PHOTO OF THE DAY ~~MADONNA’S ‘MAKE LOVE NOT WAR!’

In instagram post promoting her new album, Madonna sparks controversy with image of Jewish, Arab men nearly kissing.

The photo of a Jewish and Arab man nearly kissing.

The photo of a Jewish and Arab man nearly kissing.

The above is much nicer than this one …

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Madonna draws controversy on Instagram

Madonna has stirred up controversy after posting a photo of a Palestinian man and a Hasidic Jewish man apparently mid-kiss on Instagram.

The photo, which was posted on Sunday, has already garnered upwards of 70,000 likes in just over 24 hours. It features a Jewish man with side curls wearing a large white knitted skullcap typical of the Breslover Hasidic movement, in addition to an Arab man wearing a keffiyeh. The two appear to be leaning in for a kiss.

“This image is . ❤#rebelhearts,” the caption of the photo reads, referring to Madonna’s latest pop album.

“I see two men one Muslim perhaps and one Jewish together sharing a moment of peace. Can’t we just all get along without discussing religious beliefs?” one of the Instagram comments under the photo reads.

Another wrote: “I don’t understand all the ppl here say it’s not possible I’m Jewish from Israel my boyfriend is Arab Muslim and we live together for 3 years now!”

Many others responded quite negatively to the image, with some posting racist slurs both against Jews and Arabs.

Source

How the image appeared on Instagram

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MOTHER’S DAY ~~ THEN AND NOW

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

Invisible

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?

IN PHOTOS ~~ SIT-IN AND ARRESTS FOR NUCLEAR SANITY

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Ready and waiting to 'serve and protect'

Ready and waiting to ‘serve and protect’

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IN PHOTOS ~~ MARCHING FOR NUCLEAR SANITY

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A huge anti-nuclear march  took place on the streets of Manhattan  Sunday April 26th .  It stretched twelve long city blocks along one car lane from Union sq. 14th St. to 47th St. at the U.N where nuclear disarmament talks are now under way. The estimated number of marches was 5,000+.  

Marchers came from various areas of the U.S.  There was International participation also. The Japanese contingent was by far the largest ( more Japanese participants than US participants), with some people also from Belgium, France and Korea, who joined  the march. At the U.N. a massive rally was held. There were speakers,  dancers and singers. Petitions signed by over 6 million people was delivered to the U.N. demanding an end to nuclear weapons.

There were no mainstream media T.V. mobile units to record this march for  the public.  Once again  Americans  are made to remain ignorant of peace movement events going on around them.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

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LOOKING BACK TO THE FUTURE

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

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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.

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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.

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PEACE IS NOT A GAME OF ‘TRUTH OR DARE’

There was much fuss the past few days over the truth about a photo which turned out to be false ….

RICKI ROSEN Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

RICKI ROSEN
Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

False or not, the photo was meant to be an inspiration to those fighting for Peace.

The following photo is actually a true one …. but keep in mind that the struggle for Peace is not a game of Truth or Dare! Any tool that can be used can be considered Truth …. I dare you to disagree!

Debbi Cooper’s 1988 photo of an Israeli and a Palestinian actually features an Israeli and a Palestinian.

Debbi Cooper’s 1988 photo of an Israeli and a Palestinian actually features an Israeli and a Palestinian.

The Iconic Mideast Photo That Isn’t Fake

By Naomi Zeveloff

When I interviewed Ricki Rosen about her iconic — and completely staged — 1993 photo depicting a Palestinian boy and an Israeli boy, she reminded me of a similar picture taken by another Jerusalem photojournalist.

Debbi Cooper’s 1988 black and white picture is also of an Israeli and a Palestinian, but hers is real. In it, two young boys, one in a yarmulke and the other with a keffiyeh wrapped around his neck, smile shyly for the camera. Like Rosen’s photo, the picture has taken on a life of its own, and has been reproduced countless times, both with and without Cooper’s knowledge and permission. Today, the picture is an emotional topic for the 60-year-old photojournalist, who teared up when talking about it. “It makes me sad,” she said. “I just wish it could have brought peace.”

“We are in such dark times,” she added. “People come to me and tell me it gives them hope. But what do you do with hope?”

According to Cooper, the photograph was originally commissioned by the New Israel Fund for a full-page New York Times advertisement as the First Intifada was gaining steam. It was meant to illustrate the possibility of Jewish and Palestinian coexistence in wartime and was labeled with the caption “What’s Right With This Picture?”

Cooper had previously photographed dialogue groups in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, so it wasn’t a stretch for her to find two families who would be willing to appear in the photograph. She contacted Diane Greenberg, a longtime friend in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood who, with her husband, was active in the peace movement. Greenberg, an immigrant to Israel from Wales, arranged a meeting with a Palestinian family that they knew in Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood. Cooper said that she spent about an hour with the families before she photographed their two sons, who had met for the first time that day.

Greenberg put me in touch with her son in the photo, Shmuel Greenberg, now a 33-year-old lawyer and father-of-one living in Tel Aviv. He said that the photo shoot felt natural because he had spent time with Palestinian families through his family’s activism. “Being around Palestinians wasn’t something that was weird or different or posed or something done for the camera,” he told me.

A current-day photo of Shmuel Greenberg, the Israeli boy in the original photo by Debbi Cooper

Attempts to reach the Palestinian boy in the picture, whom Cooper identified as Nazih Awad, were unsuccessful. Both Cooper and Diane Greenberg said that the family relocated to Jordan to pursue educational opportunities for the children.

Cooper told me that over the past 10 years she has heard from individuals who saw her iconic photo at their university Hillel office, on a Taglit-Birthright Israel campaign, in the New York City subway and even at the Vatican. In 2012, the popular file-sharing site Pirate Bay posted it on its homepage with the caption “The Peace Bay” and said it would not take it down until “true peace” was achieved in the region. (As of this writing, the image is no longer on the homepage.)

The photo has also been widely used by Stand With Us, a right-wing Israel advocacy group. Cooper said she granted the group permission to use it on one of their billboards. “I personally had to think long and hard about how people were using it,” she said. “I had to accept that it has a force of its own. It has a message — when you look at a picture like that, it makes you stretch your mind to think that [peace] is a possibility.”

NOMI COOPER ROSENBERG
Photographer Debbi Cooper

The photo has since become a Stand With Us mainstay in its “Billboard Wars” to counter what it describes as anti-Israel messaging in public spaces in cities such as Portland and New York City. In one billboard, the photo is next to a block of text that says: “SAVE GAZA FROM HAMAS/Teach PEACE, not HATE.” In another, the photo is flanked by text that reads: “Israel Needs a Partner for Peace/The Palestinian Authority Must Accept The Jewish State & Teach Peace, Not Hate.”

Shmuel, the Israeli boy in the photo, said that he was surprised to learn that his likeness was being used by the organization. He said that Stand With Us has run campaigns that are “pretty much the opposite of my personal opinions, or at least partly opposite.” He said he contacted the organization to share his thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that he never heard back from the group. (Stand With Us’s executive director Roz Rothstein said she never heard from Greenberg.)

When we spoke, Shmuel was on reserve duty training solders in Southern Israel. He said he has no qualms about serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, but that he wishes the circumstances were different today. “It’s a depressing perspective, knowing that it’s been 25 years [since the photo was taken], and you’re talking to me now from my military reserve service,” he said. “It’s really surrealistic and ironic for me at this point.” He said that he took the photo with him when he first enlisted, as a way to remember his values.

Cooper said that she does not see the image as a relic from the past, because it was always aspirational, rather than a reflection of the situation between Israelis and Palestinians on the ground. “I guess I am hoping for a time when it is not an iconic image,” she told me. “I don’t look at that as a time that there were friendships. It was always part of hope rather than reality.”

EVEN A FAKE IMAGE CAN BE AN INSPIRATION FOR PEACE

RICKI ROSEN Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

RICKI ROSEN
Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

“One of the things I feel about it is just kind of sad,” said Shapiro. “There was a brief period where it didn’t seem as far-fetched as it does now. And it could have just been my naivete as a child, but I felt it almost symbolizes something that we have lost and that I hope we can regain. I think there is a genuine belief that if there is a peaceful solution there can be not only peace but camaraderie and real friendship.”

All Grown Up: Zvi Shapiro (left), now 32, wore the kippah in the famous photo. Zemer Aloni (right), now 33, wore the keffiyeh.

All Grown Up: Zvi Shapiro (left), now 32, wore the kippah in the famous photo. Zemer Aloni (right), now 33, wore the keffiyeh.

Iconic Mideast Photo Is a Fake — and Heartbreaking One at That

Jewish-Palestinian Friendship Once Seemed Possible

By Naomi Zeveloff

One week into Israel’s war with Gaza this past summer, the Barbadian-born singer Rihanna tweeted a photo of an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy with their arms around each other facing away from the camera: “Let’s pray for peace and a swift end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!” she wrote. “Is there any hope?….”

The photo was posted as damage control after the pop star tweeted — and then eight minutes later deleted — the hashtag #FreePalestine. That initial tweet provoked an immediate barrage from Israel advocates on Twitter asking if she supported Hamas. It’s not clear to what degree the photo mollified her critics. But what Rihanna didn’t know was that the photo is actually a fake.

The boys in the picture aren’t an Israeli and a Palestinian, but two Israeli Jews.

The 1993 photo, taken three months after the signing of the Oslo Accords, is one of the most iconic pictures from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In it, a boy in a red shirt with a yarmulke and a boy in a black shirt and a keffiyeh walk with their arms slung over each other’s shoulders. Though the background is blurry, they are clearly in the white and green environs of Jerusalem, meandering on a dirt path to an unknown destination. They appear to be lost in conversation, oblivious to the photographer behind them.

In addition to Rihanna’s tweet — which was retweeted by 46,000 people — the photograph has been reproduced hundreds of times on the Internet, appearing in the American Jewish magazine Tikkun, on the web site of the Israel advocacy group Jerusalem Institute of Justice, on various American and Israeli news sites and Facebook pages, and even on the blog belonging to Jack Kornfield, one of the most prominent Buddhists in America.

Yet unlike the other famous pictures documenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — such as the 1967 photo of three Israeli soldiers at the Western Wall, or the 1993 shot of Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands on the White House lawn — the photo of the two boys is purely allegorical. With their backs to the camera, the boys are anonymous stand-ins for all Israelis and Palestinians. Set against the backdrop of one of the oldest cities on earth, the picture has a timeless quality. It’s a depiction of what might have been, and what could be in the future, in spite of today’s moribund peace process.

It’s also completely staged.

“I think I felt awkward about it,” said the boy in the yarmulke, speaking now some 21 years later as an adult.

The Israeli boy in the yarmulke is Zvi Shapiro, the son of two secular American-Israelis. The Palestinian boy is Zemer Aloni, an Israeli Jew. The only real aspect of the photo is that the boys were indeed friends and that the picture was taken in their Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, which straddles the 1949 armistice line and contains both a Jewish and an Arab section. The boys grew up on the Jewish side of the neighborhood, and while they both recall interactions with Palestinians, neither counted close friends on the other side of the line.

The picture was taken by Ricki Rosen, an American photojournalist who has been covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 26 years. Rosen snapped the photo on assignment for Maclean’s, the national news magazine of Canada, for a cover story about the Oslo Peace Accords. Rosen said that the magazine’s art director was so specific in what he wanted that he even drew her a picture — one boy in a yarmulke, the other in a keffiyeh shot from the back walking down a long road, which was supposed to symbolize the road to peace. He didn’t care whether the boys were actually Israelis or Palestinians, nor did it occur to him that the Palestinian’s keffiyeh would be styled in a way more typical for elderly Palestinian men than for young boys.

“It was a symbolic illustration,” said Rosen. “It was never supposed to be a documentary photo.” She also took other real-life photos for the same article.

Rosen, who also lived in Abu Tor, asked her neighbor Haim Shapiro, then a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, if he would be willing to volunteer his young son for the Jewish boy in the assignment. “If there was any place to find a Palestinian kid who would agree to do this, it would have been Abu Tor,” said Rosen. “But I didn’t look because I thought it would be a very difficult thing. The relations had completely broken down after the first intifada, and Palestinians were very fearful of being seen as collaborating with Israelis because collaborators were being killed.” Instead, Zvi Shapiro’s best friend Zemer Aloni, who lived a block away, would wear the keffiyeh. Aloni said that the fact that he has “Eastern roots” — his father is an Iranian Jew — made him an appropriate choice for the job.

On the day of the shoot, Rosen brought a keffiyeh that she used to leave on her dashboard on reporting trips to the West Bank during the first intifada — a safeguard against her vehicle being pelted by stones and Molotov cocktails — and dressed 12-year-old Aloni in it. Zvi Shapiro, then 11, donned a yarmulke, and the two went for a walk on the nearby Sherover Promenade.

“Ricki told us to just talk to each other,” said Shaprio. “It’s also funny because I don’t think we would have necessarily put our arms around each other the way we are.” Rosen shot several images of the pair that day, including one from the front that is rarely reproduced.

Keen Eye: Ricki Rosen has been photographing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 26 years.

COURTESY Keen Eye: Ricki Rosen has been photographing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 26 years.

In 2002, the photo was digitized as part of Rosen’s collection on Corbis Images, a Seattle-based company that manages licensing for editorial and creative photographs. On the Corbis web site, there is no indication that the photograph is fake; it is categorized as a stock image under “News.” Yet even though the photo is copyrighted, the vast majority of the reproductions online — Rihanna’s included — have occurred without Rosen’s or Corbis’s knowledge or permission. On some sites, such as that of Tikkun, the photograph is credited as Creative Commons, meaning anyone can use it — a categorization to which Rosen never agreed. Without control over where the image appears, Rosen said, she is unable to explain to those who would use it that the photo is staged. Nor has she been properly compensated for her work.

It wasn’t until after Rihanna tweeted the photo and Zvi Shapiro’s mother brought it to Rosen’s attention that she realized how many people were posting the image without her consent. She said that Corbis is looking into Rihanna’s usage on her behalf. If Rosen is not financially compensated, she said. “I want her to retweet it with my credit and say, ‘I am sorry for stealing the intellectual property of another artist.’” She would also like Rihanna to explain that the photo isn’t really of a Palestinian and an Israeli kid, but is meant to represent “the hopes then for peace down the road.”

After the photo shoot, Shapiro and Aloni remained close friends for a few years but began to drift apart in middle school. Shapiro said that the last time he saw Aloni was when they were both in the army and they ran into each other at a coffee shop, a meeting Aloni did not recall. Shapiro, now 32, said that his experience in the army — he was stationed in Jerusalem during the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in the second intifada — left him wanting to go to a “place that was the least like Israel as I could find.” Rather than travel to India or South America, like many Israelis do after the army, he enrolled in Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He is now completing a doctoral program in child clinical psychology at Pennsylvania State University. Married to a woman who does not speak Hebrew, he does not know if or when he will return to Israel.

After Aloni’s army service, he was trained as an architect at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Now 33, he is working as an architect in Nahalal, near Haifa, where he lives with his wife. Aloni said that looking back on the photo, he had no qualms about appearing as a Palestinian. “I don’t see Arabs as the enemy,” he said. “If someone told me I looked like an Arab, I wouldn’t care. It’s not something to be ashamed of.” When asked whether some Palestinians might consider the outfit degrading — akin to blackface in America — he said he had never considered the issue in that light. “America is much more politically correct about stuff than here.”

Shapiro, on the other hand, said that the racial aspect of the photo now strikes him as “really, really strange.”

“I think it’s probably less acceptable today than it was then,” he said. Because he’s not religious, he also felt like a bit of an imposter wearing a yarmulke. “It’s really not me in the picture, but it’s even less him,” he said of Aloni.

“One of the things I feel about it is just kind of sad,” said Shapiro. “There was a brief period where it didn’t seem as far-fetched as it does now. And it could have just been my naivete as a child, but I felt it almost symbolizes something that we have lost and that I hope we can regain. I think there is a genuine belief that if there is a peaceful solution there can be not only peace but camaraderie and real friendship.”

Aloni called the image a “wishful thinking picture.” He added, “Then it was almost a reality, and now it is like a vision.”

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A RABBINICAL DISCOURSE AGAINST PEACE

PEACE NOW OR PEACE NO?

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The ‘Peacenik said … (Let us all breathe freely)

There is no military solution that will bring an end to the suffering of the residents of the south, to the terrible fear they live with, and there’s no military solution to the inhuman anguish of the Palestinians in Gaza. In plain words: until there is a resolution to the feelings of suffocation of the people of Gaza, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely. We won’t breathe through both our lungs.

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The Rabbi responded … (Might makes right)

But you chose to go down a different path, and found yourself forced to utter these words of self-delusion: “You are many. We are many, many more than we thought, than we believed.” What a pity.

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An Israeli Novelist’s Cry for Peace. A Rabbi’s Reply

By J.J. Goldberg FOR

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Rabbi Yuval Sherlow
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Novelist David Grossman spoke Saturday night at a peace rally at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, sponsored by the Peace Now movement and the Meretz and Hadash parties, among others. It was attended by an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people, which the left considered an impressive show of force and the right mocked as a failure. Grossman’s speech, an eloquent cri de coeur of Israel’s increasingly isolated antiwar left, was reprinted in Hebrew on Sunday on Ynet.co.il, the Hebrew-language website of Yediot Ahronot. (Thanks to Gary Brenner for urging me to translate it.)

Also appearing Sunday on Ynet was a reply to Grossman by Rabbi Yuval Sherlow, dean of the Hesder yeshiva of Petah Tikvah. Sherlow is one of the most liberal voices in Israeli Orthodoxy. He’s spoken out bravely within his community in favor of tolerance of gays, greater recognition of non-Orthodox Judaism — including Reform conversion — and open, sympathetic dialogue between right and left. In this “Letter to David Grossman” he warmly chides the novelist for preaching to the converted (no, not that kind) and failing to find a language that can bridge the gap dividing left and right. Remarkably, he concedes many of Grossman’s sharpest critiques, but insists that Grossman fails to acknowledge “the other sides of the coin” — the still-vital humanity within the Israeli public, the implacability often facing Israel from its enemies — and so alienates a large audience that Sherlow wishes the novelist could reach.

They’re both well worth reading for their insight into the current mood in Israel. The translations are mine, and as usual are as literal as I can make them. Let me know if you spot mistakes.

David Grossman: ‘We Are Collaborators of Despair’

You are many. We are many, many more than we thought, than we believed.

I stood here in this square two days ago, at the demonstration in support of the residents of the south. I stood here at the demonstration in support of the residents of the south the day before yesterday. I wanted to be with them, to listen to them as they told of their hard lives. There were many speakers here, and most of them spoke fitting, heartfelt words, and they all said basically the same thing: It can’t go on like this.

I listened to them, and to others who bitterly said things like “Let the IDF win” and “Let the IDF mow them down” and “The time has come to eliminate Hamas,” and I thought, these are sophisticated, experienced people, the sort who know that in the current circumstances this wish of theirs won’t come true, and everything that’s happened in this war testifies to that. But nobody is showing them another way or offering hope for a better future, and there’s nothing left for them but to shout over and over in ever-growing despair, like so many of us: Let the IDF win.

There are no images of victory in this war, not for either side. There are no images of victory, only visions of destruction and death and indescribable suffering. Every image from this miserable battlefield is in the end an image of a profound defeat of two peoples who have hardly learned to speak to one another, even after a century of conflict, in any language but violence. In the current circumstances, under the existing limits — the limits of force, of morality, of international pressure — there is no military solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

There is no military solution that will bring an end to the suffering of the residents of the south, to the terrible fear they live with, and there’s no military solution to the inhuman anguish of the Palestinians in Gaza. In plain words: until there is a resolution to the feelings of suffocation of the people of Gaza, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely. We won’t breathe through both our lungs.

Therefore, in the negotiations that will begin again tomorrow in Cairo, and after Israel insists, as it must, on the security demands necessary for the people of Sderot and Nahal Oz to live secure, peaceful lives, and after Israel demands that Hamas commit itself to ending its violent attacks, and its preparations for future attacks, after all this Israel will have to offer proposals to the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip that are greater and more significant than the sum of their parts. Not another limited, local, narrow cease-fire agreement but a framework for a change in relations between the sides — a big, far-sighted, generous plan that contains proposals for a genuine improvement in the lives of the resident of Gaza, for reviving their hopes for a better future and granting them a feeling of self-respect and human dignity.

Of course it’s possible to bargain over every little paragraph in an agreement, over ten trucks fewer or more passing through the fence, over another kilometer or two of permitted fishing zones for Gaza’s fishermen. But what must change this time, after this war, is the spirit of things. To my mind this is one of the main reasons we’ve come and gathered here this evening. To remind those who negotiate in our name with the Palestinians in Cairo that even if the people of Gaza are enemies today, they will always be our neighbors, and that is the spirit of things. We will always live beside one another, and this fact has meaning, because my neighbor’s downfall is not necessarily my victory, and my neighbor’s welfare is in the end my welfare.

But above all we have gathered here this evening to voice a demand that the central provision in the agreement they are trying to draft in Cairo will say the following: that after the cease-fire is stabilized, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as represented by the Palestinian unity government, will open direct talks whose goal is to bring peace between the two peoples.

That’s how it has to be, without hesitation, without stammering, without grieving, perhaps without clear, sharp declarations of intention by the two sides. Because if after a war like this, after its terrors, after its results, Israel does not initiate such a step, there will be only one explanation: that Israel prefers the certainty of repeated wars over the risks involved in the compromises that bring peace. And we will know that Israel’s current leader is not prepared, does not dare to go down the path of peace because he is afraid to pay the price, especially the price of withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating the settlements.

Friends, this moment of decision might come tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, or perhaps in a month, but it could be that we will suddenly discover that it is very near and it will be a sort of acid test that will tell us in the clearest fashion whether or not Israel is trying with all its might to reach peace or whether it chooses another war. Eighty-two thousand reserve soldiers took part in this war. Some of them may even be with us this evening as civilians. Again and again we have heard them say to the cameras and microphones, we’ll meet again in another year, two years tops.

These statements of theirs are nothing less than heartbreaking. It is clear to these young people, with a sort of horrifying certainty, that sooner or later they will be drawn back into this inferno. It is terrible, terrible to hear young people with their whole lives before them, people who were brave enough to enter booby-trapped houses and terror tunnels, to hear how they are ready to accept as a sort of decree from heaven that their lives are only theirs on loan until the next payment due date.

It is no less terrible to see how so many Israelis make do in intentional, considered passivity with a government that for years has done almost nothing genuine to solve the conflict. How is it, tell me, how is it that we, the children and citizens of a state that in every other area of its life is enterprising, creative and daring, pathbreaking, how is that we agree, in this most fateful area of our existence, to be collaborators in despair and failure?

Dear friends, the time has come to wake up. This war has exposed perhaps more sharply than ever the dangerous processes befalling Israel because of despair, because of fear, because of the feeling that there is no way out. The time has come for us to wake up and understand that while we slept, things were happening here. Chauvinism, fanaticism and racism have erupted shamelessly, all at once. They have swiftly succeeded in imposing a dictatorship of fear on broad sectors of our public domain.

Not one word of condemnation has come from the mouth of the prime minister nor from any senior minister. It will be very difficult to rein in these forces of darkness. They are already here. I suspect, too, that all those leaders have drawn a certain strange satisfaction from seeing the left take it on the chin, and they don’t understand that this foul wave will be very difficult to control, because it will turn against them when it decides that they have suddenly become too moderate.

These fascistic forces are joined by other forces that both nourish them and draw nourishment from them. Huge social gaps, bitterness over poverty and years of discrimination, corruption and greed in high places.

Friends, all these things, all these things create an atmosphere of disintegration of the bonds that should maintain a healthy society. All these things are tunnels burrowing under Israel’s fragile democracy. These are precisely the phenomena and processes that are likely very soon, much sooner than we think, to turn Israel from a progressive state with its face toward the future into an extremist, militant, xenophobic, ingrown pariah cult.

I want to say something here to those who have spent the last month or so boasting about our nation’s inner strength. Our nation’s inner strength means, among other things, understanding that Arab citizens of Israel are at present in severe, intolerable distress. They see their people killed and wounded by the thousands, sometimes their own family members. Sometimes the person shooting at their family members is the son of their employer or of a person who works alongside them. And anyone who exults that we Jewish Israelis are the most humane nation, the most sensitive to the troubles of other humans, should please explain to me how it is that we insist on preventing Arab citizens of Israel, doctors and nurses who care for us in our hospitals, social workers and garage mechanics and students and cooks and artists and construction workers, those with whom we live and with whom we will live, how we refuse to permit them at least the right to cry out.

Is our nation’s resolve so weakened that it has no room for these human expressions of anger and grief? Friends, you who have come in your numbers to this square and the even greater numbers at home, of every point of view, every party, every religious orientation, you whose lives are bound up and intertwined with the life of the state of Israel, you in whose eyes, I hope — as in mine — this is the most meaningful place to live and raise children.

And you, perhaps, who belong to today’s ruling political majority, but who feel that a great mistake is taking shape here on a historic scale — all of you who see how we are, by our own hands, by our inaction, we are losing our home, losing it to the fanaticism and internecine hatred that leave us paralyzed in a fifty-year deadlock that prevents us from saving ourselves — I am speaking to you. The alarm sounded in our ears by this last war tells us to forge new partnerships that break the deadlock and raise us up past the narrow self interests of our quarreling camps.

I believe, and with this I will conclude, that there is still a critical mass of people here, people of the broad Israeli mainstream, people from the right and the left, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, people from every community and class, people who are disgusted with violence and extremism, people with the wisdom of life and of compromise, people from Tel Aviv and Ofra and Ashkelon and Jerusalem and Sakhnin and Be’er Sheva, people who are still capable of uniting, intelligently and without illusions, around three or four points of agreement. For example, that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and that it is a democratic state, all of whose citizens have absolutely equal rights, and that it will make every effort to resolve the conflict with its neighbors. Three or four points that are the heart of the matter, a sort of test by which every Israeli citizen can define for himself where he stands and to which camp he belongs.

If this evening produces such a call and it lands on attentive ears, and if it gathers strength and mobilizes people, then perhaps, perhaps, even the leaders of this country will begin to reposition themselves along these new lines. This is the choice before us after this last war. This is the choice, this is our hope. Thank you and good evening.


Yuval Sherlow, Letter to David: This is How You Missed the Israeli Public

To David Grossman, greetings,

Who did you want to speak to last night? If you wanted to speak to the few thousand people who think like you and thus to fix in place the framework that you are addressing, you succeeded. That’s how your words sounded, in fact — fixed in place, unequivocal, without reconsideration, without doubts. A typical rally speech. A speech that demands of others what it won’t consider from itself: rethinking its path.

But if you were thinking of speaking to the broader public, or at least to those who are willing to listen to your words and reexamine their own opinions — you didn’t succeed. You missed an opportunity.

What was it in your words that created the great barrier to their reception? First, one could point to the broad expanse that wasn’t present. You spoke about difficulties and despair. They appeared many times in your remarks, and from your point of view, rightly so. But you didn’t speak at all about the solidarity and great spirit of this nation that have appeared in the difficult days we’re going through. You didn’t speak about the deep sense of partnership that has appeared within the divided and quarreling people of Israel.

You spoke, apparently correctly, about the fact that there is no military solution to the terrible conflict between these two peoples — at least none that is visible on the horizon. But you weren’t willing to examine other options. You repeated the familiar mantras about sitting down and talking peace, while completely ignoring the experience we’ve acquired in the last few years.

You spoke of a perfect symmetry of pain and suffering between us and Gaza, but you weren’t willing to raise the more complex challenge of the ethics of war, of justice, of the fact that one side of the conflict includes a group that has written our destruction on its banner.

You spoke quite justly of the fact that “my neighbor’s downfall is not necessarily my victory, and my neighbor’s welfare is in the end my welfare,” but you took no note of the fact that this sentence is spoken only on one side of the border, not on both sides. Indeed, no one would willingly live under siege, but you didn’t speak about the use Hamas makes of the resources it has acquired in the last few years — where the money goes, and toward what goals.

But the most important thing you missed is something I’m not sure you can see: something that was missing in the words you directed inward, toward your own people. I noted at the outset your decision not to acknowledge the spirit, the strength, the devotion and solidarity. I don’t think for a moment that you didn’t feel them. But you chose not to take note of them as part of the overall equation.

Note how many words you devoted to despair, hatred, division and the inroads of fascism, and how much you ignored the fact that there are other phenomena at work, trends that are building a new house that can yet arise from the dichotomy within which you live. In so doing, you closed my ears — and the ears of many others, I’m sure — from hearing your words. I can listen only to someone who sees a rich picture, not one-dimensional, not fanatical, not extreme.

Not only that, but you continue to live in your dichotomous world. You continue to speak in a language of “only one answer,” which is to say, anyone who thinks like you is a lover of peace, and anyone who doesn’t “prefers the certainty of repeated wars.” Those who believe that following your path is in fact the surest guarantee of repeated wars, and on ever-worsening terms, count for nothing in your book.

This dichotomy turns into fatalism: “People who were brave enough to enter booby-trapped houses and terror tunnels, to hear how they are ready to accept as a sort of decree from heaven that their lives are only theirs on loan until the next payment due date.” Your ears are closed to the other possibilities: These precious boys are lovers of life and lovers of peace. They don’t accept anything as decreed from heaven. They just think differently from you.

And the dichotomy continues in your telling of the left “taking it on the chin.” The world is somehow divided in two: One side of the equation is “chauvinism, fanaticism and racism” erupting “shamelessly, all at once,” swiftly managing “to impose a dictatorship of fear on broad sectors of our public domain.” The other side is you.

One side is accused (quite justifiably, if your facts are correct) that “not one word of condemnation has come from the mouth of the prime minister nor from any senior minister.” The other side, of course, is clean of hand and pure of heart, and we have heard its voice raised in protest against the spokesmen of the right and its legal representatives.

I don’t want to get into self-pity and questions of who started it and whether or not it’s symmetrical. I only want to point out the ugly world of black and white within which street-rally rhetoric traps you.

It was your final passage that could — and should — have taken you to a different place. You said, and rightly so: “I believe that there is still a critical mass of people here, people of the broad Israeli mainstream, people from the right and the left, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs … people from Tel Aviv and Ofra and Ashkelon and Jerusalem and Sakhnin and Be’er Sheva, people who are still capable of uniting, intelligently and without illusions, around three or four points of agreement. For example, that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and that it is a democratic state, all of whose citizens have absolutely equal rights, and that it will make every effort to resolve the conflict with its neighbors. … a sort of test by which every Israeli citizen can define for himself where he stands and to which camp he belongs.”

But your words once again were incomplete. If only you had added the other sides of the coin — the readiness to stand forcefully and with determination on our Zionist stance and our relationship with the Land of Israel; the true situation of the enemies that surround us, “intelligently and without illusions”; as well as the national mobilization on behalf of the peripheries, in the fullest sense — then you would have broken through the boundaries of the narrow public to which you spoke.

Then, too, you would have found allies and partners in the struggle for freedom of expression and honest public discourse, for sensitivity toward the complex and difficult situation of the Arab community in the state of Israel; in the struggle to redeem those who have been harmed by official corruption and public rigidity as they search for ways to stop the terrible bloodshed plaguing our region, and to restore the word “peace” to its proper status — instead of the political manipulations for which it is exploited today.

But you chose to go down a different path, and found yourself forced to utter these words of self-delusion: “You are many. We are many, many more than we thought, than we believed.” What a pity.

IN SONG ~~ LOVE AND PEACE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

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Let there be peace on earth; let it begin in me… for love is all we need.

Moved by a summer of pain and suffering in the Middle East, at home and around the world, Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson have responded in the form of a prayerful, riveting and emotionally raw music video, produced by Josh Nelson.

Musical artists with a lifelong commitment to Israel, trans-denominational appeal and a message of unity for the Jewish community and the world at large, Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson were compelled to record the legendary melody composed by the late, great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach in the midst of the violence in Israel and Gaza…and in the face of the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world.

“As a Jew, as a mother and as a human being, I am terrified by the escalating hatred that I see in this world,” stated Neshama Carlebach, daughter of Shlomo Carlebach. “I grew up knowing that my father’s family ran from Nazi-occupied Europe and was aware of my deep blessing; that I was living securely and free of fear. I hear his voice in my head. This song is our prayer.”

Individually and as a creative team, Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson perform widely across the denominational spectrum of Jewish life and in secular venues as well. Deeply invested in Jewish Peoplehood, they are spiritual role models in their community. As such, they felt the urgent need to call for peace and love in the middle of this time of unprecedented conflict, they said. “We believe that all people have the right to live their lives without fear, and when we decided to speak up, we knew of no text more poignant than this prayer for peace,” said Josh Nelson.

Shlomo Carlebach’s version of “Y’hi Shalom” is beloved and meaningful for millions around the world, Jews and non-Jews alike, explained Josh Nelson. “We hope that this recording will inspire humanity to come together and to begin to move in a new direction. There are no simple answers to the incredibly complex situation in Israel and Gaza, but the message in this song may be a place to start.”

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The words are unadorned, but Eid’s performance is haunting, set against images from Israel’s most recent massacre in Gaza:

Between contractions and pain
We will be reborn

Between contractions and pain
Wisdom will be born
The song of freedom will be born

All that has passed and gone
Is still being born in your eyes

At the end of the video are these words from Eid himself:

The Palestinian people, and Gazans in particular, have been living an unending massacre since 1948. We can no longer negotiate about improving the conditions of oppression; it is either the full menu of rights, or nothing. And that means the end of occupation, apartheid and colonialism.

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HAMAS IS NOT IN A POSITION OF POWER TO WAGE WAR AGAIN

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It looks like the Ceasefire has come to an end ….

Hamas has legitimate demands for it to have continued, but they are dealing with a most stubborn entity which is backed by US unlimited funding.

Hamas’ original Demands

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First a video dealing with those demands…

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1. Return of IDF tank positions so that farmers can work their lands

2. Freeing of all prisoners arrested since June 23 (when 3 Israeli teens were killed by Hamas operatives), and improving the conditions of those currently in prison.

3. Lifting of Israel’s naval blockade around Gaza along with the complete opening of the land border crossings.

4. Establishment of an international airport and seaport in Gaza.

5. Expansion of Gaza fishing zone by six miles.

6. Open the Israel-Gaza Rafah border crossing permanently under UN supervision, instead of under Israel’s watch.

7. 10 year truce with Israel along with the deployment of an international observer force on the border.

8. Israel must never enter Gaza under any circumstances and protect Palestinian Muslim worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

9. Israel must refrain from interfering with the newly created unity Palestinian  government between Fatah and Hamas.

10. Rehabilitation of Gaza Industrial Zones and allowance for Gaza to create a border protection force.

All of the above are legitimate!

All, or most of the above, will not be met by Israel.

BUT

There are forces within Gaza that are working in the interests of Israel at the moment as they once again began firing rockets into Israel this morning.

THE RESULT

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THIS IS WHAT IS CONTINUING

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Here a rocket from Gaza hits near a school in Sderot ….

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Here is the Israeli response ….

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Here is DesertPeace’s response to WHAT CAN AND SHOULD BE

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It CAN …. It WILL be done! We have NO OTHER CHOICE!

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ENOUGH ALREADY!

FROM BOTH SIDES!!

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Dr. Mads Gilbert adds the following thoughts

Dr. Mads Gilbert: Solidarity with Gaza! If no siege, no tunnels! – If no occupation, no rockets!

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Dr. Mads Gilbert from Tromsø, Norway (Twin City with Gaza City), was working at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the last Israeli onslaugt on Gaza. When he returned from Gaza to his home-town Tromsø on July 31 2014, he went straight from the airport to give this spontaneous speech at a large solidarity demonstration for Gaza held at the same time. The regional newspaper “Nordlys” (“Northern Light”) streamed the demonstration and featured Dr. Mads’ speech on their web-site. They have donated the video. It was transcribed and subtitled in English through a solidarity effort by Norwegian film and video professionals. The video can be shared and used for non-commercial purposes.

Friends of Gaza posted this on YouTube.

 

EID AL-FITRE MUBARAK

To all of my Muslim

readers, Family and

Friends..

 

Eid al-Fitre Mubarak!

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Hoping and praying for an end to all of the hostilities …

May we all see a REAL Peace with Justice!

REMEMBERING LOVE IN TIME OF CRISIS

As the madness continues, we must remember those that opposed it before it even started. Juliano Mer-Khamis was one of those …. For him, for his mother, STOP THE MADNESS NOW!
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Portrait of Juliano Mer-Khamis
Portrait of Juliano Mer-Khamis
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It matters not to me who actually pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Juliano. In reality, he was killed by the occupation that he so despised. An occupation that is responsible for the creation of monsters on both sides of the wall, monsters so full of hatred and venom that any one of them could be the guilty party. A part of all of us was murdered that afternoon in Jenin by that monster.
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Juliano was the embodiment of the anti occupation. He could not hate Jews because he was one. He could not hate Palestinians because he was one. He was genetically designed to love. But, obviously he was hated by some for being one or the other. It is sad that a man such as this did not live to see his dreams become a reality. Two nations sitting side by each in PEACE. It will happen dear Comrade…. this we promise you.
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Juliano and I shared a special bond, his parents were Communists as were mine, as are my son’s, as were his. This unique background establishes a very special relationship. This is a concept that can only be felt  by those who grew up in similar circumstances. I am not implying that we were a part of an exclusive fraternal order, but am saying that unless one actually wore the proverbial ‘red diaper’, one could not share the sentiments that I am speaking of. His death affected me personally as if a close member of my family died. In the terms I spoke of, in fact, Juliano was my brother.
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Juliano Mer-Khamis was mourned on both sides of the wall, in the two nations that he so proudly belonged to.  If you haven’t watched the following video, you must. You will get a good idea what a special man Juliano was, what a special woman his mother Arna was, and the love that both had for their people. You will see how evil the occupation is and how good those that oppose it are. It’s truly a special video about a special situation.
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SEEGER FEST FOR PEACE

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At Lincoln Center – zillions of people came to celebrate Pete & Toshi.  It was like a hootenanny that went on for almost 4 hours with lots of performers singing Pete’s songs with the audience joining in.  There was one totally beautiful speech by Harry Belafonte who praised Pete’s dedication to humanity and added that when he sang Tsena, Tsena he never dreamed that the country would turn into the horrible spectacle of children’s destroyed bodies lying on a beach in Gaza.  He saw an opportunity to speak truth and he took it.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Pete Seeger brought the world together

Pete Seeger, who died in January, was a modern-day troubadour for social justice who was on the frontline of every key progressive crusade in his lifetime. Peter Dreier pays tribute to a great artist and human being.

‘TO everything, there is a season,’ Pete Seeger’s song, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes, tells us. ‘A time to be born, a time to die.’

Seeger died on 27 January at 94. In the spirit of that song, he spent his time on earth planting, healing, laughing, building, dancing, loving, embracing and advocating peace.

Seeger brought the world closer together with his music. Every day, every minute, someone in the world is singing a Pete Seeger song. For over six decades, he introduced Americans to songs from other cultures, like ‘Wimoweh’ (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’) from South Africa, ‘Tzena, Tzena’ from Israel (which reached number two on the pop charts) and ‘Guantanamera’ from Cuba, inspiring what is now called ‘world music’. The songs he has written, including the antiwar tunes, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’, ‘If I Had a Hammer’ and ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, and those he has popularised, including ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’, have been recorded by hundreds of artists in many languages and have become global anthems for people fighting for freedom. His songs are sung by people in cities and villages around the world, promoting the basic idea that the hopes that unite us are greater than the fears that divide us.

Seeger was a much-acclaimed and innovative guitarist and banjoist, a globe-trotting song collector, and the author of many songbooks and musical how-to manuals. In addition to being a World War II veteran, he was on the frontlines of every key progressive crusade during his lifetime – labour unions and migrant workers in the 1930s and 1940s, the banning of nuclear weapons and opposition to the Cold War in the 1950s, civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, environmental responsibility and opposition to South African apartheid in the 1970s, and, always, human rights throughout the world.

For the past decade, Pete has kept coming out of semi-retirement to do one more concert, give one more interview, write one more book, record one more album. His remarkable spirit, energy and optimism kept him going through triumphs and tragedies, but he outlived all his enemies and remained one of the greatest American heroes of this or any other era.

Several biographies of Seeger have been published in the past decade, including David King Dunaway’s How Can I Keep from Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger, Alec Wilkinson’s The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger, and Alan Winkler’s To Everything There Is a Season: Pete Seeger and the Power of Song. Six years ago Jim Brown produced a wonderful documentary film, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.

Pete, who was modest and self-effacing despite his remarkable accomplishments, never wrote an autobiography. But two years ago he published a collection of his writings, Pete Seeger: In His Own Words. The book presents Pete in his own voice. With Pete’s cooperation, Rob Rosenthal, sociology professor at Wesleyan University, and Sam Rosenthal, a musician and writer, dug through Pete’s extensive writings – letters stored for decades in his family barn, notes to himself, published articles, rough drafts, stories, books, poems and songs – to chronicle and illuminate Pete’s incredible life as America’s troubadour for social justice.

Making music for change

The son of musicologists Charles and Ruth Seeger, Pete spent two years at Harvard, where he got involved in radical politics and helped start a student newspaper, The Harvard Progressive. He quit in 1938 in order to try his own hand at changing society by making music. He worked at the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song, where he learned many of the songs he would sing throughout his career, travelled around with Woody Guthrie singing at migrant labour camps and union halls, and perfected his guitar- and banjo-playing skills.

In 1941, at age 22, Seeger formed the Almanac Singers with Lee Hays and Millard Lampell, later joined by Guthrie, Bess Lomax (daughter of musicologist John Lomax) and several others who rotated in and out of the group. The Almanacs drew on traditional songs and wrote their own songs to advance the cause of progressive groups, the Communist Party, the Congress of Industrial Organisations unions, the New Deal and, later, the United States and its allies (including the Soviet Union) in the fight against fascism. The Almanacs were part of a broader upsurge of popular progressive culture during the New Deal, fostered in part by programmes like the federal theatre and writers’ projects. Even so, the group was hounded by the FBI, got few bookings and was dropped by its agent, the William Morris Agency. After Seeger and Guthrie joined the military, the group disbanded in 1943.

The Almanacs cultivated an image of being unpolished amateurs. Guthrie once said that the Almanacs ‘rehearsed on stage’. Among them, however, Seeger was the most gifted and disciplined musician, with a remarkable repertoire of traditional songs. He carefully crafted a stage persona that inspired audiences to join him, a performing style that he perfected when he began working as a soloist. Every Seeger concert involved a lot of group singing.

Immediately after World War II, American radicals and liberals sought to reignite popular support for progressive unions, civil rights and internationalism. The left’s folk-music wing hoped to build on its modest successes before and during the war. In 1946 Seeger led the effort to create People’s Songs, an organisation of progressive songwriters and performers, dominated by but not confined to folk musicians, and People’s Artists, a booking agency to help the members of People’s Songs get concert gigs and recording contracts. They compiled The People’s Song Book, which included protest songs from around the world, sponsored a number of successful concerts, and organised chapters in several cities and on college campuses.

When Henry Wallace ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, his campaign relied heavily on folk music. Seeger travelled with Wallace during the campaign, distributing song sheets at every meeting or rally so that sing-alongs, led by Seeger, could alternate with Wallace’s speeches.

By 1949 folk music’s popularity had grown, with performers like Burl Ives, Josh White and others gaining a foothold in popular culture, but the folk music of this period had lost much of its political edge.

For a brief period, as a member of the Weavers folk quartet, Seeger achieved commercial success, performing several chart-topping songs that reflected his eclectic repertoire. The group was formed in 1948 by Seeger and Hays (both former Almanacs), along with Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. They exposed audiences to their repertoire of songs from around the world as well as to American folk traditions, but without the overt advocacy of left-wing political causes. Decca Records signed the Weavers to a recording contract and added orchestral arrangements and instruments to their music, a commercial expediency that rankled Seeger but delighted Hays. The Weavers performed in the nation’s most prestigious nightclubs and appeared on network television shows.

In 1950 their recording of an Israeli song, ‘Tzena, Tzena’, reached number two on the pop charts, and their version of Lead Belly’s ‘Goodnight, Irene’ reached number one and stayed on the charts for half a year. Several of their recordings – ‘On Top of Old Smokey’, ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, ‘Wimoweh’, and ‘Midnight Special’ – also made the charts. Their 1951 recording of Guthrie’s song ‘So Long It’s Been Good to Know You’ reached number four.

The blacklist years

But the Weavers’ commercial success was shortlived. As soon as they began to be widely noticed in 1950, they were targeted by both private and government witch-hunters. The FBI and Congress escalated their investigations. A group of former FBI agents founded the newsletter Counterattack in 1947 to expose Communism in American society; in 1950, the newsletter issued a special report, ‘Red Channels: the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television’. It listed 151 actors, writers, musicians, broadcast journalists and others whom it claimed were part of the Communist influence in the entertainment industry – including Seeger and the Weavers. Hollywood studios, TV shows and other venues blacklisted people on the list. A few performers, notably Josh White and Burl Ives, agreed to cooperate with the investigators and were able to resume their careers; others refused to do so, and some were blacklisted. The Weavers survived for another year with bookings and even TV shows, but finally the escalating Red Scare caught up with them. Their contract for a summer television show was cancelled. They could no longer get bookings in the top nightclubs. Radio stations stopped playing their songs, and their records stopped selling. They never had another major hit record.

Seeger left the Weavers to pursue a solo career, but he was blacklisted from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s. In 1955 he was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to discuss his political affiliations at a hearing called by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, although he never spent time in jail. (The conviction was overturned on appeal in May 1962.) Many colleges and concert halls refused to book Seeger. He was kept off network television. In 1963 ABC refused to allow Seeger to appear on Hootenanny, which owed its existence to the folk music revival Seeger had helped inspire.

During the blacklist years, Seeger scratched out a living by giving guitar and banjo lessons and singing at the small number of summer camps, churches, high schools and colleges, and union halls that were courageous enough to invite the controversial balladeer. In 1966, on New York City’s nonprofit educational television station, he hosted a low-budget folk music programme, Rainbow Quest, that gave exposure to many little-known country, bluegrass and folk singers. The station had a limited viewership at the time, but fortunately the programmes were taped and are now available on YouTube.

Eventually, Seeger’s audience grew. In the 1960s he sang with civil rights workers at rallies and churches in the South and at the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He popularised the song ‘We Shall Overcome’ in the United States and during his concerts around the world. In a letter to Seeger, Martin Luther King Jr thanked him for his ‘moral support and Christian generosity’. In 1967 Tom and Dick Smothers defiantly invited Seeger onto their popular CBS television variety show, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. True to his principles, Seeger insisted on singing a controversial antiwar song, ‘Waist Deep in the Big Muddy’. CBS censors refused to air the song, but public outrage forced the network to relent and allow him to perform the song on the show a few months later.

Role model

Seeger helped catalyse the folk music revival of the 1960s, encouraging young performers, helping start the Newport Folk Festival, and promoting the folk song magazine Sing Out! that he had helped launch. His book How to Play the 5-String Banjo taught thousands of baby boomers how to play this largely forgotten instrument. He continued to bring audiences songs from around the world, often sung in their original languages.

Tons of prominent musicians – including Bob Dylan, Bono, Joan Baez, the Byrds, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Morello and Bruce Springsteen – consider Seeger a role model and trace their musical roots to his influence. Many of his 80 albums, which include children’s songs, labour and protest songs, traditional American folk songs, international songs and Christmas songs, have reached wide audiences. Among performers around the globe, Seeger became a symbol of a principled artist deeply engaged in the world.

In 1969 Seeger launched the nonprofit group Clearwater, near his home in Beacon, New York, and an annual celebration dedicated to cleaning up the polluted Hudson River. The effort, at first written off as simplistic and naive, helped inspire the environmental movement. The Hudson, once filled with oil pollution, sewage and toxic chemicals, is now swimmable.

Through persistence and unrelenting optimism, Seeger endured and overcame the controversies triggered by his activism. In 1994, at age 75, he received the National Medal of Arts (the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the US government) as well as a Kennedy Center Honor, when President Bill Clinton called him ‘an inconvenient artist, who dared to sing things as he saw them’. In 1996 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because of his influence on so many rock performers. In 1997 he won the Grammy Award for his 18-track compilation album, Pete.

In the 21st century, some of the nation’s most prominent singers recorded albums honouring Seeger, including Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. In May 2009 more than 15,000 admirers filled New York City’s Madison Square Garden for a concert honouring Seeger on his 90th birthday. The performers included Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Rufus Wainwright, Bela Fleck, Taj Mahal, Roger McGuinn, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dar Williams, Tom Morello, Ani DiFranco and John Mellencamp.

In 2012 Pete released two new albums. A More Perfect Union featured 16 original songs written with singer-songwriter Lorre Wyatt and includes duets with Springsteen, Morello, Earle, Harris and Williams. The two-CD Pete Remembers Woody honoured his friend as part of the centennial celebration of Guthrie’s birth. It includes reminiscences, songs and anecdotes.

In the past year, Seeger released the music video and single of ‘God’s Counting on Me, God’s Counting on You’, performed with Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall; shared the stage at New York’s Beacon Theater with Harry Belafonte, Jackson Browne and others to celebrate the life of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, and issued an audiobook titled Peter Seeger: The Storm King, Stories, Narratives and Poems (which was nominated for a Grammy).

Toshi, his wife of 70 years who helped manage Pete’s career, died in July. Despite the enormous loss, Pete kept on singing. He sang ‘I Come and Stand at Every Door’ on Democracy Now! on 9 August to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. He sang ‘This Land Is Your Land’ (adding an anti-fracking verse) at the Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs in September (joined by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews). In December, he performed at a concert in Nyack to benefit the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a peace group. He was scheduled to receive the first Woody Guthrie Award from the Guthrie Foundation and Grammy Foundation in February.

Probably no song reflects Pete’s indomitable spirit more than ‘Quite Early Morning’, the song he sang on the Colbert Report in 2012.

Don’t you know it’s darkest before the dawn

And it’s this thought keeps me moving on

If we could heed these early warnings

The time is now quite early morning

If we could heed these early warnings

The time is now quite early morning

Some say that humankind won’t long endure

But what makes them so doggone sure?

I know that you who hear my singing

Could make those freedom bells go ringing

I know that you who hear my singing

Could make those freedom bells go ringing

And so keep on while we live

Until we have no, no more to give

And when these fingers can strum no longer

Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger

And when these fingers can strum no longer

Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger

So though it’s darkest before the dawn

These thoughts keep us moving on

Through all this world of joy and sorrow

We still can have singing tomorrows

Through all this world of joy and sorrow

We still can have singing tomorrows

Pete’s fingers can strum no longer, but, thanks to him, people around the world can have many ‘singing tomorrows’.

 

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MOTHERS NOT BLINDED BY RAMPANT HATRED AND MURDER

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Back in the turbulent days of the 60’s, it was women, mothers in particular that were the most vocal and active force in the struggle to end the war in Vietnam. Organisations such as Women’s Strike For Peace demonstrated daily in every major city of the US. The group started at the height of the Cold War and was instrumental in getting the United States and the Soviet Union to sign a test ban treaty.

Going back a decade, it again was women and mothers that were at the forefront to end segregation in the Southern Public Schools.

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And on Public Transportation as well ….

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Today the situation in Israel/Palestine is horrendous. Murders and kidnappings on both sides of the wall have created a situation totally unbearable for all parties involved. Again, it is the grieving mothers that could be a force in ending this madness, I have always maintained that Peace must come from the people, from their hearts. Decades of negotiations by corrupt government officials on both sides have lead and will continue to lead nowhere. HERE is just one example of a real Peace Process in action … A former classmate of mine penned the Following where she speaks of the anguish of being a Peacenik, but never giving up  hope.

Also from the grassroots, a Book written by a dear friend. A must read for anyone who wishes to see the Peace we speak of.

‘No More Enemies’ is available from Amazon

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And now, what could be the beginning of a new hope for a new day FROM

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Asked why they had come, one Palestinian said, “Things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other. Our task is to give strength to the family and also to take a step toward my nation’s liberation. We believe that the way to our liberation is through the hearts of Jews.”

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Families of Slain Israeli and Palestinian Teens Turn to Each Other for Comfort

Rachel Fraenkel Touches Hearts With Open Door Policy

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Open Door Policy: Rachel Fraenkel, the bereaved mother of murdered Israeli-American teenager Naftali Fraenkel, welcomes visitors in her home.

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Open Door Policy: Rachel Fraenkel, the bereaved mother of murdered Israeli-American teenager Naftali Fraenkel, welcomes visitors in her home.

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The families of murdered Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir are drawing comfort from an unexpected source: each other.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat took to Facebook on Sunday to write about an “emotional and special telephone conversation between two families that have lost their sons.” He said that during his visit to the Fraenkel family home, he had a chance to speak to Hussein Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s father, and express pain at the “barbaric” murder of his son.

Barkat then suggested that Abu Khdeir speak to Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel who recently told the press that “the life of an Arab is equally precious to that of a Jew. Blood is blood, and murder is murder, whether that murder is Jewish or Arab.” The two men took Barkat’s advice and comforted one another by telephone.

In a separate visit organized by Rabbi Rafi Ostroff, chair of the religious council of Gush Etzion, Palestinians from the Hebron area showed up at the door of the Fraenkel family, looking to comfort the bereaved.

Asked why they had come, one Palestinian said, “Things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other. Our task is to give strength to the family and also to take a step toward my nation’s liberation. We believe that the way to our liberation is through the hearts of Jews.”

He later said that the visit went very well from his perspective. “They received us very, very nicely. The mother [Rachel Fraenkel] was incredible.”

“I see before me a Jewish family who has lost a son opening the door to me,” he added. “That’s not obvious. It touched my heart and my nation.”

The Palestinian visitors also mentioned an initiative spearheaded by Jews and Muslims to transform July 15, the Jewish fast day known as 17 Tammuz, into a joint fast day for people of both religions who wish to express their desire to end violence in the region.

IF KERRY CAN’T BRING US PEACE, MAYBE A RED COW CAN

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Kyle, Cartman and the Ginger Cow. (photo credit: Courtesy of South Park Studios)

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For a bit of background on the Red Heifer, read THIS … Then watch the South Park episode mentioned …. followed by a ‘real life’ video …. If nothing else, you will get a much needed chuckle in these days of stress and sorrow.

Although this is classified under HUMOUR, let us hope we will see Peace in the Middle East SOON ….. with or without the Red Heifer.

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Now for the ‘Real Thing’ …

BELLA CIAO GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ

Like many Latin American writers, Garcia Marquez transcended the world of letters. He became a hero to the Latin American left as an early ally of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and a critic of Washington’s interventions from Vietnam to Chile. His affable visage, set off by a white mustache and bushy grey eyebrows, was instantly recognizable. Unable to receive a US visa for years due to his politics, he was nonetheless courted by presidents and kings. He counted Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand among his presidential friends.

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“The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers – and one of my favorites from the time I was young,” President Barack Obama said. 

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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An unexpected eulogy from the President of Israel …

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Peres eulogizes Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

President says author, who died at the age of 87, ‘expressed great interest’ in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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President Shimon Peres eulogized Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez who passed away on Thursday afternoon at the age of 87.

“The world will feel the loss of a great dreamer, who told both children and us adults, in such a beautiful manner, about life’s truths,” Peres wrote.

In his statement, the president told of his meeting with the acclaimed author in Marquez’s home country of Colombia.

(Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)

Marquez, Peres said, “expressed great interest” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The literary giant wished for Middle East peace, Peres said, and said that until peace is achieved “my heart will remain broken and I will pray every day for the realization of the dream of peace.”

One of the most revered and influential writers of his generation, Marquez brought Latin America’s charm and maddening contradictions to life in the minds of millions and became the best-known practitioner of “magical realism,” a blending of fantastic elements into portrayals of daily life that made the extraordinary seem almost routine.

Known to millions simply as “Gabo,” Garcia Marquez was widely seen as the Spanish language’s most popular writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century. His extraordinary literary celebrity spawned comparisons with Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

(Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)

His flamboyant and melancholy works – among them “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” `’Love in the Time of Cholera” and “The Autumn of the Patriarch” – outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.

The first sentence of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” has become one of the most famous opening lines of all time: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

(Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)

With writers including Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Garcia Marquez was also an early practitioner of the literary nonfiction that would become known as New Journalism. He became an elder statesman of Latin American journalism, with magisterial works of narrative non-fiction that included the “Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor,” the tale of a seaman lost on a life raft for 10 days. He was also a scion of the region’s left.

Shorter pieces dealt with subjects including Venezuela’s larger-than-life president, Hugo Chavez, while the book “News of a Kidnapping” vividly portrayed how cocaine traffickers led by Pablo Escobar had shred the social and moral fabric of his native Colombia, kidnapping members of its elite. In 1994, Garcia Marquez founded the Iberoamerican Foundation for New Journalism, which offers training and competitions to raise the standard of narrative and investigative journalism across Latin America.

(Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)

But for so many inside and outside the region, it was his novels that became synonymous with Latin America itself.

“The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers – and one of my favorites from the time I was young,” President Barack Obama said.

When he accepted the Nobel prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described the region as a “source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

Marquez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2002 (Photo: Reuters)
Marquez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2002 (Photo: Reuters)

Like many Latin American writers, Garcia Marquez transcended the world of letters. He became a hero to the Latin American left as an early ally of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and a critic of Washington’s interventions from Vietnam to Chile. His affable visage, set off by a white mustache and bushy grey eyebrows, was instantly recognizable. Unable to receive a US visa for years due to his politics, he was nonetheless courted by presidents and kings. He counted Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand among his presidential friends.

Marquez and former US President Bill Clinton (Photo: AFP)
Marquez and former US President Bill Clinton (Photo: AFP)

“From the time I read `One Hundred Years of Solitude’ more than 40 years ago, I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty,” Clinton said Thursday. “I was honored to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years.”

Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small Colombian town near the Caribbean coast on March 6, 1927. He was the eldest of the 11 children of Luisa Santiaga Marquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia, a telegraphist and a wandering homeopathic pharmacist who fathered at least four children outside of his marriage.

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THE DURACELL GRANNIES

They just keep on running …..
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Yesterday’s thread was about the vigils held throughout New York City by the Granny Peace Brigade. Today we get a close-up view of them in action ….. compliments of our roaming photographer, Bud Korotzer…
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At The Guggenheim Museum
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At City Hall
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At Columbus Circle
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At The NY Public Library
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GRANNIES Vs DRONES

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And the Granny Peace Brigade has put that pledge into action …. at every major intersection in New York City this past week. You will find the ‘grannies’ educating the public about drones. Age is not a barrier to their dedication …. we can all learn from their collective wisdom.
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What are drones?
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are aircrafts without pilots. Some are operated by computers on board; others by a human being in another location. The human operator can be thousands of miles away.

Are drones useful?
Remote sensing drones can gather information using visible light cameras, infra red cameras, radar systems, biological and chemical sensors, and laser spectroscopy to detect the airborne presence of microorganisms, particulates like soot, and the concentrations of chemical elements in the air. Information collected by drones is relayed to ground stations in real time and can be used for forest fire detection, search and rescue, meteorological research and to monitor all sorts of human activities.

What is a surveillance drone?
Surveillance drones use remote sensing technologies to monitor human activity. They come in many sizes and shapes. The MQ-1 Predator, made by General Atomics was initially designed for military reconnaissance and surveillance. It is 27 feet long, with a wingspan of 55 feet, and a max gross takeoff weight of 2,550lb. It can fly for up to 40 hours. The Raven, made by AeroVironment with a wingspan of 4.5 feet and a weight of 4.8 pounds “is a lightweight solution designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for military applications, requiring low-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance intelligence.” Other surveillance drones are manufactured in Israel, Canada and Turkey and are used by the militaries of those countries. A number of police forces in the U.S. have applied for drone permits.

How are weaponized or combat drones used?
Weaponized drones, e.g., the Predator armed with Hellfire missiles have been used by the U.S. military to kill enemy soldiers on battlefields. They also have been used by the U.S. for targeted killings in countries where we are not at war. Armed Predator drones were first used (2001) to kill people in Afghanistan. They have since been used for that purpose in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

What is targeted killing?
Targeted killing is a program of killing individuals who are not on a battlefield. The U.S. uses Predator drones in a secret program of targeted killing without a legal determination of guilt. No charges are pressed. No trials are held. “Allowing the use of warlike tactics far from any battlefield — using drones or other means — turns the whole world into a war zone and sets a dangerous example for other countries which might feel justified in doing the same.” See the American Civil Liberties Union FAQs About Targeting Killing. Drone strikes targeted at people identified as “terrorist” or “militants” have also killed civilians. “Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks [in Pakistan]. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.” Daniel L. Byman for the Brookings Institution

Do you have questions about the uses of drones? Send them along — grannypeace@gmail. We will research and try to get you some answers.

 

In Peace Always!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Drones:
Download Drones & Targeted Killing FAQs>>
Download the resolution>>
Download the “NYC Drone Free” flyer>>

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WHY IS ZIONISM SO AFRAID OF THE TRUTH?

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There are scores of sites on the Web that ‘police’ pro Palestinian Blogs and periodicals searching desperately for any criticism or condemnations of zionism. Instead of looking into the matters at hand, they merely label all such sites as anti-Semitic. If they were truly interested in the survival of Israel they would do their utmost to correct the wrongs that are taking place there.
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But no, it’s much easier to condemn
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Three score and five years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. That was just the beginning of the myth of the century. This has definitely NOT been the case. It has NOT been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, not even if they are Jews. It has survived all these years by perpetuating the myth that this is a land given by a higher Body to the ‘Chosen People’. For all those years it has collected a whole deck of victim cards that it pulls out one by one to garner world sympathy and yet more support.
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That has been the answer to the criticisms and condemnations of the evils taking place.
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Today we see a situation of the ‘reawakening’ of the so-called Peace Process, brought to light with the help of the US State Department. A ‘reawakening’ that could be the end of the Palestinian nightmare. But NO ….. that would create even more problems for Israel. Peace could mean the end of the 30 Billion Dollar a year handout from US Taxpayers’ pockets. Israel finds itself today with a threat more deadly than war itself, PEACE.
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So what to do?
Sabotage the process before it even starts.
Build more settlements.
Expand the existing ones.
Arrest more innocent Palestinian children.
ANYTHING to maintain the status quo.
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And, if what I say is construed as anti-Semitism by zion, SO BE IT!
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THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY SET PALESTINE FREE!!

JASON ALEXANDER; FROM FUNNY GUY TO PEACEMAKER

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Though we may be actors in an important drama, we do know the difference between dreams and reality. The ever-shifting realities in the Middle East have been altering the plot lines of our story for a long time. But they do not change the ending. The grand finale can and must be a spectacular and happy ending. There is simply no other choice. And we can either play no role or some role. To play none is a dangerous choice and a dishonorable one.
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We can only wish him luck …. any effort might lead to an end to the madness. BTW, Jason shares a page with me on the S H I T List :)
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Playing your role: A Middle East peace drama

Op-ed: Actor Jason Alexander explains his decision to help resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Jason Alexander

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The Middle East is a very difficult stage to play upon. Without doubt, it is a good drama. And on occasion, there are situations so unimaginable, if not ludicrous, as to make them almost comic. But the cast is constantly changing, the audience is often disengaged and it seems at times that no one is actually running the show. So, how does one find their role?

On May 16, I will be joining a panel of experts organized by the OneVoice Movement at 92Y in New York City to explore this very point. We will discuss what civil society can do to rekindle and fuel the hopes for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. I am, by no means, one of those experts. Nor need I be to understand the importance of this cause and the value of participation from people in all walks of life – both directly engaged in this conflict and supporting from the outside.

I found that looking at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from an outside vantage point was actually quite distancing. The history of the conflict, the personalities, the violence, the distrust, and the seeming lack of viable solutions made meaningful involvement feel impossible. What changed that, for me, was changing the vantage point.

I’ve visited the region several times, many with OneVoice during delegation trips, and each time my interest and activism in this conflict increased because I not only saw and heard with my own eyes and ears, but through those living the conflict daily.

Event number one: While visiting a kibbutz in the north of Israel, I learned of an interesting exchange during a security patrol. The kibbutz is situated on a hill at the bottom of which sits an Arab village in Lebanon. Despite the ongoing struggles, the kibbutz and the village had been good neighbors – sharing resources, celebrating each other’s holidays and generally looking out for each other. Then, a fundamentalist group came into the village and forcefully took over day-to-day operations.

Voice of humanity

To the outside observer, the two environments were now deadly enemies. One night on patrol, the security team for the kibbutz encountered an elderly man from the village who was about to fire two mortar rockets into the kibbutz. The team confiscated the rockets and then realized that they all knew this man. They reminded him of how they had all been such good neighbors, how their children all played together, of how they had spent many happy times together and then asked the man why he now hated them so much that he would attack them. The elderly man answered, “I don’t hate you. There is no work. There is no income. The fundamentalists pay me seventy-five dollars for each rocket I fire at an Israeli target. For one hundred and fifty dollars, I can support my family for six months. I cannot say no. But I have no hatred for you. In fact, give me the rockets and give me the one hundred fifty dollars and I will fire at the fundamentalists”. This “conflict of ideologies” was no such thing. This was a desperate act of survival.

Event number two occurred in Los Angeles in the mid-90s. OneVoice founders and board members Daniel Lubetzky and Mohammad Darawshe had come to talk about their vision for a new path to peace for Israel and Palestine. I was dubious. I thought this was merely an appeal for money that would be thrown cavalierly at an impossible project. But during their presentation, Mohammad spoke about why he chose to devote himself to OneVoice. He spoke of his young son, Fadi, and of how remarkable this boy’s dedication to goals had been. Fadi had promised his father that he would be the top student in his class, and succeeded. He promised he would be captain of the soccer team, and succeeded. And then one day, he came to his father and promised that he was going to be a martyr. He was twelve years old. Mohammad then spoke of how he would stop at nothing to make this goal one that his son would never keep. And as he was weeping, so was I. Mohammad was a father. I was a father. His child was my child. And I had to help.

Those are the stories that do not get told in this conflict. We on the outside do not get these glimpses of reality. We see and hear about Israelis and Palestinians only when they are defined by the global media as “occupiers,” “terrorists,” and “victims.” But we forget that they are fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and neighbors and doctors and shop-owners and farmers and students. It is those roles, those definitions that make possible the name of the organization I support – OneVoice. Because in those roles of family and community and shared interests, we do all speak with one voice – our voice of humanity.

At 92Y, OneVoice is unveiling its new strategic vision, the “Peoples’ Blueprint.” OneVoice is creating activists out of everyday people and forging links with local, national, and global stakeholders to create positive facts on the ground toward a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. They are playing their role by jump starting the political process from the ground-up.

Though we may be actors in an important drama, we do know the difference between dreams and reality. The ever-shifting realities in the Middle East have been altering the plot lines of our story for a long time. But they do not change the ending. The grand finale can and must be a spectacular and happy ending. There is simply no other choice. And we can either play no role or some role. To play none is a dangerous choice and a dishonorable one.

So, with my concluding lines, may I implore you to see beyond the stereotypes and the news bites? Good men and women are struggling for their futures, their dignities, and their security. We have a role to play, no matter how small. I have taken a part, but this cast is large. And the players need you. It is a great story. You really shouldn’t miss it.  

 

 

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