Posted by Next Left Notes - March 30, 2009 | News

A protester outside Motorola’s NYC HQ
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — The newly formed New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI) launched their city-wide boycott of Motorola today.

The protest ran from 7:45 – 9:30 a.m. at Motorola’s NYC Headquarters at 335 Adams St. between Willoughby and Tillary Streets, in downtown Brooklyn.


Hanging up on apartheid
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

In a statement released to the press, NYCBI said the boycott was launched because, “in the wake of Israel’s recent assault on the people of Gaza and the US government’s complicity in the attacks, we as people of conscience in the US must challenge Israeli policies. Hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations have called on the world to work on campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and New York is taking up the call.”


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

According to NYCBI, Motorola was targeted because “Motorola USA and its wholly owned subsidiary Motorola Israel develop and provide equipment to the Israeli military and settlers, including bomb fuses, military communication systems, and surveillance systems for the wall and settlements. Similar practices by Motorola during South African apartheid prompted a successful boycott against them.”

For more information on the campaign, visit:

View Photos From The Action…

Posted by TAG - March 29, 2009 | News

Mark Rudd speaking at the West End Bar
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


I first photographed Mark Rudd in 2006, at Drew University. I was struck immediately by something trapped in the lens of my camera: the 60-year-old face of Rudd contained a hidden image. Beneath the gray beard and the wrinkles I could clearly see the boyish face of the 20-year-old SDS leader. When I mentioned this to Mark he agreed immediately – Rudd’s boyish enthusiasm had not dissipated with age.

Mark Rudd speaking at Drew University in 2006
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Over the next three years I photographed Rudd a number of times. I filmed an MDS Public Service Announcement with him. I witnessed an interesting exchange as Rudd and Tom Hayden traded wisecracks. And I argued with Rudd on a variety of topics. In every instance, I found Mark to be very generous and very gracious, a bit smug and undeniably a smartass. Conversations with Rudd reveal a very charming arrogance — and this is not a negative assessment. Mark has worked diligently to redefine himself and in the process has been his own harshest critic. The self-conscious metamorphosis transformed a 20-year-old advocating armed struggle into a nonviolent 61-year-old activist committed to calm, patient organizing — and a Lefty with a sense of humor, a rare commodity. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to disagree with Mark on a regular basis — he embodies Murray Bookchin’s ideal of democratic debate and discourse.

Tom Hayden and Mark Rudd (2007)
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

After SDS and Weather, Mark moved to New Mexico where he taught algebra at the college level. As someone who barely survived algebra in college, I needed help when my teenage son was struggling with the A-word. I contacted Mark. He responded immediately and offered useful suggestions. Typical Rudd.

In 2008, Mark asked if he could use one of my photographs [ the Drew University shot ] in his new book. I said of course — Mark had previously mentioned that he had decided to spend some time finishing his memoir and I was glad to be involved in a minor way.

“Underground: My Life In SDS And The Weathermen” was released on March 23, 2009 and there were two signings in New York that week. I caught the second and videotaped some of the event. The book signing was held at Rudd’s old hangout, the West End Bar. A number of Columbia SDS veterans showed up — as did former Weather Underground activist Cathy Wilkerson who released her memoir last year. Wilkerson, an impressive speaker in her own right, thanked Mark for his generosity and told the crowd that Rudd had made the transition back from a militant, tough-talking activist into what he always was, beneath the bluster: “a really nice guy”.

Right on, Cathy.

Mark Rudd and Cathy Wilkerson
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


Tom Good: What do you think of Obama so far?

Mark Rudd: I think he’s acted in an extremely predictable way, knowing what we already know about him. He’s cautious and strategic. He knows that there is no mandate yet for abrupt shifts to the left. I think he’s trying to work toward improvement on the economy, healthcare, education, and Israel. On Afghanistan, no. He knows that the biggest internal enemy is the military-industrial-security complex, and he’s not going to give them the excuse to organize to defeat him (as they defeated Kennedy). I know that the official left position is that JFK was a cold-warrior, no different from any others, but I’ve been reading “Brothers,” by David Talbot, a good journalist who makes a compelling case for the fact that the military and CIA loathed Kennedy and conspired to kill him. Since Obama isn’t a leftist (thank God), he’s not hampered by our prejudices. I’m sure he believes that Kennedy was killed by the military and CIA. JFK had zero control over both. They rarely carried out his orders.

TG: What do you make of his appointments?

MR: All terrible at the top level, except maybe Hillary Clinton, whom I’m expecting to win a Nobel prize for forcing the Israelis to accept a settlement. Who but the nation’s #1 shiksa, a certified lover of Israel, would the rightwing accept to force the settlement? That was a strategic appointment. All the others are strategic in the same way–giving the right the top positions. The trick is to look at the next level, where Podesta put center-leftists, predominantly. He learned from Cheney. Actually, the director of CIA, Minetta, a center-leftist, probably gave them conniptions.

TG: What is your view of the Ayers bashing that started with the election and is ongoing?

MR: Obama has almost no chinks in his armor. The right has very few ways in, and they’re so stupid that they don’t realize that the Ayers business has zero traction outside their own circles. Don’t ever underestimate the far right’s utter stupidity.

Mark Rudd reading from “Underground”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

TG: You often say that Columbia SDS represented some great organizing – what in particular is noteworthy and/or useful to young activists?

MR: That’s why I spent so much time on it in my book. The chapter was run by red-diaper babies who knew nothing but old-style traditional organizing–patient, long term, base-building, coalition-building, involving engagement between people you’re trying to win over. Lots of study,analysis, research. The Praxis Axis was right! Of course the irony was that Ted Gold and David Gilbert got seduced by the apparent success of “militancy” at Columbia.

TG: Can you tell me about any organizing you are doing now in your community?

MR: My wife and I are organizing around environmental justice and health issues in our neighborhood, a working-class chicano/mexicano neighborhood. We have a bilingual “Neighborhood Association,” involving rich and poor, brown and white, immigrants and US citizens. It’s NOT ideological: we rarely push our left analysis, though people know who I am. Many republicans among us.

MR: Also, I’m working with a small group called “Another Jewish Voice” to create a pro-peace in the middle east lobby in New Mexico. We’ve had some good luck with the congressional delegation, primarily because my wife and I are involved heavily in electoral politics.

MR: Marla is the chair of New Mexico Conservation Voters. They’ve achieved almost a green majority in the state legislature. Both of us work on local Demo electoral campaigns, and have had some success electing progressives lately (after years and years of losing). We’re both on the central committee of the county Demo party !!

TG: Why should NLN readers buy your book – and can they get signed copies?

MR: It’s a great story, that’s why I hope people read it. I tried to be accurate and honest. I’m not pushing left heroism. I’m just this kid from the suburbs who got involved in the movement. It’s a story of good organizing followed by bad (Weatherman).

MR: You know, I don’t believe in signed copies. What are they good for? I do it because people want them. Go to Morningside Bookshop at the corner of Broadway and West 114th St and you’ll find all the signed copies you might want. Readers can check out my “Book Tour” page on my website, to meet me and I’ll sign their copies.

TG: What do you have to say to Radosh’s comment that you haven’t grown up (and abandoned your Lefty beliefs)?

MR: Poor Ronald Radosh is a right-winger. His assuption is that anything left is childish. What more is there to say, except see my comment above on rightists’ intelligence.

TG: Do you support BDS [ Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ] as a means of ending apartheid in Israel?

MR: Absolutely. My group is attempting to get a campaign going in New Mexico.

TG: How is your mother doing? Is she pleased about the new book?

MR: My mother is lucid less than 50% of the time. She’s thrilled about the book, though she seems fixated on the question of how I make money off it. Since I have no idea how the money works, I can’t explain it to her or anyone else. That confuses her even more, because she can’t understand why I’m so ignorant.

TG: Is there any hope I’ll ever learn algebra?

MR: Yes! Come out to New Mexico, hang with me a week or so, and I’ll help you figure it out. The trick to algebra is the ability to pay attention, and I know you have that. You’re just defeated by your own self-conception as a person who can’t learn algebra. It’s simple. I use geometry drawings to explain it.

MR: Thanks, Tom.

View Photos/Videos From The Book Signing…

Posted by Thorne Dreyer - March 25, 2009 | News

Wavy Gravy, grand marshal of the Million Musician March in Austin
(Photo: Mara Eurich / The Rag Blog)

AUSTIN, Texas — They weren’t quite a million, but they sure made some beautiful music.

As hundreds of locals, tourists, musicians and industry types attending South by Southwest — the massive technology, film and music fest — packed the streets of downtown Austin Saturday afternoon, March 21, the Million Musicians March for Peace — with hippie legend Wavy Gravy leading the way — snaked by in a rhythmic procession, creating its own lively soundtrack as it passed.

[SXSW is the largest event of its kind in the world, focusing the attention of the music industry on Austin for several days in March. In the face of a down economy, this year’s event was a rousing success. It featured 2,000 musical acts from over 50 countries and drew hundreds of industry reps. It was highlighted by unannounced performances by Metallica, Kanye West, Devo and others.]

(Photo: Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog)

Marching behind a banner that said, “Be an Instrument for Peace,” more than 200 singing, chanting and dancing marchers followed a second-line type brass band from the Texas State Capitol through the busy streets of downtown Austin — up Congress Ave. past the crowds queued up for a premiere at the Paramount Theater, then delighting the throngs along Sixth Street’s music row, and on to City Hall for a rally and concert.

Wavy Gravy, aka Hugh Romney, wore a tie-dyed peace symbol-adorned t-shirt with matching baggy pants, a sideways beanie, a red clown’s nose and a beaming smile.

Riding a yellow pedicab, he was the Grand Marshal. Gravy, of Hog Farm and Woodstock fame, was in town for SXSW, promoting a documentary about his looney life called “Saint Misbehavin’.”

Also in the parade was Jim Fouratt, New York-based activist and cultural critic who was a founder of the theatrical Sixties new left group, the Yippies.

The Million Musicians March was organized by Instruments for Peace and sponsors included MDS/Austin, Texans for Peace, CodePink Austin, Texas Labor Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and The Rag Blog.

(Photo: Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog)

One banner shouted “Rich Man’s War, Poor People’s Fight.” Demonstrators carried signs saying “Prosecute War Criminals” and “Truth is the First Casualty.”

According to writer and graphic designer Jim Retherford, the event, which is an Austin tradition, “may not have been as large as in some years past, but it had a wonderful energy. There were affinity groups of musicians throughout the parade and it was great to see the ethnic mix and the kids with parents and grandparents laughing and dancing together along the way.”

Jim Fouratt told The Rag Blog, “I was impressed that Austin Music Award winner Carolyn Wonderland was front and center. She warmed my heart. And I was proud to march beside Wavy Gravy. It will be artists and musicians who lead us out of the chaos.”

Wonderland, a consistent activist for peace and other issues, joined noted musicians like Guy Forsyth, Leeann Atherton and Shelley King, the first woman to be named official Texas State Musician, in the concert at City Hall.

“It was great to see all my grey-haired colleagues alongside multi-generational families, all decked out in the costumes of old Austin like it was before the high-tech incursion,” Jim Fouratt added.

The theme of this year’s Million Musician March was to oppose the continuing occupation of Iraq and it also saluted the alternative media and its role in getting out the word.

Musician Richard Bowden of Instruments for Peace, the moving force behind MMM, said, “Of all the events worldwide in remembrance of the sixth anniversary of the Iraq disaster, the Million Musicians March for Peace was the only one led by musicians.” He added, “I am so glad to be in Austin where we can do something like this.”

View Photos/Videos From The Action…

[Thorne Dreyer, a Sixties activist and underground journalist, lives in Austin, Texas. He is a director of the New Journalism Project, a contributing editor to Next Left Notes and is co-editor of The Rag Blog —]

Posted by Stephanie Basile - March 24, 2009 | News

(Photo: Randi Hoffman / NYSNA)

NEW YORK — While Roosevelt Island is generally a quiet place, if you happened to be there Thursday morning you may have heard a variety of chants and songs covering themes ranging from patient care to nurses’ rights to union power. A group of about 40 registered nurses (RNs) rallied Thursday outside the Goldwater Specialty Hospital.

Goldwater, along with Coler Specialty Hospital on the north side of the island, together make up the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital system, which employs more than 400 registered nurses.

(Photo: Randi Hoffman / NYSNA)

Nurses have been mobilizing with their union, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) to retain 12-hour shifts at Coler-Goldwater. Currently, most departments throughout NYC’s hospital system offer nurses the option of working 8-hour or 12-hour shifts. Nurses who work 12-hour shifts work fewer shifts per month. The 12-hour option is a preference for many nurses, especially those who are parents and work more than one job.

This option, officially called the Alternate Work Schedule, may soon be taken away from nurses at Coler-Goldwater. Hospital administrators have announced that as of March 28th, AWS will no longer be available and all nurses will have to work 8-hour shifts.

(Photo: Randi Hoffman / NYSNA)

NYSNA and its RNs have been fighting this change. After initial steps to reach out to hospital administration had little effect, NYSNA initiated a campaign to encourage the hospital to do the right things for nurses and patients.

The nurses held two vigils yesterday, a morning vigil outside Goldwater and a noon vigil outside Coler. NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin, whose district includes Roosevelt Island, attended the rally. In a NYSNA press release, Lappin said, “We need to look out for what’s best for the patients of these hospitals and what’s best for the nurses who work there. Neither of these groups are being well served by this switch. I strongly urge the hospital to rethink its decision.”

Sonia Echevarria, an RN and nurse rep for Coler-Goldwater, spoke to the crowd about the importance of continuing to fight for what’s right. “Management says, ‘Stop fighting. It’s over.’ It’s not over and we’ll keep fighting,” she said.

Keron Capleton, RN, also addressed the crowd. “A lot of nurses came here because the 12-hour shift was promised to them. I know for me, I’ve been here 16 years, and one thing that kept me here was the switch to the 12-hour shifts.”

(Photo: Randi Hoffman / NYSNA)

Since most other NYC hospitals still offer AWS, Capleton plans on finding a job elsewhere if Coler-Goldwater takes away her 12-hour shift. Many other nurses are also considering leaving if the change goes through. NYSNA’s position is that having to hire and train new RNs will make the elimination of AWS costly for Coler-Goldwater. Estimates show that training a new RN usually costs 1.5-2 times the cost of retaining an RN.

Nurses began the campaign by sending various messages to the hospital administrators to let them know the importance of retaining AWS. After utilizing such tactics as fax blasts, email blasts, and letter writing, the administration contacted NYSNA and set up a meeting to discuss AWS. NYSNA then submitted an alternative proposal to the hospital that would allow them to keep AWS.

NYSNA has continued reaching out to hospital administrators, as they still have yet to commit to retaining AWS. On Thursday, March 12th, a group of 60 RNs marched to the office of Howard Kritz, one of the hospital’s decision-makers responsible for taking away AWS.

NYSNA has committed to fighting the elimination of AWS until the end. Even if the change goes into effect on the 28th, they have said they will continue to fight for it.

View Photos/Videos From The Action…

Posted by TAG - | News

A protester outside the Lincoln Memorial
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

WASHINGTON — It was at the Pentagon that three thousand plus anti-war demonstrators met up with their pro-war counterparts — all thirty of them.


Lynne Stewart spoke at the rally before the march
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

On Saturday, March 21, thousands of anti-war protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear speeches and greet one another — before marching against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.


Members of Iraq Veterans Against The War on the
Arlington Memorial Bridge
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

By midday, on the second day of Spring, the protesters were marching across the Arlington Memorial Bridge — en route to the Pentagon.

A small number of counter-demonstrators showed up
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

As the long column of protesters turned to enter the Pentagon parking area they passed a group of about thirty middleaged counter-demonstrators holding signs that said “love it or leave it” and “you never marched against terrorists”. Some of the protesters stopped to take pictures of the counter-demonstrators and then continued on to Crystal City where they chanted outside the offices of several war profiteers while police looked on.


Police in riot gear lined the streets of Crystal City, Va.
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Heard along the march route: protesters chanting “Hey Obama, yes we can – troops out of Afghanistan…”


View Photos/Videos From The Action…


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Posted by TAG - March 22, 2009 | News

William Blum at a protest in Washington, DC (2007)
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

WASHINGTON — Author William Blum, known for his rigorous research into U.S. foreign policy issues and CIA misdeeds, speaks to NLN’s Tom Good about the Obama administration — and Osama bin Laden plugging “Rogue State”, Blum’s second book on U.S. military interventions.

Watch the interview (NLN on YouTube)

Posted by TAG - March 20, 2009 | News

Activists protest sixth anniversary of Iraq War
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — March 19, 2009. On the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War, the U.S. has a new president, an old war, a shattered economy and plans to send more troops to Afghanistan — to which the peace movement says, “no thank you.”

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

– Abraham Lincoln

On the eve of a much larger protest in Washington, D.C., local activists from Peace Action Staten Island and the Staten Island chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society held a two hour vigil outside the St. George recruiting center, near the Ferry Terminal. At any point in the event there were about 30 participants and a half dozen police officers. Drivers passing by honked in support and several pedestrians stopped to thank the protesters for continuing to keep up the pressure to end the war.

Sally Jones speaks out
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Speaking through a bullhorn, event organizers urged onlookers to join in the effort to build an anti-war movement on Staten Island — and slammed the Obama administration’s plan to send troops to Afghanistan.

The recruiting center remained open during the event but had no visitors.

(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

“Please Mr. Custer, I don’t wanna go.”   — Iggy Pop

View Photos/Videos From The Action…

Three of the arrestees (clockwise from upper left):
Max Obuszewski, Ellen Barfield and Pete Perry
(Photo: National Call For Nonviolent Resistance)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NCNR) — Seven peace activists were arrested on at the Pentagon on March 17 — as they attempted to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The peace activists are associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), and their visit followed a letter to Gates demanding all military forces be withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan, and that bombings of Pakistan immediately cease. The group of committed activists from New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and the District of Columbia were arrested by Pentagon Police after they strenuously requested to meet with Gates.

“We wish to petition our government for a redress of grievances,” said Michelle Grise, coordinator of NCNR. “Our grievance is that our government continues to engage in clear violations of international law by aggressively and immorally waging wars on countries which pose no immediate threat to our nation.”

Grise was arrested along with six other activists, including 78 year-old Eve Tetaz. A retired D.C. public schoolteacher, Tetaz is a veteran peace activist and faces potential jail time for her protests.

“We are here to demand that these illegal and immoral wars cease, and that our government instead seek peace and justice,” Tetaz said. “We must remind Secretary Gates that all life is sacred.”

Those arrested included: Manijeh Saba, Eve Tetaz, Michelle Grise, Ellen Barfield, Pete Perry, Steve Mihalis, and Max Obuszewski.

The action took place on St. Patrick’s Day, and the activists remembered Peter DeMott, one of the four activists who were arrested for entering a military recruiting station on March 17, 2003, two days before shock. DeMott and the three others poured their blood and recited liturgy in order to show their opposition to the Iraq War. The violent occupation of Iraq begins it’s seventh year this week.

Other anti-war actions this week in Washington include nonviolent direct action by the college-aged group, Our Spring Break, on Thursday, and a large march to the Pentagon on Saturday.

Continue Reading…

Posted by TAG - March 16, 2009 | News

The Arlington New York State memorial on Staten Island
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — With the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War approaching, local activists created a memorial: a remembrance of the fallen built upon the sands — of South Beach, in Staten Island. And although the cemetery crosses were symbolic, the sacrifices being honored were the real thing — as was the desire of the organizers to bring all U.S. troops home as soon as possible.

Early on the morning of Saturday, March 14, 2009, members of the Staten Island chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society joined with activists from Military Families Speak Out, September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows and Peace Action Staten Island to produce a field of crosses on South Beach – each one representing a New York State resident killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Organizers called their exhibit “Arlington New York State” — a reference to Arlington National Cemetery. and the “Arlington West” exhibit maintained by Veterans For Peace in Santa Barbara, California. The memorial was open to the public and ran through the weekend.

Military boots and a photograph of a fallen soldier
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The Arlington New York State memorial included an element not present in Santa Barbara: the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit produced by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Eyes Wide Open is a collection of military boots and Iraqi civilian shoes, each tagged with the name of a victim of the Iraq War. Arlington NYS organizers placed military boots from the AFSC exhibit next to each cross – attaching a name, and in some cases a photograph, to the symbolic grave. In addition, some graves contained personal items donated by the families of the fallen soldier to the Eyes Wide Open display.

The field of 220 cemetery style crosses — 184 for Iraq, 36 for Afghanistan — was arrayed in formation behind a large U.S. flag. The exhibit stretched from the boardwalk to the sea, running west to east. On the northern edge an Afghani flag fluttered. To the south, an Iraqi flag was the centerpiece of the collection of civilian shoes, representing the 1.3 million Iraqis who have died as a result of the war and occupation.

The stark rows of soldiers’ crosses, some with Muslim crescents and others with Stars of David attached — representing the faiths of the individual fallen — transformed the busy South Beach boardwalk into a reminder of the cost of war.

NY1’s Tamani Wooley interviews Tom Miles of Movement for a Democratic Society
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, a press conference was held to explain the exhibit to the media and the curious. Speakers included Elaine Brower of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iris Bieri of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), David Poleshuck, chair of Peace Action Staten Island (PASI), Cheryl Wertz, executive director of Peace Action New York State, Adele Welty of September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, Anna Berlinrut of Military Families Speak Out (New Jersey chapter), Debra Anderson of MFSO and Movement for a Democratic Society and NLN editor Thomas Good.

Adele Welty, who lost her son, a firefighter, on September 11, 2001, visited Iraq last August. While there Welty met with an organization called La Onf — Arabic for “nonviolence”. Welty told the crowd that La Onf is committed to using nonviolence to end the war in Iraq and that they gave her a message to deliver to the United States.

“They said, ‘tell Americans that there are Iraqis who do not believe in violence’…that we can have that hope — that they are willing to risk their lives to demonstrate for nonviolence,” said Welty. “And I want you to take that away with you today,” she added.

Iris Bieri of the American Friends Service Committee
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Iris Bieri, project coordinator for the AFSC’s Eyes Wide Open exhibit, told the crowd that making the human cost of the Iraq War real to observers was the goal but that it impacted on her as well.

“I think the hardest part of my job, I was telling a reporter here earlier, is that I have blank boots in my office. And I have to look at the blank boots and wonder, you know, who is next. Whose tag do I have to put on that next pair of blank boots? And I am really hoping that…the Obama administration will stick to its promise and withdraw troops from Iraq — and Afghanistan. We need to make sure that it doesn’t just transfer troops from one part of the region to another. We really need to bring our troops home and focus on the crises we have here at home,” said Bieri.

The need to bring the troops home from Iraq, rather than simply redeploying them to Afghanistan, was a common theme running through all of the speeches. Speaker after speaker asked the crowd to get involved, to urge the Obama administration to act to bring the troops home.

Next Left Notes editor Tom Good, whose three older brothers fought in Vietnam, said: “At this point in my life, I have a 14-year-old son. I do not want my son fighting in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, anywhere else. I want him here in New York City — fighting for human rights.”

Debra Anderson of Military Families Speak Out
and Movement for a Democratic Society
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Debra Anderson argued against “shifting soldiers” from one combat theatre to another — most of the soldiers now serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have done three or four tours she told the crowd. The cost of these redeployments is very real to those who have served.

“Some of my husband’s friends’ boots are down on that beach,” Anderson said.

Throughout the day, people walking along the boardwalk stopped to read items displayed on a literature table and some walked down to the beach to read the names of the dead.

At dusk, candles flickered inside red votives, one at the base of each memorial cross. In the distance the lights on the Verazzano Bridge twinkled. The Verrazano, spanning the Narrows at the entrance to New York harbor and connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn, was completed in 1964 — just as the Vietnam War began to escalate.

On Saturday evening, as organizers wrapped themselves in blankets to combat the cold wind, local media picked up the story and ran news items encouraging people to visit the memorial. The outcome was a steady stream of visitors on Sunday. The organizers were tired but gratified to see the foot traffic– having spent the night on the boardwalk, safeguarding their exhibit.

Night falls on Arlington NYS
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

“In the simplest terms, this memorial represents American deaths in two wars that should have never been. Each cross, each star and crescent, each pair of boots reminds us not only of what we’ve lost but what we might lose still in wars that are ongoing. These soldiers should be with us now. They should be sitting with their families on the beach, walking their dogs along the boardwalk, not being memorialized in sand,” said organizer Devra Morice of Movement for a Democratic Society.

View Photos/Videos From The Memorial…

Posted by Dave Lippman - March 11, 2009 | News

Joel Kovel speaking at a forum on Gaza
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — The fifth annual Israeli Apartheid Week commenced March 2 in the wake of the Israeli assault on Gaza, which produced the biggest growth in world-wide Palestinian solidarity activities in years. Some activists suggest that these events have broken the hegemony of automatic support for Israeli state policies among the US populace, if not in governing circles.

Events were held in over 40 cities worldwide. In New York City the week began with a discussion of the similarities and differences between the anti-South African apartheid struggle of the 1980s and the struggle today against Israel’s variant of indigenous suppression. David Wildman, a Palestine activist with the Methodist Church and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and Professor Sam Anderson (formerly of SNCC, the anti-apartheid movement of the 80s, and more) pointed to the length of the South African divestment struggle — 30 years — and noted that we’re at the beginning of that struggle with Israel, and arguably moving faster.

Stephen Bloom reads a poem at an Israeli Apartheid event
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Programs during the week at Columbia and NYU took up the relationships of those institutions to Israel and the question of divestment — this on the heels of the Hampshire College move to divest and the brief takeover of an NYU building in pursuit of transparency around investments and aid to Palestinians.

Throughout the week there was strong participation from activists working in a new coalition for boycott, divestment and sanctions work (BDS). This growing movement responds to a 2005 call from 170 Palestinian organizations to isolate Israel economically, diplomatically and otherwise to pressure the state over its ongoing destruction of Palestinian society and seizure of its land.

Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council, speaking at the Green Party’s Gaza Forum
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

In Brooklyn, Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company was confronted with demonstrators challenging their silence in the face of atrocity –the troupe’s own director had said “I continue to do my work, while 20 km from me people are participating in war crimes…the ability to detach oneself from the situation, that is what allows one to go on.” The cultural and academic aspects of boycotts are the most controversial among sympathizers, and they were taken up further at other programs during the week. BDS initiator Omar Barghouti talked of the necessity of dealing with Israeli film on a case by case basis, but insisted that in music and dance, artists are obliged to act as ambassadors for their state, implicitly reinforcing the right of that state to violate international laws and human rights norms without consequence. Israeli academics, in fact, must sign a contract that they will act as such in order to receive funding. Barghouti, a choreographer himself, noted that not one dance group has taken a stand (nor, we might say, made a movement) against Israeli policies.

Throughout the week of events, rooms were packed. There was no disruption from Zionist partisans, in contrast to earlier years, leading to speculation that a decision had been taken by these forces to lay low. Perhaps the motive was the widespread outrage over Gaza, or perhaps the kind of people who show up for these events have been deemed unreceptive to Israeli state apologists.

Joel Kovel
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

An important theme within the upsurge of solidarity is the changing consciousness among Jews — whether it’s happening, how much, and how to increase it. Dr. Joel Kovel, recently forced out of his teaching position at Bard College, stated that many mainstream Jews had, over the decades since Israel’s founding, become “a deluded and alienated people,” adding that we are now at a moment in history in which Jews might recapture their identity as guardians or proponents of social justice.

Dorothy Zellner of Jews Say No
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Dorothy Zellner of “Jews Say No” dwelt on this theme, describing herself as having been “in conscious denial” for most of her life. When confronted with the disjuncture between the image of Israel as Jewish liberation and the Israeli practice of ethnic cleansing, she would say “I have enough problems already.” Eventually she renounced her denial and decided that Israel had become “a disaster for the Jewish social justice tradition.” Recently she helped organize a 24-hour demonstration at the offices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. She pointed out that the head of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that once lived up to its name, now supports the premier fascist on the Israeli scene, a man who makes Netanyahu look moderate, Avigdor Liberman. Zellner tore into the myth of Israel as a haven for Jews: “If we have a fascist state in this country, are we going to line up at the airport to go to Israel? No, we’ll go to Canada or Mexico!”

Kovel noted the disaffection of Jews with Israel, with 750,000 Israelis having left for the United States to sell falafel or otherwise get on with normal lives.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah NY
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

BDS activist Riham Barghouti ticked off a list of recent advances for BDS: Canadian unions calling for academic boycott, similar moves in Britain and France, Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, two dozen student sit-ins in England, with three universities divesting from some companies, South African dock workers refusing to unload Israeli ships, the Church of England divesting from Caterpillar, protests in New Zealand against Israeli sport teams, light-rail manufacturer Veolia losing a Swedish contract due to its construction of an Israeli-only rail project through Palestinian territory. And in Norway, all trains in the country stood still for two minutes in a railroad workers’ act of solidarity with Gaza.

Organizers are hopeful that by next year there will be events in 100 cities, that world Jewry will reclaim its human rights mantle, and that the world’s people will increasingly convince those in power to cease and desist from their enabling of colonial crimes anywhere and everywhere — even in Israel.

Dave Lippman was a member of SDS in the sixties. He is still active.