HOLIDAYS IN ISRAEL ~~ A TIME TO LOVE OR TO HATE

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Preparations are underway to usher in a week long holiday in Israel. It is called Succot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.
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A non Jewish visitor to Jerusalem this week might get the impression that the entire city stands in solidarity with the homeless Palestinians illegally evicted from their homes by settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
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Family homes were STOLEN, many families have been living in makeshift tents for over five years…. and neither the Municipality of Jerusalem nor the Palestinian Authority gives a damn. As winter approaches, a new meaning is given to the term ‘settlement freeze’ as these homeless literally freeze in their abodes. Sheikh Jarrah is no longer headline news, but the problems there remain the same.
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I had some flashbacks this morning to my Succot celebrations in Brooklyn as a child, they were much different than here. Here there is a Jewish community and an Arab community. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was a Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.
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What I remembered this morning was the following; The Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why. It seemed that part of her ghetto mentality was to distrust anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. The younger generation, like myself did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.
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Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How to overcome it? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone. Now to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Arab communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew.  It’s the only way to guarantee an end to the hatred… live together! So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say
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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE!
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Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA ! – BONNE FÊTE CANADA

Rambling down Memory Lane…….

July 1st has always been a special day for me. Forty seven years ago today I left the United States and applied for Landed Immigrant Status in Canada. My wife and I picked this date as it was a National Holiday and we figured there would be less security at the Toronto Airport…. and less questions. It was a special day in Canada, it was the 100th anniversary of Confederation.
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My suspicions proved correct…. there was only a handful of security personnel on duty and I was asked only two questions…
“How long do you plan on staying in Canada?”…. to which I responded “Forever!”*
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The second question was “Are you a subversive?”…. to which I responded quite naively “What does that mean?”
“Do you consider yourself a threat to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second or any one of her heirs?” (pronounced ‘hairs’ when I verbalise this story)…. to which I responded “Definitely not!”
“Welcome to Canada! Here is your Landed Immigrant Status Card!” (Let it be known that in no way did I consider the Royal Family ‘Divine’ in any way, but I did not feel I was a threat to their existence.)

Little did that Immigration Officer know, but in the United States I WAS considered a subversive…. in fact, I carried with me a ten page document of allegations against me from Army ‘Intelligence’ which ended with the words “Your entrance into any branch of the Armed Forces at any time would be detrimental to the security of our nation.” How much more of a ‘subversive’ can one hope to be?
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It would be ‘safe’ to say that I owe my life to the FBI. The document I mentioned above was full of information provided by them. Their ‘planted’ informants knew the exact date and time that I joined the Communist Party of the United States. They knew every move I made during all my years of activity.
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On my 18th birthday I registered with the Draft Board. We had to do that by law in those days. A few years later I received my order to report for my physical examination. I will never forget the short, burly man in charge that day…. Sgt. Randazzo. His face and voice haunts me to this day. The day I had to report was like a mini High School Reunion. Almost every male in my graduation class was present that day. We were lined up and were asked if we were interested in volunteering for the Marines. As this was a sure way to be sent to Viet Nam, there wasn’t a single volunteer. Randazzo then proceeded to pick every third person in line to serve in the Marines. But…… immediately before that an announcement was made…. “Anyone that was ever arrested, please go to Room 101.” Off I went….. which meant that poor Michael, who was standing next to me, was picked to be a Marine…. it should have been me, but I was being interrogated instead. Needless to say, Michael does not speak to me to this day.
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If you move the ‘timer’ to 9:10 on the following video, you will get a pretty good idea what that interrogation was like….

A few months later I received my 4F. At first I was given ten days to deny the allegations in the document I received…. non compliance earned me my 4F. The rest is history…..
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Moving on…. here we were in a new country, a country with totally different values and definitions than the one we had just left. But, I felt that we were still not ‘home free’…. our new government might discover our past and deport us, so we prepared for this by purchasing a framed photograph of Her Majesty and hanging it in the hallway of our new apartment. If the Royal Mounted Police ever came to ‘visit’ it would be the first thing they saw. We had two new statuses that we did not want to lose…. Landed Immigrant and NON Subversive!
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My political activities continued throughout my years in Canada, including running in elections for both the Federal Parliament and the Province of Ontario…. on the ticket of the Communist Party of Canada. This Party was/is legal, so my status of Non Subversive did not change.
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The Mounties never came and we were never deported. Canada was a totally different world than the one we had just came from… that was in 1967. Things are a bit different today, unfortunately. Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party hacks have ‘bridged the gap’ between the two countries. Canada today is as close to a 51st State of the United States as Israel is…. this makes me very sad. Hopefully things will change and Canada can once again pride itself for being the country represented as ‘”The true North, proud and free!” As long as the Tories remain in power that will not be the case.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA ! – BONNE FÊTE CANADA
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Also see

WHEN IN DOUBT BLAME IT ON THE MUSLIMS

Finger Pointing is much easier than THINKING ….
finger-pointing
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For a number of years I lived in a small city in Northern Ontario. It was a haven for many former war criminals from the Ukraine and Latvia. It was not uncommon to hear comments in the street blaming the Jews for anything that was wrong with society. One time I was at the meatcounter of a supermarket with my son Peter. We noticed that there was a marked increase on the price of pork products …. minutes later one of the Latvians referred to above started mumbling something about the ‘god damned Jews’ raising prices …
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The price of pork was controlled by Jews? This confused my son who was about ten at the time. He asked the man what Jews had to do with the price of pork …. the man took off like a bat out of hell. The last thing these criminals wanted was uncovering their unsavory past.
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The war criminals of today haven’t had ‘their day in court’ yet so they are a bit bolder and don’t run off that quickly (but their day will come). It’s not the Jews they blame for the evils in the world today as most of them are Jews themselves, zionists to be specific. To them, it’s the Muslims ‘that did it’ ….
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Here is the latest incident of this ongoing Islamophobia …
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Australia, then and now

 Anti-Semitic incidents in land down under may stem from import of hundreds of thousands of Muslims since 1980s

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The incidents include shattering synagogue windows, physical assaults on Jewish students, derogatory exclamations against Jews on the streets and hurling different objects on synagogue goers. The leaders of the Jewish communities in Australia are not particularly enthusiastic about publishing the figures and putting them on the public agenda for their own reasons, as if one can combat this troubling phenomenon and make it disappear by keeping quiet 

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In 1938, Thomas White didn’t want to “import” Jews, allegedly so as not to give rise to anti-Semitism in his country. Many things seem to have changed since then in the land of kangaroos and koalas, and it’s quite possible that these changes stem, among other things, from the import of hundreds of thousands of Muslims since the 1980s, including thousands of Palestinians.

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The full report can be read HERE

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How times have changed …

SLICING PALESTINE IN HALF FOR A SETTLER BYPASS ROAD

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Construction has aready begun in the middle of Beit Safafa. Photo by Aviva Lev-David.
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The report that follows took me back to something that happened almost 30 years ago;

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I was a new immigrant to Israel and had to go to special classes to learn Hebrew. The students were divided into study groups of four to work together on special assignments. In my group, there was a young Palestinian man named Osama. We became close friends which continues until today.

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Our group took turns at working together in each other’s homes. There was some reluctance on the part of the others to go to Osama’s home despite his willingness for us to go there. He constantly referred to his village as “his country”. His home was in Beit Safafa, the village described below.

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Finally, the entire group agreed to visit ‘his country’. It was an eye opener for all of us. Here we were in an Arab village in the heart of Jerusalem, yet we were in a different country, a country called Palestine. We were welcomed into Osama’s home by his loving family and treated with the most delicious Palestinian dishes reserved only for special holidays.

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When I read the following report I wept for Osama’s family and neighbours. It brought to light the need for a Palestinian State which would put an end to the occupation and devastation of ‘THEIR country’.

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Beit Safafa to be sliced by settler only highway

By Anna Germaine

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“No, no Route 4!” a young Palestinian boy yelled out in Arabic.

His cries are directed towards the white washed Jerusalem stone walls and heavily tinted windows of the Jerusalem Municipality. He is speaking about Route 4, a controversial, illegal settler-only road that upon construction will slice directly through the predominantly Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, dividing the community in half. 

Wednesday’s protest at the Jerusalem Municipality has legally bypassed the typical procedures that require public inclusion on the plan, making it impossible for Beit Safafa’s many affected residents to formally object to the plan. So in addition to protesting in Beit Safafa, demonstrators also gather weekly in front of the municipality, voicing their opposition in alternating Hebrew and Arabic in one last effort to be informally, if not formally heard. 

Around 150 people gathered in front of the Municipality on Wednesday afternoon—the crowd is a mixture of both Palestinians front Beit Safafa and Israeli activists from Jerusalem. The Palestinian boy, Farook Salman, a young resident of Beit Safafa is at the very front, holding a sign that is taller than him. 

Although he is yelling in Arabic, the sign is in Hebrew, with a graphic that traverses the language barrier of a photograph of the pastoral landscape of Beit Safafa being sliced with a pair of scissors. 

“We want them to listen to us, so we write our signs in their language,” he tells me. 

Beit Safafa

Beit Safafa is a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem, just south of the area commonly known as “West Jerusalem.” However, its relationship to Israel and Jerusalem has been tense since the beginning of the occupation. In 1949, Beit Safafa was divided by the Green Line, putting the northern two thirds under Israeli control and the southern third in the Jordanian-controlled occupied West Bank. In 1967, Israel annexed the southern two thirds and united them as part of Jerusalem, giving all residents the blue Jerusalem ID cards. 

Now Beit Safafa is home to just under 10,000 Palestinians—some who are originally from Beit Safafa, and many others who re-settled after leaving Jaffa, Nazareth, Haifa and other cities inside of the ’48 territories.  

However, the Jerusalem municipality does not treat the predominantly Arab town of Beit Safafa as equal residents of Jerusalem. While a city park is being planned for the south of Jerusalem in Beit Safafa (after a long battle by the residents for a green space in this part of the city) the logical geographic continuation of the park is being eschewed for the highway. While the other two neighborhoods of the German colony and Katamon are predominantly Jewish, Beit Safafa is largely Palestinian.

If built, Route 4 will separate Beit Safafa’s residents from the mosque, bakeries, hospitals and schools that are part of their daily lives. In order to cross the highway, Palestinian residents will be forced to use overpasses, underpasses and long roads to get from one side to the other—turning what was once a simple journey into an extensive ordeal.

The width of the road planned will be 33 meters wide at its smallest and 78 meters at its largest—meaning that at points, it could have as many as 10 or 11 lanes. Even with the alternate routes, underpasses and overpasses that are being implemented to justify the highway, the amount of land taken by the highway alone is devastating.

“It will make it very hard to get to school,” Saga, a Palestinian student said. “I am sure there will be a way, but it will be much more difficult than it is now.”

For some residents, although the highway has not been completed—and theoretically there is still time to halt its construction—the effects of the highway on their daily lives are already beginning.

“The highway will go behind my house,” Farook, tells me while adjusting his sign. “It’s where I normally play football with my friends, but a few days ago a soldier with a gun told us we couldn’t be on that land anymore, so we had to stop.”

Route 4 for Israeli residents

In the same way that this highway slices through the daily life of its Palestinian residents, it facilitates life for Jerusalem’s Jewish—and surrounding Jewish settlements—population. If the road is completed, it will connect the Gush Etzion settlement cluster south of the city to the Givat Ze’ev cluster in the north. Ultimately, it would link Tunnel Road—which connects Gush Etzion to Jerusalem—to Route 443, which connects several settler roads to Tel Aviv, facilitating easy access between settlers, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, further fulfilling a vision of a “Greater Jerusalem”—a vision of the city as the undisputed “Jews-only” capital of Israel. 

In many ways, Route 4 echoes the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) which, through connecting Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with Central Jerusalem, condoned Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and uprooted and displaced many Palestinian families in the process. Once the train was finished, Israeli Jews living in settlements surrounding Jerusalem had an easy route into the city while—though it was ultimately decided that Palestinians could also use the train—it divided and uprooted Palestinian communities, and served as a permanent symbol of the occupation. 

“I’m against building the road in the middle of Beit Safafa,” Maya, an Israeli resident of Jerusalem who prefers not to give her last name tells me.

“Although in some ways I think Beit Safafa should be on its own, as part of the Palestinian Authority, then it would be even further under occupation which wouldn’t be good.”

“But with this street it is not hard to figure out who is right and who is wrong,” she finishes. “It’s obvious.”

 

Source

JERUSALEM’S ROAD TO OBLIVION

s-MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-large

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There is an expression ‘divide and conquer’, but in Israel they say ‘conquer and divide’. This is not because of the fact that Hebrew is read from right to left, but because that is how zionism operates. First they conquered the homes and lands of the Palestinian people, then they divided them to insure that they remain under occupation. We see evidence of this daily because of the wall of apartheid that has literally cut off all of Palestine from the rest of Israel, and from each other.

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As if that is not bad enough, the newest tactic is to build roads that run through the centre of Palestinian villages cutting off access for the residents from those living on the other side. The following describes what is taking place today in occupied Jerusalem …

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The village residents will not benefit from the new road, whose main beneficiaries will be West Bank settlers from Gush Etzion who will be able to drive to Jerusalem’s center or Tel Aviv without stopping at a single traffic light.

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New Jerusalem highway to cut Arab neighborhood in half

Construction of highway through Beit Safafa is based on plans drawn up 22 years ago, although no detailed plan for the road was submitted and no permits for the bridges above it were issued, according to municipal officials.

By Nir Hasson
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Beit Safafa highway construction
A resident of East Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa overlooking the highway construction works yesterday.Photo by Emil Salman
 

The Jerusalem municipality is constructing a highway running through the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, cutting the pastoral area in the south of the city into two.

The road, passing mere meters away from residents’ homes, will not only ruin their quality of life but will cut many of them off from the mosque, bakery, nursery school and other facilities located a few minutes’ walk away. They will now have to travel a long way via roads, underpasses and bridges to get to the other side of the village.

The highway’s construction is based on plans drawn up 22 years ago, although no detailed plan for the road was submitted and no permits for the bridges above it were issued, according to municipal officials.

The village residents will not benefit from the new road, whose main beneficiaries will be West Bank settlers from Gush Etzion who will be able to drive to Jerusalem’s center or Tel Aviv without stopping at a single traffic light.

Ten days ago Attorney Kais Nasser filed an administrative petition against the municipality and its Moriah development company, demanding to halt the construction work and replan the road. Since he filed the petition the residents say the construction has speeded up.

The road is being built on the basis of a plan from 1990, when the city confiscated the residents’ lands for this purpose. But two later master plans for the Jerusalem district stipulated the city must submit detailed plans to build the road before beginning construction. A detailed plan was made for the road section near the Malha mall and the Gilo neighborhood, but no such plan was submitted for the section going through Beit Safafa.

Consequently, the people whose lives will be forever changed by the new road were not given a chance to submit objections or demand compensation.
The construction in Beit Safafa began although the confiscation process of the lands on which the road is to pass has not been completed, and before building permits have been issued for the bridges. The city maintains the road’s construction was approved in 1990. But since then the city issued building permits to houses built very close to the planned route in violation of planning regulations requiring to remove homes from roads of this size.

Alla Salman, who lives meters away from the planned road says since the petition against the road was filed, the construction in the neighborhood has accelerated. About 50 trucks carrying earth enter and leave the village daily, he says.

The work continues until 7 P.M., forcing people living near the site to suffer constant noise and dust.

All the trees in the small orchard in Salman’s yard will have to be cut and a few meters from his balcony the city plans to build an eight-meter acoustic wall, which the city says is a “concession” to the residents.

Mohamed Salman, the family’s father, aged 77, will no longer be able to walk to the mosque or bakery a few minutes’ walk away, and the neighborhood’s small children will have to walk hundreds of yards further and cross a bridge to get to their nursery school.

“There’ll be a separation wall like in the West Bank, in the middle of Beit Safafa,” says Ala Salman. “It’s a great injustice.”

The city responded that the road is a major project with “a high economic value.” It said the residents will benefit from the road and be able to enter it at either intersection on the village outskirts.

Source

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The above took me back to something that happened almost 30 years ago;

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I was a new immigrant to Israel and had to go to special classes to learn Hebrew. The students were divided into study groups of four to work together on special assignments. In my group, there was a young Palestinian man named Osama. We became close friends which continues until today.

*

Our group took turns at working together in each other’s homes. There was some reluctance on the part of the others to go to Osama’s home despite his willingness for us to go there. He constantly referred to his village as “his country”. His home was in Beit Safafa, the village described above.

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Finally, the entire group agreed to visit ‘his country’. It was an eye opener for all of us. Here we were in an Arab village in the heart of Jerusalem, yet we were in a different country, a country called Palestine. We were welcomed into Osama’s home by his loving family and treated with the most delicious Palestinian dishes reserved only for special holidays.

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When I read the above report I wept for Osama’s family and neighbours. It brought to light the need for a Palestinian State which would put an end to the occupation and devastation of ‘THEIR country’.

WHERE ARE THE ‘NORMAL’ KIDS IN ISRAEL TODAY?

A LOOK AT THE PAST ON REMEMBRANCE DAY … WITH THE HOPES FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
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I was considered a ‘normal’ kid while growing up in New York …. BUT one day in 1960 everything changed….
I was walking on the main street in my neighbourhood when I spotted a picket line in front of the local Woolworths. They were handing out leaflets calling for a boycott of the chain. Reason being that Blacks in the Southern states were denied service at their lunch counters.
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Picketers protesting the F.W. Woolworth store’s policy on lunch counter segregation NY,NY 1960
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I joined the protesters and continued on with them for the next year or so …. we finally won as Woolworths reversed their policy. But, one thing led to another and it certainly was not the end of the struggle.
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Unlike the title of James Dean’ movie, we were rebels WITH a cause …
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Today in Israel, history is once again being repeated. As was our victory in the States, it will be so here as well …. somewhere there is a ‘normal’ kid that will get involved in changing this situation …. that’s how it starts.

‘Mahmoud’ can’t get table at an Israeli eatery, but ‘Tamir’ can

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed they could only make a reservation using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama
Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, who were refused dinner reservations by Rishon Letzion restuarant Soho, below. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed last week they had been denied reservations when using their real names, but were able to book after calling back and using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, said that on two different occasions, they had recorded calls made to the Soho restaurant in Rishon Letzion, where they had often eaten without making reservations first.

According to Mahmoud, from Jaffa, they first encountered suspicious behavior in May. Restaurant staff took down all of Sama’s particulars but then refused to accept her reservation because “the computer was down.” Suspecting that there might be discrimination involved, the couple decided to record subsequent conversations.

Sama called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name, but was refused. Mahmoud immediately called the restaurant and was able to make a reservation for “Tamir,” for the exact same time and date. Sama then called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name. She succeeded in doing so only after reprimanding the restaurant hostess and revealing the trick they had played.

The couple then tried again earlier this month. Mahmoud called Soho and asked to make a reservation for two under the name Walid. The restaurant took his name and phone number, and transferred him to another representative, who asked for his particulars again. “Walid” was told there was no room for the day and time he was requesting: “It’s all full, you can maybe try again later to see if something opens up.”

Sama called the restaurant minutes later, and succeeded in making a reservation for two, for “Michal,” at the same time and date. Sama says she later learned the same thing had happened to other acquaintances.

Maisa Grabali, a resident of Jaffa, said that after her sister, Manar, had tried to make a reservation at Soho for two under her own name and was told there was no room, she called back and succeeded in making reservations for two, at the same time, for “Anat.”

Safouri posted the story on his Facebook page Thursday and received numerous responses as friends shared his story across the social media network. “This is the first time we’ve reached a level of disappointment that forces us to share this with all of you,” he wrote. “It’s important for us to note that the food in the restaurant is terrific, but their racist attitude is shameful.”

Bar Cohen, a Holon resident who trained to be a hostess at the restaurant, told Haaretz there were specific instructions to politely refuse reservations from Arabs. “They said, ‘OK, when someone calls and you have to answer the phone, what do you say?’ And I answered, ‘Hi, you’ve reached Soho, this is Bar.’ And they said, ‘No. First you have to ask, ‘To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?'”

Cohen said her trainer made it clear what that question was for. “‘You’re asking because you want his name, to hear if he’s an Arab or not,’ she said. And I looked at her and asked, ‘Why is that relevant?’ And she said, ‘What do you mean, why is it relevant? You know we’re one of the most successful restaurants in the country, and we don’t want to ruin our good name. If people see Arabs here, they will leave the restaurant. It’s happened to us more than once.’

“At the end of the day, they called me to assign shifts and I told the shift manager that this was a racist restaurant, that they should be ashamed of themselves and I didn’t want to work there,” said Cohen.

Many users posted comments on Soho’s own Facebook page, where the page administrator wrote on Saturday, “Since the issue is indeed important to us, both as a company and in order to maintain the great relationship we have with our guests of all nationalities, we will respond later on and things will come to light. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the exposure and the interaction on our page.”

Despite two calls to Soho by Haaretz Saturday, there was no response from the restaurant’s management.

Written FOR

MY WORLD WAS PLUNGED INTO DARKNESS

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Yesterday I went to check my email and was intending to do some updates on this site, but my monitor was in darkness. Assuming there was a power outage I rebooted the computer, it beeped away sounding off Microsoft’s welcoming theme  …. but the monitor remained in darkness.
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I determined that it was dead! In this age of throw aways and redundancies those things happen. I suppose we are expected to buy two of everything when we do in preparation for the day that the first will expire, not a very practical solution, but one that might work.
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I had a million things that needed to be done yesterday, a trip to the local Office Depot was out of the question …. a new monitor whould have to wait a day.
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But, this wee episode and inconvenience gave me a chance to reflect on the things we take for granted; electricity for one. It gave me time to reflect on the plight of our Brothers and Sisters living in the Gaza Strip whose electricity is turned off regularly by the occupiers. A monitor in darkness is nothing compared to that. A day without emailing or blogging is a frustrating experience, but not life threatening.
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All of the above reminded me of the blackout we had in New York City in the early 60’s. I posted about a wonderful experience I had then and want to share it with you all again in case you missed it …
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HOW A MEMORIAL CANDLE LIT THE WAY

A DesertPeace Editorial


In the early 60’s I shared an apartment in Lower Washington Heights/Upper Spanish Harlem with my best friend Tommy. It was mainly a Hispanic community at the time, quite lively and musical 24/7.

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On the street level of our building was a row of stores, one being a ‘Bodega’, a Spanish style grocery store. If I ever ran out of essentials that’s where I shopped…. and was always carefully scrutinized by the owners. Two brothers owned the store, two Polish Jews who had been to hell and back in nazi occupied Poland.
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Both of these guys were very distrustful of their clients and carefully watched them through mirrors strategically posted on the upper walls. Both assumed that I was a Puerto Rican, therefore I was a potential shoplifter in their eyes.
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In November of 1965, New York City went dark, as did most of the Northeastern States. After a few minutes, it became obvious that it wasn’t just a blown fuse in the building and phone calls indicated that we might remain in darkness for quite a while…
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Rather than panic, I ran downstairs to the Bodega and asked if they had ‘Yahrtzeit’ candles…. Yahrtzeit candle was the Yiddish term used for memorial candles that came in a glass and burned for 24 hours. The shopkeeper was shocked that I (a Puerto Rican) knew the Yiddish name for those candles and asked how I knew that word. I told him in perfect Yiddish that it was the language spoken in my home by my parents. His response being ” So you are not a Puerto Rican?” I asked if that would make a difference as far as him watching every move I made while shopping in his store. “Of course it will”, he responded….
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At that point I felt obligated to remind him of the discrimination he and his brother experienced in Poland, asking him why he was doing the same to others. We had a long conversation about it and they agreed that the distrust they felt was not justified in any way and they would try to change their attitudes, which they did….In Poland it was distrust and fear that led to hatred, it was hatred that led to genocide…. opening one’s heart and mind can prevent that….
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All because a memorial candle lit the way for them.
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Bottom line is that I have a new monitor (only bought one btw) so I’m back :)

THE RED DIAPER BABIES ~~ THEN AND NOW

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A ramble about the Post War ‘Red Diaper Babies’ ….
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We were post war and pre McCarthy era rebels in the making. The times were turbulent but nothing stood in our way. We had our schools, our cultural activities, but most importantly, we had our summer camps.
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As the years went by, as our lives changed, for the most part we lost contact with each other. One of our dearest friends from those days passed away earlier this year. His untimely death brought many of us together again, once again sharing and reliving those wonderful days of yesteryear.
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Our camp, Kinderland, took part in the May Day proceedings yesterday. The Forward caught them in action and reported the following … I just know that our dearly departed brother, Gene Sherman, would have been there, I’m sure he was smiling down at all of his brothers and sisters, proud that some lessons were actually learned in our youth. I dedicate this post to his memory, which must stand as a blessing for all of us who knew him.
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Occupy Camp Kinderland

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

josh nathan-kazis  – Judy Rosenbaum

On the fringes of the Occupy movement’s May 1 rally in Manhattan’s Union Square, a group of older Jewish activists gathered under the yellow banner of a leftist Jewish summer camp and prepared to march.

“We have to be here,” said Judy Rosenbaum, longtime staffer of the unremittingly progressive Camp Kinderland. “It’s what we do. It’s what we are for. It’s what we support.”

Rosenbaum, whose days as a Kinderland camper are 64 years behind her, was one of a handful of Kinderlanders who had come out for what activists hope will be the reawakening of the anti-corporate Occupy movement, which has been largely dormant since protesters camping in a park in downtown Manhattan were evicted in November.

Founded in 1923 by Jewish Communists, Kinderland is perhaps unique in the degree to which it has maintained its activist traditions. Its theme this summer? “Occupy.”

Asked why she had come to the protest, current Kinderland camper Bonnie, 11, answered: “My mom.” Bonnie’s mother, Catherine Fitz, explained: “I think this is an important moment…I don’t think I would forgive myself if I let my kid miss it.”

Kinderland wasn’t the only leftist Jewish group with a presence at the Union Square rally. Activists with the New York-based Jewish social justice group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice announced in an email that they would participate, though this reporter did not see their banner over the course of an hour and a half in the crowded park.

Other activists also said that they had seen members of the socialist Zionist youth movements Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror at May Day events earlier in the day, wearing their trademark blue shirts. One activist was handing out free pamphlets of the writing of the Polish Jewish Marxist Rosa Luxemburg.

Like at last year’s Occupy events, protest regulars hawking radical newspapers mixed with hip kids dressed in the styles of Brooklyn’s more fashionable neighborhoods.

The south side of Union Square had the feel of the rock festival. And it kind of was. Tom Morello of the leftist band Rage Against the Machine led a sing-along to “This Land is Your Land” from a stage at the foot of the park, followed by hipster rap group Das Racist playing their single “Michael Jackson.” Later a choir sang the union ballad “Solidarity Forever.”

As young women danced along, one 30-something-looking man was overheard remarking: “I’d kill to be a 20-year-old right now.”

The scene on the square’s west and north sides was more generally sober. Unions representing teachers, transport workers, and nurses, among others, prepared for their march down Broadway.

Banners in the square mostly targeted Wall Street banks and social inequality, favorite themes of the Occupy movement. But at least one argued against an attack on Iran, while another read “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.”

“I tend to be very anti-capitalist,” said Jesse Marcus, a yarmulke-wearing activist at the Union Square rally who said he had been involved in organizing Jewish-themed elements to the Occupy protests in the fall. “Capitalism makes for workforce discrimination.”

With reporting by Charlie McLaghan


ECHOES OF HELEN THOMAS IN ISRAEL?

When Helen Thomas muttered these words it resulted in her forced resignation … 
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But her sentiments seem to make sense to at least one rabbi in Israel …
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Rabbi Froman: Deport mosque burners

Tekoa’s rabbi calls for firm action against ‘price tag’ activists, says their acts ‘present settlers as savages’

“I am saddened by these actions. These people must be deported,” the rabbi said in an interview to the Makor Rishon newspaper.
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Full report can be read HERE.
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All of the above reminds me of an incident that occurred about 27 years ago…
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The recently outlawed ‘Kach Party’, which was led by Meir kahana had applied to the Jewish Agency, a government created organisation, to rent premises owned by them for their annual convention. Those were the P E M D (pre e-mail days), so I had to use snail mail to correspond with the Jerusalem Post to voice my objections. I wrote to them expressing my concerns about a government sponsored agency renting premises to a declared enemy of the state. I went further by calling for the deportation of the American born kahane as well as his followers.
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My letter to the editor was published and the responses were unbelievable ….
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I was accused of…
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Using McCarthyite tactics ..
Being a fascist ..
Being an Anti Semite ..
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It was amazing …. accusations such as those coming from McCarthyites, fascists and anti Semites themselves ..
If I held a job connected to the government in any way I am sure I would have been forced to resign as well …
Let’s watch and see what lies in store for brave Rabbi Froman for taking the stand he did.
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For some background on this remarkable man, have a look at THIS post from the archives… (unfortunately, the link at the end of the report no longer works :( )
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Also see THIS link.

WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS TO DIM…

LOOKING BACK AT THE ROSENBERG EXECUTION
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Sketches of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg presented to their sons by the artist Pablo Picasso
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It was a Friday evening, 58 years ago today, that I sat in my bedroom waiting for the lights to dim. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were about to be electrocuted in Sing Sing Prison and I imagined the powerful surge of power causing a brown out in our own home. When that didn’t happen, I thought to myself that perhaps there was a stay of execution …. but I was wrong. Despite the protests, despite the appeals from world leaders, the couple was put to death just one minute before the Sabbath entered, as not to violate the sanctity of the day. It was a reminder of Christ’s execution, also rushed as not to violate the Sabbath.
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Many of us were told that they were innocent of the charges of espionage. We were told that they were the ‘first victims of American fascism’. We were told decades later that this might not have been the case.
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They left behind two young sons, Michael and Robert, one my age and the other two years older. I could not imagine what these two were going through and could not comprehend how the government rendered them orphans with the flick of a switch.
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From a Guardian report of two years ago we can get a glimpse of their reactions that day which changed their lives forever….
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It’s early evening on Friday 19 June 1953, and in a garden in New Jersey two little boys, brothers aged six and 10, are playing baseball. The light starts to fade, but the boys play on. Strangely, because this isn’t normally how it is, no adults come to call them in. The children continue. Eventually it gets so dark that they can’t see the ball any more. But still they go on playing.

Deep in their hearts, these little boys know that something appalling, something devastating, something almost too terrible to contemplate, is happening. Deep in their hearts, they know that as soon as they step back into the house, their lives will be changed horribly, and for ever.

Eventually, reluctantly, the boys head inside. Robert, the younger of the two, is a bit hazy about what happens next. He remembers Michael, his brother, becoming distraught, and he remembers the adults trying to console him. He remembers realising, with the black-and-white clarity of a child’s take on the world, that his six-year-old brain simply isn’t equipped to deal with the awfulness of the evening’s events. He remembers going to bed, and trying to shut everything out. He remembers feeling that if he just feigns ignorance the grown-ups will leave him alone and then he can start to deal with the nightmare as best he can.

What has just happened is that Robert and Michael’s parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, have been executed. At one minute before sundown, while the children were in the garden, their parents – one aged 35, the other 37 – were strapped into an electric chair in Sing Sing prison, near New York. Julius first, then Ethel. In the time that elapsed between the boys going out to play and coming inside again, their country has made them orphans.

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 At a meeting held in New York last week, the younger son, Robert Meerapol, shared the following with the audience;  He said he hasn’t gone to one of these commemorations in decades because they presented his parents as poor, innocent victims.  They weren’t – they knew what they were doing and they made the decisions with deliberation.  He disagreed with their decisions but he does so with 60 years of hindsight.  He knew why they did what they did and as parents of 2 little kids, he would have done otherwise.  That being said, he is glad to be their son and he much rather be their child than the child of Greenglass.  He said much more but that was the essence.   He wants the case reopened because his parents were not guilty of what they were executed for – they knew no atomic secrets and couldn’t/didn’t pass them on to anyone.  Evidence against them was a total creation.
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Greenglass was the brother of Ethel, the man who pointed his finger at the Rosenbergs in order to save his own skin for the guilt on his part. The ‘buck stopped there’, Julius and Ethel refused to point fingers or name names…. for that the maximum penalty had to be paid. Again, their sons reflected on this in a Los Angeles Times report from two years ago. It is definitely worth reading and can be done so HERE.*

The Rosenberg case, like so many others that followed, leaves us all with many unanswered questions. Hopefully, at least in this particular one, the Meerapols will be successful in their endeavors to reopen the files. It could possibly lead to many other cases finally coming to light and ending the decades of silence on the part of the US government, which in itself is a great crime.

MY PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST DONALD TRUMP

The smuggest shmuck in America!

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We all had our favourite ‘hang outs’  when we were teens. In my High School community it was a place called ‘The Sweet Shoppe’. It was across the street from our school and was the place to be after classes (sometimes even during classes).
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One day it was gone. Nothing left but a hole in the ground. For many of us, this was the original ‘Ground Zero’. Within weeks, the entire block was gone, including one of our favourite movie theatres. All that remained was a Catholic church, which was then surrounded by piles of rubble.
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It didn’t take long to find out what was going on, it was the beginning of the end of our childhood. It was the site of the newly planned multi storey condos which would take on the name of Trump Village. This was the creation of a man known as Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump. I refer to the project as a creation, it was actually the destruction of our lifestyles and community. It was a demonstration of ‘money talks’ and nothing or no one else matters.
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I have harboured these bitter feelings against the Trump family for over 50 years. These feelings got a rude awakening as Donald Trump arrogantly made his announcement that he seeks the office of President of the United States.
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Don’t allow this to happen. Let this man know that America is NOT a stage for him to act out his fantasies. Say to him in unison, in the loudest voice possible, YOU’RE FIRED!
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Don’t allow him to turn the entire country into a pile of rubble as his father did on only one street in Brooklyn.

CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS

My maternal grandmother was a simple Shtetel Jew. She came from a place not much different than the small town portrayed in Fiddler on The Roof.

Traditionally the womenfolk from those areas were uneducated in matters of anything other than home making and child raising, while the menfolk studied their Holy Books for hours on end. Life was simple for them, and they themselves were basically a very simple folk.

I remember my grandmother going through the frenzie of cleaning the house this time of year…. the traditional Passover cleaning. All traces of leaven had to be removed from the home before the start of the Holiday. To her, that process included the removal of any trace of dust or smears on the window panes. The house sparkled when she was finished. Most of our non Jewish neighbours were going through the same process, but simply called it ’spring cleaning’, ridding the house of all unwanted matter, including broken furniture and junk.

I remember asking my grandmother why she was going through such a frenzie…. her answer was simple and to the point…. “If a Jew eats bread during Passover he will die!” That was what she was taught, that’s what she taught us….

In Israel today, things are not much different than life in the Shtetel when it comes to Passover preparations. But today there is a growing number of non observant Jews as well as a growing number of non Jews. This is a threat to the lifestyle of the self imposed Shtetel Jew living here today.

Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?

Where is the uproar against the Neanderthal rabbis that have recently called for the expulsion or the genocide of the Palestinians? WHERE??? As in previous years, the Palestinians living on the ‘other side’ of the great wall of apartheid will be sealed in for the duration of the Holiday (8 days), literally making the State of Israel Arabrein for that period of time. Where is the uproar against this? WHERE???

Israel does need a cleansing… a good one; not only of bread during the Holiday season but also of hatred. Both are violations of the Holy Teachings.

The above, in part, is a repost from the archives

LIFE BEFORE THE WEB

Wow! It makes me feel old writing this particular post, but I thought it might be interesting to some of the younger folks out there to see how life was before the advent of the WEB and computers.

HOW DID WE GET OUR MESSAGE ACROSS BEFORE THERE WAS A BLOG?


Before the Blog, there was a ‘soapbox’. Cindy Sheehan even calls her Blog Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.  And just what was a soapbox? It was literally just that, a soap box! They were set up in strategic spots in crowded areas, usually public parks. Union Square in New York was a popular place as was the Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park. ‘Speakers’ mounted the box and spouted out their political or religious opinions to sometimes large crowds of people.  There were usually the same people doing this day after day.

Today we can do this via our Blog or Website without ever meeting another human being face to face…..

WHO FOLLOWED US?

Every day I get a dozen or so emails that someone is following me on ‘Twitter’. In the ‘olden days’ the only people that ever followed me were perverts or FBI Agents. How times have changed. Today, via the NET, I am  followed by perverts, trolls and zionists that go as far as to crosspost whatever I write and get new readers for my Blog. I am sure this is not their purpose, but that’s what is happening.

We are also followed today by a system known as GPS. If you have a cellular phone, your location and movements can be tracked by government agencies or the local police. A bit disturbing to say the least….

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Also every day I get a dozen or so requests (usually from total strangers) to be my friend on FaceBook. The strangest requests are from people that have already been my friend for over 60 years.

What makes them think that joining them on FaceBook will bring us closer? All it seems to do is open ourselves up to the perverts, trolls and zionists that are  following us on the WEB…. why give them another venue?

SAVING THE FORESTS
Before the advent of the WEB, if you wanted information on anything you went to a reference book, the library or a newspaper. Today you click on Google or another search engine and usually find exactly what you are looking for. Just think of all the trees that have been saved a a result of this. We no longer need books, libraries or newspapers.

Rebooting



If our computer ‘freezes’ or stops operating at its maximum capacity, we simply switch it off and start it up again. This usually does the trick. Family vacations were the ‘trick’ of the past. Families and friends would pack up their suitcases and go someplace to have fun…. to spend quality time together ….. to recharge their batteries. Today, the concept of family and friends is completely different, AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY. As much as I enjoy the WEB and the modern technology of the day, I miss the human touch …..

In days gone by we used to get a nice big hug from our loved ones…. today it’s the ‘virtual hug’ …..

(~~~ HUGS TO ALL OF YOU ~~~)
It’s just not the same :(

CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY

November 7th,1967; the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution


The October Revolution in November….. that always confused the people. In celebration we went off to a neighbourhood pub in Toronto called the Brunswick House. It was always a fun place filled with fun loving people. In honour of the day, the favourite drink of the evening was Labatt’s 50. I was positive till this very day that it was specially produced to celebrate the Revolution…. it wasn’t :(

At the end of the evening and after my fill of  brewskies, I stood up and announced to the crowd that I was going home to make a baby! Nine months later our little bouncing Bolshevik was born.
Today, he too is a Blogger known to many of my readers. His Blog can be found HERE.

The world at that time was divided into two major forces, NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The Cold War was going ahead full speed. It was hoped that these conflicts would have ended years earlier with the resolving of the Cuban Missile Crisis…. they didn’t and conflicts continued. It was during that very period that my eyes were opened to a certain reality, the Cold War and everything connected with it was a farce. This happened one evening, of all places, at a ballet performance in Madison Square Garden. I was the guest of a good friend who happened to be the foreign correspondent for the Soviet News Agency , TASS. We were seated in a special ‘box’ reserved for foreign diplomats. I was seated next to Anastas Mikoyan who was in New York at the time to represent his country at the United Nations emergency session dealing with the crisis. Earlier in the day scenes of the session were aired on TV showing the Soviet representatives  ‘going at it’ with Adlai Stevenson who was the US Representative to the UN.

Back to the ballet….. A few minutes after we were seated, everyone rose to welcome a special, invited guest….. Adlai Stevenson! I was shocked…. almost hurled my dinner when Mikoyan embraced him in the usual Soviet fashion of a bear hug and kiss. They seemed to be the best of friends…. yet publicly at the UN they appeared to be after each others very life. It was then and there that I realised that ‘international politics’ was nothing but a stage play, not much different than what was about to start on the stage below us. International politics was nothing but a chess game and we the people were/are the pawns of that game.

Getting back to my son’s birth …. about a week earlier another crisis developed between the Super Powers…. Czechoslovakia was invaded by troops of the Warsaw Pact, led by the Red Army itself. This was the beginning of a long, drawn out end to international love and support of the Soviet Union. Discussions and splits took place in all Communist circles throughout the world. My personal involvement in the Party was not effected as I was there to improve the conditions of the Working Class of Canada having little or nothing to do with the international doings of foreign governments. There was too much left to be done in Canada itself.

In 1979 a nation unheard of by many, Afghanistan, was making headline news throughout the world. The Soviet Union had invaded them that year. To many, this action was not different than CIA interference in Ghana, The Congo and Chile years earlier (just to name a few). This action was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. Support for them diminished greatly both inside and out of the country itself.

What was conceived in liberty, what was the hope of much of the International Working Class literally died in 1991. Needless to say, this was celebrated throughout the capitalist world as can be seen in this New York Times article; END OF THE SOVIET UNION; The Soviet State, Born of a Dream, Dies
Still, years later the world remains in tumult; wars and invasions raging in many of the countries mentioned above. Today the culprit is the United States, not the Soviet Union. People are dying, people are denied their basic human rights including Statehood. In reality, this was ‘check mate’ for humanity.

When will we see a REAL entity CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY? THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THAT CHANGE!!

Bella Ciao Libertad!


 

Translation of Bella Ciao

Una mattina mi son svegliato………..One morning I woke up
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
Una mattina mi son svegliato………..One morning I woke up
Ed ho trovato l’invasor………………….And I’ve found the invader 

O partigiano portami via……………….Oh partisan take me away
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
O partigiano portami via……………….Oh partisan take me away
Che mi sento di morir…………………..As I feel I’m dying

E se io muoio da partigiano…………..And if I die as partisan
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
E se io muoio da partigiano…………..And if I die as partisan
Tu mi devi seppellir……………………..You have to bury me

Mi seppellirai lassu’ in montagna…..You will bury me up there on the mountains
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
Mi seppellirai lassu’ in montagna…..You will bury me up there over the mountains
Sotto l’ombra di un bel fior……………Under the shadow of a nice flower

E le genti che passeranno………………And the people who will pass by
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
E le genti che passeranno………………And the people who will pass by
Mi diranno “che bel fior”………………They will say “what a fine flower”

Questo è il fiore del partigiano………This is the flower of the partisan
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao….Hello fair lady, hello, hello
Questo è il fiore del partigiano………This is the flower of the partisan
Morto per la liberta’……………………..Dead for the freedom.

 

 

MY TRAVELS WITH A ‘TERRORIST’


Every Palestinian that boards a plane is a potential terrorist just like every Jew that boards a plane is a potential millionaire and heir to the Rothschild fortunes, according to the same line of thinking from those that don’t.

Before I present the post written by my Associate Mazin Qumsiyeh, I want to tell you about a personal experience I had on a flight back to Israel twenty years ago….

I had a two hour stopover in Brussels on my way back from visiting family in New York. In the terminal I found myself seated next to a young man from Washington State. I guess my sandals were a dead giveaway as he asked me if I was heading to Israel. When I told him I was, he said he was going there as well to visit his father who recently had a heart attack. He told me he was born in Palestine (Jericho) but went to America to attend university twenty five years earlier, married an American and decided to stay…  He hadn’t seen his family since….

He was told that one needed special ‘tokens’ to use the public telephones in Israel and asked me where he could buy some…. I reached into my pocket and gave him a handful of them, more than were needed to call his family upon arrival.

We became instant friends and arranged to be seated together on our flight to Tel Aviv. He was the manager of a supermarket in Seattle, spoke a perfect English and was a most pleasant traveling companion. We had planned to share a cab to Jerusalem upon our arrival, but when the plane landed he told me it was best that I didn’t wait for him as he would most likely be taken to the ‘bad room’ for interrogation. He was right, he was taken out of line and I never saw him again. Despite having a US Passport, despite it listing his birthplace as Israel (we all know that Palestine is just a figment of our imagination) his name (Mohammed) and his olive skin colour were a dead giveaway that the man was a potential terrorist.

A month or so later he called my home from Seattle to tell me he never got to see his father who died about a week after his planned visit. He was escorted to the next plane leaving for the US and was forced to board it….just one of many tragedies inflicted upon the Palestinian people today only because they are Palestinians.

The rest of this post  describes another nightmare at the airport in Tel Aviv… twenty years later but the same hatred and ignorance of the occupier…

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Our son visited us under the occupation and just left.  We are grateful and energized by this visit (albeit short).  The questioning both on entrance and exit totaling hours shows how callous such a colonial/apartheid system can get.  At the airport coming in, the apartheid authorities even showed him photos of both me and my mother (his grandmother) asking him to identify us! At least he was let in though.  We have many friends, relatives and colleagues who are denied entry by the fascist border officials.  One colleague just denied entry Wednesday is a PhD student doing her thesis research on Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in nonviolent resistance! But these and other signs (e.g. the attack on the humanitarian aid ships in International waters and building walls, the denial of medical care except to those willing to collaborate with the occupiers) are signs of political Zionists reaching a dead end and thrashing about aimlessly.  There are also signs of the beginnings of a new and now perhaps global intifada (uprising) against repression characterized by spread of information virally though the internet (bypassing the controlled “mainstream media”)  and by the spread of the boycotts, divestments, and sanctions movement (BDS, see ).

New Video of the latest demonstration in Al-Walaja, a village of over 18,000 dunums before 1948. Over 75% of its land was stolen and all its buildings were destroyed in 1948 as the natives were ethnically cleansed (500+ other villages and towns suffered the same fate).  European Jews came to build a life on the destruction of other people’s lives.  10% of the Palestinian refugees from Al-Walaja rebuilt their lives in the portion that remained free from occupation before 1967.  In 1967, the area was occupied and the 25% of the land that remains was targeted to be colonized.  Already 33 homes were demolished, 88 have pending orders for home demolitions, and the remaining homes are being surrounded by the apartheid wall isolating them from the remaining agricultural lands.  In this demonstration 3 days before the Israeli “supreme court” is to rule on the wall path here, the villagers with internationals express their views of apartheid.


 

For a UN fact sheet on Al-Walaja , see

 

And here is a video of a spontaneous dance flashdance that happened on the El Malha Israeli checkpoint between occupied Beit Jalla and occupied Jerusalem.


 

The Zionist Jewish French President: As if his marital challenges were not enough cause for concern, “Sarco the Sayan” has suddenly emerged as the most infamous accolade of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The influential French daily Le Figaro last week revealed that the French leader once worked for — and perhaps still does, it hinted — Israeli intelligence as a sayan (Hebrew for helper), one of the thousands of Jewish citizens of countries other than Israel who cooperate with the katsas (Mossad case-officers)

US to Spend $511 Million to Expand Kabul Embassy, Published on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by the Associated Press

Action especially for citizens of the UK: Reject the moves to change laws in England that would curtail possibility of prosecuting Israeli war criminals.

PISS ON RACISM

Let me start off by apologising for the crudeness of the heading and some of the language used in the text itself, but there is not a civil or genteel way to deal with the topic at hand, that being racism.

I was awakened at 4:02 AM by the call to prayer from the mosque down the hill from my home today. It reminded me of a telephone call I received at 2 A.M. on this very day twenty years ago. The call was short and sweet, from a dear friend in London…. it went as follows; “You will have a grave to piss on tomorrow”. You will understand the significance of that call when you read further into this post…..

The McCarthy era was techniclly over but it seemed to have given some a justification to carry on with fascist and racist activities. One in particular justified his actions by claiming he was acting in the name of the Jewish people. One that was called meir kahane, the vilest most dangerous individual that graced our planet since hitler himself.

In the late 1950s to early 1960s Kahane led a life of secrecy. His strong anti-Communist views landed him a position as a consultant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). His assignment was to infiltrate the right-wing John Birch Society and report his findings back to the FBI. For this position Kahane took on the false name Michael King and spent nearly two and a half years posing as a Christian, learning all he could about the John Birch Society. (From) ….. So you can see he received his ‘training’ from the best….

Soon afterwards he founded the Jewish Defense League. The group was started to serve as an ‘escort service’ for Jews having to walk through predominantly Black neighbourhoods in Brooklyn on their way to their synagagues on Friday nights. In reality it was a group of stormtroopng thugs that terrorised those neighbourhoods with weekly pogroms.

I had my first personal encounter with kahane in 1960 when I was taking part in a Civil Rights demonstration at the construction site of the Brooklyn Downstate Medical Centre. My involvement led to me being arrested. As I was being dragged off to the ‘paddy wagon’ kahane himself was standing there cheering the police on. This resulted in a personal vendetta against the bastard, one that lasted till the day he was murdered.

From that day on I did everything in my power to disrupt and try to stop any activity sponsored by him. I was part of  a group that removed posters put up by his goons, disrupted his meetings and did everything in our power to keep his message silent. In many cases we were successful. His message was not limited to being anti Black, it soon expanded, in true McCarthyite fashion to anti communism and anti Sovietism.

He carried his hatred with him when he immigrated to Israel where he founded the (soon to be outlawed) Kach Party. He was successful in winning a seat in the Knesset in 1984. By then, I was also in Israel, continuing my protests against him and his group.

The last time I saw him was at a street rally held in Jerusalem. We had enough people with us which made it impossible for him to speak. When it was over he approached me, pointed his index finger at me and said “after I get rid of the Arabs I’m coming after you”. My response was “you won’t be getting rid of anyone, and I’ll piss on your grave before you get me”! (Hence the phonecall from London mentioned earlier).

This morning at 4:02 the cries of ‘Allah hu Akbar, Allah hu Akbar’ (God is great) were music to my ears…. music that he wasn’t around to enjoy. Unfortunately his ideas live on, but they too will soon be relegated to the same waste bin of history where he rots away.

So join me today, and everyday, print out the image presented above, tape it to your toilet tank and
PISS ON RACISM!  PISS ON THE OCCUPATION!!


MY FATHER THE PIECE WORKER


Mike Gold wrote a book in 1930 which he called ‘Jews Without Money’. It’s a book that still remains a must read for anyone who wishes to get a better understanding of the economic crisis we are in today…

My father was one of those Jews, a man that worked long hours in a sweatshop for years to provide for his family. He referred to himself as a ‘piece worker’ as his wage depended on how many garments he finished in a given week. The dress industry at the time was broken down as follows, there was the pattern maker, followed by the cutter, followed by the operator, and finally the presser. At the end of the process, each worker was given a slip of paper which he turned in at the end of the week…. hence the title of piece worker.

It was a long and boring existence for these workers, although they were unionised for the most part, the wages were almost non existent compared to others. Yet, we survived, and none of us ever went to bed hungry.

But then came the war …. things changed. A large section of these workers were sent abroad to ‘make the world safe for democracy’….. little did they know… For many, the horrors they witnessed abroad changed their lives completely. Earlier, some went off voluntarily to fight the beginnings of what became fascism in Europe, these were the ones that went off to Spain to join the International Brigades. These were the ones  that were called the ‘premature anti -fascists’.

When it was all over, many of these piece workers became active peace workers. They saw the horrors of war with their own eyes … they heard the cry of ‘Never Again’ with their own ears.

For the most part, that generation is long gone. The unfortunate thing is so are the lessons they learnt. Their offspring didn’t seem interested in carrying the banners left by them. They remain tucked away in dark corners of the attic, but the horrors continue to this very day…. why the complicity? Why the ‘I don’t care’ attitude?

It is often heard from parents that “we are doing this for the children” …. is it not time to ‘do something for the parents’ as well? Is it not time to help bring about the ‘CHANGE’ that so many of our parents dreamt of? Hatred thrives in America today. Do we not owe it to ourselves and  to our parents to change that situation?

Last week was the 44th anniversary of the death of my dear father. In 1984 I wrote the following in honour of his 80th birthday…. again I want to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to him for making me the man I am today.
~~~

For My Father

10 March, 1984

Had he lived

Dad would have been eighty this April,

But the dust and fibers of the dress shop

Choked the life out of him

When he was only sixty two.


He had so much to live for,

Grandchildren to play with,

A sea full of fish

Just waiting to be caught,

But instead he himself was caught.


Somehow, I cannot picture him as an old man,

He has such a youthful outlook on life

And enjoyed it as much as possible.

The boring hours in the shop

Made life that much more meaningful to him.


Known to all who knew him

Simply as Uncle Benny,

He was loved by all who knew him.


A simple man by nature,

He asked for very little out of life.

Uncle Benny was a proud man,

Never pretending to be something he wasn’t.


He was a simple worker

Yet he held his head high

And never let the system get him down.

But the system finally got him

So sick that he could work no more.


He was not a strong man

So he didn’t suffer long,

He died as he lived, quietly and with dignity.

There is an empty space in all of us

Who knew and loved him,

An empty space at the dinner table that

He so proudly used to grace with

His feasts of fish or whatever.


An empty space because

As quiet as he was,

He made his mark on you

And you had to like him,

He was just that kind of a guy.


So, Uncle Benny

Be assured that you are not forgotten.

We all miss you and

Will celebrate your eightieth birthday.

Rest in peace in a world of peace.

A HOME IS NOT A SAND CASTLE


Summertime meant endless hours on the beach when I was a youngster. We got to know the times of the tides and were able to determine when it was best to build sand castles in the wet sand at the shoreline…

Either the tide itself came in or a group of bullies came before that and destroyed our efforts…. this was to be expected and was part of the ‘game’….

Life for Palestinian families is not a game. Their homes are not sand castles, but the uniformed bullies treat them as such, demolishing them for sport and then doing it again when they are rebuilt.

The tide will also change in this instance and the homes will remain in the end…. the uniformed bullies will be the ones that will eventually get washed away by decent elements of humanity such as the ones described below…..

International activists help rebuild Palestinian homes repeatedly demolished

Israel has demolished more than 20,000 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. And some residents have had their houses torn down multiple times. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports from East Jerusalem on how a small group of Israeli and international activists are helping rebuild Palestinian homes that have been repeatedly demolished.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA ! – BONNE FÊTE CANADA !

Rambling down Memory Lane…….

July 1st has always been a special day for me. Forty three years ago today I left the United States and applied for Landed Immigrant Status in Canada. My wife and I picked this date as it was a National Holiday and we figured there would be less security at the Toronto Airport…. and less questions. It was a special day in Canada, it was the 100th anniversary of Confederation.

My suspicions proved correct…. there was only a handful of security personnel on duty and I was asked only two questions…
“How long do you plan on staying in Canada?”…. to which I responded “Forever!”

The second question was “Are you a subversive?”…. to which I responded quite naively “What does that mean?”
“Do you consider yourself a threat to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second or any one of her heirs?” (pronounced ‘hairs’ when I verbalise this story)…. to which I responded “Definitely not!”
“Welcome to Canada! Here is your Landed Immigrant Status Card!”
(Let it be known that in no way did I consider the Royal Family ‘Divine’ in any way, but I did not feel I was a threat to their existence.)

Little did that Immigration Officer know, but in the United States I WAS considered a subversive…. in fact, I carried with me a ten page document of allegations against me from Army ‘Intelligence’ which ended with the words “Your entrance into any branch of the Armed Forces at any time would be detrimental to the security of our nation.” How much more of a ‘subversive’ can one hope to be?
It would be ‘safe’ to say that I owe my life to the FBI. The document I mentioned above was full of information provided by them. Their ‘planted’ informants knew the exact date and time that I joined the Communist Party of the United States. They knew every move I made during all my years of activity.

On my 18th birthday I registered with the Draft Board. We had to do that by law in those days. A few years later I received my order to report for my physical examination. I will never forget the short, burly man in charge that day…. Sgt. Randazzo. His face and voice haunts me to this day. The day I had to report was like a mini High School Reunion. Almost every male in my graduation class was present that day. We were lined up and were asked if we were interested in volunteering for the Marines. As this was a sure way to be sent to Viet Nam, there wasn’t a single volunteer. Randazzo then proceeded to pick every third person in line to serve in the Marines. But…… immediately before that an announcement was made…. “Anyone that was ever arrested, please go to Room 101.” Off I went….. which meant that poor Michael, who was standing next to me, was picked to be a Marine…. it should have been me, but I was being interrogated instead. Needless to say, Michael does not speak to me to this day.

If you move the ‘timer’ to 9:10 on the following video, you will get a pretty good idea what that interrogation was like….

A few months later I received my 4F. At first I was given ten days to deny the allegations in the document I received…. non compliance earned me my 4F. The rest is history…..

Moving on…. here we were in a new country, a country with totally different values and definitions than the one we had just left. But, I felt that we were still not ‘home free’…. our new government might discover our past and deport us, so we prepared for this by purchasing a framed photograph of Her Majesty and hanging it in the hallway of our new apartment. If the Royal Mounted Police ever came to ‘visit’ it would be the first thing they saw. We had two new statuses that we did not want to lose…. Landed Immigrant and NON Subversive!

My political activities continued throughout my years in Canada, including running in elections for both the Federal Parliament and the Province of Ontario…. on the ticket of the Communist Party of Canada. This Party was/is legal, so my status of Non Subversive did not change.

The Mounties never came and we were never deported. Canada was a totally different world than the one we had just came from… that was in 1967. Things are a bit different today, unfortunately. Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party hacks have ‘bridged the gap’ between the two countries. Canada today is as close to a 51st State of the United States as Israel is…. this makes me very sad. Hopefully things will change and Canada can once again pride itself for being the country represented as ‘”The true North, proud and free!” As long as the Tories remain in power that will not be the case.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA!

Also see

AN OPEN LETTER TO NEIL SEDAKA TO BOYCOTT APARTHEID

It was announced on the radio today that you have a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv this coming October. I was a bit taken back by these announcements…. for good reason.

We grew up together and lived on the same street in Brighton Beach for many years. My brother was in your class at Lincoln High. Your cousin was in mine. The ‘Knish’ Shop on the boardwalk, owned by your family was one of my favourite places.

I have fond memories of growing up in Brighton, as I am sure you do as well. It was a cultural paradise at the time… you down the street from me, Neil Diamond around the corner, The Tokens just a few blocks away… it was a fun place. Things changed, today English is a fourth or fifth language in the area because of the influx of immigrants from the FSU.

When we were growing up we were taught certain values. We lived in a predominately Jewish Progressive Community. You might remember the mural in our local Bank, The Lincoln Savings Bank. It was a mural of Abraham Lincoln surrounded by freed slaves. We were brought up in an area that stressed Freedom and Human Dignity FOR ALL.

In our school we were taught that Democracy is sacred, that Freedom is sacred. Those are the values we live by today.

Unfortunately Israel, which has been my home for nearly 26 years, does not live by these values. Israel has been/is building a wall of Apartheid to separate Jews from Palestinians.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

Israel has illegally occupied all areas belonging to Palestine for the past 43 years, denying them a chance to live as a free people.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

For the past 63 years Israel has been involved in a Genocide against the civilians of Palestine, a genocide that continues without condemnation.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

I urge you to read THIS LINKED article, written by a very close Palestinian friend of mine. See how things look from ‘the other side of the wall’.

It is left to people like yourself to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only nonviolent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians. Faced with all this and more, Palestinians are calling on all people to support their struggle for their basic rights. Unfortunately, recognizing Palestinian rights will require a fundamental shift in Israeli society. I suspect that this change will be achieved only via external pressure. The least that one can do in such a situation is not act as if it is business as usual.I appeal to you to add your voice to those brave people the world over who boycott Israel. I urge you to cancel your planned performance in Israel.

In Jerusalem there is a Memorial Park to the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem. In the centre of the Park, there is an area dedicated to The Righteous Gentiles, those non Jews that saved Jewish lives during the war. I beg you to consider joining the list of Righteous Jews, those that saved Palestinian lives during this ugly occupation we live in. Join the growing list of Jews that are saying “NOT IN MY NAME!”

I ask you to consider postponing indefinitely your appearance here until your Palestinian fans are as free as your Israeli fans to come and hear you perform in Tel Aviv, as free and equal citizens in their own country. And I urge you to ask your fans everywhere to help bring that day closer by working together for justice for all here.


I hope you can appreciate that by writing this letter I open myself up to outrageous fines, which I would refuse to pay resulting in a prison sentence. That will happen if a proposed Bill against promoting the Boycott against Israel passes in the Knesset,
THIS TOO IS NOT A VALUE WE GREW UP WITH!

Israel is NOT the Democracy you might think it is…. far from it.

Sincerely, a voice from your past,
Steve Amsel
Jerusalem

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