Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The “civilized” American people will be forever linked with the fate of the Palestinians.

Since World War II, America has been coming to terms with the Nazi Holocaust. How did a “civilized” German people commit such atrocities? Did they know of the extermination camps, or recognize the criminal insanity of their leaders?

How could they not have known? The decade before the war had been filled with the most hateful expressions of racial persecution. Millions of Germans participated in the beatings, the destruction of businesses, and the looting of homes. So very few spoke out against the impending genocide. Were they led astray by a blind, messianic nationalism? Were they simply scared to raise their voice against what had become a repressive military dictatorship?

All the time we have been studying someone else’s holocaust, reading about it, watching movies, and building monuments and museums, we have been silently involved in our very own. Perhaps we were more inclined to look the other way, since our nation was built on the ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations and the exploitation of millions of black slaves.

Whatever the reason, we have been blind to the ethnic cleansing and impending genocide of the Palestinian people. We have allowed five million Palestinians to suffer under apartheid while another six million were forced from their homeland. We have defended Israel against against worldwide condemnation, supplied it with high tech weaponry, and given it billions in US aid. Moreover, our Congress approves each new slaughter in Gaza, insuring that the “civilized” American people will be forever linked with the fate of the Palestinians.

Fred Nagel

A Few Words Are Worth a Thousands Images

A Few Words Are Worth a Thousands Images
by Harriet Malinowitz

As people in towns and cities around the nation – including Ithaca, New York, where I live – explode over the second non-indictment of a white police officer who killed a black man in little over a week, many have remarked upon the resemblance between violent, racist repression here and in Israel/Palestine – and on the impunity enjoyed by those who represent the “law” in both places. According to the Israeli human rights and information organization B’tselem, from 2001 to 2011, the Military Police Investigations Unit “did not conduct investigations on Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers.” Since then, those responsible for beatings and abuse “are not fully prosecuted. A new law passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, makes it almost impossible for Palestinians wronged by Israeli security forces to claim compensation.”

The parallels become less surprising when one considers programs such as the Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP), a creation of the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA), whose motto is “Securing America, Strengthening Israel.” Delegations of U.S. law enforcement officials – including “police commanders, security experts, and FBI agents” from LA, Chicago, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, and other cities – are sponsored by JINSA and the Anti-Defamation League to learn Israeli methods of surveillance, intercepting “illegal immigrants,” crowd control, and other “counter-terrorism” and “law enforcement” measures that are conducted upon the people for, so it is said, their own protection.

Of course, U.S. authorities were not strangers to repressive tactics before this. As journalist Mark LeVine has pointed out, urban police departments and the federal government found counterinsurgency methods used in Vietnam to be useful in responding to the civil rights, anti-war, and United Farm Workers labor rights movements at home in the 1960s. And comparisons don’t imply equivalencies. Says LeVine, “Israelis are still living in the American 1950s, while Gazans remain trapped in a ghetto in which no Ferguson resident would want to live.” Still, Jimmy Johnson has reported in Electronic Intifada that in 2005, “the then-chief of police of Washington, DC, a city that has adopted Israeli-style policing to an extreme degree, told The Washington Post that Israel is ‘the Harvard of antiterrorism.’”

In Israel/Palestine, as in the U.S., the buck spent on surveillance – or at least its value - stops when it comes to cops. On May 15, 2014 – the anniversary of the Nakba, or the “catastrophe” in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were killed in the 1948 war – two Palestinian teenagers were shot to death by Israeli police. According to CNN, “Security cameras captured the second fatal shooting that day of … 17-year-old Mohammad Odeh Salameh…. Doctors pronounced Salameh dead on arrival at the hospital, with a bullet wound that had pierced his back and exited his chest. No arrests were made….” An American-Israeli blogger not only denies the responsibility of the Israeli killers; he suggests that the video footage was simply a “’Pallywood’ production,” a “hoax in which no one was actually killed.”

Meanwhile, it’s the videotaping messengers who fare the worst. Ramsey Orta, the 22-year-old who captured Eric Garner’s death on his cell phone, was subsequently indicted – also in Staten Island - for weapons possession. Orta told the arresting officers, "You're just mad because I filmed your boy.” Strangely, his grand jury did not find him as credible as Daniel Pantaleo’s grand jury, of the same borough, found Eric Garner’s killer. “Karma’s a bitch” Orta’s arresting officer allegedly counseled him. Ira McKinley, director of the recent documentary The Throwaways (about mass incarceration and police brutality in upstate New York), was aggressively accosted by police for filming as they stopped a young black man near a community center in Albany, soon after Trayvon Martin’s murder. (He felt that some footage might be helpful.) When McKinley was arrested in Ithaca in 1989 – before cellphone cameras – the Ithaca Journal headlines ran “Differing Views” and “Two Versions Cloud Charge of Brutality.” Meanwhile, the routine fate of devices that record assaults on Palestinians (and their owners) is best summed up by the title of the documentary Five Broken Cameras.

As each graphic record hits the headlines – from Rodney King to Mohammad Odeh Salameh to the carnage in Gaza this summer to Eric Garner – those here and there who cling to a sliver of faith in justice believe that a tipping point has been reached, that after this, it can’t go on. But a few words from PR firms, think tanks, and prosecutors whose livelihood hinges on their complicity with police forces are apparently worth a thousand images.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Harriet Malinowitz is Lecturer in Writing at Ithaca College and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.
On Dec 10, at 3:01 PM Dec 10, 'Harriet Malinowitz' [MiddleEastCrisisResponse] <> wrote:

Monday, October 27, 2014

The oppressor deflecting attention

Our guide helped us settle in the back of the large, black cab. Not any black cab, of course. These were special cabs brought to Belfast, Northern Ireland by the Catholic minority during the late 1960’s, when Protestant drivers routinely discriminated against them. Over 15 Catholic cab drivers were killed during the “Troubles” for trying to provide transportation for members of their embattled minority. 

The police force (Royal Ulster Constabulary) was no help at all, being almost 100% Protestant and predisposed to look the other way when Catholics were beaten or shot. 

“I am going to give you a special tour,” our guide said as we headed off. When I asked why, he told me it was my Palestinian bracelet. “If you know about Palestine, you will understand the Troubles in Northern Ireland.”

The first of the huge murals he drove us to was of Frederick Douglass, with depictions of slave ships, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, and Bob Marley. 

The Catholics of Northern Ireland had studied many African American writers in charting their own nonviolent resistance to racism and oppression. Our guide, a Catholic who had lived through the decades of often violent, state sponsored discrimination, even know what was in MLK’s Riverside Church speech. 

We also stopped at murals depicting South Africa’s fight against apartheid, and several representing solidarity with the Palestinian people. The Catholic leaders had decided early on that their fight against violent racism in Northern Ireland was part of something much bigger, the campaign for universal human rights. 

The End the New Jim Crow Action Network (ENJAN) began with a similar point of view. One of our first events was the movie, “Hip Hop Is Bigger Than the Occupation,” a documentary of young, black musicians touring the West Bank. Afterwards, several Hip Hop artists talked about how visiting Palestine helped them understand racism in America. Another event, a two day workshop on discrimination and the criminal justice system, featured Taha, a Palestinian who had been tortured as a teenager in an Israeli prison. Later, ENJAN decided to support the Two Row Wampum Campaign, a Native American canoe and horseback journey down the Hudson River to the United Nations. I remember Modele Clarke kingston speaking about slavery at their encampment in Saugerties. Tribal leaders, in turn, expressed solidarity with black Americans’ quest for social justice, drawing parallels to their own history of racial oppression. 

I was surprised and saddened to hear that some people in ENJAN now believe that the group should follow a much narrower path, rejecting even the mention of other events in the Mid Hudson area that promote human rights. Josh Ruebner, Outreach Coordinator of US Campaign to End the Occupation, spoke in Woodstock about the oppression of Palestinians and American’s history of racism. Of course, End the Occupation’s significant involvement in the Ferguson rallies for African American rights came up often in his talk. Are allies like this to be silenced or pushed away? End the Occupation has 400 member groups all across this country. These groups all see their connection to ENJAN’s fight against racism. Why can’t we see it?

In truth, anyone promoting justice for some, but denying it for others, doesn’t really believe in human rights. Often, they are just protecting the oppressor by deflecting attention from gross human rights violations committed somewhere else in the world. Like Israel’s recent slaughter of 500 Palestinian children in Gaza. 

So read about End the Occupation’s work in Ferguson this fall. Then tell the group that we don’t need allies like this because they are only a distraction. 

Fred Nagel


Deeply Humbling and Inspiring...

This month, the US Campaign was honored to help bring together a strong Palestine Contingent to the Ferguson October Weekend of Resistance to join a movement moment challenging the national epidemic of racial profiling and police militarization, brutality, and impunity. We know that we cannot advocate an end to Israeli state violence while ignoring state violence against communities of color here at home, as part of our commitment to confronting racism and bigotry in all its forms.

The weekend was a phenomenal success with countless unforgettable moments including: Contingent members joined more than a dozen acts of civil disobedience, shutting down St. Louis City Hall, blocking the doors to a fundraiser for local complicit politicians, taking part in a shopping mall flash mob and the people's occupation of St. Louis University, shutting down three Walmarts (in solidarity with recent police victim John Crawford), and much more.

A diverse group of more than 100 joined a national march of thousands holding signs saying, "From Palestine to Ferguson": "Resistance Is Not a Crime," "End Racism Now," and "Justice for All." The march culminated in a rally where St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) member Suhad Khatib and Palestinian-American Dream Defenders organizer Ahmed Abuznaid spoke eloquently of the importance of joint struggle, bringing tears to many eyes.

Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi performed at the Hip Hop and Resistance concert along with Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Tef Poe, and others.

PSC members Suhad Khatib, Hedy Epstein, and US Campaign Steering Committee member Sandra Tamari joined Kanazi on stage with Civil Rights leader Dr. Cornel West for a dynamic panel. When local Ferguson youth took to the stage asking to be heard, Khatib and Tamari immediately ceded their spots in solidarity.

Contingent members stood with courageous St. Louis and Ferguson community members to challenge the local militarized police presence in the streets night after night. USPCN member Zena Ozeir and PSC member Bassem Masri were arrested along with more than a hundred others. Ozeir and Masri are both safely home.

Day after day, Palestinians sent photos from across the globe to show their solidarity with Ferguson.

Even more moving than the presence of the Palestine contingent, however, was the breathtaking, spontaneous outpouring of solidarity shown to the contingent by the people of St. Louis, Ferguson, and the broader movement for justice for Mike Brown. Ferguson youth took to the rally stage and thanked the people of Palestine for being the first to send their support through tweets after Mike's killing. Dr. Cornel West decried the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which was met by deafening cheers from the crowd of thousands. These and countless other moments of connectedness and solidarity throughout the weekend were deeply humbling and spoke to our collective power when we work together for justice for all.

The US Campaign was proud to organize the contingent with an extraordinary coalition of member organizations and allies made up of the PSC, Organization for Black Struggle, USPCN, Muslims for Ferguson, Council on American Islamic Relations - St. Louis, Palestinian BDS National Committee, National Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), American Muslims for Palestine, and African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa.

Be sure to check out these amazing recordings, images, and resources from the contingent:

The struggle continues - in Ferguson, St. Louis, across the nation, and across the globe. In the words of Ferguson youth: "United we stand, divided we fall." Let's stand together when it counts to build a better world for all.


Anna Baltzer

National Organizer
St. Louis, Missouri

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Climate of fear" at Vassar College

Amid ‘climate of fear’ at Vassar, president comes out against ‘action and protest’ re Israel

 on  104 Comments

Three weeks ago I did a piece on tensions at Vassar College over a class trip to Israel and Palestine whose itinerary struck many as oblivious of the occupation. The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter picketed the class in February, and a month later the college held an angry forum over that protest. People on both sides said they felt bullied. Days after that, the students left on their trip.
My piece got wide circulation because it said that the conflict was coming to the U.S. And truly, the issue continues to roil the campus.
In the last few days two pieces have been published at Vassar that suggest to me that the pro-Israel side of the discussion is winning: Vassar officials are characterizing angry protest of the trip and Israel as illegitimate.
One is a piece in the college paper by the two professors who led the trip, reporting on it and openly identifying themselves as supportive of Israel. They say that “a climate of fear has descended on campus.”
But before I get to that, more important is a statement by Vassar President Catharine Hill yesterday that takes the professors’ side. Hill seems fearful about the issue upending the campus. She celebrates the student trip to “Israel and the West Bank” and urges students to have civilized disagreement over Israel and Palestine, and not resort to “action and protest,” but “discussion.”
I have heard from many of you, on campus as well as alumnae/i and parents, who are concerned, as am I, about campus tensions stemming from different viewpoints about Israel and Palestine. I know that people have very deep feelings about these issues and emotions can be raw….
Some people will argue that action and protest are the only way to effect change at a particular moment in time at a particular place, that discussion will have little impact. At times that has and certainly will be true. But at Vassar our greatest strength is in the power of argument and reason….
We need to treat each other civilly and with respect.  If we don’t, we shut down and shut out important voices. People may then withdraw from the discussion. This is a loss of ideas and perspectives.
In offering “model” discussions of the conflict, Hill pointedly leaves out the tense March 3 meeting I attended and reported on. So a heated meeting about an important issue in which people say they feel intimidated should not take place at Vassar. Hill urges polite debate:
There also have been campus lectures on various sides of the issues related to Israel and Palestine in the past few weeks that happened with respectful disagreement but without disruptive conflict.
This is the part where Hill embraces the trip. No reference to Palestine.
Our International Studies course, the Jordan River Watershed, that included a recent trip to Israel and the West Bank, provided an opportunity for deep engagement and learning around some of the most contentious issues of our time. While there were and continue to be discussions on campus about what kinds of trips take place, I have been moved by comments from the students and faculty who made this trip. Instead of the monolithic opinions some expected to encounter among many in both areas, they found instead a range of viewpoints. Our students and faculty witnessed diverse groups working through intense, difficult discussions to find some understanding and even common ground. There can be no better learning experience. I hope that difficult conversations on campus can have the same impact on our students’ lives.
As I said, the two professors who led the trip have published a report on it, in the college paper. Rachel Friedman and Jill Schneiderman decry the protest against their class for casting them as privileged and allegedly racializing the issue. They also accuse the critics of sexism without explanation (I believe the reason is that the forum I attended was led by two men, and Schneiderman and Friedman felt they were its targets).
Interestingly, the professors say they come out of Jewish communities that are supportive of Israel (if also critical).
Excerpts of their article in The Miscellany News:
 We have, of course, followed the maelstrom of reactions to the trip. We, as the instructors of the trip, have personally been attacked from both left and right. In one account, we are “white settler colonialists” oppressing the Palestinians; in the other, we are “self-hating Jews” pursuing an “anti-Israel agenda.” In fact, people who made little, if any effort to examine the details of our course subject and itinerary have reduced us to stereotypical caricatures. If their narrative is that the two of us are bent on destroying Israel, it is because our support for many of the goals of Students for Justice In Palestine (SJP) and the Open Hillel movement seems irreconcilable with our involvement in our Jewish communities and support (albeit critical) of Israel. If their narrative is that we support a white colonialist regime in Israel, then perhaps they refuse to look at the ways in which we are committed to fighting injustice against Palestinians. Though unsurprised by these reactions, they sadden us, particularly as educators….
One especially vexing aspect of the criticism leveled at us is that it has been racialized. In early February, SJP students picketed our course causing some of our students to express feelings of harassment and intimidation upon entering the space of the classroom. We objected to the picket because of its negative effect on those who already felt beleaguered by ill-informed criticisms across campus for enrolling in the course.Discussing the picket during class, our students asked us to relay to administrators in the Dean of the College office and the International Studies program the request for a facilitated discussion between them and SJP members. Despite our repeated requests for such an intervention, none transpired.
Since then, our objection to the picket has been characterized by some members of the Vassar community as our use of white privilege to target students of color. If we and our students had been consulted before this conclusion was drawn, listeners would have learned that our students—many of whom belong to racial and ethnic minority groups—were as surprised as we were that the group of SJP protesters were characterized as being “of color.” Furthermore, it would have become clear that we supported the right of SJP students to protest in any number of ways, including ongoing tabling in the College Center, but not inside an academic building at our classroom door….
Many Vassar students and faculty have expressed their concern that over the last several years, a climate of fear has descended on campus. This fear was confirmed for them during the spectacle at the Open Forum that was held on March 3.
In our opinion, the rage unleashed disrespectfully at us at the forum has a gendered as well as a racial dimension.
I return to my original piece: the conflict is coming to the United States, and as it heats up, Catharine Hill’s hope for civil disagreement will be beside the point. Katie Miranda addressed that argument in a cartoon at our site, “Both Sides.” It compares the demands for civil dialogue on U.S. campuses with the oppression of Palestinians in our name. That’s why I think rage is inevitable, and maybe necessary. As Hill states herself sometimes action and protest are necessary. Why not in this case? We are talking about an intractable conflict that is intractable in some large measure because the U.S. government and liberal institutions and the official Jewish community are standing with an occupier that has created Jim Crow conditions for nearly 50 years (as countless northern institutions sided with the slave power in the 1850s). We have seen again and again that dialogue doesn’t affect the power arrangements one iota; it only allows supporters of the occupier to feel that they have atoned (we are critical too!) without doing a thing to address the structural inequity.
Thanks to Annie Robbins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

We are the people that said “Never Again” after the Holocaust

A Jewish American’s Response to Anti - Semitic Comments during a Vigil
As a Jewish American, it is impossible for me to not stand here when I see millions of people being oppressed in Israel/ Palestine. I want to enable peace. Why is it forbidden to know and learn about our neighbors in Israel/ Palestine who are being oppressed? I want to speak the truth. Tikkun Olam is a principle in Judaism which literally means to repair the world.   I feel it is my duty to repair the world. It hurts me to see how the Israeli government is handling this situation. We are the people that said “Never Again” after the Holocaust. I would like to be one of those people who keeps his or her word and continues to strive for justice and a society without others being oppressed in a land that is another people’s homeland as well. 
-Written by Jewish American Members of MECR, September 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dr. Ronsenfeld:

Dr. Rosenfeld:

We have several things in common: being Jews, graduating from undergraduate school in 1967, teaching English as well as Jewish Studies.  What we do not have in common is our responses to the open letter signed by Holocaust survivors and family members in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza.

I shall not stoop to the scurrilous level of your article by defaming your obvious ideological sources or by attacking your own character.  I don't know you, and I am very much against ad hominem attacks. What I will say, however, is that your attempt to besmirch the reputations of the signatories to the open letter is outrageous and abusive in the extreme.  I think you will find that this response of mine is echoed in hundreds more.

I do not know what you think gives you the right to question other people's connections to the near-destruction of the Jewish people ("our" people?  if we are still one people?), but in any case it is not only inflammatory but wrong-headed.  Clearly these people have experienced tragedy, personal and /or familial, and that confers upon them a kind of prophetic honor.  I support fully your right to question their political stance, but there is no need to impugn their personal identities.

Finally, I believe that you, and others who take your political position, will very soon discover that yours is a losing stance.  I refer not to the international situation but to that in the Jewish community in the USA.  Look around you.  I am sure you have observed the opening up of Jewish student groups ("Open Hillel") on many campuses, the rise of BDS everywhere, and the proliferation of progressive Jewish organizations from J-Street to JVP.  Jews are no longer cowed by the "argument" that "loyalty" to the Israeli government is central to Jewish identity.  Ben Gurion may have said that those who continue to live in the Diaspora (including you and me) "are considered to have no God," but no one believes that any more.  The "Diaspora" is, as Hannah Arendt argued it would become after the founding of a "Jewish State," a separate world from Israel.  And it will not be dictated to now any more than it was 100 years ago when Zionism was young.

Considering all this, your editorial sounds defensive, acerbic, bitter, and desperate.  It does not advance the cause of Jews in this country or anywhere.  I think it speaks rather sadly of the inaptly-named Forward that it has gone in this direction.

Yours truly,

Barry Fruchter
Assistant Professor
English, Jewish Studies, and Latin American Studies
Nassau Community College

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants (from Haaretz)

Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday's New York Times, condemning "the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza" and calling for a complete boycott of Israel.
According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of "child sacrifice" and comparing the group to the Nazis.
"Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

"As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

"We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

"Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

"We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To the Editor:

Last Sunday at a solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri rally in New Paltz some women from the Woodstock Jewish Congregation felt that speakers linking Israel's brutal treatment of Palestinians to the brutal treatment of Michael Brown was "muddying the water."

Oppression is oppression.  When governments participate in killing, repressing, and brutalizing innocents it is incumbent upon people of good conscience to speak out (as we all did in New Paltz on Sunday). It does not matter where the injustice occurs or who the victims are. It could be gays in Uganda, or women in Saudi Arabia, or children in Gaza, or young Black men in America.  We must be witnesses to the truth.

There is an old saying that "If enough people tell you that you stink,  you will eventually take a shower."  Perhaps,  the well meaning and good hearted women from Woodstock need to wash themselves in the unmuddied and crystal clear waters of the truth.

The truth is that nearly all human rights organizations,  the UN, and the community of nations have condemned Israel's brutal occupation, oppression, and military attacks on Palestinians.  Hopefully, when enough people hear the truth, Israel will stop the vicious and unrelenting collective punishment that has taken the lives of so many innocent Palestinian men, women, and children in Gaza and the West Bank.  As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Injustice anywhere is a threat the justice everywhere."

Eli Kassirer

Friday, August 22, 2014

National Students for Justice in Palestine in Solidarity with Ferguson

National Students for Justice in Palestine
August 18, 2014
For Immediate Release

As the steering committee of National Students for Justice in Palestine, we express our condolences and solidarity with those affected by the killing of Mike Brown, and condemn police violence throughout the United States. We are students of all backgrounds from every region of the nation, who are committed to combating all forms of supremacy, racism and discrimination in our solidarity work to support human rights, self-determination and liberation of Palestinian land and life.

No community should have to endure what the black community has endured in America, let alone still suffer at the hands of oppressive institutions that police blackness and impose guilt without reason. The lives of young black folks should not be dehumanized by those who are meant to serve our communities. The history of police and watch groups in the United States indicates that the protection of black lives has never been a serious concern. The legacies of this history have seen black people controlled, beaten, unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated, repressed while protesting and killed. Justice, transparency and accountability remain delayed.

Therefore, we wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the black community. Militarized and violent police tactics in present-day America have laid too many young black souls to rest. Black people have suffered at the hands of white supremacist racist violence since before America’s founding. The legacy of institutional injustice has persisted for far too long, and is time for it to change.

We’ve been inspired by the activism that has taken place throughout the nation in response to Mike Brown’s death. At rallies and vigils, we’ve heard critical words that stressed the work we have cut out for us all. Through social media, we shared the injustice in Ferguson, and now, we follow the black community towards challenging militarized policing, improving police accountability, and eliminating anti-black racism.

We stand alongside the black community and pledge our ongoing efforts to end such injustices. It is our moral obligation to contribute all that we can to aid our black sisters and brothers in solidarity. Our struggles are connected, underscored by the unified police trainings between St. Louis County Police and the Israeli Defense Forces. This has eliminated any delineation between local and military tactics. Tear gas, MRAPs, rubber bullets and flashbang grenades do not belong in communities of color. Drones and “no fly-zones” should not exist in Ferguson nor over occupied Palestinian land. Police do not need assault rifles and military grade weapons to protect and serve US citizens. We will be safest when our communities are safe from violence and discrimination at the hands of the state.

We want to fight for a greater justice that empowers us all, and breaks down police militarism, Zionism, and white supremacist racism through mutual love and respect . Injustice against black people is not just a Black issue. Injustice against Palestinian people is not just a Palestinian issue. These are human issues that should concern us all. Only through perceiving the interconnectedness of our struggles, can we unite and empower ourselves and our vision for a better world that does not dehumanize Black people, Palestinians, or anyone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Unconditional support for Israel must stop

Hudson Valley lawmakers should reconsider unconditional support for Israel. As Israel launches a ground invasion of Gaza and hope for a ceasefire grows dimmer, people of conscience around the world are opposing the war. Demonstrations calling for an end to the assault on Gaza, the occupation of Palestine and the targeting of civilians on both sides have drawn hundreds of thousands around the world, including a vigil of 35 people in Woodstock.
American lawmakers have ignored these demands, choosing to unconditionally back Israel. U.S. House of Representatives Resolution No. 657 and U.S. Senate Resolution No. 498 gave the green light to the bombing of Gaza by referring to it as an act of self-defense, despite a United Nations estimate that 77 percent of those killed in Gaza weren't militants but civilians. Hudson Valley Reps. Chris Gibson, a Republican, and Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, co-sponsored the House resolution while Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both D-N.Y., co-sponsored the Senate resolution. Both passed without objection.
There's no excuse for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers that sparked this crisis. Regrettably, Israel hasn't pursued justice but has enacted collective punishment on the Palestinian people.
As the death toll in Gaza grows, there are several ways the United States could put pressure on Israel to stop the bombing, such as cutting military aid, ending diplomatic immunity at the United Nations or levying sanctions.
It's time for our elected officials to get serious about working toward a just peace. The alternative is watching a massacre unfold in slow motion.
Schuyler Kempton

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We the people have been betrayed

Will Israel ever be able to completely oppress and subjugate the Palestinian people? Missiles haven’t done it, nor has torturing thousands in prison camps. Now we are seeing the river of blood approach, the no hands barred slaughter of hundreds and soon thousands of Palestinian civilians. And still they refuse to be subservient, despite being walled off in squalid ghettos.

There is another group of people, however, that has been much easier to bring it to its knees. All it took was a lot of money to get the US Congress to vote unanimously for the invasion of Gaza. Apparently any revulsion at the slaughter of hundreds of women and children couldn’t match the fear of being out of favor with the Israeli lobby. 

Of course, our nation’s Congress has a long history of being for sale to the highest bidder. Would our representatives ever vote against Big Oil, Wall Street, the insurance industry or Big Pharma? Standing up for what is fair always comes out last with these corporate sycophants. Why shouldn’t Israel dictate our foreign policy?

America has spent over three trillion on disastrous wars in the Middle East. It has impoverished the middle class, while sending America’s young to die for cleverly crafted lies. Many of the neocons who sold these wars to a subservient Congress have been Zionist fanatics with deep ties to the apartheid state of Israel. 

We pay a terrible price for Israel’s complete control of our Congress. We the people have been betrayed.

Fred Nagel
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
845 876-7906

Word count: 250

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Egregious, distorted, and deluded

To the Editor:

Imagine coming home to find a pile of rubble where your home was. Imagine getting a phone call at 3 AM telling you to evacuate your family from your apartment because the building will be crushed by a Hellfire missile in 58 seconds. Imagine daily shortages of food, water, medicine, and electricity. Imagine being imprisoned by 20 foot walls and military checkpoints. Imagine the bombs coming and you and your children have no where to run and no where to hide.

Sadly, this only begins to describe Palestinian life in Gaza at this moment. Israel's war machine (financed by you and me) of Apache helicopters, fighter jets, missiles, white phosphorus bombs, tanks, drones, and the latest in high tech weaponry is methodically and surgically maiming and killing thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children.

Israel's actions and policies (and all who support them) have become so egregious, distorted, and deluded they cease to be human. It is not about the pathetic and ineffective homemade rockets launched by Hamas. It's about 40 years of brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands. It's about the relentless theft of Palestinian homes, land, and farms to build Jewish only settlements. Let's be honest, Israel does not want peace. Israel wants all Palestinian land and all of the Palestinians out of Israel. All of Israel's actions serve to support and provide evidence of Israel's true intentions which are to appropriate all Palestinian land and cleanse Israel of Arabs. Actions don't lie.

Eli Kassirer

When people at home tired of the slaughter

The Northern Irish understand Palestine like few other people. Their ancestors lived through hundreds of years of a brutal apartheid. 

The Britain invaded Ireland in the Sixteen Hundreds and proceeded to colonize it with religious sects and minorities it didn't want at home, particularly the Presbyterians. Most Irish in the US can trace their heritage to one of the consequences of that occupation, a genocidal famine that killed a million Irish and drove another million to the New World.

By 1922, the Irish had freed themselves of British occupation. That is, all but the northern counties, where Protestants held the majority and religious discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and British funded death squads continued. 

Only when the English people at home tired of the slaughter was a peace between the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland possible. A treaty, brokered by the US in 1998, eliminated all forms of religious discrimination in Northern Ireland and insured human rights for every citizen. In fact, religion was completely separated from the state and all forms of apartheid made illegal. 

Although many of the physical walls between groups still exist today, there is a feeling of hope that the two religions can coexist.

Could such a peace come to Palestine? The citizens of the US are becoming increasingly tired of supporting the blatantly racist regime of Israel. Now that Jewish settlements in the West Bank have made a two state solution impossible, it is time for Americans to insist on an end to all apartheid in Palestine.

Fred Nagel

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ran in Poughkeepsie Journal on March 16. Thanks
to all those who contributed to this effort.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

For Rachel Corrie and Nan Freeman

On this Sunday, remember the American girl who died supporting the rights of all people, including Palestinians, to live.

Barry Fruchter


For Rachel Corrie and Nan Freeman

“Quick eyes

Buried under earth’s lid”

                                                -Ezra Pound 1921

 “La lucha continuara’/The struggle goes on and on”

-Rose-Redwoods 1972

Rachel, you had no way of knowing,

on that day, in 2003, US attacking Iraq, Israel

attacking Palestine, both

on a treadmill that goes

on and on and on, both

partway through an endless cycle of violence

You had no way of knowing, Rachel,

young girl with blonde hair

from Olympia Washington

your whiteness against the dark

of Palestine, no way of knowing,

back then,

that you too would be made

part of the treadmill, part of the cycle,

you too would be plowed

under the earth by war machines,

 like the “quick eyes”

of the young men of WWI,

like the body of Nan Freeman,

another student, killed in Florida

by other robbers of the earth, by their

machines that crushed soul and body,

in 1972,

no way of knowing that  you

would become  part of the struggle

That goes on and on, la lucha, al intifada

Que continua y continuara’,

No way of knowing that you too

Would be spoken of as a martyr,

Shahada, like scores of other people,

Breaking themselves against the war machine,

 lighting up the night

all over the world, from Germany

and Czechoslovakia  to America to Vietnam

to Palestine to Tunisia to Egypt to Syria

and back to Palestine

and back to your own

Disunited States of America

Year of Our Lord 2012,

9 years later, Rachel!

no way of knowing

when your name was given to you

In honor of the woman

of whom it is said

“Weeping is heard in Ramah, Rachel/Rahel

weeping for her children, and would not

be comforted,” and there is weeping heard, Rachel,

today in Ramallah and in Ramleh and in Jerusalem

and in Jenin and in Gaza and in Rafah

and in Dasmascus and in Halab and in Homs,

and in Cairo and in Tunis and in New York

and in Seattle and Portland and Oakland

Rachel weeping for her children

and cannot be comforted but you,

Rachel Corrie, you can be comforted!

you can be celebrated!   Mother of the revolution,

martyr to youth, wake up call

to us all, your body and soul

are planted seeds in the earth, seeds

of truth and light, which shall sprout

once more

into the Tree of Life, beacon for us,

inviting acts of light, acts

that keep the human race going forward.

Forward, people, together, Avanti popolo!

Let us harvest the seedlings of light!