Friday, March 31, 2017

Letter to Westchester Legislators

Subject: Supporting human rights: withdraw Act 9190

Dear Ken Jenkins, Virginia Perez, Benjamin Boykin, Michael Kaplowitz, and Alfreda Williams,

I am very concerned to hear about the proposed Act 9190 which would discriminate against supporters of BDS.

I am the granddaughter of an orthodox rabbi born in Jerusalem. I fully understand the current concern about the upsurge in anti-Semitism. But this is a time when we should all be working together to address both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

BDS is supported by socially-conscious Jews both in Israel and around the world, as well as by Palestinians and many other non-Jews. It is a nonviolent means of pressuring the Israeli government to establish justice. It is a way to demand human rights for the Palestinian population—those who have been caged behind barbed wire for 60 years as well as those who live in Israel as second-class citizens. BDS is pro-human rights, not anti-Semitic.

Passing this or other discriminatory bills is simply capitulating to the extreme Jewish lobby. They do not represent the majority of the Jewish population in this country.

As you know, boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of free speech. In the past, boycotts have been effectively used to end injustice, for example in South Africa and the American South. Surely you want justice to prevail in Israel and Palestine, as it eventually did in South Africa and the US.

Please withdraw Act 9190 and any other proposed acts that discriminate against supporters of BDS.

Jo Salas

Sunday, March 19, 2017

For Rachel Corrie and Nan Freeman

Friends and comrades,

As I do every year on this date, I want to commemmorate the murder of Rachel Corrie at the hands of Zionist home-destroyers in Gaza in 2003 by sending out my 2012 poem, "The Brutal Planting of Souls" (Oyster Bay, NY: Feral Press, 2015):

For Rachel Corrie and Nan Freeman
“Quick eyes
Gone  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,
Shahida, 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 Damascus 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!

Woodstock. January 23, 2012

Barry Fruchter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
English, Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies
Nassau Community College

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Progressive except for Palestine is a lie

Progressive except for Palestine or PEP is a well known phenomenon. Sufferers of PEP are often champions of human rights in all areas except for one. They are on the side of Blacks, immigrants, gays, and even Muslims (as long as they aren't Palestinian). They fight for equal rights in Darfur, Tibet, on Native American reservations, and in our inner cities. Just don't ask them about the people that have suffered through 60 years of Israeli occupation. That's where their love of humanity runs out.

Trump is experimenting with another type of cognitive dissonance, encouraging racism in his white Christian base, while exempting Jewish people from that toxic mix of emerging hatred. Racist except for Jews, or REJ. The more our president stirs up his fascist base, the more they turn to vandalizing Jewish cemeteries and threatening to blow up synagogues. But that's OK, because he reminds the nation that he is the "least antisemitic person" that the world has ever seen. Let's hope that the alt right movement, Trump's power base, is listening.

The problem is that one can't be for human rights for some people and not for others. Trump, for all his promises and Jewish son-in-law, won the election by appealing to white Christian bigots. He is their man in the White House now, and the gloves are off for anyone different: Blacks, gays, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and yes, Jews. 

Progressive except for Palestine is a lie. Racist except for Jews is too.   

Fred Nagel