IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEMAND MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

No commentary necessary …. the 2,000 Plus demonstrators say it all on their placards … 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

Related Article from CounterPunch

Wage Gains Won’t Last, Unless Fight for 15 Builds Worker Power

by ARUN GUPTA

When fast-food workers first took the streets in New York City in November 2012 to protest for higher wages and a union no one could have imagined how successful the campaign would be. Since then the low-wage workers movement, known as Fight for 15, has helped spureleven states and numerous cities to raise the minimum hourly wage. It’s enabled campaigns in Seattle and the Bay Area to pass citywide measures for $15-an-hour minimum wage. Fight for 15 and a separate campaign called Organization United for Respect at Walmart has also pushed companies like McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart to announce in early 2015 that they would raise the minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of employees.

The success of the organizing is due to everything from the abysmal recovery from the 2008 economic crisis to Occupy Wall Street’s role in shifting the national dialogue from austerity to economic inequality. But Fight for 15 is due primarily to the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the campaign in 2011 and has poured tens of millions of dollars into growing waves of protest that are battering the image of the fast-food giants.

As the protests have grown, the campaign has become both broad and narrow. SEIU has linked the plight of fast-food workers to that of retail and convenience-store workers, home healthcare aides, childcare workers, and adjunct professors. At the same time Fight for 15 is focusing its fire on McDonald’s. One SEIU insider says the strategy is, “Pummel them until they come to the table.” Another organizer outlined the thinking back in 2013: Fight for 15 was trying to cause enough problems for McDonald’s image and stock price that SEIU could say to the company, “We can make this all go away” if it agreed to a deal on wages and unionization.

Using the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU has filed charges of unfair labor practices and wage theft against McDonald’s franchises. The strategy paid off after the NLRB general counsel ruled in July 2014 that McDonald’s has joint employer responsibility, opening space for SEIU to pressure the corporate parent, rather than dealing with 3,100 U.S. franchisees. SEIU is also raising the heat overseas. The European Union is investigating McDonald’s for allegedly dodging more than $1 billion in taxes and labor federations in Brazil are suing McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America for wage and workplace violations. A participant in a recent strategy session held with Scott Courtney, said to be SEIU’s mastermind for Fight for 15, says the next step under consideration is to create trouble for McDonald’s on the property front, which is as much a titan of real estate as it is of hamburgers.

McDonald’s claims the campaign has had no effect on its operations and that it could not afford to raise wages. Over the last year its internationalsales have been flat and its profits have fallen sharply. So its announcement on April 1 that it would raise pay for workers at corporate-owned U.S. stores was widely viewed as a concession to Fight for 15. That move backfired, however, as the raise is only 89 cents an hour on average and affects just 10 percent of its U.S. workforce. Plus, sources say McDonald’s has quietly approached SEIU and is looking for a deal. For nearly two years there have been rumors that SEIU was considering some alternative to a union for the fast-food sector, such as a workers association.

A workers association, however, would mean fewer rights and protections for workers than a traditional union. This points to the question that’s been hanging over Fight for 15 since it caught fire. What is SEIU’s end game? I asked one organizer if the campaign is building working power, and the response was blunt: “The goal is not worker power. It’s a contract.”

Since a traditional union contract with McDonald’s or any other fast-food company remains unlikely, the campaign goals need to be better aligned with reality. Fight for 15 has been remarkably successful on wages, but unless it is trying to increase worker’s power on the job, any wage and benefit improvements won through public pressure, negative publicity, and community-based protest activity will be hard to sustain in the absence of ongoing workplace organization or networks of some sort.

Now, many Fight for 15 organizers point out SEIU is the only big union gambling on trying to organize an industry with millions of unorganized workers, and it’s putting thousands of workers in motion. Organizing low-wage workers is a long overdue response to the neoliberal turn that dealt a historic defeat to organized labor during the 1980s. Millions of new jobs are projected to be in occupations like food prep, retail, and healthcare aides that pay $9 to $12 an hour. The jobs have few benefits, schedules and hours are erratic and there tends to be high turnover. This is the base for Fight for 15, OUR Walmart and a broader campaign known as 15 Now, initiated by the Seattle-based Socialist Alternative.

A fundamental goal of labor organizing is to take labor out of competition with itself. But that is nearly impossible when low-skilled, low-wage workers have few rights and number in the tens of millions. Fight for 15’s approach is unorthodox, but it is constrained by organized labor’s history. Class-struggle unionism has been abandoned by labor leaders who act as junior partners to corporations, like SEIU and Kaiser Permanente, the UAW and auto companies, the machinists union and Boeing, and the building trades and real-estate developers. Many union leaders are also in the pocket of the Democratic Party despite it being in the pocket of Wall Street.

Fight for 15 trying to make trouble for global corporations, but it’s not pursuing a working-class struggle. (Few unions are interested in that; that’s the job of the organized left.) Fight for 15 is more of a legal and public relations campaign, as I explain, than an organizing campaign. It is bearing fruit, but mainly as a spillover than in the fast-food sector. This includes adjunct professor organizing, which with the assistance of unions, especially SEIU, have notched many victories since 2013. Thousands of healthcare workers, who make up about half of SEIU’s membership, are agitating for $15 an hour, which is also in response to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that imposed limits on union membership for home-care aides. There are also linkages with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is significant given Fight for 15 is the biggest mobilization of African-American workers since the 1960s. While these are inchoate forms of solidarity and social-justice unionism, they remain underdeveloped because of the top-down nature of Fight for 15.

The most intriguing outcomes of Fight for 15 are citywide campaigns for a raise in the minimum wage, which has opened up organizing space for the left. Fifteen dollars an hour is now reality in Seattle, albeit it with loopholes, with most low-wage workers expected to earn that by 2017. San Francisco’s ballot measure for $15 an hour was spearheaded by SEIU Local 1021, which one observer calls a model for a worker-run union. Fight for $15 campaign helped legitimize the idea in Seattle. The local SEIU affiliate’s biggest contribution was a $15-an-hour ballot measure that won in the SeaTac suburb. But the heavy lifting was done by Socialist Alternative and its inside and outside political approach, aggressive reporting and support from The Stranger, a well-regarded newsweekly, and incoming Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to back the measure and establish a committee to shape, for good and bad, the final bill. 15 Now is currently pushing $15 an hour statewide in Oregon and according to sources is encountering resistance from some unions that are reluctant to challenge Democratic politicians.

In terms of Fight for 15, its efforts have been more effective in the digital realm than in the real world when it comes to fast-food workers. One Fight for 15 organizer says, “SEIU would like the public to perceive this as a large and growing movement creating a crisis. They are creating the perception of a wave.”

But the campaign is also hamstrung, and SEIU’s media-centric strategy inhibits it from making hay from it. The organizer explains, “Workers are afraid to stand up. The number one problem is fear. I would say less than 4 percent of the workers we contact stay on board. They jump on and jump off [Fight for 15] all the time.” Workers have every reason to be afraid. One study from 2005 estimated 23,000 workers a year are penalized or fired for legitimate union activity, making a mockery of laws meant to protect workplace organizing.

A rich account of the difficulty and potential of worker-run, shop-based organizing in the fast-food industry is provided by Erik Forman in New Forms of Worker Organization. He recounts an IWW campaign in Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis, which narrowly lost a union vote but gained many concessions, wage increases and most important, worker consciousness, solidarity and power. Provocations and illegal acts by the bosses were used to build organization and militancy, not shunted over to law firms and P.R. agencies as in Fight for 15. But the campaign was dealt a serious blow by the mass firing of six organizers. (Forman’s scathing critique of a complacent union bureaucracy as an outcome of labor law and how labor law proved to be a dead end is also important to consider.)

SEIU has far more resources to confront employer threats of firing and retaliation, but creating a shop-by-shop base of power would still be a monumental task. Fight for 15 could nurture worker power other ways, but it has forgone a bottom-up struggle. Its worker leaders serve to energize other workers, relate a compelling personal story and act as a media spokesperson. In other words, they provide the image of a leader rather than the substance of a leader who can organize the workplace, engage in shop-floor warfare against the boss, develop worker solidarity, and force concessions while building a militant rank and file.

The site of worker power in Fight for 15 is supposed to be the organizing committees, but within the staff-driven campaign participants say workers have little power. Strike votes are usually not held unless the staff leadership is confident it will win. Meetings are for pumping up workers and feeding them information, not democratic debate and decision-making. The annual Fight for 15 conferences, with the next one reportedly set for this summer in Detroit, are described as heavily scripted. I asked one organizer if it was true that worker leaders made decisions during weekly national conference calls. The response was, “That’s bullshit, and I know because I participate in those calls.” Plus, a one person says during a strategy session Scott Courtney was introduced to workers as “the reason you are all here.” Compare this SEIU’s claim in 2013 that it is following the lead of fast-food workers and “We don’t yet understand the scale of it” when in fact it gave birth to the fast-food workers campaign.

Where there is organizing in Fight for 15, it is more in the streets than in the workplace. The big days of action are vital for the sense of momentum. Allies from community groups, students and union staff swell numbers, add to the festivity, make a more favorable media impression, sway public opinion, and make it look as if the campaign is growing.

One can make the case that SEIU made a sound decision in forgoing a worker-centric campaign for a P.R. and legal strategy. But then it can no longer said to be a worker-driven movement. If SEIU admitted workers’ fear of being fired or disciplined by employers leads to high turnover in Fight for 15, it would undermine the perception that more and more fast-food workers are joining and staying with the campaign. A lack of power also means workers follow the dictates of paid organizers, who in turn say they get their marching orders from SEIU leaders.

A few organizers have mentioned SEIU’s P.R. firm, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, is involved in the strategy. In fact, a 25-page document entitled “Strike in a Box,” which bears BerlinRosen’s logo, is presented as a how-to-guide for building a successful strike. This and other documents provide more evidence for the top-down management of Fight for 15, which is logical given the enormous effort devoted to organizing just one protest in one city. The fact that Fight for 15 staged more than 200 protests in U.S. cities on April 15 indicates how many resources SEIU has committed.

For example, one fast-food protest in 2013 was run like a military campaign. The staffing plan included the local organizing leadership, four different media workers, half-a-dozen “defusers” to soothe any trouble, a photographer, videographer, police liaison, chant leader and energizer, a supply team, drivers, onsite legal, a criminal lawyer on standby, breakfast and lunch coordinators, and people designated to hand out signs, flags, t-shirts, and water. A spreadsheet mapped out protests by the minute, noting times and location for loading vans, picking up workers, talking points for press conferences, skits, prayers, dancing in the streets, and “walk backs” of workers the next day to minimize retaliation. Insiders say to maximize turnout, Fight for 15 will sometimes rent hotel rooms for workers the night before a protest, rent vans to drive them to the start point, and provide meals.

Strike in a Box appears to be from an earlier stage of Fight for 15, but it is insightful. It starts with a “Legal FAQ” that describes different types of strikes under labor law. It cautions against any conduct that can be classified as picketing as “picketing is considered coercive and incurs more liability for the union,” such as forcing a union election. Instead it says to focus on unfair labor practices as “ULP strikes are the legal crown jewel of strikes.”

The document gives tips for discovering, recording and tracking unfair labor practices. Workers in various Fight for 15 chapters say uncovering ULPs became a priority nearly two years ago, with organizers regularly asking for incidences of employer retaliation or discrimination.

The link between the legal and media strategy is in the section on “Site Assessments,” which begins by asking how many active and strong ULP’s there are at a particular establishment. The section also asks if it’s a good site to focus on, the existence of strong leaders, and then shifts to questions about messaging:

“Is it an iconic brand? Does the brand help tell a story, locally and/or nationally?

“Do we have spokespeople?

Trained? Reliable? Experienced?

“Do we have stories?

Compelling worker stories

Horror stories about site practices (wage theft, sexual harassment, etc)

Connection to broader themes (cutting hours because of Obamacare, etc)”

Much of the remainder of Strike in a Box is devoted to recruiting workers with strong stories, organizing the strike vote, how to build a “pull plan” to maximize strike-day turnout, shoring up workers confidence, carrying out the actual strike, and the need for compelling visuals, stories and a narrative. Little is said about workplace organizing. This matches the experiences of many workers in the campaign who say they are not provided with any training on how to build shop-floor organization.

None of this is meant to dismiss Fight for 15. It is having a more profound effect than anyone could have hoped for when it began. But politics don’t just happen. By denying a central role SEIU leaders can deflect questions about controversial strategies and on-the-ground organizing. Likewise, analyzing strategy and tactics years from now is little use in books few people will read. There are many more questions that can and should be asked about Fight for 15.

For example, the campaign is focused primarily on wages and then on scheduling. But once they clock out, fast-food workers confront the dilemmas of childcare, healthcare, transportation, and rent. Fight for 15 talks about the difficulty of living on a poverty wage, but does so in moralistic terms: “fairness.” It avoids a deeper critique because “the goal is a contract.” As much as workers need a pay raise, $15 an hour is of little help in many cities where the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment would eat up the entire income of a full-time worker on this wage. In Seattle, Socialist Alternative has pivoted to organizing around runaway rents, but it’s rare for big unions to seriously organize around rent control or tenants’ rights despite the fact that escalating housing costs are one of the biggest burdens that workers shoulder.

Beyond issues of daily life is workers’ role in the labor process. Building worker power would stop promotional campaigns like McDonald’s embarrassing “Pay with Love” or Starbucks clumsy “Race Together” before they happen. This is not all the responsibility of one organizing campaign but without a serious debate about the strategy Fight for 15 is pursuing and shifting to worker-oriented strategies, it’s hard to see how wage gains will translate into a gain of power for workers.

The campaign has raised hopes on the left of a revival of class consciousness and a working-class movement, but will it come to fruition under SEIU? If history and current events are any guide, the missing ingredient is the organized left. It’s anarchists who made Occupy Wall Street happen, socialists who have revitalized many teachers unions, and socialists and the left that have turned $15 an hour into reality. Without a similar effort, Fight for 15 may give fast-food workers more change in their pockets, but not the power to change their lives.

Arun Gupta contributes to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Vice, The Progressive, The Guardian, and In These Times.

LOOKING BACK TO THE FUTURE

A WEE GLANCE AT MY PAST AND WHY I BELIEVE IN A BRIGHT FUTURE

quote-the-future-is-an-unknown-but-a-somewhat-predictable-unknown-to-look-to-the-future-we-must-first-albert-einstein-342014

Today, April 13th, would be the 80th wedding anniversary of my parents. In 1960, on this day, their family and friends organised a surprise party for their 25th anniversary. I was sent to our local Woolworth Store to buy some crepe paper rolls to decorate the walls. When I got there I was greeted by a picket line, was handed a leaflet that I did not read and went into the store to buy what I needed.

When I came out the demonstrators asked if I read the leaflet I was given, I responded “not yet” … it called for a boycott of Woolworth because their stores in the South refused to serve Blacks at their lunch counters. I felt as if I committed a crime by not heeding their call, so I promised to join their demonstration the following week. I kept my word and continued with these good people for over a year until Woolworth finally changed their policies.

That's me under the third 'O'

That’s me under the third ‘O’

The reception from those passing by was not always the friendliest, I was called every name in the book, from ‘N’ Lover to Communist … I didn’t even know what a Communist was even though I was around during the McCarthy days and the Rosenberg Spy Case. I found it strange that suddenly, because I was against segregation in the South I was a Communist. There were shouts of ….

Russia??? That was a place that my mother left in 1922 for good reasons. Why would I want to go there???

The 60’s were years of change in America. A Catholic was elected President, the Civil Rights Movement grew by leaps and bounds as did the Peace Movement. Fidel Castro was the leader of a new Cuba, just 90 miles away putting an end to the infamous dictatorship of Batista. Times were good and the future looked promising.

It was a natural move to get involved in the ‘Ban The Bomb Movement’. There I found myself in the company of great notables like Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Spock, Linus Pauling, Bertrand Russell and so many more … and we were all called Communists (sic). Some of us investigated the name calling and realised that the shoe fit, so we wear it to this day.

ban_the_bomb1

*

It was also natural to define 'Communist' and realise that I was one .... that's me next to the cop.

That’s me next to the cop.

Despite the horrible situation that the world is in today, the hope for a bright future prevails. Just yesterday America’s Afro-American President met for the first time with the leader of Cuba. 

There are moves to control the spread of nuclear arms throughout the world.

We lost many Brothers and Sisters along the way, but our ranks continue to swell. Both are the reasons that I never lost the hope of a bright and peaceful future …. and that all started on April 13th.

The rest is history!

Welcome To The Future Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

A Blessing to the memory of those who are no longer with us to see the great changes taking place.

0492

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK SOLIDARITY WITH YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

March from Bryant Park to United Nations Headquarters

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

See THIS recent post  (Click on link)

WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO ISIS’ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS

IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINE IS A ‘SELL OUT’ IN BROOKLYN

We are happy to report that yesterday was a very positive day in front of the Park Slope Food Coop, as we spent a second day offering members a taste of Palestinian olive oil and za’atar on both matzoh and pita bread. By the end of the day the Coop sold out of the Palestinian olive oil and more will have to be ordered. We will continue to put Palestinian olive oil on the table and invite people to join us in an appreciation of Palestine and it’s right to liberation.

SONY DSC

*

unnamed (22)

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From We Will Not Be Silent

In the days leading up to Passover, Park Slope Food Coop members  gather outside the coop to offer free samples of the Palestinian olive oil sold inside, on matzoh and pita bread. We have handed out
Four Questions” to add to the traditional Seder questions, and encouraged shoppers to liberate the Passover story of liberation and talk about the Occupation. 

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

    Click here to view more photos from this action. 

Click on link below to see our Holiday Post

DON’T PASSOVER PALESTINE THIS HOLIDAY

IN PHOTOS ~~ 5K GAZA RUN

SONY DSC

On Saturday morning, March 28th, the sky over Prospect Park in Brooklyn was leaden, the temperature was more appropriate to January than March, and it seemed to get worse as the hours passed.  However, that did not stop a spirited group of about 600 participants which included every race, ethnicity, and age from gathering to run, or walk, a 5K loop in the park. The event was organized by UNRWA USA in order to raise money to provide mental health services for the traumatized children of Gaza.  Buoyed only by the comradery and love for the children of Gaza, the runners took off at about 9:30 AM with the swifter among them crossing the finish line fairly shortly thereafter.  The walkers returned much later. 

The original goal was for the Brooklyn runners to raise about $50,000 but the amount collected far exceeded that.  $103,000 was raised and money is still coming in showing great support for this cause.  Races like this one have been organized by UNRWA USA in cities throughout the country.  

There was much elation among the participants because the event was so successful and because everyone felt good about being able to do something to help.  But at the same time it is very disturbing to recognize that with all the wealth in the world a UN agency has to create the equivalent of a school ‘bake sale’ to raise money to attempt to heal some of the scars that Israel inflicted on the children of Gaza last summer, destroying their bodies and their homes and murdering their families.  Also, nothing is getting better.  According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2014 more civilians were murdered on the West Bank and in Gaza then at any time since 1967. 

So, while the UNRWA  USA events are very important and should continue because they raise money and help galvanize the many people in the Palestine justice community we all have to do more.  For now, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) remains our most potent tool.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

SONY DSC

*

Some of the 'older' folks called this event the 5K 'Schlep'

Some of the ‘older’ folks called this event the 5K ‘Shlep’ :)

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

THE JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE IS BEING HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR

Group Now Has More Facebook Followers Than AIPAC and J Street

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

Embracing Israel Boycott, Jewish Voice For Peace Insists on Its Jewish Identity

By Evan Serpick

At the opening plenary of Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent national conference, Rabbi Alissa Wise, JVP’s co-director of organizing, asked the crowd of some 600 how many were attending their first such gathering; about three-quarters of the room shot up their hands.

For the group whose advocacy of boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel makes it a pariah in most of the rest of the Jewish community, these have been boom times. And for many of its members, the reason appears to be a continuing desire to assert their opposition to Israel’s fundamental policies in a Jewish context rather than abandon their Jewish identity altogether.

One of those raising his hand was Noah Knowlton-Latkin of California’s Claremont Colleges. Like many of those in attendance, Knowlton-Latkin, a sophomore, was involved earlier in Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus group devoted to organizing students to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza. The group also pushes college administrations to cut their economic and academic ties to Israel.

But last summer, Knowlton-Latkin reached out to JVP to express his concerns in a Jewish context. “It was great to find out that this existed,” said Knowlton-Latkin, who came to the conference with two other Jewish Claremont students, both members of SJP.

JVP’s recent conference, which took place in Baltimore from March 13 to 15, was notable for several new developments. Two weeks earlier, after a lengthy process that included study committees and membership surveys, JVP’s board of directors voted to fully support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, or BDS, as it is popularly known. JVP’s call for a full economic boycott of Israel comes after years of supporting a more limited boycott of only companies that operated in the occupied territories.

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

But JVP’s president, Rebecca Vilkomerson, told the Forward: “For there to be a sustainable and just peace, that is one of the issues that we have to grapple with. We believe that there can be a homeland for Jewish people that is not based on the systematic denial of rights of Palestinians.”

JVP does not offer details on how that could be if such a return indeed took place.

Most striking at this conference was the way Israel’s hard-right turns, and particularly last year’s war in Gaza, have fueled JVP’s growth among a cohort of mostly young people who find the response of other Jewish groups, including the dovish group J Street, simply inadequate. JVP’s leaders anticipate that this trend will only quicken following the recent election victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They point to his election eve disavowal of a two-state solution and his election day warning about Arabs voting, plus the prospect that he will soon lead an even more right-wing government.

There are now 65 JVP chapters, up from 40 a year ago. Vilkomerson says JVP now has 9,000 dues-paying members, compared with 600 when the Forward last profiled the group in 2011. In the tax year that ended in June 2013, JVP had $1.1 million in donations. Vilkomerson said she expects this year’s total to top $2 million, almost all of it from individuals. The group has more than 204,000 Facebook followers, more than twice as many as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and about eight times as many as J Street.

For all their alienation from the mainstream community, JVP members seem to share an urgent need to voice their angst in a Jewish context, and to project it outward to the world, also citing their status as Jews. Critics condemn this as mere exploitation of their Jewishness in order to gain a hearing the group would otherwise be denied.

But many JVP members do come from backgrounds of serious Jewish engagement. The conference itself opened on a Friday night, with the group celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat, and included a memorial service for those killed in the war in Gaza, during which members chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish and the prayer for the dead, El Maleh Rachamim. JVP says the group offers the members a place to be their “whole selves.”

“21yrs in many jewish spaces & I’ve never felt so at home,” one participant, Talia Bauer, wrote on the group’s Facebook page after the conference.

Another participant wrote, “For three days, I was immersed in a Jewish community unlike I have ever been a part of, one rooted in justice that welcomed all of me.” She wrote anonymously, she said, to avoid her family learning of her involvement with JVP.

In Vilkomerson’s view, “the mainstream Jewish community should be thanking us. We are bringing many people back into a Jewish community. There’s so much angst in the Jewish community about the loss of community, and losing the young people, and what is going to happen, and the apathy. Nobody here is apathetic; nobody here is unconnected. To the contrary.”

Some in the mainstream grant them this point. “Any sort of Jewish engagement by young people is a positive thing,” said Steven M. Cohen, a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion who studies the American Jewish community. He said that JVP, along with anti-democratic far-right groups and “any group that represents lots of Jews,” should be invited to be members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and similar mainstream organizations. “JVP doesn’t show concern for the security of the State of Israel and doesn’t care if there is a Jewish State of Israel or not,” he added. Nevertheless, he said, “We should not exclude JVP from conversations — we should engage them.”

That view is unthinkable to many Jewish community standard-bearers.

“The positions and actions taken by Jewish Voice for Peace are anathema to mainstream Jewish organizations,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement to the Forward. “The group’s activities, which include partnerships with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s fundamental right to exist, put them at the farthest fringe of the Jewish community and would certainly preclude their participation among mainstream organizations.”

JVP, he said, “uses its Jewish identity to provide the anti-Israel movement with a veneer of legitimacy and to shield the movement’s most demagogic supporters from allegations of anti-Semitism.”

For many, the decision to join JVP was a painful, personal one, reflecting a lost faith in the State of Israel. Rabbi Brant Rosen, a co-chair of JVP’s rabbinical council, who served as a congregational rabbi in suburban Chicago for 17 years, joined in 2009, after Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, its military campaign into Gaza, with numerous reports — contested by Israel — of high civilian deaths rates.

Michael Davis, a congregational cantor in the Reform movement and a member of JVP’s rabbinical council, grew up Orthodox in Israel. He said that his own worldview changed after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a fateful Tel Aviv peace rally in November 1995. “That was the end of the dream for me,” he told the Forward.

For Vilkomerson, it was the second intifada, starting in 2000. “There are these moments of cracking open, where people sort of make the leap,” she said.

Rosen added, “Historically, that’s how JVP has grown, unfortunately, tragically.”

Speaking after the Israeli election, Vilkomerson says she now expects another wave of people to come into the JVP fold. “Given that the American Jewish community is generally interested in peace and democratic values, we expect a lot of self-reflection about how to support a true peace in the days to come,” she said.

104 YEARS LATER ~~ REMEMBERING THE TRIANGLE FIRE AT THE SCENE — PHOTO ESSAY

Never were they forgotten!

The workers died because of the sickening greed of their bosses and the malfeasance of local officials who looked the other way. The bosses never paid for the murder of these workers but in the months and years that followed, American unionism took off and laws protecting workers and improving their conditions were established.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

SONY DSC

*

NYC Fire Dept. displays the ladder they have today which they didn't have 104 years ago ... it was raised to the floor where the fire occurred.

NYC Fire Dept. displays the ladder they have today which they didn’t have 104 years ago … it was raised to the floor where the fire occurred.

*

The victims were remembered by name

The victims were remembered by name

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

Trade Union members and their children came out to remember the tragedy

Trade Union members and their children came out to remember the tragedy

*

White carnations were left at the foot of the building .. each with the name of a victim attached to it

White carnations were left at the foot of the building .. each with the name of a victim attached to it

*

tf12

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

And red carnations for the more recent victims in Pakistan ... see the poem that follows

And red carnations for the more recent victims in Pakistan … see the poem that follows

TriangleShirtwaist-Baldia 1911, 2012

 © By Tom Karlson

doors chained

exits blocked

!fire!

the elevator buckles,

fire-escape collapses

women roast or leap

their bodies,

smashed, shattered

sculpted by fire or the fall

charred pick-up sticks

counted, named, mourned

by lovers and family

146 six workers

laid out

on that sidewalk morgue

an unwanted mausoleum

lined with

tear and blood and a desolate dream

this mass death births law, unions,

strikes, reduced profits

the factories abandon the city

the law of maximum profit rules

riding the air-slip of gluttony, and greed

pigs after truffles

suits hunting surplus value

vampires, of the eighty-hour work week

medicated by NAFTA

union maids, law, labels, and lady liberty

are renditioned, shackled

flying Air America to points

south then east

and finally Baldia town, Pakistan

one hundred and one years from Triangle

the traveling factory, this profit making monster

with windows, doors

yes locked, barred

!fire!

314

dead, executed

bones broken

blackened lungs never to sing

crushed skulls never to read

broken feet never to dance

three hundred fourteen dreamless bodies

Chilling Factory Fire In Pakistan Kills Over 300…Similar To The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire In The US Which Killed 146

Chilling Factory Fire In Pakistan Kills Over 300…Similar To The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire In The US Which Killed 146

GROWING SUPPORT FOR BDS AT CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES

Student union at McMaster University in Hamilton votes to support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)Reuters

Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)Reuters

Students at Canadian University Vote in Favor of BDS

The student union at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, has voted in support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the CBC reported on Tuesday.

Students at the student union’s annual general assembly voted to endorse the BDS campaign, with 622 people voting for the resolution and 28 voting against.

According to a BDS committee press release, some pro-Israel students walked out of the meeting just before the vote to “try to reduce the attendance at the general assembly below the 632-member quorum.”

A similar vote happened in March of last year, but the assembly didn’t have quorum, making it a non-binding vote, noted the CBC.

“We will continue to work such that BDS becomes a way of life at McMaster University, using this non-violent tactic to help end the Occupation and bring about positive changes for the Palestinian people,” the BDS committee said in a press release quoted by the broadcaster.

In an opinion piece in McMaster’s student newspaper The Silhouette, Sean Haber of McMaster Israel on Campus denounced the BDS movement.

“By rejecting BDS, we can move forward with integrity as a community and make McMaster a model for civil discourse; a campus where all students – regardless of their political belief and national origin – are free to learn, debate, discuss and grow,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, at McMaster and elsewhere, it has become incredibly clear that BDS not only silences opposition, but also shuts down the debate.”

In 2014, the student union at Toronto’s York University voted to join the BDS movement. It was preceded by Windsor University in Ontario.

Also last year, students at the University of Ottawa launched a campaignto have Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid.”

 

FROM

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE NAKBA AND THE WAR IN IRAQ

Remembering the Nakba

"Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

“Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

 

LogoBut

zion wants us to forget about it …

On the eve of an important event to discuss the Nakba* scheduled to take place this evening, the Executive Director of a tony uptown synagogue in New York City where the event was contracted to take place has attempted to cancel the event with no explanation in what can only be perceived as an effort to shut down discussion of the “ongoing Nakba” within the Jewish community.

The event was to feature the Palestinian human rights organization, Badil (whose timely recently released Corporate Complicity in Violations of International Law in Palestine [pdf] is a must read), and Israeli human rights organization Zochrot. It is part of multi-city speaking tour, and was sponsored in New York by four organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace-New York; Nakba Education Project; Jews Say No!; and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee.

*Nakba, means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment in 1948, and continues to this day.

Read the full report at Mondoweiss

The cancellation results …

unnamed (18)

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

On the other side of town, the 12th anniversary of Bush’s catastrophe was remembered

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

 

NETANYAHU’S VICTORY IS GOOD FOR PALESTINE

Yousef Munayyer who is the executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation wrote this brilliant Op-Ed which I found in the International Edition of The New York Times. It certainly puts a new and different perspective on the outcome of the Israeli election results.

Replacing Mr. Netanyahu with his challenger, Isaac Herzog, would have slowed down the B.D.S. movement and halted pressure on Israel by creating the perception of change. A new prime minister would have kick-started a new “peace process” based on previous failed models that would inevitably fail again because of a lack of real pressure on Israel to change its deplorable behavior.

The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity.

A victory for Palestine

A victory for Palestine

Netanyahu’s Win Is Good for Palestine

IN PHOTOS ~~ JEWS IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

THE POSTERS

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

IN PHOTOS ~~ ISRAELI ARMY IS NOT OUR FRIEND

'Rabbi' Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

From Twitter ~~ The smiling idiot

Embedded image permalink

New Yorkers Turn out in the Rain to Protest Fundraiser for the Israeli Army

Sixty New Yorkers weathered Tuesday evening’s downpour to protest the gala fundraiser organized and hosted by US nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf Astoria. Demonstrators demanded that FIDF be stripped of its current tax-exempt status, which allows it to raise funds used to subsidize the Israeli military at the American taxpayers’ expense. Last year, the FIDF’s tax-exempt fundraising was subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of at least $20 million. Signs and pamphlets at the demonstration reminded attendees and passersby that these tax-exempt millions are not supporting a humanitarian cause, but a military force with a known record of egregious human rights abuses.

Attendees in formal wear and evening gowns appeared disturbed by the chants, signs, and marching protesters, sometimes responding with taunts and curses.  As they marched, protesters read out loud the names and ages of Palestinians killed in Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza this summer. One dinner attendee responded to the reading of the name of a Palestinian casualty with, “Thank God he’s dead!”

 Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs. Boteach, who often has vitriolic commentary for anyone criticizing Israel’s human rights record, has recently come under fire for an ad in the New York Times where he accused United States National Security Adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY thanked demonstrators at the end for braving the rain to show that organizations like the Friends of the IDF “are not welcome in New York.”

The FIDF relieves the Israeli military of infrastructure, family support, and morale building expenses by raising funds that provide for soldiers’ medical care, financially support soldiers, and cover infrastructure costs such as housing for soldiers, training facilities, and recreational facilities. During  Israel’s most recent large-scale assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israeli army, Israel’s military managed to drop an atomic bomb’s equivalent in explosives on Gaza, killing 2,257 people and injuring thousands more. The operation also led to the destruction of countless homes, schools, mosques, and United Nations shelters. TheGolani and Givati Brigades, for which FIDF regularly raises funds and which stand to benefit from the FIDF gala, were both involved in the 2014 assault. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have said the Israeli military committed war crimes in Gaza. FIDF’s direct support of those brigades exemplifies the organization’s complicity in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a dozen NYC human rights groups, the action took place during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual, international series of events designed to build awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Other New York events include panels, speakers, cultural performances, discussions, and film screenings hosted by organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at city universities.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From Adalha NY

ap1

*

ap2

*

ap3

*

ap4

*

ap5

*

ap6

*

ap7

More photos HERE

PHOTOS OF NEW YORK’S MULTI ISSUE WOMEN’S DAY MARCH

unnamed (16)

In 1910, the International Socialist Women’s Congress declared International Women’s Day.

Today, March 8th, 2015, women in NYC, and from surrounding areas, marched  through Manhattan’s streets demanding equality for women in equal pay, a  $15 hr. minimum wage, jobs, health care, free quality education for all, the end of racism and police brutality and the need for peace.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ COMMEMORATING SELMA ALABAMA’S BLOODY SUNDAY

SONY DSC

On March 7th,1965, Black citizens from Selma, Alabama attempted to march to the state capital Montgomery demanding the right of Black citizens to vote.

At a bridge on route  to Montgomery they were confronted by a large band of Alabama state troopers armed with  rifles, whips, tear gas, clubs & dogs. They were informed their march was illegal  and they would not be allowed to cross and were given three minutes to disperse. When the marchers requested time to pray they were immediately set upon by the troopers: a brutal racist attack commenced. Beatings, blooded heads and broken bones ensued: Blood flowed freely. 

That day is known as “Bloody Sunday”. This day, March 7th, 2015,  is the 50th  anniversary of  the Alabama State terror attack. In commemoration, 1,000 people joined and walked from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn bridge to Brooklyn and then to Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to hear President Obama’s speech from Selma Alabama.

(click on link to see and hear)

Full Text of the

President’s speech

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around 

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR PEACE WITH IRAN

SONY DSC
On March 3rd, the day of Netanyahu’s anti-Iran speech to the U.S. Congress, a group of activists gathered at Times Sq. to protest his war oriented speech. They stood in the Square with black and white signs which have become the icon of New York City protestors, and proclaimed loudly “No war on Iran: negotiate”.  From Times Sq. they  marched through Manhattan streets, through Grand Central Station, to the Israeli Consulate chanting  for a diplomatic solution.

When the marchers arrived at the Consulate the police tried to persuade them to demonstrate across the street.

The marchers refused to cross and proclaimed their legal- constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully at the Consulate. Meanwhile, across the street, another group, “Israelis  for a Sustainable Peace”, was also protesting Netanyahu’s polices.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

The other Demo

ISRAELIS FOR A SUSTAINABLE PEACE

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

IN PHOTOS ~~ NETANYAHU’S WELCOME IN NEW YORK (NOT)

The Emporer's Nuke Clothes Image by Katie Miranda

The Emperor’s Nuke Clothes
Image by Katie Miranda

In a blinding snow fall, March 1st, scores of people gathered to protest the forthcoming speech on March 3rd of Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress.

Speakers protested the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land and  the murderous deaths of thousands of Palestinians at the bloodied hands of the Zionists with the aid of American tax dollars. They noted the unity of the Congressnal extreme right  and  the Zionist policy of  pushing the U.S. into war with Iran. The speakers said that Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews as he pretends.  The message to Netanyahu was ‘GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY’

The snow might have been blinding but it did not stop us from seeing the truth!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

ZION GOING OVERBOARD TO DISCREDIT THE BDS MOVEMENT

As BDS gains support on nearly every major US Campus, the zionists move into ‘panic mode’ and fight back.

Internationally the Movement is gaining support in the Academic and artistic communities as well.

The following video produced by the zionists is typical of their tactics, lies, exaggerations and quoting out of context …. see for yourself.

Interesting to note that Israeli law forbids me to post a swastika on this Blogsite, but the zionists themselves are allowed to do it.

Also remember ….

Stand with US and help us break the silence! Image by Latuff

Stand with US and help us break the silence!
Image by Latuff

 

BANKSY ‘SNEAKS’ INTO GAZA TO MAKE A VIDEO

The anonymous but eminent British street artist known as Banksy has again taken aim at Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians, sneaking into the Gaza Strip and filming the devastation there in the wake of last summer’s IDF Operation Protective Edge, which ended six months ago.

 

Full report HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE Vs NYC COUNCIL

SONY DSC

On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday-2/12/15, a cold snow shower day,  the NYC Grannies Peace Brigade demonstrated in front of NYC Hall protesting 15 members of the City Council, going to Israel in February, on an all -expenses paid junket sponsored by Zionist groups. Banners were displayed and leaflets distributed  to passerby’s explaining the protest.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

gp1

*

gp2

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE STOLEN DREAMS ON MLK DAY

There were several marches – the one we went on had about 2,000 people.  Then we went to Grand Central Station where about 200 of us held up the names of unarmed Black citizens, mostly young men, who were killed by the police.  People read about them, who they were, how they died.  After each story people said their name, all together, and raised their fist in the air.  People passing through stopped to listen.  Some family members of those killed were there.  After 3 hours someone read King’s last speech and we repeated it, one line at a time (Occupy style) and then everyone sang We Shall Overcome and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On.  Actually, we did the same thing for 24 hours last week.  It is a very powerful experience.

*

SONY DSC

We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet …

*

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

Marching through the streets …

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

At Grand Central …

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

*

SONY DSC

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,209 other followers