Saturday, December 8, 2018

JVP - HV Vigil Against Racism and Islamophobia

Rally for Peace held in Kingston

Candles for peace KINGSTON – 

Members of Hudson Valley Jewish Voice for Peace held their third annual Hanukkah Vigil outside Kingston City Hall, Tuesday evening, to make a statement against religious and racial intolerance, promoting the message, “Rise above racism. We all belong here.”

Hudson Valley Jewish Voice for Peace members were joined with other civil rights organizations – Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson, Citizen Action of New York, Rise Up Kingston and Middle East Crisis Response, to promote the message of tolerance and unification within the community.

Robert Gelbach of Hudson Valley Jewish Voice for Peace said the recent mid-term election stirred up noticeable division among various communities and they were intent on letting the Kingston community know that all are welcome.

“We felt after the election campaign that there had been so much focus on race and racist innuendo in the elections, that it really was time for us to broaden the concern beyond what we had started with, to say it’s time for all of us to start getting together and speaking out against the resurgence of racial attitudes, and racial expressions, in our politics,” said Gelbach.

Fredrick Nagel, a representative for Veterans for Peace and Middle East Crisis Response, said he sees the U.S. operating globally as an autonomous empire and it trickles down to a narrative negating tolerance among different individuals.

“As a veteran, and as a Palestinian rights organizer, I see human rights being the most important thing that we Americans could end up supporting,” said Nagel. “The empire has to start to take a look at what it does abroad – the occupations that we support and send our troops for.”

Overall, the vigil’s message was aimed at creating cohesiveness among the diverse community of individuals that make up the county, state and country.

Although this vigil was held directly before a city common council meeting regarding the issuance of community IDs to all, but focusing on the undocumented residential community, Gelbach maintains that it was just a “happy accident” rather than a politically motivated endeavor.

Copyright © 2018 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Manifest Destiny's Child in Woodstock

This was a great performance and an interesting evening at the Mountain View Studio. It was not well attended despite the publicity we did for the event. Too close to the election? A few objected to the "good white liberals" tag line. Get over it! Thanks to Tarak and Ellen who brought Dennis Trainor to Woodstock.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Inheritance at Mountain View Studio.

Great crowd for this event on Iran. 

Sunday, October 7, 7:30-9:00 PM at the at the Mountain View Studio, 20 Mountainview Ave., Woodstock. The documentary “Inheritance” follows the filmmaker’s search for his family’s history in the US overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. Cambiz Amir-Khosravi, a widely recognized, award-winning documentary film and video producer whose work ranges back to the early 1980s, will talk about his craft.
Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace-HV, and Veterans For Peace. Contact: or 845 876-7906

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Project for the New American Century is now.

-Friday, September 7, 7:30-9:00 PM at the at the Mountain View Studio, 20 Mountainview Ave., Woodstock. Film and talk entitled “Is War With Iran Inevitable?” with Dr. Bahman Azad, retired professor of economics and sociology and former acting director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. Dr. Azad served as a lieutenant in the Iranian Air Force and is organizational secretary of the U.S. Peace Council, co-chair of Iran Pledge of Resistance, NGO representative of the World Peace Council at the U.N., and coordinator of the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases. Suggested donation $10. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace-HV, and Veterans for Peace. Contact:

About 40 attended this talk by Dr. Azad. It was one of the clearest analysis we have heard of the US empire in the Middle East, and how it follows the recommendations of the Project for the New American Century. It is hard in the middle of a military empire to determine its size, scope, and danger to the rest of humankind. As citizens, it is our task to understand the political system we live under.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vigil last December

This is the vigil against Islamophobia that Hudson Valley JVP did with MECR (and a number of other local groups). It was such an important event last holiday season that it is being included now, even though it occurred in December 2017.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Understanding racism is the underlying theme

MECR showed “Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine” at the New Progressive Baptist Church, 8 Hone St, Kingston. This free documentary follows an African American gospel choir as it travels the Holy Land singing in a Palestinian play about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Al Helm (the dream) explores cultural differences, human rights, and the power of nonviolent action. The New Progressive Baptist Church Choir performed live at the end of the film. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace-HV, and Veterans for Peace.

This was a great event with a fair turnout. It was a little disappointing with such an interesting movie and the participation of the New Progressive Baptist Church Choir. MECR is still committed to building bridges to other groups in the Hudson Valley. The fight for racial and economic justice is the same, whether it is in Palestine or in the streets of Kingston NY. When the majority of white people in America discover one, they will be able to understand the other. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Talk and Book Signing with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Fri, Jun 22 at 7 pm. Talk and Book Signing with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore & Gallery, 200 Main St, Saugerties, NY. Professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities and founder of the Palestine Museum of Natural History (, Dr. Qumsiyeh will talk about his book, “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment.” Hear how environmental and social justice movements can come together to fight both climate change and racial injustice. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace - HV, and Veterans for Peace.

We had a great crowd for Mazin, who was at the top of his game explaining how colonialism has worked in the US and in Palestine. Over sixty people listened to his talk.

Our first farmer's market of the year - Woodstock

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Break the Blockade of Gaza, an Evening of Music and Discussion with Yonatan Shapira

Thanks to Gail, Tarak, and Ellen for a wonderful night of political discussion and songs. Yonatan is a gifted singer and songwriter, and it was a pure pleasure to listen and join in the chorus. And Elis Elhanan had his own moving story to tell.

I will be playing one of Yonatan's songs next Thursday on Activist Radio. The song, "We Will Return" is about Palestinian refugees. The following Thursday, I will play some of Yonatan's stories from the night along with another haunting song in Hebrew.

Activist Radio is on Thursdays from 5-6 pm (91.3 FM or streamed live from Once broadcast, Yonatan's songs will be on the website for the next ten weeks. You can also hear Activist Radio on the Progressive Radio Network each Sunday from 5-6 pm (


Fri, Jun 1 at 7:30 pm. Break the Blockade of Gaza, an Evening of Music and Discussion with Yonatan Shapira (former IDF Air Force pilot) and Elis Elhanan (co-founder of the Israeli-Palestinian NGO Combatants for Peace) to Benefit the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. At the Mountain View Studio, 20 Mountainview Ave., Woodstock. Suggested donation $10. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace - HV, and Veterans for Peace. Contact: or 845 876-7906

Monday, May 7, 2018

Bethlehem to Brooklyn: Breaking the Surface

Friday, May 4, 7-8:30 PM. Film “Bethlehem to Brooklyn: Breaking the Surface” at the Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Ave, Kingston. Documentary spotlights the world of Latino, African American, and Palestinian teenagers struggling with the circumstances in their daily lives. They don’t join a jihad or a gang, but find a way to resist through writing and activism. SPECIAL GUEST: A member of Black Lives Matter - Hudson Valley will talk about the campaign to bring racial justice to our local communities. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace - HV, and Veterans for Peace. Contact: or 845 876-7906

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Joel Kovel, a founding member of MECR, died this week

Joel Kovel (from Democracy Now!)
Joel Kovel: “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 a wrong idea. And it’s an idea that requires signing on to imperialism. It means signing on to 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. And 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.”

That’s author, scholar and activist Joel Kovel, speaking on Democracy Now! He died Monday in New York City at the age of 81.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Vets for Peace go to the West Bank

-Saturday, April 14, 7 p.m.
Mountain View Studio, 20 Mountain View Ave., Woodstock, NY

Documentary Film and Talk: "U.S. Veterans Witness Brutal Reality in Nabi Salah"

In 2017 six U.S. veterans along with a photographer and a filmmaker traveled to the West Bank. The latest episode in Chris Smiley’s documentary series Veterans For Palestine shows what they experienced in the village of Nabi Saleh, where they were attacked by armed settlers and teargassed by soldiers from the Israeli Occupation Force. The 40-minute film will be followed by discussion with delegation participants Ellen Davidson, photographer, and Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace national board of directors. Suggested donation: $7

Sponsored by Veterans For Peace and Middle East Crisis Response

MECR joins JVP in Kingston

Saturday, April 14, 2018

KINGSTON – A mock shooting staged by local activists on Broadway in Midtown Kingston Friday afternoon, underscored ongoing human rights violations in Gaza Strip against Palestinians, protesters said. The staged event took place across the street from Congressman John Faso's office, which has been the scene of several rallies since he took office in January 2017.

The protestors said this episode spotlighted Israel's mistreatment of refugees living inside occupied Gaza. They cited the 1997 U.S. "Leahy Law," which limits foreign military aid to abusive regimes.

The United States provides $3.8 billion per year in military aid to Israel.

Bob Gelbach of Jewish Voice for Peace recited a litany of documented violations over a loudspeaker. "International law allows for legal ways of fighting wars, and illegal ways,” Gelbach said. “It's kind of a dicey distinction a lot of people would say it's all bad. But it's a step in the right direction to say that certain things should not be tolerated. "Even when we have made that decision by an Act of Congress, our government still tends to ignore it.”

Judith Simon, another organizer, agreed.

"What is happening between Israel and Palestine is not a war, and it is not a conflict. It is a massacre," she said. "There's no food allowed in, no medical supplies allowed, no clean water, no schools.”

Recent liberation marches along the barrier between Israel and the 365-square-kilometer Gaza Strip territory, have sparked deadly clashes leaving 33 Palestinians dead this week, at last count.

Simon said her organization also condemns Democrats for turning a blind eye to atrocities against Palestinians. Senator Charles Schumer of New York is among the other officials targeted for criticism, she said.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Street theater for Gaza in Kingston (at Fasco Friday)

Thanks to all that helped to pull off this demo today!

Special thanks to Jo Salas who helped us implement the idea, to Bob for narrating and to all the actors and sign holders - a great team effort. And extra thanks to Tobe Carey for capturing the demo on film.
We also delivered 40 signatures on a a petition urging Gaso to sign HR 4391:
Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Uplifting film and gospel choir at the end

Thanks to The New Progressive Baptist Church Choir for singing at the end of this moving documentary. We had over 20 people, but that is still a disappointing showing for such a good event. Is our extensive support group, about 1,200 people, sick of movies about Palestinian suffering? Or sick of movies altogether?

I was a bad night for traveling, with snow showers for a good part of the day. Certainly that didn't help. But our last two events, a panel discussion of freedom of speech and BDS, and a book signing for Mico Peled did significantly better, with over 40 in attendance for each. It seems like the movie nights need rethinking. 

One idea (thanks, Bob) is to show movies in more venues, reaching out to other groups. We have already propose this film and choir combination to Vassar College SJP, and they are going to show the movie next fall. Another venue in the works is the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston, and possibly the New Progressive Baptist Church itself. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Freedom of Speech and the Israel Lobby

Great turnout and such an interesting discussion on free speech.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Woodstock Free Speech Resolution (history from 2016)

State-sanctioned backlash against the movement for Palestinian human rights has reached a new low: Gov. Cuomo just signed a McCarthyite executive order requiring state agencies to divest from organizations that support the Palestinian call to boycott companies profiting from, or cultural institutions complicit in, Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the order requires the creation of a publicly available blacklist of all companies and institutions that support the movement.

A local effort in Woodstock, NY includes a petition to the town board on First Amendment rights and the freedom to express support for BDS. Please read the proposed resolution and sign the petition. You don't have to be a resident of Woodstock to sign.

The Freedom to Boycott in NY campaign created an online petition calling Cuomo to rescind his order. The folks at the US Campaign to End the Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace anchored this effort and the petition is live through the JVP website.

SJP at Vassar (History from 2016)

We had a great weekend with Existence is Resistance and M1! Huge thank you to all the student organizations and the VSA for helping to pull this off!!! Vassar College Students for Justice in Palestine

Sadly, most of this group has graduated, and the SJP disappeared from campus. Did the college administration and the David Project get rid of them? Let's say the right wing forces of the Zionist movement still wield considerable power.

Women in Black supporting Palestine (history from 2015)

Dear WIB and Friends,

We will once again stand this Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian women of occupied East
Jerusalem and for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The Middle East Crisis Response will also be joining us. It is from 12:45 to 1:30 on the vigil corner on Main and N Front Streets in New Paltz.

From our flyer, "The guerrilla state style tactics used in occupied East Jerusalem, be it the attacks on Palestinians in the streets, the beating of the young and old, the attacks on children going to and from school, the invasion of violent settlers into our homes, the control of our life, water, cell phones, internet, mobility, health, economy, and access to other resources, have situated us in human cages--segregated, restrained by Israeli laws and security theology, unable to know what will come next."

We will photograph our vigil to send to the Jerusalemite Women's Coalition so they know the world has not forgotten them and that many are working for peace and justice in that part of the world.

In Solidarity,

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Miko Peled in Saugerties

-Friday, February 9, 7-8:30 PM: Miko Peled Speaking and Book Signing Event at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore, 200 Main St, Saugerties. Peled is an Israeli American writer whose new book explores the miscarriage of justice that has devastated the lives of five innocent men and their families. “Injustice,” published by Just World Books, traces the labyrinthine course of this case, presenting a terrifying picture of governmental over-reach in post-9/11 America. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response, Hudson Valley BDS, Veterans for Peace, and Jewish Voice for Peace - HV Contact: or 845 876-7906

We had a full house for this event, one of the best book signings we have had in our twelve year run. I counted 40 people, including a few late comers. Tarak did a fine job introducing Miko, and the questions were informed and interesting. 

Our judicial system is just as distorted for Palestinians as it is for Black people. Justice is the last thing on the government's mind. Putting a few "terrorists" in jail satisfies some short term political goal. No matter that they are innocent, and some won't be with their families for the next sixty years. The shame of such a system, of such a country.