Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bethlehem cards on Sunday

Yesterday Pia, Jane, and I gave out between 100 - 150 "Bethlehem" cards to people attending services at ... in Kingston. When people ask about the cards we tell them that they are Christmas cards with a message. The vast majority of people are receptive and even grateful for the cards. 

We were going to give out cards at the ... , but much to our surprise, we were actually invited inside the church. We actually had an opportunity to speak with the Pastor who seemed sympathetic to our cause. Pia suggested that this church might be a good place to show the fillm Steadfast Hope. I will be communicating with the Pastor to explore this possibility. It was a cold day, but overall a warm experience. Thank you Pia and Jane.


Monday, December 8, 2014

With God On Our Side documentary at the UU

We had about 20 people who came out in the snow and sleet to see
this excellent movie. The question and answer session was devoted
to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the focus of a revised website:

RE/MAX Israel has a commanding presence in the Israeli real estate market, referring to itself as “the number one company in Israel”. Most disturbingly, RE/MAX Israel is also the leader in selling land in the Palestinian West Bank territory to Israeli settlers - land that under international law is illegally acquired.

As a result, RE/MAX Israel is directly contributing to the oppression of the Palestinian people under Israeli Occupation. This is the same Israeli Occupation that has caused 40% of Palestinians in Gaza to be unemployed and 80% of those living in the areas of the West Bank under direct Israeli control to lack a steady supply of food. These terrible conditions existed even before the most recent escalation of attacks by Israel which have lead to the death of over 2,000 Palestinians, including over 500 children, and the destruction of over 10,000 homes in the Gaza Strip. (from: Code Pink)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We had a great night.

We had a great night. The movie was thought provoking,
the after film discussion was heartfelt, and the night ended
with Maddy and Fred signing songs.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

”My Name is Rachel Corrie”

-Sunday, November 2 in Poughkeepsie: ”My Name is Rachel Corrie,” live production starring Ashley Malloy, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm in Rockefeller Hall, Room 200, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave.

Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" recounts the young woman's life from journal entries, letters, and e-mails she left behind. This current production has been touring colleges across the country to excellent reviews. Ashley Malloy will lead a discussion of the play at the end. Funds raised will go to support The Freedom Theatre located in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank.

Sponsored by Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine, and cosponsored by Middle East Crisis Response http://www.mideastcrisis.org, and Hudson Valley BDS http://www.hudsonvalleybds.org. Contact: sjpvassar@gmail.com or 845 876-7906.

Turnout was OK, but not as good as we expected. We had short notice to get the publicity out, a little over one week. We will have to work more closely with SJP campus groups to insure better turnout. The play itself was great, and we had an excellent question and answer session at the end with Ashley.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Josh Ruebner in Woodstock

-Wed, October 22 in Woodstock: Josh Ruebner, Author and Political Analyst. From: 8:00 pm To  9:30 pm at the Woodstock Public Library, 5 Library Ln. 

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service. His recent book, “Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” reveals the current administration's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

 The book will be available for sale at the event. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response www.mideastcrisis.org and Hudson Valley Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions www.hudsonvalleybds.org.

Josh had dinner with our group prior to his talk. He had just come from a crowd of over 100 people at Union College, so he didn't mind the relatively small group that turned out to hear his presentation in Woodstock. We only had about 20 people due to a driving rainstorm that night.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday, October 10 in Kingston

-Friday, October 10 in Kingston: Films of Palestine Series presents "The Veiled Hope,” from 7:00 - 8:30 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills, 320 Sawkill Road. This documentary explores the personal and political challenges facing Palestinian women through a series of exceptional portraits of women living in Gaza and the West Bank. The women explain how in their daily lives as doctors, school teachers and activists they are working to rebuild Palestinian cultural identity. 
SPECIAL GUEST: Palestinian director Norma Marcos will discuss her film! Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response http://www.mideastcrisis.org and Hudson Valley Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions http://www.hudsonvalleybds.org. Contact: Jane.toby7@gmail.com or 518 291-6808.

We had over 40 people at this film showing, and Norma Marcos gave a very interesting talk about women in the Palestinian resistance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Outside the offices of U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer

Approximately 50 demonstrators gathered outside the offices of U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer Monday morning to condemn the officials' support for Israel.
The protesters called on Congress to end military aid to the Israel Defense Forces through enforcement of the Leahy Law, a human rights law that prevents the United States from aiding foreign militaries that commit war crimes.
“Senator Schumer has repeatedly supported Israeli government aggression against the Palestinian people, including the latest assault on the Palestinians of Gaza,” said Candace Graff from Jewish Voices for Peace-NY. “And both Senators have failed to seek enforcement of laws requiring U.S. funding to be cut off to units of a country’s armed forces that have committed a ‘gross violation of human rights.’”
More than 20 organizations signed on to endorse the event and the attending protesters said that they represented more than a dozen of those organizations, including, CodePink NYC, Direct Action Front for Palestine, Jews Say No, Veterans for Peace and several Students for Justice in Palestine chapters.
“Senator Schumer has been egregious in standing up for Israel—not in just standing up for Israel as virtually all members of Congress do, but in actually pursuing very right-wing, hawkish policy in Israel,” said Brandon Davis, a member of Jewish Voices for Peace. “He calls himself the ‘guardian’ of Israel and I think that is a ridiculous foreign policy for a senator of the United States. He’s the ‘guardian’ of New York State and the United States, not Israel.”
The protesters, who plan to stay outside until 7 p.m., took questions, simulated an Israeli military checkpoint, and read the names of Palestinian children that were killed in Gaza this summer.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Paltz Vigil for Gaza

We had about 20 people come out and stand with us.
Many going by in cars expressed their support. Could this
massacre be changing public opinion in America?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vigils held in Rhinebeck, Woodstock, Kingston

Rhinebeck vigil against the slaughter in Gaza

Woodstock vigil against the slaughter in Gaza

Against international law and a crime against humanity

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators made their voices heard Tuesday outside U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson’s district office on Broadway in Midtown Kingston. Paul Kirby — Daily Freeman

KINGSTON >> A total of about 100 people on opposite sides of the current Israel-Gaza conflict raised their voices — and signs — Tuesday on a Broadway sidewalk in Midtown to state their positions.
The protesters, holding placards with such statements as “Long Live Israel” and “Free Gaza,” were in front of the Seven21 Media Center building, where U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has a district office.
There was back-and-forth shouting at times, but the demonstrators remained relatively calm under the watchful eye of Kingston police officers.
Cheryl Qamar of Saugerties said she attended to bring attention to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.
“I am here to protest the Israeli siege of Gaza,” Qamar said. “... Israel has declared war on the very people they are occupying. It is against international law and it is a crime against humanity.”
Israel supporter Bruce Tuchman, a member of the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, sees things differently.
“Right now, Israel is fighting for its survival, as they have been fighting for their survival since 1948,” Tuchman said. “They [Hamas] are the people who put their children in harm’s way just to get a headline. It is disgusting, and Israel gets blamed for everything.”
Tuesday’s gathering initially was advertised as a pro-Palestinian event sponsored by the groups Middle East Crisis Response and Hudson Valley BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). Local pro-Israel residents then organized a counterdemonstration.
Israel on Tuesday unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a 3-week-old war against Hamas, striking symbols of the militant group’s control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the strip’s only power plant. The station’s shutdown further disrupted the supply of electricity and water to the 1.7 million people packed into the narrow Palestinian coastal territory.
The heavy strikes, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “prolonged” campaign against Hamas, were a new blow to international efforts to reach a sustainable truce in the fighting.
Israel has vowed to stop the Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of tunnels that have been used by the militants to infiltrate the Jewish state.
For his part, Gibson said he hopes the two sides “come to the peace table” and resolve their issues.
“I think I join all Americans in praying for a peaceful resolution,” Gibson said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Gibson said he supports Israel’s recent actions, given the firing of rockets into the country by Hamas and its construction of underground tunnels.
“Israel has a right to protect itself, and I stand with Israel to do that,” Gibson said. “Hamas is committed to violence and has used terrorist attacks to advance its cause.”
Gibson also said he “welcomed” the protesters and “look(ed) forward to hearing their views.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gaza war spurs protests in Kingston

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Pro-Gaza and pro-Israeli demonstrators share a sidewalk in front of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson's Kingston office.
Pauline Liu/Times Herald-Record
KINGSTON — When pro-Palestinian demonstrators and pro-Israeli demonstrators tried to occupy the same strip of sidewalk in front of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson's Kingston office Tuesday afternoon, a scuffle broke out.
The outburst was perhaps a microcosm of the continuing struggle in the Middle East.
Other protestors and Kingston police quickly broke up the incident, and no one was hurt. The dueling demonstrations continued into the evening with one group lined up in front of the building at 721 Broadway, while the other positioned itself in front of the parking lot.
Carrying signs that read, "Free Gaza" and "End the siege on Gaza," the pro-Palestinian groups called on Gibson to help end what they called "our government's unconditional support of Israel."
Since the fighting began July 8, there have been more than 1,200 people killed on both sides of the war, almost all of them Palestinians. Hamas has been accused of firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
"Congress has given a blank check to fund Israel's attack on Gaza," said Jeff Cohen of Saugerties, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. "Our tax money is underwriting it and I'm against it. I think it's obscene."
On the opposite end of the sidewalk on Broadway, stood Nat Borsky of the Ulster County Jewish Federation. He and other pro-Israeli groups organized their demonstration after learning about what the other side had planned.
They argued Israel has a right to defend itself.
"If Israel is going to be attacked by over 2,500 rockets, how in heaven can you expect Israel to not respond and just let itself die?" Borsky said.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, responded from Washington, D.C., where Congress is in session. He said he supports Israel's right to defend itself, but he also called on both sides to come back to the table to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
"Hamas is a purveyor of terror and has taken a violent approach which is complicating matters," Gibson said. "Israel has been the victim of attacks coming from Gaza."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stand in opposition to the US involvement in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians

-Sunday, July 13, WOODSTOCK: Silent Vigil to End the Genocide in Gaza will be held from 12 - 1 pm at the Village Green in Woodstock. This is a call to all residents of the Hudson Valley to stand in opposition to the US involvement in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians. No more funding of the Israeli war machine. No more protection of Israel in the UN. Sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Response . Contact: 845 876-7906

Ellen Davidson

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Two events this week

Palestine Stories

A presentation about the Freedom Bus by founder Ben Rivers

Tuesday June 3, 7:30 pm
Deyo Hall, 6 Broadhead Avenue, New Paltz
(next to Rail Trail—not on campus!)

The Freedom Bus, a project of the West Bank’s legendary Freedom Theatre, engages thousands of Palestinians and visitors from abroad in cultural actions, including Playback Theatre, to explore the experience of living under occupation. Freedom Bus events occur in villages, towns, refugee camps and Bedouin communities throughout the occupied West Bank.

Ben Rivers, co-founder of the Freedom Bus, will speak about the use of Playback Theatre and cultural activism within the broader popular struggle movement. Following Ben’s talk, Hudson River Playback Theatre performers will reflect audience responses. Admission is free. Donations to support the Freedom Bus will be accepted.

Endorsers of the Freedom Bus include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky and Peter Brook. Palestine Stories is cosponsored by Middle East Crisis Response. For more information please contact playbacktheatre@earthlink.net


The talk and Playback Theatre presentation drew about 35 people, and were very well received. 



We had over 40 people at our latest movie, and it was followed by a great discussion. Our Films of Palestine will return this fall.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Movie night with Jeff Cohen

We had a very successful night showing My Neighbourhood, followed by Jeff Cohen's presentation. Jeff had visited the family portrayed in the film and talked about the family's continued battle to get their house back from Israeli settlers. 

We had many questions about the occupation, the US involvement in supporting it, and the role of established religion in this country in hiding Israeli's apartheid practices from our citizens. Several audience members talked about their Jewish upbringing and how difficult it was reconciling the ideals of their religious beliefs with the horrors of the racial humiliation and ethnic cleansing being done in the Jewish state. 

Jay had liberated a Nazi concentration camp as a young, Jewish soldier in World War II. His remembrance of that time coupled with a sad recognition of fascist tendencies in the state of Israel made us all think about the use the Holocaust by religious groups in denying human rights to Palestinians. 

We had a nice crowd at the event. Close to 40 people saw the film and listened to Jeff Cohen's talk. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

MECR cosponsored this event at Vassar College

We counted 120 for this event at Vassar College. A good part of the discussion with these two authors involved the growing BDS movement on campuses around the country. Also, many links were made between Obama's war on immigrants, the "New Jim Crow" mass incarceration of African Americans, and the oppression of Native American peoples. Highly militarized and undemocratic societies use racist propaganda to keep their citizens in line. Max Blumenthal referred to Israel as the most militarized society in the world. But US spending on weaponry shows our country to be in the same category.

-Wednesday, April 30, in Poughkeepsie: Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah on The Battle for Justice in Palestine 6:00pm - 8:30pm at Taylor Hall 203, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12604Sponsored by the Vassar College Students for Justice in Palestine and Haymarket Bookswww.haymarketbooks.orgCosponsored by Middle East Crisis Response www.mideastcrisis.org, Hudson Valley Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions www.hudsonvalleybds.org, and Hudson Valley International Socialist Organization, Contact:sjpvassar@gmail.com

Friday, January 3, 2014

Braving sub zero temperatures to hear about Palestine!

Ellen and Tarak gave us an in-depth look at their trip to the West Bank with Veterans For Peace. Ellen had taken some great slides and video that helped us understand the places they went and the people they encountered. 

We had a small but enthusiastic crowd, not bad for the night after a major blizzard with temperatures running to minus five degrees. Thanks to all who came out and made this a meaningful event.