Sunday, December 2, 2007

Nakba Vigil in Woodstock

-Nakba Vigil
Well, we did manage to get together our initial Nakba (Nov. 29) demonstration at the Woodstock Village Green, which was good; but it was chaotic and understaffed and rainy, which was bad.

We did it again this Sunday, 2pm, same place, when there was heavier weekend traffic (foot as well as car).

The posters are now all made (as you can see). No more last-minute, desperate printing, cutting, pasting, and bagging. (Don't ask.) Like Israel, they exist, whatever you think of them.

We got at least ten people to stand there in a sequential row, each holding one poster. More would be nice next time to hand out flyers. (Elaine did a splendid job of this on Thursday--as she did of taking pictures.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Joel Kovel on "Demcracy Now"

Monday, October 29th, 2007
University of Michigan Press to Continue Publishing Joel Kovel's "Overcoming Zionism" After Initially Dropping Book Due to Rightwing Criticism

Last week the University of Michigan Press voted unanimously to continue distributing books from the London-based independent publishing house Pluto Press. The controversy began earlier this summer when the university press initially decided to stop distributing Joel Kovel's "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine." [includes rush transcript] We turn now to an important victory in the battle for free speech here in the United States. Last week the University of Michigan Press voted unanimously to continue distributing books from the London-based independent publishing house Pluto Press. The controversy began earlier this summer when the university press decided to stop distributing a new book by author and activist Joel Kovel published by Pluto Press. It's called "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine."

The press dropped Kovel's book in August after receiving a series of threatening emails from a rightwing pro-Israel group called Stand With Us. But faced with a growing campaign led by fellow academics and civil libertarians, the board overturned its earlier decision regarding distribution of Kovel's book. Last week's key decision to continue ties with Pluto Press came in the midst of a series of events organized around what rightwing groups called "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."

Joel Kovel is an antiwar activist and former Green Party candidate for Senate. He is the author of over ten books. "Overcoming Zionism" is his most recent book. He joins me now in the firehouse studio in New York.

* Joel Kovel, activist and author of over ten books. His latest book was temporarily dropped by University of Michigan after an initial controversy. It's called "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine."


This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to an important victory in the battle for free speech here in the United States. Last week, the University of Michigan Press voted unanimously to continue distributing books from the London-based independent publishing house Pluto Press. The controversy began earlier this summer when the university press decided to stop distributing a new book by author Joel Kovel. It was published by Pluto Press. It's called Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.

The press dropped Kovel's book in August after getting a series of threatening emails from a rightwing group called Stand With Us. But faced with a growing campaign led by fellow academics and civil libertarians, the board overturned its earlier decision. Last week's key decision to continue ties with Pluto Press came in the midst of a series of events organized around what rightwing groups called "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."

Joel Kovel is an antiwar activist. He was a Green Party candidate for Senate here in New York. He is the author of over ten books, this latest, Overcoming Zionism, is his most recent -- joining us in the firehouse studio in New York. Welcome to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: So your book will continue to be published.

JOEL KOVEL: Yeah. More to the point, Pluto will continue to be published, because that was a huge threat. It’s a marginal firm that nonetheless publishes a tremendous amount of alternative works. And it would have been devastating had that contract had been violated.

AMY GOODMAN: And it’s the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Press --

JOEL KOVEL: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: -- that distributes the British Pluto Press?

JOEL KOVEL: Right. Yes, through contract. And they panicked this summer when they dropped my book. I mean, they were pressured by this Zionist watchdog team, which is really part of the same apparatus that’s putting out “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” and many other things. And the director just wrote me this absurd letter saying that my book was not worthy of free speech, because it was hate speech. My book was so full of hate to the state of Israel. My book was really written to open the dialogue, which is so wretched in this country on this subject.

AMY GOODMAN: I thought it was interesting that one of the people who, well, what is called blurbing the book, who recommends the book is Michel Warshawsky.


AMY GOODMAN: I remember him many years ago, visiting him in Israeli, who is a leading Israeli peace activist.

JOEL KOVEL: Yeah, a wonderful man. He doesn’t even necessarily agree with the conclusion, which is to have a single democratic state, but he recognizes the necessity of opening this discourse. And that’s why I wrote the book. I mean, I wanted to -- I disregarded all the taboos, that you're not supposed to talk about Israel in any depth in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: He says, Kovel is suggesting a binational Israeli-Palestinian state. It may be a challenged, but definitely should not be ignored.

JOEL KOVEL: Right. It should be challenged. What we don’t have is any kind of real debate on this subject in our country at this time. And I guess my book went too far for the watchdog, so they -- you know, they started barking and howling at the University of Michigan Press, which folded. And then that provoked a big reaction, and where we are now is that we’ve actually won quite a considerable victory in this, because as this story developed, we found that people all over the country and indeed many other parts of the world, particularly the United Kingdom, were backing us. And there were hundreds of letters sent to the University of Michigan Press. And I think it had a decisive effect. So it’s really historic, because basically these Zionist repression groups have had pretty much a free hand.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by that?

JOEL KOVEL: Well, I mean there’s [inaudible] Michigan

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, there are many people who consider themselves Zionists that would not advocate the banning of your book --

JOEL KOVEL: Oh, that’s right

AMY GOODMAN: -- which it essentially comes down to.

JOEL KOVEL: Exactly, but the ones who do advocate the banning, you know, had a big effect. They got the University of Michigan Press to roll over for them.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how -- how did people organize to push back? Who were the leaders, among them Howard Zinn?

JOEL KOVEL: Well, we contacted Zinn and he was most gracious and generous in letting his celebrated, illustrious name be used to bring in people to write letters on behalf of Pluto. My book was restored, but the threat to Pluto continued, and so the organization emphasized, you know, we do need an alternative press in this country. Pluto does have perhaps the largest pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist, you know, collection of books. And it’s essential that people be given access to these books. So, Zinn and other well-known people, like Richard Falk, you know, have said yes, we’re on board with this. And we have a committee forming, Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, And we’re planning a conference and all. But the committee leapt into action, and we were amazed at just how eloquent and, you know, basically fed up a lot of people were with being intimidated by these kinds of tactics. They just want to suppress an open discussion of this subject.

AMY GOODMAN: Joel Kovel, as a Jewish activist and scholar, talk about this issue, this idea that you are proposing, creating a single democratic state in Israel/Palestine? Of course, it’s not only you; among others, it’s Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, and others. But explain what it is. And also, how does it relate to your own religion, to Judaism?

JOEL KOVEL: Well, to take the second part first, I grew up in a very conventional Jewish home, except for the fact that there was a lot of division on this subject, so I think from an early age I learned to take a certain distance from it and to think critically about it. And I detail in the book certain incidents of my childhood, which sort of made me somewhat estranged from what was going on. But in any event, as I grew up, I felt that the Jewish people have been, you know, very largely deprived of a real opportunity to look at what’s going on in the state of Israel, you know, because there is such a frantic effort to establish Israel as a Jewish state, as somehow the destiny of the Jewish people, are using all of the history of the oppression and the persecution that Jews have suffered over the centuries.

And I feel that the notion of Zionism, as that there is this kind of destiny of the Jewish people to have their own state, is just the wrong idea. And it’s an idea that requires signing onto imperialism. It means signing onto ethnic cleansing. It means -- despite everything that has been said about it, it means basically becoming a racist situation, where you’re oppressing an indigenous population and depriving them of their right to existence and then thinking that somehow you can go ahead and have a decent life on that basis. Now, you can’t, in my view. And I join hands with those people who feel that the time has come to basically think of Israel in the same category as South Africa, as a state that just has gone wrong and needs replacement, OK? Now, that’s a way-out idea. On the other hand, a lot of people around the world think about it, and it should be openly discussed.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting, Bishop Tutu, who was disinvited and then invited by the St. Thomas University --

JOEL KOVEL: Yes, in Minneapolis.

AMY GOODMAN: -- in Minneapolis, for making comparisons of Israel to Apartheid South Africa.

JOEL KOVEL: Yes. Well, the comparison was interesting, because Tutu and other leaders of the freedom struggle in South Africa who visited Palestine have always been asked, well, how does it compare? And he says, well, it’s not the same thing, Israel is actually worse. He actually said, Israel is a worse place than Apartheid South Africa was, because Apartheid South Africa attempted to retain the integrity of the blacks so they could work in the mines and the mills of the South African, you know, industrial system, whereas the key point about Israel is that it wants to get rid of them, transfer. It wants to get them out of there. And it wants this area to be for Jews only, you know?

AMY GOODMAN: Why not two states?

JOEL KOVEL: Well, first of all, it’s been destroyed as a practical alternative, because the nature of the occupation has completely eaten out from under any possibility of having a real Palestinian state. More fundamentally, it perpetuates the logic of the same kind of thinking that has gone on all along. I mean, I think a two-state solution, in any practical sense, that is to say that Palestinians would have a little statelet, would be basically rising Israel to the level of South Africa. South Africa had a two-state solution. There was the South African state, and there were the Bantustans. The kind of two-state solution that they’re talking about is that the state of Israel and then the bantustans, sometimes even dividing Gaza from the Occupied Territories.

AMY GOODMAN: What kind of support does a one-state solution have, either in the Occupied Territories or in Israel?

JOEL KOVEL: It has very small support. And I call it a strategic goal. This is to say, it’s not something that is on the horizon, but if you think in these terms, you are led to take a really constructive view towards the situation, because now you’re grounding your politics in universal human rights. You’re not grounding your politics in the aberration and the very wrong idea of a national, you know, ethnic state, which is a big mistake. And I think that that orients you in a good direction, and the overall outcome cannot help but be better, even if the result is another state for Palestinians. But you want to weaken this notion that there should be a Jewish state and that that somehow can be democratic. It can’t be.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. When is the conference and where?

JOEL KOVEL: Well, the conference is being planned for early next year. We’re doing it in New York. We want a very high-profile conference.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. Joel Kovel, author of Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. The book will continue to be distributed by the University of Michigan Press at Ann Arbor.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.

Friday, October 26, 2007

U. of Michigan Press does the right thing

The Middle East Crisis Response wrote letters along with many other national and international groups. The University finally decided not to drop Dr. Kovel's book or the Pluto Press. An important victory over the Zionist lobby.

Original letter from Howard Zinn...

As you may have heard, in late August of this year, The University of Michigan Press, after receiving a series of complaining and threatening emails and letters from an ultra-Zionist group called StandWithUs, an offshoot of Campus Watch, withdrew from distribution Prof. Joel Kovel's book Overcoming Zionism, published by Pluto Press in London, United Kingdom. Since then, following numerous protests by fellow academics and scholars, The U. of M. Press Executive Board has restored the book to its distribution listings. But, ominously, the Board has indicated its intention to reconsider its contract with Pluto Press in mid October...

Sincerely, Howard Zinn
For the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism
Complete letter:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Woodstock Freedom Theatre

Woodstock Freedom Theatre

Thank you on behalf of The Freedom Theatre. We all had a marvelous time.

Received: $449 Cash $300 checks to Grassroots for the Jenin FT

Thanks for hosting, thanks to all the hard work on publicity, thanks for those who provided the food and wine.

Warm regards,
Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre


Subject: WoodstockFreedomTheatre
Re: update

dear people,

it was our pleasure to host the event for freedom theater. the documentary was astounding and the the presence of juliano inspiring.

many of the people who attended are still talking about it, questioning aspects of the occupation, calling us, feeling disturbed... all the right things.

and we feel that much better for seeing this ray of hope brightening up our world and participating in some meaningful way.

peace and love in mind, heart and hand,

gillian and larry


Thank you Dinky. It is really us who should thank the FJFT and Juliano and the children and the brave souls, the young actors grown up into freedom fighters, some with tragic consequences, but all of them heroic. I also learned something valuable from Juliano - for me a much needed lesson. Juliano and Yonatan Shapira both have a deeply patient and compassionate presentation, yet at the same time firm way of dealing with, as Juliano said to me, "paranoid Jews". He understands the deep trauma that warps much of their thinking. There is, I saw in him, a compassion for that suffering of the past and a taking it into account without making the mistakes that is made by the political Zionists. For me, knowing much of the history, being a Jew, but not having lived it, my response to American Jewish fear and ignorance is often expressed in a kind of anger. The injustice and oppression used against the Palestinians outrages me. But Juliano's patience and strength impressed me - made me think that I must learn to listen more and be more patient - with everyone, including Zionists and silly middle of the road liberals here in America.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Film showing Sept. 25

How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
Narrated by Sean Penn, this movie reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq.
"SUPERB" -Howard Zinn
In Person: Jeff Cohen, writer, lecturer and media critic who founded the media watch group FAIR.

Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7pm
Rosendale Theatre, Main Street, Rosendale
All seats $5.00 (845) 658-8989

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Joel Kovel at the Golden Notebook

Joel Kovel spoke about his new book, "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine," at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock on Sunday, August 5, 2007. "Overcoming Zionism" can be purchased at Amazon or Pluto Press.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Two Great Documentary Films

Two Great Documentary Films

"A Palestinian Woman" - A Palestinian Woman: Terry Bulatta, mother, teacher and community activist, shows how the 27-foot wall surrounds her neighborhood in East Jerusalem, dividing it from the adjacent community of Abu Dis, severing the historical bonds of the two communities. (24 minutes)

"African Palestinian" - In the Moslem quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City very near one of the great doors to the Dome of the Rock compound is the African Palestinian. (24 minutes)

Tuesday, July 24 starting at 7 pm
Blackbird Theater
(across the street from the Rosendale Theatre in Rosendale)

A talk by filmmaker Andrew Courtney followed the films (Red Hill Films). Tickets were $5.00.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kovel Talk and Book Signing

Dr. Joel Kovel, professor at Bard College and author of the recently published "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine,” gave a talk this Thursday at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore in Saugerties, New York.

Speaking to a full crowd, Dr. Kovel reviewed the history of Israel, the psychology of the early Zionists and how the current apartheid state is ultimately a threat to both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Deploring the confusion of Jews, Judaism, Zionism and the State of Israel, Dr. Kovel called for a one-state solution as an end to government supported racism.

The United States has used Israel to control the oil-rich Middle East, sending American tax dollars to pay for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land. Dr. Kovel urged a reassessment of Israel by all Americans who value human rights and democracy in the region.

The talk and the book signing that followed were sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response .

First picture by David Bruner.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Trip to DC, June 10-11, 2007

A group of MECR members made the trip to DC for the Sunday rally and the lobbying on Monday. The trip was judged to be a great success, and the lobbying very interesting. Here is a press release about the event from UFPJ, as well as pictures of the event (thanks, David).

June 10-11 Mobilization a Huge Success

(Washington DC, June 11, 2007) The largest ever national demonstration against the Israeli occupation took place yesterday in Washington DC. More than 5,000 demonstrators from all over the country declared that “40 years of Israel’s occupation are enough.”

Today, hundreds of activists are meeting with their Congressional Representatives and Senators to call for a change in US foreign policy in the Middle East.

“An overwhelming number of Americans believe in peace, justice and human rights. We’re calling on our government to do the right thing and end its support for the Israeli occupation,” said Huwaida Arraf of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

“This day has global importance,” stated Phyllis Bennis, also of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. “While we say no to US support for Israeli occupation, our counterparts from all around the world are saying the same message to their own governments. From South Africa to Brazil, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Malaysia, Ramallah to Tel-Aviv.”

A broad diversity of speakers and participants came from almost every state, faith, and ethnic group.

“Our vision is one of a comprehensive just and lasting peace for everyone: Palestinians, Israelis, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and all people,” said Judith LeBlanc of United for Peace and Justice.

The event marks the 40th Anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The occupation has created a desperate situation of collective punishment and suffering for almost 4 million Palestinians. Land seizures, curfews, checkpoints, and extra-judicial executions are part of everyday life and have been documented by human right organizations.

The rally took place in front of the Capitol and continued with a march to the White House – the two centers of US foreign policy. This demonstration was sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace and Justice, two major national coalitions. More than 300 organizations nationwide participated.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Remembrance of Nakba

Friday, May 18th on the Woodstock Village Green. Remembrance of Nakba: The Catastrophe that Continues for the Palestinian People.

In human terms, 1948 saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their homes, massacres of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages. The apartheid system that followed has destroyed any hope of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. We grieve for these tragedies, while working for the day when Israelis and Palestinians can once again share the land of their ancestors.

Sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response

Monday, May 14, 2007

Impeachment Rally

On Monday, May 14, an important impeachment rally was held beginning at 12:00 at the West Steps of the Capital building in Albany. The rally entitled "A Trust Betrayed: Impeach Cheney/Bush" included speakers and musical performers who made the case for immediate action to save our democratic form of government.

Speakers at the rally included: Elliot Adams - National President of Veterans for Peace, Yonatan Shapira - former Israeli Air Force Blackhawk pilot, now a Combatant for Peace, Dr. Stephen Larsen - Director Stone Mountain Counseling, Professor Emeritus Suny, Ulster and biographer of Joseph Campbell, Nathen Alft - Lafond - student activist on the situation in New Orleans and Government complicity, Dr. Andor Skotnes - Professor of History at Sage Colleges and former Co-chair of Historians Against War, Jay Wenk - World War II veteran and peace activist hero, co-founder Veterans for Peace, Joan Walker - co founder, NO DU Coalition of the Hudson Valley, Sarvananda Bluestone - founder of Wisconsin Committee against Vietnam War, Dr. Michael Rice – founder of Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace.

The last picture is of our large group chanting the names of the war dead in Iraq. Hillary Clinton's Office was closed, but we were allowed to chant the names in the lobby. I will see if I can include a short mp3 file so that people can listen to a couple of minutes of this dramatic event.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Yonatan Shapira Speaks in Kingston

“What I am asking for is a new Jewish lobby in America, one that acts in the love of Israel.”

So spoke Yonatan Shapira at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills in Kingston on Sunday, April 29. Mr. Shapira, a former Black Hawk Helicopter pilot in the Israeli Defense Force, talked about his growing sense of unease about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In the end, Mr. Shapira refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza, and instead helped organize a group of like-minded veterans in Israel, Combatants for Peace

Mr. Shapira described in detail the role of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in controlling the US Congress and stifling debate about the suffering of the Palestinians. “There is a joke in Israel,” Mr. Shapira said. “We were offered a chance to become the 51st state, but turned it down. That would give us only two US Senators.”

Describing himself as a lover of Israel, Mr. Shapira is traveling around the United States, trying to free the American people from the influences of the Israeli lobby, an impediment to genuine peace for the Israeli people. "As a Jew, as a lover of Israel, you must stand up and criticize the government of Israel. No one can call you an anti-Semite. It is your job to be a non-insane Jew."

Yonatan Shapira’s talk was sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response

Permission granted to use text and photographs in any news article.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kathy Kelly speaks in Woodstock

Kathy Kelly spoke to a large group of people this Thursday, March 29 at the Woodstock Community Center. The title of her talk was "Eyewitness to War, Witness to Peace: Reflections on the US war in Iraq and the ongoing Middle East conflict." Having visited Iraq 24 times in the past ten years, Ms. Kelly gave a uniquely personal face to the suffering of civilians in the war zone. Her stories were both harrowing and very moving, and several in the audience expressed a desire to do more to end the occupation of Iraq. The presentation concluded with a plan to stage a sit-in in Hillary Clinton's office in Albany.

The talk was sponsored by a new group, the Middle East Crisis Response ( Donations were accepted for Kathy Kelly's work in the Middle East.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kathy Kelly on Activist Radio

It was a privilege to have Kathy Kelly on Activist Radio today. If you didn't hear her tonight in Staatsburg, go to and click on Mar. 28.

I put a picture of Kathy and Gary in the studio (thanks, Tarak).


Friday, March 16, 2007

Norma Musih

Norma Musih from Zochrot spoke recently about Israeli efforts find the truth about Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. Thanks, David, for the pictures.

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle," spoke on Wednesday, March 7 at the Woodstock Community Center. His talk entitled "Is It Apartheid?" prompted a lively but courteous debate on the morality of ethnic cleansing in occupied Palestine. Dr. Qumsiyeh described how the 450,000 Jewish "settlers" in the West Bank have made the two state solution impossible. Several Jewish members of the audience spoke of their own inner conflicts when presented with the obvious racism of the occupation. The talk was sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response.

Paula Silbey at the UU in Poughkeepsie

Eyewitness Palestine
Sunday, Feb. 25 starting at 3:00 PM
at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
67 So. Randolph Ave., Poughkeepsie

Paula Silbey, a resident of the Hudson Valley, joined International Women's Peace Service ( and made two trips to Palestine in 2006. Her talk focuses on daily life, the hardships of Israeli occupation, and the conflict she experienced as an American Jew. But her presentation is full of pictures of Palestinian children, and there is an underlying hope that people of conscience can find a better way.

Mohammed Khatib and Feryal Abu Haikal

Mohammed Khatib and Feryal Abu Haikal, both from the West Bank, spoke on Friday, February 9 at the New Paltz United Methodist Church. Feryal, headmistress at the Kortuba School in the heart of Hebron's old city, showed pictures of the daily assaults against her students by the Israeli settlers. Mohammed, Secretary of Bil'in's Village Council, spoke of nonviolent resistance to racism directed at Palestinians in their own land. The event was sponsored by a new group, The Middle East Crisis Response (

Hudson Valley Resident Visits Palestine

An Ulster County resident with family in Israel, Paula spent several weeks in the fall and spring of 2006, working with the International Women's Peace Service. She described the constant harassment that average Palestinians go through to harvest their olives and to maintain a normal life. "Apartheid in South Africa," she explained, "never had one road for blacks and one for whites as does the West Bank."

Local Vigils

Vigil in Woodstock in the fall of '06

Vigil in Rosendale in the summer of '06

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Local Art for Rachel Corrie

To read the article, double click on pictures or see text below (thanks, Judith)

The Barrytown Gazette (March 2007)

Vol. 1 Number 1 Editor: Henry Christopher (845) 633-3264

Doris Soroko fights for the rights of Palestinians in Israel

Photo: Ms. Soroko sets up “Occupation Ain’t Kosher” sign in her front yard, so that traffic on River Rd. in Barrytown can get the message

River Rd., Barrytown, NY — Doris Soroko’s home on River Rd. has one of those million dollar views city folks dream of when they look for their second home in the countryside … vast, rolling fields and forest with the majestic Catskill Mountains rising up to seemingly stunning heights. The lighting at different times of day can take your breath away.

Ms. Soroko could spend her days in a rocking chair on her porch, reading a book, or just gazing dreamily at the beauty before her.

But she usually is found indoors at her computer, putting in long hours searching through the web for stories and facts detailing the long suffering of the Palestinian people in Israel, which she sends to friends.

Tied to a tree in her front yard with barbed wired, is a large sign which reads, “Occupation Ain’t Kosher,” expressing her outrage at the callous and often inhumane ways in which the Israeli government treats the Palestinians, with the aid, she says, of the US government.

The most visible sign of this abuse of the Palestinians she says, is the wall Israel has been building around the West Bank, which Ms. Soroko calls the “Apartheid Wall.”

“It’s a land grab, because they are putting it on occupied territory.

They are cutting off the Palestinians from their farms. Imagine if I owned the field across the way with almond, apricot and olive trees, and suddenly the Israeli government puts up this wall between my house and farm. In some places it’s four stories high. It’s a monstrosity,” she says.

Stacks of printed material from the web and other sources are piled high on tables and chairs in her living room. One pamphlet tells the sad and tragic story of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American human rights worker who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer. She was trying to stop the Israeli army from destroying the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Ms. Soroko lived in Israel in the 1950s where she studied Hebrew and worked at a kibbutz. She married the late Igal Mossinsohn, Israeli writer and playwright.

Mossinsohn was beloved in Israel for writing children’s adventure stories. But it was his play, “Casablan” which most impressed her for its depiction of intolerance and snobbery within the Jewish community between the European and Middle Eastern Jews.

Ms. Soroko wrote the poem below in 2003 a month after Rachel Corrie was killed:


Do not bend your knees before the bulldozer

Baby, cuz his heart’s been turned by zeal and burnt by brutishness

And his mind is made by jack-knives spin-split into territory

His mid is made — instead of created by thought, by reason, by logic

His mind’s been made up for him

like a bed in an army barracks

Inspection — looks good, yes sir

Please don’t look under the carpet…