man of peace in a land of war. His voice, his views, his love for his fellow man will be missed.

 When asked what he would like to leave behind as his legacy, Froman answered with one word: “Peace.”


It’s not every day that a religious Jewish leader of a West Bank settlement sits with an esteemed Associate of DesertPeace, but five years ago that actually happened. Rabbi Menachem Froman of the settlement Tekoa spent the day with Khalid Amayreh and collaborated on a Peace Plan for Israel/Palestine. The plan was accepted by Hamas, the ruling Party of Palestine, but needless to say was rejected by the Israeli government.
In the following video, Rabbi Froman’s views are heard regarding Jews living in proximity with Palestinians, a view not shared by most other settlers or Israeli rabbis.

Rabbi Menachem Froman of West Bank settlement Tekoa dies at 68

Froman dies following prolonged illness; he was unique among settler rabbis in that he was a leading proponent of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

By Yair Ettinger
Rabbi Menachem Froman
Rabbi Menachem Froman. Photo by Ilya Melnikov

Rabbi Menachem Froman died on Monday at the age of 68, following a prolonged illness.

Froman, rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was unique among settler rabbis in that he was a leading proponent of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue as far back as the 1980s, when contact with the PLO was still illegal. He was the spiritual leader of many young people and was known for his extensive contacts with people from a wide range of ideological circles. He was in constant contact with politicians, military leaders and in particular artists including writers, musicians and actors. More recently, he championed the idea of dialogue between Jewish and Islamic religious leaders as a path to peace, in which context he held intensive talks with religious leaders from both Hamas and Israel’s Islamic Movement.

In recent years, Froman launched several religious peace organizations. He also developed close ties with a wide range of people who spanned the political and ideological gamut, including army officers, politicians and, above all, creative artists from the worlds of literature, music and theater.

Froman suffered from cancer of the large intestine and is survived by his wife, Hadassah, and 10 children. He was born in Kfar Hasidim near Haifa. He went to high school at the Reali School in Haifa, served in the paratroopers during the Six-Day War and after the army gradually became more and more religious. He began studying in various yeshivot including Merkaz Harav alongside a number of other students who, like Froman, became the leaders of the settler movement Gush Emunim. He was ordained as a rabbi by former Chief Rabbis Shlomo Goren and Avraham Shapira. He served as the rabbi of Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion.

He was one of the founders of Tekoa and helped make the settlement a mixed community of religious and nonreligious centered around a mixed school run by his wife Hadassah.


Ilya Melnikov

Photo by Ilya Melnikov    Menachem and Hadassah Froman.


He was a self-proclaimed nonconformist among the rabbis of the territories, and paid a price for it. In the 1980s, after the Jewish terrorist underground was exposed and the first intifada began, Froman came out openly in favor of a dialogue with Palestinian leaders as well as granting political rights and national symbols to the Palestinian people. Many in Gush Emunim tried to remove him from the organization and his post.

During the second intifada he traveled throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and even went to Jordan, speaking to Palestinian leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mahmoud Al-Zahar from Hamas. He became more politically active in his last years, leading movements of young settlers who did not hesitate to criticize the occupation. Froman saw no contradiction between the settlements and striving for peace, and often said “the settlements are the fingers of the Israeli hand held out for peace.” He saw the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as mainly religious and saw a common bond with Islamic religious leaders. He viewed the nationalist-territorial conflict as secondary and did not rule out the continued existence of the settlements under Palestinian sovereignty.

As a rabbi, he concentrated mostly on Hassidic and mystical literature. He taught in yeshivot that were forerunners of the Hassidic wave in religious Zionist circles.

He cooperated with other rabbis known for their independent thinking, such as Adin Steinsaltz and Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, better known as Rav Shagar.



In an interview with Ayelett Shani in Haaretz Magazine last July, Froman said that he was willing to live under Palestinian sovereignty.

“I met with someone who is very close to the prime minister, and he told me that the solution I am proposing is also the solution he has envisaged for years, from the political viewpoint, and that he is working to persuade the prime minister,” he told Haaretz.

“We came to Tekoa to take part in that: to participate in the establishment of a mixed community. With the intention that I want to learn, to receive. I do not want to give. I do not work for my truth. I work for the sake of the general truth, the objective truth. In the final analysis, the question is whether you abnegate yourself before God or you represent him. And I abnegate myself before God.” 

As to whether he thought he was crazy or had doubts about the path he took, Froman said: “Many crazy people, I think, don’t think they are crazy. Things will be good − if things will be good and there is peace. It has to materialize. A life of supplication; you have a great profit from that. You ask whether it is worthwhile, but of course it is worthwhile. A life of humility. … To accept is tremendous joy.

Because then the objective good or the objective truth speak through you. It is not only you and your thoughts. It might be expressed in a possibly cruel way. What Rachel writes is terribly cruel. Moses does not enter the land. But the nation enters. If there is someone who does not fulfill [a particular task], someone else will do it. Maybe my son,” he said.

When asked what he would like to leave behind as his legacy, Froman answered with one word: “Peace.”

Written FOR


An obituary from Ynet can be read HERE


The Forward  posted THIS about Rabbi Froman


Here are two more videos showing his solidarity work between Jews and Palestinians, followed by additional photos ….








Tributes from The Jerusalem Post
Tributes paid to Froman as rabbi laid to rest
Funeral of Menachem Froman, March 5, 2013
Funeral of Menachem Froman, March 5, 2013 Photo: JEREMY SHARON

Hundreds of mourners turned out Tuesday to honor settler and activist Menachem Froman, the rabbi from the Tekoa settlement who was seen by many as an advocate for peace and dialogue with the Palestinians. He was laid to rest at Tekoa a day after he died at the age of 68 after a long battle with cancer.
The funeral began with a procession from the Tekoa synagogue, as hundreds gathered outside to sing a lament at his passing. 

Speaking at the funeral, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon of Likud paid tribute to Froman and his efforts to find a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. “You believed with all your heart in peace between humanity. You did everything to build bridges between people,” Ya’alon said.

In a written eulogy, President Shimon Peres also honored Froman’s role as a man of faith who embraced peace.

Froman’s eldest son Yossi told mourners at the funeral of the love that his father enjoyed across the Israeli political spectrum, and of his strong ties  to his Arab neighbors. “Left and right, everyone loved you and you loved everyone. Your approach to our Arab neighbors was with love,” he said.

Froman was “a unique man who was a big believer in the Torah and a believer in peace,” wrote Peres. “His whole life was peace, and all his pathways were peace.” The president said that Froman had “found a way in to the hearts of bitter and difficult enemies and wherever there was conflict he tried to settle it with great spirit and wisdom.”

MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid also paid tribute to the rabbi, saying, “We have lost us a man whose vision was ahead of his time. Rabbi Menachem Froman, of blessed memory, firmly believed that religion is a bridge to true peace between all the residents of the country.”


Peace activist and Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin paid tribute to Froman on his Facebook page on Monday, hailing the rabbi as someone who always strove to achieve peace. He cited a meeting that the rabbi had with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu two months ago when he tried to convince the PM to engage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in serious negotiations.“I did not share his faith in God, but I shared his passion for peace and his willingness to go to the ends of this earth to convince people that we can make peace and that we must make peace in this land,” Baskin wrote.


 Stephane Hessel who passed away last week at age 95 was a former French resistance fighter. He is seen here urging young people to take to the streets and show their outrage. Ray Suarez and Hessel discuss his book, “Time For Outrage,” which is also titled “Indignez-Vous!” in French.
Order the book online AT


A Holocaust survivor who truly lived the mantra Never Again
 Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries
Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. The French president, François Hollande, said of Hessel: ‘He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.’ Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty


Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95

Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies
By Kim Willsher for The Guardian

The story of the French author Stéphane Hessel’s long and extraordinary life reads like a Boy’s Own adventure.

From his childhood in Berlin and then Paris, where he was brought up by his writer and translator father, journalist mother and her lover in an unusual ménage à trois, to his worldwide celebrity at the age of 93, when a political pamphlet he wrote became a bestselling publishing sensation and inspired global protest and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And then there was everything in between: his escape from two Nazi concentration camps where he had been tortured and sentenced to death, his escapades with the French resistance and his hand in drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, just a week after his last big interview was published, Hessel’s long and extraordinary life came to an end. He was 95 years old, but as one French magazine remarked: “Stéphane Hessel, dead? It’s hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the grand and handsome old man.”

Le Point magazine added that the man with an “old-fashioned politeness and elegance from another age” had “danced” with the best part of a century.

“When one is received by the world in television studios, when one writes bestsellers, when one has baptised an international mobilisation movement, does one still die?” the magazine asked.

In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage.

The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.

His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told France’s AFP news agency on Wednesday, that the writer had died overnight. No other details were given.

The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

“It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also paid tribute to Hessel, whom he described as “a man who was engaged” and who was the incarnation of the “resistance spirit”.

“For all generations he was a source of inspiration, but also a reference. At 95 years, he epitomised the faith in the future of a new century,” Ayrault said.

As a committed European and supporter of the left, he was behind the Socialist François Hollande’s successful presidential election bid last year. On Wednesday after news of his death broke, French politicians lined up to express their admiration, respect and sadness.

Hessel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1917, the son of a journalist and a writer. The family moved to France when Hessel was eight and he took French nationality in the late 1930s, having passed his baccalauréat at the young age of 15.

His parents’ unusual living arrangement was said to have inspired the celebrated François Truffaut film Jules et Jim.

The young Hessel refused to follow Marshal Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government and fled to London, where he joined General Charles de Gaulle’s resistance fighters. As a prominent figure in the resistance, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, where he suffered waterboarding torture. He escaped being executed at Buchenwald by exchanging identities with a prisoner who had died of typhus, and later escaped from Dora during a transfer to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. After fleeing his German guards, he met advancing American troops.

After the war, he worked with the US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in editing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection.

During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint,” Hessel said in an interview a year ago.

“This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but to change the way they deal with people’s needs.”


On Occupy Wall Street

From Democracy Now



As the Occupy Wall Street movement expands across the United States, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring and the protests in Spain, Democracy Now! spoke with former French Resistance fighter, Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet-length book, Time for Outrage, helped inspire some of these uprisings. His book has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 10 languages, with several more planned. Hessel, 93 years old, has occupied many positions in his life: immigrant, French Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, advocate and author. He joined the French Resistance during World War II, was caught by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He escaped during transfer to Bergen-Belsen and later helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then became an honorary “Ambassador of France,” appointed to special government missions. He has since been a fierce advocate of the Palestinians. Democracy Now!’s Juan Gonzalez interviewed Hessel earlier this month. 

“You must find the things that you will not accept, that will outrage you. And these things, you must be able to fight against nonviolently, peacefully, but determinedly,” Hessel says, noting his support for the Occupy Wall Street encampment. “They’re there determined to see that their values are to be respected.”

Speaking at the Russell Tribunal in New York City this past October
Photo © by Bud Korotzer
Palestine loses a friend and supporter …
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine mourns the passing of Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel, author of the bestseller « Time for outrage »,
French ambassador, human rights’ advocate and great philosopher, died
last night at the age of 95.

The Russell Tribunal on palestine (RToP) mourns the passing of its
honorary president and huge supporter.

Pierre Galand, RToP general coordinator says :
« The Tribunal has always ben his project, and he was its soul as he
has always inspired us with his ideas and supported us with concrete
gestures. He would have participated in the last session of the
Tribunal, in Brussels on 16 and 17 March, but now that he’s passed
away we will pay him the tribute he deserves. With his death, we loss
a last eye-witness of the drafting of the Human Rights’ declaration.
If the World loses a great personality and a distinguished
intellectual and activist, at a personal level, I will miss him as a
comrade and a friend ». 

In all sessions of the RToP held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and
New York, Hessel has denounced the outragious  complicity of third
parties in the continuous violation of the Palestinian people’s rights
and the failure by Israel to comply with the international law. He’s
also called on individuals and organisations around the World to put
pressure on the international community so that politicians and
decision-makers adopt all possible measures to reach peace in the
Middle East and enforce the existing sanctions on those countries
which don’t comply with UN resolutions.

On 18 February 2013, Stéphane Hessel gave a last interview on his
involvement in the RToP. The interview will be published in a book by
the French publisher Editions de L’Herne, due out in mid March. You
can read the interview at this link (French only).

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