BELLA CIAO URI AVNERY ~~ A TRUE FRIEND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv.

The Gush Shalom founder was one of the first Israelis to actively seek a Palestinian state as a peaceful solution to the conflict: ‘The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective’

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94

Ofer Aderet

 

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

As a youth he fought with the Irgun pre-state underground militia and later in life moved to the left of the political spectrum. He was also editor-in-chief of the iconic liberal weekly, Haolam Hazeh, for 40 years.

The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.

Avnery asked to be cremated, for his archives to be donated to the National Library, and his money toward peace activism. He summarized his life by noting that while his ideals “won a resounding victory” theoretically, in practice they “were defeated politically.”

Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann. He grew up in Hannover as one of four offspring of a comfortable, bourgeois family. The family immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in November 1933, a few months after Hitler rose to power. After a few months at Nahalal in the north, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where he lived until his death.

Avnery started his political career on the right side of the political map. He said that as a youth he admired Zeev Jabotinsky and saw himself as a Revisionist. In 1938, when he was 15, he joined the Irgun to fight the British forces “for the right to our own state,” as he put it. “I was convinced that we deserved independence, just like everyone else,” he recalled.

In an interview with Haaretz in April 2014, Avnery said of his activities with the Irgun: “I distributed leaflets [during a period when the Irgun killed many people], and as such I bear responsibility. The Irgun planted bombs in markets in Jaffa and in Haifa, which killed dozens of women and children, and I supported that.”

Vocation in life

In his Hebrew-language memoir “Optimi” (“Optimistic”), Avnery wrote that his service with the Irgun taught him political lessons for later on his career: “We were freedom fighters,” he wrote. “In my eyes, the British authorities were a terrorist organization. Back then, I learned that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective.”

Three years later, he dropped out of the underground militia. “The Irgun’s war against the Arabs bothered me a great deal. I was very much opposed to their anti-Arab line,” he said. He later explained he believed that, just as the Jews had the right to a national life, “The Arabs in the country have the same right.”

His older brother, Werner, joined the British army at that time and committed suicide during his service. Afterward, Uri adopted the name “Avnery” as his surname for its resemblance to the name “Werner.”

From a young age, Avnery saw himself as a politician. As someone whose life had changed completely as a result of politics – Hitler’s rise to power in his homeland – he saw it as the most significant vocation in life.

Initially, Avnery favored the idea of a single state, one in which a new people would arise as a union of two peoples – the Arabs and the Hebrews. The idea was espoused by the movement he established in 1946 which was called Bama’avak (“The Struggle,” aka The Young Israel).

He believed at that time that the national Hebrew movement was a natural ally of the Arab nation, and advocated cooperation between both movements under a joint name. “This is an ideal built on a culture partnership of homeland and history,” he said.

Accordingly, Avnery was disappointed on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations ratified the UN Partition Plan. “I couldn’t accept the partition of the country. Tul Karm, Hebron and Nablus were my country,” he said, adding, “The joy over carving up the country into pieces angered me a great deal. I dreamed of a joint national movement based on a common love of the land.”

This ideal didn’t withstand the test of reality. During the War of Independence in 1948-49, he discovered that “the vision of joint life in the country had died.” He later said: “I was a peace activist before the war, but the war was existential – a matter of life and death.”

Avnery served in the “Samson Foxes” commando unit. He was seriously wounded during the final days of the war, while fighting in the Kiryat Gat region. The worldview he adhered to until his dying day was formed during the period in which he was hospitalized for his wounds. One of those beliefs was the two-state solution.

In his memoir he wrote: “The war totally convinced me there’s a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them. To achieve that goal, a Palestinian nation-state had to be established.”

In this sense, Avnery was a groundbreaker. “During that period, there weren’t even 10 people in the world who believed in that,” he declared. “But today, it’s a global consensus. Even Netanyahu – who doesn’t think of realizing it – has been forced to say he supports it,” he wrote, referring to the prime minister’s “two-state speech” at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.

Avnery published his impressions of the war in Haaretz and Haaretz’s evening paper, Yom, Yom, while the fighting raged. At the end of the war, he compiled them in his first book, “In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948,” which became a best seller and briefly made Avnery a national hero.

But he felt the book did not provide a full description of the war, so in 1950 he published a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin,” which described the war’s darker side. Its publication stirred outrage and turned Avnery from “a popular man to top of the list of hated people; from a beloved person to someone who smeared Israel’s name,” as he put it.

In 1949, at the young age of 25, Avnery was appointed chief editorial writer at Haaretz. He left soon after, though, citing political differences with the newspaper’s then-editor, Gershom Shoken.

In 1950, Avnery and his friends purchased the Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine from its founder, Uri Cesari. Avnery became its editor-in-chief for the next 40 years, and under his stewardship Haolam Hazeh became antiestablishment, subversive, sensationalist and a consensus-breaker. It operated under the legendary slogan “Without Fear, Without Prejudice.”

Avnery expressed his worldview in a number of areas: Opposition to worship of the military; religious coercion; the absence of a democratic constitution; discrimination against ethnic groups; and David Ben-Gurion’s anti-Arab policy.

The weekly sought to crusade against establishment corruption. It published a list of hard-hitting investigative pieces and exposed public and political scandals. Then-Shin Bet security service head Isser Harel defined Avnery at the time as “Government Enemy No. 1.” Ben-Gurion dubbed the magazine “that certain weekly.”

Alongside its political and social agenda, Haolam Hazeh also dabbled in tabloid journalism, publishing trashy gossip stories and photographs of naked women. This combination was seen by many as a journalistic revolution, in terms of both writing style and the magazine’s approach. The weekly also proved controversial, with its editorial offices being bombed on several occasions and its archive completely destroyed following an arson attack in 1972.

Avnery received belated recognition for his journalistic endeavors in 2004 when he won the Sokolov lifetime achievement award.

Political movement

In addition to journalism, Avnery increasingly became more political. In 1965, after the Knesset passed a law against defamation – which Avnery saw as specifically targeting his news magazine – he established a radical protest movement called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash (New Force).

The movement’s political platform incorporated the values of liberty, equality and peace. Avnery was elected to the Knesset on this platform in November 1969 and was reelected four years later. His parliamentary activities included tackling religious coercion, promoting civil marriage, denuclearizing the Middle East and gay rights.

In his eyes, his biggest political mistake was voting in favor of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. He subsequently explained his vote as an attempt to prevent the restoration of East Jerusalem to Jordanian rule, based on the hope of realizing a two-state solution and turning a united Jerusalem into the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

Avnery later returned to the Knesset in 1979 as a founding member of the Sheli party (aka Left Camp of Israel). In a speech that year in favor of ratifying the peace treaty with Egypt, he said: “They say we will have a small country, but there is no greater mistake than this. Peace doesn’t reduce the size of the country. It enlarges it exponentially. In another year, we’ll get in our cars and drive on the weekends to Cairo and Alexandria. Two days later, we’ll take the train to Damascus and Aleppo, we’ll fly to Algiers and Baghdad, we’ll sail to Casablanca and Sudan. When you wake up in the morning to the sight of the pyramids outside your hotel window, as happened to me, it will be like a dream. Is this a utopia? That word doesn’t frighten us.”

In his valedictory Knesset speech in 1981 (as he relinquished his seat to an Arab lawmaker), Avnery was the first lawmaker to present the Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli one. “Those who couldn’t believe yesterday that Sadat would ever speak here will not be able to believe that someday Yasser Arafat will speak here,” he said.

Avnery was one of the first Israelis to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had his first contacts with an Arafat envoy in 1974, which led to his founding the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in December 1975.

In July 1982, at the height of the first Lebanon war, Avnery met with PLO chief Arafat in Beirut – the first time Israelis had met with the Palestinian leader. Avnery said at that meeting: “The fact that we are sitting here together in the middle of this terrible war is a sign that in the future our two peoples will find a solution to coexist. Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel and both sides will live together in peace in two countries that, little by little, will develop good neighborly relations, and even better.”

Several cabinet members called for Avnery to be put on trial for high treason, but the attorney general decided no crime had been committed.
Avnery and Arafat met a dozen more times in the years that followed.

Human shield 

In 1993, months after then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expelled hundreds of Islamic activists to Lebanon, Avnery established Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) – a movement that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, making Jerusalem the capital of both countries and dismantling the settlements in Palestinian territory.

A year later, when Arafat returned to Gaza, he invited Avnery to his reception and sat alongside him on the podium. In 2003, during the second intifada, Avnery spent time at the presidential compound in Ramallah, operating as a “human shield” for Arafat – for fear Israel might attempt to assassinate him.

Avnery had many critics who opposed his politics and ideology. Extremists labeled him a traitor and slanderer of Israel. While editor of Haolam Hazeh, he was subjected to physical attacks and once had both his arms broken after being ambushed. In 1975, he was seriously wounded after an assailant stabbed him on his own doorstep.

Avnery, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said: “Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm; Avnery lacks feeling.” The activist wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

He said he only ever told his wife, Rachel, he loved her when she was on her deathbed, and that he had never cried – not even during funerals for his comrades in arms. His rivals would delight in highlighting his deficiencies as expressed in his mother’s will. She left him no inheritance “since he didn’t take care of me and instead went to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat.”

Avnery published seven books and a vast number of articles in various publications, including in the pages of Haaretz. “Optimist” was published around the time of his 90th birthday. “I feel like an imposter,” he said at an event marking his birthday. “Someone wrote by mistake that I’m 90 – I feel half that age.”

Avnery ended his life with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was convinced he had turned his political ideas – first and foremost his support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel – into a “global consensus.” On the other, he admitted he had failed to realize these ideas politically. “Life goes on, the struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day,” he wrote on the last page of his memoir.

His wife, Rachel, a teacher and ideological partner, died in 2011. They were partners for 58 years and chose not to have any children.

SUICIDE IS NOT PAINLESS FOR THOSE LEFT BEHIND

Palestine says good bye to Anthony Bourdain

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Suicide is not painless for those left behind!

TRIBUTE TO A SURVIVOR THAT LIVED THE MANTRA “NEVER AGAIN”

As Israelis commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, we here at DesertPeace pay tribute to one survivor that truly believed in the words “NEVER AGAIN” …TO ANYONE!

In Memory of Hedy Eptein

Hedy Epstein in her St. Louis neighborhood
Photo provided by Dianne Lee

A post that appeared at the time of her passing …

Holocaust survivor and activist Hedy Epstein passes at 91

(St. Louis Public Radio) – Hedy Epstein was arrested 10 days after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, in August 2014.

She didn’t like the way people who were demonstrating against the killing were being treated by police and the National Guard, so she joined a group of peaceful protesters. They marched to Gov. Jay Nixon’s office in the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis.

Arrest wasn’t initially in her plans, but Ms. Epstein figured if she could survive the Holocaust, she could survive a brief stint in jail, even if she was 90 years old.

“I was just going to be somebody in the crowd,” Ms. Epstein told Newsweek. “I guess maybe I was impulsive: Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’”

Ms. Epstein, who had been on the front lines of fighting for causes she believed in for most of her life, died Thursday, May 26, of advanced metastatic cancer at her home in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood. She was 91.

“I’ve been an activist since I was 16,” Ms. Epstein said last year as she walked briskly near her Waterman Boulevard condo, something she’d done almost daily for the past 30 years. She expressed no dismay at being arrested at 90 on failure to disperse charges (later dismissed), saying simply: “Why not me? They handcuffed all nine of us.”

After the massive protests died down, the Black Lives Matter movement continued. Ms. Epstein supported the effort by putting a Black Lives Matter sign in her window, despite knowing that someone had complained about another neighbor doing so.

“I did not take my sign down,” Ms. Epstein smiled defiantly, “and no one said anything about it.”

Escaping the Holocaust

Few people dared cross Ms. Epstein, a diminutive force to be reckoned with. Her fearlessness had been forged by the horrors of the Holocaust.

Hedwig Wachenheimer was born Aug. 15, 1924, in Freiburg, Germany. As Adolph Hitler rose to power, her parents began to see signs of trouble to come.

The Nazis confiscated the dry goods business her father operated with his brother. Ms. Epstein was kicked out of school with the words of her principal ringing in her ears: “Get out, you dirty Jew!” That day, she arrived home to a ransacked house. Her father was arrested and led away in his pajamas.

Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Ms. Epstein’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for their 14-year-old only child to escape Germany on May 18, 1939. She traveled to England on a ship as part of Kindertransport, the British rescue operation that saved 10,000 children from the Nazis. Her parents died at Auschwitz in the summer of 1942.

Most of Ms. Epstein’s relatives did not survive the Holocaust. She remained in England until 1945, when she returned to Germany to work as a research analyst for U.S. prosecutors during the Nuremberg Doctors Trial.

A Matter of Justice

Ms. Epstein immigrated to the United States in 1948. She arrived in New York City and immediately began working at the New York Association for New Americans, an agency that brought Holocaust survivors to the U.S.

She and her husband, Arnie, whom she later divorced, moved to St. Louis in the early 1960s. She soon became a volunteer with the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis, an organization that was instrumental in ending housing discrimination in the city. She became the organization’s executive director in the mid-1970s. During the 1980s, Ms. Epstein worked as a paralegal for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm that represented individuals in employment discrimination cases.

As an advocate for equality and human rights, Ms. Epstein spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, and restrictive U.S. immigration policies. She supported the Haitian boat people and women’s reproductive rights, and, after the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Ms. Epstein began her work for peace and justice in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.

Throughout her life, Ms. Epstein continued to advocate for a more peaceful world. In 2002, she was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In 2014, she jumped eagerly into Black Lives Matter.

“It’s a matter of racism and injustice, and it’s not only in Ferguson… .” she told Newsweek during the volatile period following Brown’s death. “Racism is alive and well in the United States.”

“Her life was about service and it was about justice, about everybody having the right to be treated fairly and with dignity,” said her longtime friend and fellow activist, Dianne Lee. “Everything she did was motivated by that.”

Ms. Epstein founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as a witness to advocate for Palestinian human rights. She attempted several times to go to Gaza as a passenger with the Freedom Flotilla, including as a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, and once with the Gaza Freedom March.

Her autobiography, Erinnern ist nicht genug: Autobiographie von Hedy Epstein (“Remembering Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Hedy Epstein”), was published in 1999 by Unrast-Verlag, a German company and is available in German.

As a member of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s speakers’ bureau, she gave countless talks at schools and community events. She shared her Holocaust experiences with thousands of Missouri youth as a featured speaker at the Missouri Scholars Academy for more than 20 years. She was a sought-after national and international speaker.

Not Guilty

Ms. Epstein concluded every presentation with “If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see that is happening, we become complicit.”

“I’m sure I’m guilty of a lot of things,” she said, “but I don’t want to be guilty of not having tried my best to make a difference.”

Myriad honors confirmed her relentless pursuit of justice. They included a Fair Housing Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1975. In 1988, she received the Inspiration for Hope Award from the American Friends Service Committee and the Ethical Humanist of the Year Award from the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

In recent years, she was honored with the Imagine Life Education through Media Award and the American Friends Service Committee’s “Inspiration for Hope Award.

Survivors include her son Howard (Terry) Epstein, of Columbus, Ohio, and granddaughters Courtney and Kelly.

 

PALESTINE’S SWEETEST VOICE HAS BEEN SILENCED

Rim Banna sang for Palestine, for resistance, for freedom, for resilience, for unity, for prisoners, for martyrs, for hope. Her body left us, but her soul, smile, words, songs will always live in our hearts..

Image by Carlos Latuff

 

She sang for freedom, revolutions, political prisoners and much more. She specialized in children’s songs, something that distinguished her remarkably. With three children’s albums, she has revived traditional children’s lullabies and, through them, became present in every Palestinian house and every child’s memories.  

She let everyone enter her life through her thoughts and photos on her active social media accounts. She shared her fears, her feelings, her wisdom and her optimism.

Rest in Peace dear Comrade

راحة في سلام عزيزي الرفيق

rahatan fi salam eazizii alrafiq

REMEMBERING RACHEL CORRIE

March 16 marks 15 years since Rachel Corrie was killed. She died putting her body between a bulldozer and a home she was trying to protect in Gaza. She has inspired so many and we salute her and those who carry on her legacy.

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CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF STEPHEN HAWKING ~~ A FOND FAREWELL

British scientist Stephen Hawking dies at age 76

Despite his personal torment (or perhaps because of it) he cared about all those suffering throughout the world.

He will truly be missed.

Here is a photo of a young Stephen Hawking (with the canes) in London marching against the war in Vietnam in 1969.

 

More than 30 years later he spoke out fervently against the war in Iraq. He also joined the BDS movement against Israel, calling the situation “like that in South Africa before 1990. It cannot continue.”

He wasn’t just one of the most brilliant minds of our times, he was also someone with a social conscience and critical of capitalism, saying:

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”


Rest in power, Stephen Hawking.

FROM

Carlos Latuff honoured this giant of a man with the following in 2013 …

Maximum respect to Stephen Hawking who in 2013 refused to participate of a conference in Israel to protest against the occupation of Palestine

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REMEMBERING LEONARD COHEN (1934-2016)

The first Yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Leonard Cohen, one of the greatest Jewish poet-songwriters of the 20th century, was observed on November 7th 2017. As a tribute to his legacy, here is one of his most famous songs, Hallelujah, with the Hebrew lyrics of Psalm 150 which is recited daily in Jewish prayer. May the memory of Leonard Cohen be for an eternal blessing.

Here is Cohen’s rendition in English …

And in Yiddish …

POETIC TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND RICKY EISENBERG

Earlier in the year one of my oldest and dearest friends passed away. This past Saturday a memorial was held for him in New York City. Here is a report of the event written by another dear friend, Matt Weinstein…

Hundreds filed into the Church of the Redeemer on West 83rd Street for a fitting tribute and memorial to Ricky Eisenberg who died on February 3, 2017 after doing battle with a protracted illness.

The hundreds included friends, old and new, fellow activists and comrades, beloved family members and others who came into contact with Ricky through the years. Dedicated to a better world, one free of war and injustice, Ricky Eisenberg fought his entire life with a passion and a principled, uncompromising determination to forge change for his fellow human beings.

The afternoon was presided over by Rickly’s sister Nora who introducted us to speaker after speaker who regaled the gathering with anecdotes and stories of their relationship with the man. Daughters brought Ricky to life in front of our eyes by recounting his great humor (which we all knew and loved), his caricatures of multitude personalities, his love of music and food (pastrami was most often noted) and more .

We were treated to performances that inspired us. Particularly moving were the several pieces by the great NYC Labor Chorus, including John Lennon’s Imagine. That was especially relevant to this memorial because it envisioned a new world, something that Ricky stood and fought for. A newly-formed group of young girls, the Riverdale Youth Chorus, were also wonderful and they brought down the house with a charming performance of one of Ricky’s favorites: Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?

Later we heard from the family: both daughters joined with granddaughter Grace to perform a song she had written. Though the program ran on for several hours, we were entranced throughout because Ricky was such an important part of our lives and because he was truly “larger than life” as was said in one of the speeches. This was a moving memorial to a man who had an impact on everyone who knew him. We then celebrated Ricky’s love of good food by repairing to another room for sandwiches, wine and dessert. A great way to finish the day. Ricky—we love you and will not forget you. This we promise.

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And finally a poetic tribute to Ricky written by my dearest friend, Tom Karlson…

Ricky
73 years, a life
too short
two years of war,
every day a battle
the weapons, laughter and courage
Gracie, Jackson, Annie, Julie, Sara, Nora, and Katie
and a battalion of family, friends, and comrades
life lengthened and sweetened by that great thirst
to right all things wrong
with eye and brain and heart and body
to do wht must be done

it is late August 1960
West Harlem CCNY Convent Avenue 133st
meeting of the Marxist Discussion Club
we Don Quixotes are declaring war
war on the ban against communist speakers
STRIKE!
and strike we did
10,000 students on the street
a call for Ban the Ban
a call for Free Speach
Ben Davis and Herbert Aptheker came to speak

this, the beginning
marches, demonstrations, strikes, meets, Mayday

our position no tuition
Hands off Cuba, Cuba Si Yankee No
and when the CIA murdered Lumumba, Congo prime minister
down to the UN we went
chanting who’s the man who’s got to, go Dag Hammarskjold

a bus ride to Washington
to support Cuba
a time for song story and joke
a time where
art politics struggle mate gyrate
a time of incubation
when Cuba, antiwar’ civil rights, 
student’s rights, labor’s rights, women’s rights 
set the stage for a half a century 
of friendship, food, love, and class war

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Here is a photo of Tom reciting the poem at the memorial

Photo by Matt Weinstein

#NeverForget ~~ 911 IN TOONS

In memory of all the innocent victims …

A timely quote …

“In the 80’s they used to blame Russians for everything. Now they blame the Muslims. In the near future they will blame both”

Images by Carlos Latuff

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Chile also remembers

Chile also remembers (Click on link)

REMEMBERING OUR FALLEN ANGEL, RACHEL CORRIE

March 16th marked the anniversary of the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, 14 years ago.

14 years ago today, Israeli bulldozers killed ISM activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza

On March 16, 2003, Rachel was killed by an Israel Occupation Force (IOF) armored bulldozer in Rafah during the second Palestinian intifada.

Rachel had come to Gaza to try and establish a sister city project between her hometown Olympia, Washington and Rafah, Gaza. She was a peace activist connected to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian houses which were being carried out by the Israeli army.

After a three hour long confrontation between ISM activists and the Israeli army’s demolition forces, she was killed, less than two months after arriving in Gaza.

Israel claims that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Rachel because of the limited field of view from within the bulldozer. Humans rights groups claim that the driver had seen her and deliberately continued driving, disregarding her fellow activists who were shouting and waving their arms, which resulted in Rachel’s death.

The Israeli army’s investigation of the incident concluded that the death was an accident because the driver of the bulldozer had limited visibility and therefore couldn’t see Rachel. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations criticized the military investigation, claiming that it was not transparent, credible or thorough enough.

In 2006 Bradley Burston, Haaretz columnist said “We should have saved Rachel Corrie’s life that day… Right now, somewhere in the West Bank, there’s an eight-year-old whose life could be saved next week, if we’ve managed to learn the lesson are resourceful enough to know how to apply it.”

In 2005 a one-woman drama called ”My Name Is Rachel Corrie” ran at London’s Royal Court Theater, and received a warm reception. In April 2015, the drama was staged Off Broadway in the East Village in New York.

Two years ago a symbolic gravestone with her name was installed in Tehran cemetary in Iran, alongside twelve other symbolic gravestones.

There is a street named after Rachel Corrie in Ramallah, West Bank.

 

Source

 

Italian activist Nicola Arboscelli stands in front of graffiti memorializing American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed 14 years ago today, on March 16, 2003, Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Abid Katib/ Getty Images)

 

CARRIE FISHER’S SENSE OF HUMOUR FOLLOWS HER TO THE GRAVE

The vessel for the ashes? An extra large Prozac pill doubling as an urn, showing that Carrie Fisher’s sense of humor about just about everything, including her mental illness, lives on.

Fisher spent years as a mental health advocate and even battled mental illness herself. In her interviews and in books, Fisher worked to break the stigma around mental illness and divulged her bipolar disorder over a decade ago.

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Carrie Fisher’s Ashes Placed in Giant Prozac Pill Urn

Todd Fisher brought the cremated remains of his sister Carrie Fisher to the private memorial for their mother Debbie Reynolds on Friday in Los Angeles.

The vessel for the ashes? An extra large Prozac pill doubling as an urn, showing that Carrie Fisher’s sense of humor about just about everything, including her mental illness, lives on.

“Carrie’s favorite possession was a giant Prozac pill that she bought many years ago. A big pill,” Todd explained to Entertainment Tonight. “She loved it, and it was in her house, and Billie and I felt it was where she’d want to be.”

Todd also shared how he and the rest of the family are doing in the wake of the two deaths.

“Everybody’s as settled as we can be, and we’re not going to go any further,” Todd told reporters. “We’ll have a bigger service down the road for the public and all the family friends, but this was a private family service and we’re — it was fitting and it was beautiful.”

The date for the memorial hasn’t been set, but Todd noted that there are still ways to commemorate the late actresses.

“We have so much of them that was left behind,” he added. “All of my sister’s words and all the movies, and all the things that they created. That’s what we need to remember.”

Fisher spent years as a mental health advocate and even battled mental illness herself. In her interviews and in books, Fisher worked to break the stigma around mental illness and divulged her bipolar disorder over a decade ago.

Some of Fisher’s remains were buried with her mother.

TOUCHING TRIBUTES TO CARRIE FISHER FROM INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS

She was not only an iconic female figure in media, one of the earliest strong female characters that young girls everywhere looked up to, she was also an advocate for mental health, sharing her own story of dealing with depression and addictions and in doing so, giving a voice to those struggling with these issues.

Monika Report

Monika 

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Chris 'ROY' Taylor

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All FROM

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ MOURNING WITH THE FANS OF BRAZIL

Image by Carlos Latuff

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BELLA CIAO FIDEL

Images by Carlos Latuff

Comandante Fidel Castro

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Bella Ciao with much love and admiration

60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PALESTINE

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

The Almighty Military Order

Forty-eight civilians, 1 fetus and 10 pennies

By Sam Bahour

If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

There were other massacres prior to Kafr Qasssem, such as the case of Deir Yassin in 1948. Since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The soldier was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli soldier caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served—it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days.

The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back to Kafr Qassem.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach.

Aderet’s article offers but a glimpse into the legal proceedings surrounding Kafr Qassem. One of the first people to document those proceedings wasattorney Sabri Jiryis in his landmark book, The Arabs in Israel, published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of the testimonies recorded by the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree can be found printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it its future as well, military order or not.

 

Originally posted AT

Related Post (Click on link)

Commemorating Kafr Qasim Massacre at its 60th Anniversary

BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES

And this in memory of Pete Seeger and Fred Hellerman

MY HILL IS COVERED WITH BLOOD ~~ MAN’S BEST FRIEND IS ISRAEL’S ENEMY

For Julian …. One of the few who cared …. here are his words

This is the result of fear, intolerance and  hatred of life… is easier kill and forget .. than to take care and keep .. a home for 5 souls that possibly no one will remember .. if somebody kills an innocent life .. what can we hope for? This was an act of our protectors, the police and agents. but They prefer a world with out compromise and a comfort zone .. and live there rather than go out and see that it’s our responsibility. They prefer to erase than give our time our life our love .. this way I think that it is better to empty this earth of human beings … especially this class of people .. peace to our baby’s!
What remains of a loving family / Photo by Julian

What remains of a loving family / Photo by Julian

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Victims of fear and hate

Victims of fear and hate

My community of French Hill is the greatest example in Israel of what can be. Israelis of every background, both religious and secular, Palestinians and new immigrants have lived here in harmony for years.

This week we observe the start of the new month of Elul on the Hebrew calendar. A time for reflection and forgiveness … but some things cannot be forgiven.

A few weeks ago a pregnant dog was abandoned on my street and wound up having her six puppies in the bushes on my hill. As all puppies, they were absolutely adorable. But no one wanted them. The Pound is full to capacity with dogs waiting for adoption, but this family was destined to live in the street. They were fed and cared for by neighbours  who cared … that is until this morning when ‘animal control’ came with guns and shot them all to death.

Can this be forgiven? How can people be so cruel to creatures of the same God that created them?

French Hill is in mourning today for this family. 

Special thanks to those who cared and tried to help.

 

 

MISSISSIPPI CONTINUES TO BURN AS CASE IS CLOSED

After 52 Years, the “Mississippi Burning” Case Closes

The Department of Justice and State of Mississippi close the investigation of three civil rights workers killed by KKK members in 1964

Never to be forgotten

Never to be forgotten

Fifty-two years after three civil rights workers were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, authorities have officially closed the “Mississippi Burning” case.

“There’s nothing else that can be done,” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a press conference covered by Jerry Mitchell at The Clarion-Ledger on Monday. “I am convinced that during the last 52 years, investigators have done everything possible under the law to find those responsible and hold them accountable; however, we have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions. Absent any new information presented to the FBI or my office, this case will be closed.”

The case started in the summer of 1964, when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were working to register African-American voters as part of the Freedom Summer campaign. On June 21, the three men traveled to investigate the burning of a church in Neshoba County, as History.com reports.

The Neshoba County deputy sheriff, Cecil Price, also a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, pulled their car over on a speeding charge and made the trio spend hours in jail in the town of Philadelphia.

Investigators later learned that when the men were released from jail, Price tipped off his fellow Klansmen, and then drove to apprehend the activists’ car, himself. Price would eventually catch up to the three men and pull them over. Klansmen then took the activists to an unmarked road where they were beaten and then shot at close range.

The FBI called the investigation, MIBURN (for “Mississippi Burning”) after discovering the men’s charred car two days after they went missing, according to a release by the agency. The FBI would find the men’s bodies several weeks after that. Though an informant identified the 19 assailants, they were not charged by the State of Mississippi. The U.S. Justice Department, however, found a way to charge the assailants for violating the activists’ civil rights. But in 1967, an all-white jury and segregationist judge acquitted nine of the defendants, deadlocked on three, and found seven guilty, including Price. The men were sentenced to terms between three and nine years in jail.

In June, 2005, on the 41 anniversary of the three murders, Edgar Ray Killen, the Klan leader who orchestrated the attack, was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. In 2010, Hood reopened the case. While two other men involved in the murders are still alive, Hood does not believe there is enough evidence to indict them.

“Tragically for the people of Mississippi, and for our nation, many murders took place over so many years, in which people of color were targeted, and those who attempted to support them became the victims of brutality as well, all deprived of basic civil rights of citizens,” Schwerner’s widow, Rita Bender tells Mitchell. She urges Mississippi officials “to face up to the past and for the people of Mississippi and all of our country to find the resolve to move forward.”

Not everyone thinks its time to move forward. “This case is about Americans murdering Americans because they want to be Americans. This case will never be closed until it heals the wounds that have divided our country,” Goodman’s older brother David tells Juleyka Lantigua-Williams at The Atlantic. “You can’t move past a wound while it’s open, even if you cover it up with a bandage.”

In 2008, Congress passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Crimes Act, giving the FBI $10 million per year for 10 years to investigate civil-rights-era cold cases, like the Mississippi case. But Janis McDonald, Syracuse law professor and co-director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative accuses the Justice Department of sitting on hundreds of cases of activists being killed police, the KKK and racist individuals. “This doesn’t have anybody’s priority,” she tells Lantigua-Williams. “They’re just not doing the kind of full investigations that the act promised these families they would.”

In 2014, President Obama posthumously awarded Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

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A MUST WATCH ~~ RABBINICAL ACCOLADE FOR THE CHAMP

This is absolutely brilliant!

This is going viral on the Net …. please share with your friends

MUHAMMAD ALI’S FINAL FAREWELL THIS FRIDAY

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan reportedly had been scheduled to speak at the ceremony and then were removed from the program due to the number of speakers.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

Rabbi Michael Lerner Will Speak at Muhammad Ali Funeral

Liberal American Rabbi Michael Lerner has been invited to speak at boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s funeral.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be invited to speak at Muhammad Ali’s funeral,” Lerner, the editor of Tikkun Magazine, wrote on Facebook. “It has been several decades since I worked with Muhammad Ali in the peace movement challenging the Vietnam War. The US government indicted both of us for our nonviolent actions against that war. But that was many decades ago. So imagine my surprise to receive a call on Sunday morning from Muhammad Ali’s family who invited him to be a speaker at the funeral/memorial ceremony.”

The funeral is scheduled for Friday in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali died last Friday at the age of 74. He had Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years.

Jewish actor Billy Crystal, who is know for his imitation of Ali, will also speak at the funeral, along with representatives of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Mormonism and Catholicism. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver a eulogy. Other speakers include Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali; his daughter Maryum Ali, and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan reportedly had been scheduled to speak at the ceremony and then were removed from the program due to the number of speakers.

The ceremony will be led by California imam and scholar Zaid Shakir. Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral service, will be held Thursday.

Lerner’s Tikkun reported that the Ali family member who called the rabbi to ask him to participate in the memorial ceremony told him that Muhammad Ali and his wife “had been fans of his for many, many years.” Lerner said he had not heard from Ali since 1995, when the boxer sent him a note to commend him on the book he wrote with Cornel West titled “Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin.”

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