Mother’s Day

© By Tom Karlson 

Julia Ward Howe calls out

Peace and Reconciliation this day, Mother’s Day

No more war-remember-

620,000 sent to the Promised Land,

600,000 armless, eyeless, legless Jonny’s

Dancing days are done

Mother’s day a day for peace

In this new millennium

In America

The United States of North America

Howe is forgotten

Peace is terrorism

Reconciliation is a tool of the fool

The newly dead and near dead


Camping on sunless streets

With plastic bowls filled with spare change

Here Hallmark runs this show

3 billion on flowers

100 million for cards

2 billion on gifts

4 billion on meals

Capitalism can sell

Yes capitalism must sell

peace next year?


To all of our readers and friends ….
Allegory of Peace and Victory
Image by Hugo Gellert

Image by Hugo Gellert

Hugo Gellert’s original silkcreen, Allegory of Peace and Victory is a trial or working proof published between 1940 and 1950. Gellert almost exclusively uses two screens of red and black. Obviously, Hugo Gellert used the red screen as his base and then applied his outline blacks — note the inadvertent spots of black ink appearing on the baby’s legs and stomach. He then completed the design in pencil by drawing the outside dimensions and lengthening the flame above the baby’s left hand. This original silkscreen is printed upon thick, laid paper and with large, full margins, as described. Allegory of Peace and Victory is a fine example of the graphic art created by the Hungarian/American artist, Hugo Gellert.


Did you ever wonder what the difference is between Easter and Passover?

In THIS video, Jon Stewart explains it all …. a must watch if you want a smile on your face for the rest of the week.

Faith Off IIHIH

From the Los Angeles Times

Jewish people of the world, it’s time to step it up. That’s the message Jon Stewart delivered to his fellow tribe members Monday on “The Daily Show” in a humorous rant about Passover’s public relations battle with Easter. 

“As the father of mixed-faith children who are exposed to both Christian and Jewish holidays, I can’t help but feel that we Jews are getting our [tuchuses] kicked out here,” he began. 

Stewart argued that, having “already conceded defeat in the Christmas versus Hanukkah kerfuffle,” it was time for Jews to think about rebranding one of their most cherished holidays. The key to victory, he claimed, is winning over the kiddies, and Passover could really use some help with this demographic.

Stewart summarized the Easter “holiday sales pitch” this way: “OK, kids. Easter weekend is an observation of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, so, buh-bam! A basket with candy!” 

The Passover meal is a much harder sell to most kids, Stewart argued, because Jews commemorate the emancipation of the ancient Israelites by eating food fit for, well, a slave. “Hey, 5-year-olds! Basket filled with candy and jellybeans, or horseradish still in root form? Would you like the treats a magical bunny brought you, or the bone from a dead baby lamb?”

Stewart urged his fellow Jews to “take it up a notch” when it comes to youth marketing. After all, it’s not like the story of Passover is totally uncool. “Moses parting the Red Sea? How have we not turned that into an amusement park?” he wondered. 

Most critically, Passover could really use a make-believe character to rival the Easter Bunny. To that end, Stewart proposed “Passover Pete, the guitar-playing, pizza-eating lion.” 

Having already declared war on Christmas, Stewart appears to have moved on to another Christian holiday. The Easter Bunny better watch his back. 



Compliments of What Really Happened

Compliments of What Really Happened

Happy Holiday!


DesertPeace and Associates wishes all of our Jewish readers, family and friends a Happy Holiday.

Please don’t Passover Palestine this year!


A Passover Seder is a service held at home, as part
of the Passover celebration of liberation, to share the
Passover story together in order to recognize peoples’
right to freedom.

During the evening, as part of the Passover Seder, four
questions are asked, traditionally by the youngest child
to teach the next generation to question as a way to

The idea of Passover is also about becoming free
personally from our internal constraints. Asking
questions makes manifest that quest and shows our
courage to exercise our freedom.

On Passover we learn that when people without their
freedom question authority, they are at great risk.

It is therefore essential for those with privilege to
question, to wonder aloud. We ask these four questions
on behalf of people in struggle for their liberation and
right to freedom.

unnamed (21)




Click on link below to see the reality of Passover for Palestinians



And to our Christian readers, family and friends, A Happy and Meaningful Easter.

Read in above link how your Christian Brothers and Sisters in Palestine will be forbidden to pray at their Holy Sites due to the closure. Pray for them as well.

Forget not that Jesus was a Palestinian Himself

Forget not that Jesus was a Palestinian Himself

You might appreciate the following report written by Mike Rivero (Click on link)



Jewish mothers used to go into a cleaning frenzie a week or so before the Festival of Passover. All traces of leaven (chametz) had to be removed from the home before the onset of the holiday.
Modern folk have determined that dust is not chametz, so there is less madness involved in the cleaning process, but Israel has added a new dimension to the situation; Arabs must be removed as well as the leaven.
Following this report dealing with the realities of Apartheid you will find a post from the archives that I reblog every Passover eve…
Just  one of many attempts to cleanse the land of Arabs ….
Here is how Palestinians ‘celebrate’ the holiday … it’s Bibi’s Two State Solution, with one behind locked gates.
                                                      (Click on link)

West Bank closure goes into effect for Passover 

These 'enemies' must be locked out!

These ‘enemies’ must be locked out!



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.



.... they are owned by Palestinians

…. they are owned by Palestinians

Tu B’Shvat was celebrated a week ago in Israel.

This holiday has its origins not in the Bible, but rather in the Mishna, which was written in the early 3rd century CE. It is primarily an agricultural holiday, as evinced by its other name, New Year of Trees.

This holiday is celebrated in the midst of the rainy season (late January or early February). It was originally a holiday with halakhic (Jewish legal) significance, as it was used to mark the age of a tree for the purpose of harvesting and tithing its fruit – tithes that were given to the priests who served in the Temple and did not own any land.

After the Jewish people were scattered in the Diaspora and were no longer involved primarily in agriculture, Tu B’Shvat became a holiday symbolizing the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. It is not a holy rest day and businesses are open as usual.

Planting saplings – This is a custom that developed relatively recently – in the late 19th century, with the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. The initiative to plant trees began in the schools and spread throughout the country and became a deeply rooted custom. Today it is customary to take children on tree-planting outings on Tu B’Shvat. Preschools and schools hold special ceremonies to mark the holiday. In the past few years, an ecological element has been added to this holiday: the conservation and nurturing of trees (and the green landscape in general) as a symbol of the importance of nature in our lives.


For Palestinians, the tree is also a holy object, especially the olive tree … Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many.

The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

Here is how the settlers ‘celebrated’ Tu B’Shvat on the stolen lands …

Settlers destroy 70 olive trees near Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Settlers cut down over 70 Palestinian olive trees in the Hebron district on Monday, locals said.Witnesses told Ma’an that the settlers destroyed over 70 tree saplings near the town of Sair.

The trees had been planted a week ago in an area threatened with annexation near the illegal settlement of Metzad, located in the Gush Etzion bloc west of Bethlehem.

Locals have organized a campaign to replant the trees.

Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many.

The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.


Palestinian activists dressed in Santa Claus outfits on Thursday sprayed graffiti demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians on the Israeli separation wall in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.


Santa Claus sprays graffiti on separation wall in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian activists dressed in Santa Claus outfits on Thursday sprayed graffiti demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians on the Israeli separation wall in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Activists handed out candy to passing vehicles in celebration of Christmas and the New Year as others wrote slogans on the eight-meter high concrete wall that cuts Bethlehem off from neighboring Jerusalem.

One of the youths involved in the activity said the aim was to pass on good wishes to those celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem and hopes for a new year full of happiness for Palestinian children.



The activity took place at a major intersection in Bethlehem where the Israeli wall reaches into the heart of the city to cut off the tomb of Biblical matriarch Rachel from the city around it.

Once a shared Jewish, Christian, and Muslim place of worship, the annexation of the area by Israel’s wall has also meant that non-Jews are no longer allowed to enter it. Instead, they are confronted by the wall’s watchtowers on every side, while access is only allowed from the Israeli side through a checkpoint forbidden to non-Jews.

Local activist Mazen al-Azza told Ma’an that the activists hoped to draw attention to the “danger” the wall represents for Bethlehem, particularly at Christmas since international attention is focused on the city and tens of thousands of foreign tourists pass through.

Al-Azza added that the activist was a message to the whole world that there should be no ambiguity regarding the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.


Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

The wall also prevents Palestinians from moving freely in the West Bank between Palestinian villages, towns, and cities, increasingly trapping them in small pockets of Palestinian control.



All images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Despite all the carnage committed by Israel, Palestine will live to fight again!

Despite all the carnage committed by Israel, Palestine will live to fight again!



I can’t make any prediction for 2015…EXCEPT that the struggle in Palestine will continue!

I can’t make any prediction for 2015…EXCEPT that the struggle in Palestine will continue!


Happy New WHAT?! #Syria #Iraq #Ukraine #Gaza #Afghanistan

Happy New WHAT?! #Syria #Iraq #Ukraine #Gaza #Afghanistan



DesertPeace and Associates wishes all of our readers and friends the best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2015!



Enjoy …

Wherever you are, whoever you are… here’s hoping that you and yours have the best in the New Year. Let us hope that 2015 will usher in a lasting peace and justice for all of humanity… a year of love and understanding for all of us.

AFRIKAANS gelukkige nuwejaar
ALBANIAN Gëzuar vitin e ri
ALSATIAN e glëckliches nëies / güets nëies johr
ARABIC aam saiid / sana saiida
ARMENIAN shnorhavor nor tari
AZERI yeni iliniz mubarek
BAMBARA bonne année
BASQUE urte berri on
BELARUSIAN З новым годам (Z novym hodam)
BENGALI subho nababarsho
BERBER asgwas amegas
BETI mbembe mbu
BOBO bonne année
BOSNIAN sretna nova godina
BRETON bloavezh mat / bloavez mad
BULGARIAN честита нова година (chestita nova godina)
BURMESE hnit thit ku mingalar pa
CANTONESE kung hé fat tsoi
CATALAN bon any nou
CHINESE xin nian kuai le / xin nian hao
CORSICAN pace e salute
CROATIAN sretna nova godina
CZECH šťastný nový rok
DANISH godt nytår
DUTCH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
ESPERANTO felicxan novan jaron
feliæan novan jaron (Times SudEuro font)
ESTONIAN head uut aastat
FAROESE gott nýggjár
FINNISH onnellista uutta vuotta
FLEMISH gelukkig Nieuwjaar
FRENCH bonne année
FRISIAN lokkich neijier
FRIULAN bon an
GALICIAN feliz aninovo
GEORGIAN გილოცავთ ახალ წელს (gilocavt akhal tsels)
GERMAN ein gutes neues Jahr / prost Neujahr
GREEK kali chronia / kali xronia
eutichismenos o kainourgios chronos (we wish you a happy new year)
GUJARATI sal mubarak
GUARANÍ rogüerohory año nuévo-re
HAWAIIAN hauoli makahiki hou
HEBREW shana tova
HINDI nav varsh ki subhkamna
HMONG nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
HUNGARIAN boldog új évet
ICELANDIC farsælt komandi ár
INDONESIAN selamat tahun baru
IRISH GAELIC ath bhliain faoi mhaise
ITALIAN felice anno nuovo, buon anno
JAVANESE sugeng warsa enggal
JAPANESE akemashite omedetô
KABYLIAN asseguèsse-ameguèsse
KANNADA hosa varshada shubhaashayagalu
KAZAKH zhana zhiliniz kutti bolsin
KHMER sur sdei chhnam thmei
KIRUNDI umwaka mwiza
KOREAN seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo
KURDE sala we ya nû pîroz be
LAO sabai di pi mai
LATIN felix sit annus novus
LATVIAN laimīgu Jauno gadu
LIGURIAN feliçe annu nœvu / feliçe anno nêuvo
LINGALA bonana / mbula ya sika elamu na tonbeli yo
LITHUANIAN laimingų Naujųjų Metų
LOW SAXON gelükkig nyjaar
LUXEMBOURGEOIS e gudd neit Joër
MACEDONIAN srekna nova godina
MALAGASY arahaba tratry ny taona
MALAY selamat tahun baru
MALTESE is-sena t-tajba
MAORI kia hari te tau hou
MARATHI navin varshaachya hardik shubbheccha
MONGOLIAN shine jiliin bayariin mend hurgeye (Шинэ жилийн баярын мэнд хvргэе)
MORÉ wênd na kô-d yuum-songo
NORWEGIAN godt nyttår
OCCITAN bon annada
PERSIAN sâle no mobârak
POLISH szczęśliwego nowego roku
PORTUGUESE feliz ano novo
ROMANCHE bun di bun onn
ROMANI bangi vasilica baxt
ROMANIAN un an nou fericit / la mulţi ani
RUSSIAN С Новым Годом (S novim godom)
SAMOAN ia manuia le tausaga fou
SANGO nzoni fini ngou
SARDINIAN bonu annu nou
SCOTTISH GAELIC bliadhna mhath ur
SERBIAN srećna nova godina
SHIMAORE mwaha mwema
SHONA goredzwa rakanaka
SINDHI nain saal joon wadhayoon
SINHALA suba aluth avuruddak vewa
SLOVAK stastlivy novy rok
SLOVENIAN srečno novo leto
SOBOTA dobir leto
SPANISH feliz año nuevo
SRANAN wan bun nyun yari
SWAHILI mwaka mzuri / heri ya mwaka mpya
SWEDISH gott nytt år
SWISS-GERMAN es guets Nöis
TAGALOG manigong bagong taon
TAHITIAN ia orana i te matahiti api
TAMIL iniya puthandu nalVazhthukkal
TATAR yaña yıl belän
TELUGU nuthana samvathsara subhakankshalu
THAI สวัสดีปีใหม่ (sawatdii pimaï)
TIBETAN tashi délek
TURKISH yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun
UKRAINIAN Z novym rokom
URDU naya saal mubarik
UZBEK yangi yilingiz qutlug’ bo’lsin
VIETNAMESE Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới / Cung Chúc Tân Niên / Cung Chúc Tân Xuân
WALOON (“betchfessîs” spelling) bone annéye / bone annéye èt bone santéye
WELSH blwyddyn newydd dda
WOLOF dewenati



Man Booted From Plane in ‘Merry Christmas’ Fracas

Grinchy Passenger Objected To Holiday Greetings


An irate airline passenger who objected to ‘Merry Christmas’ greetings was reportedly booted off an American Airlines flight at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

“Don’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’” the grumpy traveler told flight attendants on the Dallas-bound flight on Thursday, the New York Post reported.

The man, who was not named, was escorted off the flight after he refused to calm down. Other passengers cheered as security took him away.

The Yuletide fracas started at the gate when the man objected to ground staff wishing passengers a merry Christmas as they prepared to board the flight.

“You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas,” the man snapped, according to the Post. “Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ”

Once seated on the plane, the man again loudly objected when the pilot and flight attendants used the public address system to wish passengers a happy holiday.


Also reported AT

BUT …..

I’d rather read this type of nonsense than reports about bombings, murders, terrorist attacks, etc., etc!



To all of our readers, family and friends


Warmest Greetings for the season from DesertPeace and Associates

Compliments of What Really Happened

Compliments of What Really Happened

If Mary and Joseph arrived at Bethlehem this year …

The Occupation would even keep Mary and Joseph from entering Bethlehem today

Here’s what Christmas looks like in Ferguson this year

And from our artistic Associates ….

From Carlos Latuff

From Carlos Latuff


From David Baldinger

From David Baldinger


From Gianluca Costantini

From Gianluca Costantini

And from Bud Korotzer and Chippy Dee ….

The Grinch who stole Christmas

The Grinch who stole Christmas



In Israel, as seen by Latuff


And in Iraq …


And America …

A fate worse than death

A fate worse than death

Submitted by Michael Rivero

Submitted by Michael Rivero

Image by Norman Rockwell

All peoples, all religions have their own Golden Rule, it is not the property of any one group, but belongs to all of us.

“The various religions are like different roads converging on the same point. What difference does it make if we follow different routes, provided we arrive at the same destination.”

– — Mahatma Gandhi

“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.”

– –The Dali Lama

And A Merry Christmas to all of you!

Santa Bethlehem


At sundown last night, Vice President Joe Biden lit the first candle of the National Chanukah Menorah in Washington.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah in Washington, December 16, 2014. Photo by Reuters

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah in Washington, December 16, 2014. Photo by Reuters

He was quoted as saying “The central Jewish notion of religious freedom, of safety in your land, of being treated with dignity in your own community, not only led to the creation of modern Israel but it also formed the bedrock of the United States of America,” Biden said. “Jewish values are such an essential part of who we are that it is fair to say that Jewish heritage is American heritage.”

BUT …..

What about this

year’s National


The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene 
at Capital Hill this Christmas season. 

This isn’t for any religious reason. They simply have not been 
able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation’s Capital.

The search for a Virgin continues. 

There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.


What Would Jesus Say ?

(Not meant to offend anyone)

Getting back to reality ~~ The following essay by Michael Rivero is a must read …. (Click on link)



“Jewish to us meant eating!” Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, told me in 2006. “Friday night Sabbath, home-cooked dinners at Bubbie’s, their nickname for grandma Greenblatt, with blintzes, latkes, sweet and sour meatballs, herring, matzoh… So we knew about the food, the holidays. We celebrated Hanukkah with the ‘Hanukkah fairy,’ which my parents made up. She went around with Santa delivering the presents. We would leave a large plate of cookies and milk for Santa, and a teeny-tiny little plate with a cookie for the Hanukkah fairy… and we had a Hanukkah Tree, aka, a Christmas tree.”

A blast from the past

A blast from the past

How an Okie Named Woody Guthrie Became Our Best Hanukkah Tunesmith

Folk Legend Wasn’t Jewish — But His Music Is



 By Thomas Conner*

Every year as the calendar wound down, here came one of music journalism’s over-roasted chestnuts: the annual roundup of new Christmas albums. I never groaned. I’m one of those Christmas music people. As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is down my gullet, I’m trotting out the tinseled tunes. And each year, somehow, the same old songs are rechristened, rearranged, repackaged anew. It’s the big catalog that could. It’s the lamp that you’d think should have burned out a long time ago.

Likewise, each year I make a holiday music mixtape (sigh, it’s a playlist now) for friends and family. Again, I keep worrying the well will run dry, that a new generation of young indie rockers couldn’t possibly have an interest in filling us up with more fa-la-la-la fluff, and each year I’m amazed at the sheer regenerative power of all that holiday hegemony.

Of course, I’ve tried to include the occasional Hanukkah song. All these years along and I’m still asking — any suggestions?

There are some handsome pop renditions of “Ma’oz Tzur” (Marc Cohn, Ben Kweller), and Beck’s funked-out “The Little Drum Machine Boy” is a wonderfully wacky celebration of being a “Hanukkah pimp.” (I’ve never been able to bring myself to include comedian Adam Sandler’s sophomoric ode to the eight days.) But countless Jewish songwriters have bedecked the halls with Christmas classics — “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “Let It Snow,” “Sleigh Ride,” on and on — meanwhile, no real Hanukkah hits? Not even in the ’60s from swingin’ Tikva Records?

An unlikely songwriter once tried to change that. A fellow Okie, no less. He wasn’t successful, either, but the rediscovered trove of his Hanukkah hootenannies — polished nicely by acclaimed klezmer band the Klezmatics for the album “Happy Joyous Hanukkah” — remains a bright light for the season’s celebration.

Woody Guthrie blew into New York City in February 1940 and literally knocked the dust off his shoes. Guthrie was not just a native of Oklahoma, he’d come to symbolize the plight of all “Okies,” an initially pejorative term that tagged Dust Bowl migrants from any state. Set adrift as his family fell apart, Guthrie set out alone from Okemah, Oklahoma, as a teen, got married in Pampa, Texas, and stayed put a short while in the early ’30s. He then succumbed to the allure of the road as he watched boxcar after boxcar of desperate, destitute farm families roll through town on their way out west to a different kind of promised land.

He spent the next few years hitching on highways and riding on rails. During these travels, at first passing time by idly strumming his guitar, Guthrie learned that music was more than an escape; it was a conduit of cultures. His first biographer, Joe Klein, wrote of the epiphany in “Woody Guthrie: A Life”:

“The whiny old ballads his mother had taught him were a bond that all country people shared; and now, for the migrants, the songs were all that was left of the land. Singing for these people was a totally different experience from playing a barn dance with the Corncob Trio. It wasn’t just entertainment; he was performing their past.”

Guthrie would channel these empathies from many cultures he encountered, but this first transformation was significant: Guthrie ceased being a mere Okie and became a citizen of the world.

He took that new insight to the airwaves in his first radio gig in Los Angeles — performing those folk songs on a daily show and honing what became a carefully crafted persona as a wise but feisty hillbilly — before taking off for New York. Guthrie would forever ramble about the country, but the man we know as the quintessential Okie boy was based in the five boroughs of New York for the majority of his life, and much of that was in Coney Island.

Guthrie took right away to the colorful culture of bustling Coney Island in the ’40s. As Vivien Goldman writes in the liner notes to “Wonder Wheel” — the other album of (non-Hanukkah) Guthrie lyrics by the Klezmatics — Woody would take his daughter on “morning walks down the boardwalk to have breakfast at Nathan’s… The affable fruit peddler tossed her a plum as she passed, and greetings were exchanged with the owner of the corner store, whose phone was used by the whole neighborhood. It was all enchanting to Woody — the old men playing chess and arguing in Yiddish, the Jewish meydeles splashing in the chilly waves.”

Roll on, Woody: Guthrie, circa 1960.

Roll on, Woody: Guthrie, circa 1960.

Settled here for a time (or as settled as a rambler like Guthrie could get) in the mid-’40s, Guthrie began doing what he could never stop himself from doing: writing songs about everything around him. With kids appearing at his feet, he began writing songs for them (“Take me riding in the car, car…”). Off the road, he turned to the newspapers for topical inspiration, producing a whole album of songs about Sacco and Vanzetti. He’d married into a Jewish family, so songs about Jewish culture began coming, too, such as “The Many and The Few” (a whopping 20 historical verses, ending with “Eight candles we’ll burn and a Ninth one too/ Every New Year that comes and goes/ We’ll think of the many in the hands of the few/ And thank God we are seeds of the Jews”) and an adaptation of the Carter Family’s “Little Moses.”

The Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg, in preparation for recording the band’s renditions of Guthrie’s songs, recalls picking through “not just Hanukkah songs but songs about the cultural life in Coney Island, anti-fascism things, other stuff.” In an interview with me when “Wonder Wheel” was released, Sklamberg, himself a sound archivist at New York’s YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, said, “One song I was interested in was called ‘Headdy Down,’ a lullaby for Arlo and the other brother Joady. It has these Yiddishisms in the song that are really cool. You don’t expect to see Yiddishized words in a Woody Guthrie song, but there they were.”

Joady becomes, in the song, “Jodulah.” “Lay your head down,” the song goes, “Keppy down, Kepula.”

Guthrie knew the sounds and rhythms of Jewish life before reaching Coney Island. The man probably most responsible for activating Guthrie as a political person was Ed Robbin, a Jewish editor at The People’s World newspaper in L.A. Guthrie’s manager was Harold Leventhal, born to Orthodox immigrants. Moe Asch, who besides Alan Lomax was the chief folklorist to capture Guthrie on record, specialized in Jewish liturgical music before Guthrie bounded into his life.

Then there was his mother-in-law. Guthrie’s second wife was Marjorie Mazia, daughter of Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt. The matriarch of a learned family, Greenblatt must have been mystified by her daughter’s scruffy find, but Klein says the two poets “hit it off rather well.” As a folk songwriter, Guthrie rarely wrote his own tunes, preferring to knit his words into existing melodies people already knew. He allegedly bonded with Greenblatt over lunch, discovering that she, too, had applied her own words (“Du, Du”) to an older Palestinian tune.

Either way, Guthrie brightened up family life in Coney Island considerably.

“Most people think he’s the Dust Bowl balladeer, and his songs have this color associated with them — everything in sepia,” Sklamberg said. “It makes me think of how Jews have been represented in films. From ‘Yentl’ to ‘A Stranger Among Us’ and ‘The Chosen,’ Jews are always lit with this eerie, brownish, golden glow. A friend of mine talked about how every time she opens a book in ‘Yentl’ 10,000 watts of light comes out… These songs of Woody’s are more Technicolor.”

The song “Mermaid’s Avenue,” the lead track on “Wonder Wheel,” celebrates the colorful, carnival-like atmosphere of Coney Island, describing people eating German, Jewish and American food all along the historic boardwalk.

“Jewish to us meant eating!” Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, told me in 2006. “Friday night Sabbath, home-cooked dinners at Bubbie’s, their nickname for grandma Greenblatt, with blintzes, latkes, sweet and sour meatballs, herring, matzoh… So we knew about the food, the holidays. We celebrated Hanukkah with the ‘Hanukkah fairy,’ which my parents made up. She went around with Santa delivering the presents. We would leave a large plate of cookies and milk for Santa, and a teeny-tiny little plate with a cookie for the Hanukkah fairy… and we had a Hanukkah Tree, aka, a Christmas tree.”

The Hanukkah songs came next. Lots of them: “Hanuka Bell,” “Hanuka Dance,” “Hanuka Gelt,” “Hanuka Tree,” “Hanuka’s Flame,” “Happy Joyous Hanuka,” “Honeyky Kanuka,” “(Do the) Latke Flip-Flip,” “Spin Dreydl Spin.” Guthrie wrote them naturally around the house but also with a mission in mind: to counter the Christmas glut.

“One time, for instance, I told him, ‘Look, we have a problem,’” Moe Asch recalls in Ronald D. Cohen’s book “Woody Guthrie: Writing America’s Songs.” “There are a lot of things written about Christmas, a lot of things written about the holidays, but there is nothing written about the Jewish holidays that is popular. Why don’t you do a Chanukah song, one complete with its social meaning?”

Guthrie’s response was “The Ballad of Chanukah.” Asch comments, “he got the complete story of Chanukah — with the candles and the Maccabees and everything else — and he sang it in terms of an American legend.”

“He turned one version of the Christmas song ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’ into ‘Happy Joyous Hanuka,’ taking all these characters from the Bible — some having to do with Hanukkah, others having absolutely nothing to do with it — and he puts them all into this song. ‘One for Moses on the Mount,’ he wrote, which has nothing to do with Hanukkah… It’s this funny, endearing kind of outsider’s attempt at making a Jewish song.”

*Thomas Conner is the former pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in communication at UC-San Diego.

Enjoy …


Bethlehem; The tree on the wall

Bethlehem; The tree on the wall

Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

We just had the Christmas tree lighting in the Manger Square, Bethlehem and
it was beautiful. It was appropriate to reflect on challenges and
opportunities in the ongoing struggle. If we believe that Jesus brought the
message of peace, the tumult in his era seems remarkably similar  yo this
era of occupation, repression, religious zealotry, corrupt leaders etc.
Yet, 2014 could be summed up as the year in which the parameters of the
struggle where made much clearer. It is a struggle between the elite rich
who have increasingly pushed for more police and military to protect their
gains and suppress the 99.9% of the world that is suffering.  From Ferguson
to Gaza to Kobani, the struggle continues.
If Mary and Joseph arrived at Bethlehem today

If Mary and Joseph arrived at Bethlehem today

In this year , we need to remember the tragedy that is Gaza, the tragedy
that is Jerusalem, the tragedy that is Palestine but we also reflect on
that hope that is like the story of resurrection seems to capture hearts
and minds of millions of people. Yes, we did suffer the incalculable loss
of thousands of Palestinians butchered this summer in Gaza. We remember
that despite the promises given by politicians, Gaza even became more
isolated and the noose tightened on the lives of 1.6 million human beings.
Egyptian and Israeli governments seems hell-bent on strangling any
remaining potential for normal life. The situation is dire and getting
worse daily. Thousands of common people did help and we sent some money and
some supplies but the situation demands more. The same is also true for
Jerusalem where Judaization efforts are accelerating (which includes ethnic
cleansing of native Palestinians and removing/threatening our religious,
cultural and historical infrastructure). Trigger happy soldiers and
settlers still kill Palestinians almost every other day with impunity.

Latuff's spoof on Christmas in Bethlehem

Latuff’s spoof on Christmas in Bethlehem



Can you remember the times
That you have held your head high
and told all your friends of your Indian claim
Proud good lady and proud good man
Some great great grandfather from Indian blood came
and you feel in your heart for these ones

Oh it’s written in books and in song
that we’ve been mistreated and wronged
Well over and over I hear those same words
from you good lady and you good man
Well listen to me if you care where we stand
and you feel you’re a part of these ones

When a war between nations is lost
the loser we know pays the cost
but even when Germany fell to your hands
consider dear lady, consider dear man
you left them their pride and you left them their land
and what have you done to these ones

Has a change come about my dear man
or are you still taking our lands
A treaty forever your senators sign
They do dear lady, they do dear man
and the treaties are broken again and again
and what will you do for these ones

Oh it’s all in the past you can say
but it’s still going on here today
The governments now want the Navaho land
that of the Inuit and the Cheyenne
It’s here and it’s now you can help us dear man
Now that the buffalo’s gone.


On the lighter side, here’s one for the ‘over the hill’ crowd …


columbus genocide
By Tom Karlson

In long boat and knarr they sail west and south

stars and sun show a way for

Eric the Red’s son

gunless, horseless

a peaceful trip

see the sights pick some grape

leaving behind ruins and blue-eyed babies

Greenland bound   a new saga


Mali and Mandingo ships and men

with goods and weapons sail west and north

currents, wind and blind luck

bring them to the Yucatan


50 ton Nubian faced Olmac heads

myths of dark skinned giants 

financed by Iberian Jewry

the Admiral, Christian or Jew, Spaniard or Italian

leads 120 men in the

Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria

sailing south and west    

India bound

crewed by:

Milton Freedman and his Chicago University goons

     in charge of propaganda, interrogation, discipline,

     race and class consciousness  

Prescott Bush and George Armstrong Custer

     compose the voyage manifesto and mission

below deck are the sun-dried souls of

Rasputin, the Popes, Sylvester the Second and Benedict the Ninth

     in charge of rape, incest, and family values

Pinkerton and J Edgar Hoover

     spying,   pimping, and procuring stool pigeons

Kenneth Lay  

     finance, mergers, and loans

Edward Teller  


Robert E Lee’s horse Traveler

will show the way home

where Ferdinand and Isabella’s bishops

find Jews to murder and maim, books to burn, Moors to exterminate


Columbus will trade

measles, diphtheria, small pox, and malaria

for gold and land

as he works out the science of genocide on Hispaniola

never forgetting the University’s tools of slavery   colonization

religious fanaticism     and free market capitalism


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.
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.
Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
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.
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.
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.
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
Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!




As one side of the wall fasts on Saturday, those on the other side will feast.  

To all of my Muslim family and friends, EID MUBARAK! May your prayers for Peace and Justice become a reality in the coming year.

To my Jewish friends and family, may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.




A sampling of the wonderful date filled Eid cookies prepared by my family

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