Sunday, July 15, 2018

The arc of the moral universe

GUEST: Mazin Qumsiyeh, Director of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability, professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, and author of several books including "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment," talks about his trip to the U.S. and how the illegal occupation will end.

Mazin gave me this interview before he did a book signing in Saugerties, NY. It is not the first time that Mazin has been a guest on Activist Radio. A friend of Joel Kovel, Mazin has visited the Hudson Valley before.

I don't always know how to interview Palestinians. There is my guilt for being a citizen of the country most responsible for the suffering of his people. And the news is always bad, Palestinians being beaten, shot or imprisoned. It is never my family in the crosshairs of some sniper's rifle. It is never my house that is being destroyed.

My questions always seem to focus on Palestinian suffering. In fact, my interviews are designed to do just that. It is only when millions of Americans have learned to acknowledge and reject the apartheid state of Israel that it will change. We are the supplier of bullets, the protector at the UN, and the funder of its state racism.

Mazin talks freely about the injustices inflicted on his people. He is sorrowful, and yet looks at the longer picture. Unless Israel commits the genocide of five million people, the Palestinians are there to stay. Like many indigenous peoples, they are masters of resistance, even in the face of overwhelming military superiority. One day, two peoples will inhabit the Holy Land, and as God's children they will be loved and cherished equally.

Like Martin Luther King, Mazin believes in the arc of the moral universe.

Monday, July 9, 2018

When the people lose faith in democracy

Guest: Steve Greenfield, long time activist, member of the New Paltz Fire Department, and Green Party Congressional Candidate for the NY-19th District, talks about running an intellectually honest campaign, one without any corporate funding.

Hudson Valley Green Party

Steve Greenfield For Congress NY-19

In the era of Trump, we need to be reminded of just how dysfunctional the two party system is.

Suddenly Donald appeared as president, a repulsive con man in place of the admirable statesmen who went before him. Or so the liberal media would have it.

It is a tidy analysis; all that is needed to right the ship of state is to vote for Democrats. Easy enough, but like most simple answers to complex questions, it is dead wrong.

We have had two bright, educated and throughly corrupt Democratic presidents who made a lot of rosy promises to America's workers, but delivered all the goods to the corporations. Clinton and Obama were true neoliberals, deregulating whole industries while privatizing any services the government could possibly give to the poor and middle class. Wages stagnated for 30 years while the wealthy became so filthy rich that they were able to buy both Congress and the White House.

Trump is the culmination of neoliberal policies, the election of a demagogue when enough people get enraged at a corrupted political system. We see this happening in the rest of the world: in Italy, Austria, Poland, and in the province of Ontario. And the right wing extremists are knocking on the door in many other developed countries, peddling a brand of racism, nationalism, militarism and right wing ideology.

So does unfettered capitalism bring about such anger that people eventually lose faith in democracy and turn towards a Trump? And how easy is it to turn back once the fascists are in control? These are questions that neither party wants Americans to think about.

What was being done in their name

Guest: Andrew Courtney, a New York based artist, teacher and activist who specializes in social justice event photography, and whose works have been exhibited in international, national and local gallery venues, talks about his most recent photography in Palestine.Sumoud - Steadfast Palestine

Andrew's stories are as engaging as his pictures. Here is Palestine off the beaten track. The occupation and the oppression lurk just below the surface, to remind the viewer that the people and culture they are viewing are destined to be destroyed by a US backed colonialism.

There is beauty and heartbreak, the real story that is always left out of our Zionist dominated media and political process. Most Americans would not put up with the slow genocide of the Palestinian People if they knew what was being done in their name.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Celebrate killing at the track

Guest: Patrick Batuello, animal rights activist and Director of Horse Racing Wrongs (, talks about his organization's work in education and grassroots advocacy to stop the cruelty and unnecessary deaths of animals used in professional racing.

Eli did this interview on his iPhone at the track. It has great background sounds with crowds cheering and cars going by. I think we will do more of these on site interviews in the field.

Patrick is a dedicated worker for animal rights. He sees a wrong and works tirelessly to bring people's attention to it. The fact that so many horses die from these races takes a little of the glamor out of what is really a cruel spectacle: doped up animals running for their lives.

All of us have an inherent empathy for defenseless animals. We have to be trained to put these feelings aside when we exploit animals for a living. It is a little like basic training in the military, where you are trained to "kill" your fellow human being. In bayonet training we had to run down a short track and thrust our blade into a lifelike dummy, all the while yelling "kill, kill, kill." We learn to celebrate killing at the track too. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Our own role in the resistance

Guest: Yonatan Shapira, former Israeli air force pilot, co-founder of the Israeli-Palestinian Combatants for Peace, BDS activist, and sailor on the Jewish Boat to Gaza when it was attacked for breaking the siege of Gaza, talks about his career as a singer and how his songs express the hope for a free Palestine.

Yonatan Shapira is hero of human rights, a man of integrity who changed his mind once he faced the irrefutable facts about Israel's long term occupation of Palestine. How he changed his mind is his story, going from a pilot in the Israeli Defense Force, to an outspoken critic of Israeli apartheid.

He makes the journey with humility and not without pain. If Israel ever recovers its place in the human race, it will come as a result of following a person like Yonatan.

One of his stories involves a German commander during World War II who wrote of his ethical misgivings while fighting for the Third Reich. To Yonatan, what one man writes in his diary does not absolve him from blame. And the day of reckoning comes, of course, when Yonatan sees himself in the very same position. Doubts are not enough; one must actively oppose genocide and ethnic cleansing. He is as unsparing of himself as he is of anyone else.

Yonatan's songs in Hebrew are the emotional culmination of his very personal stories. His deep and compelling voice brings the listener closer to a self realization about activism and courage. Singing along in Hebrew takes us to a new understanding of our own role in the resistance.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Gentle warriors

Guest Section: We pay tribute to Jay Wenk, World War II veteran, author, and Palestinian human rights activist. We will hear a recoded excerpt from Jay's memorable book: "Study War No More: A Jewish Kid from Brooklyn Fights the Nazis," followed by another veteran, this time from Israel. Yonatan Shapira will sing about the Palestinians returning to their homeland. 

Previous interview with Jay Wenk on Free Speech
Study War No More (Paperback)
Jay Wenk, liberal activist and Woodstock councilman, dies at 91
Donate to the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla — U.S. Campaign
Songs by Yonatan Shapira

We talked a little about Jay Wenk after we played a recording of him reading from his book. The section of the book we decided reflected the gentle man he was. Even after years of fighting the Nazis in World War II, he was able to express tenderness for a captured German soldier, who was bringing letters back to men's families. Maybe that was the link to former Israeli pilot, Yonatan Shapira. Both were fighters who eventually turned their backs against war and mindless brutality.

Were all soldiers like that, we wouldn't be fighting these endless wars for profit and global hegemony. That is why listening to them is so important.

Yonatan will be our guest next week, talking about and then singing one of his antiwar songs.

Nice to be back!


Resuming in June

Playing catch-up. I have been gone for about three weeks, so this blog has suffered a bit. Eli and Raphaelle have kept up the program and you can hear the following dates by clicking on them.

Suffice to say that my cohosts did a great job, with interesting guests and lots of provocative discussion. We will resume our normal schedule in June.



May 31

Guest: Nicolas J.S. Davies, author of "Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq," and the Consortium News series on the death toll in U.S.'s post-9/11 wars, talks about the empire's next military targets.

How Many Has the U.S. Killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan
How Many Has the U.S. Killed in Iraq
America's Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953
The Illusion of War Without Casualties

SONG: Keegan McInroe ... Beautiful Dream

May 24

Guest: Richard Barlow, an American intelligence analyst and former CIA expert on Pakistan's nuclear program, talks about blowing the whistle on George H. Bush's efforts to mislead Congress.
The CIA agent who exposed US complicity in helping Pakistan On The Nuclear Edge - The New Yorker
Political Intelligence – Mother Jones

May 17

Guest: Mike Meese, Coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, talks about the current circumstances of buffalo in Montana and the efforts to protect the last wild bison in Yellowstone Park.
Buffalo Field Campaign
Protecting the Buffalo Herd - Native Sun News Today
Mike Meese on The Buffalo Kill - Radio Curious

May 10

Guest: Thomas Drake, former senior executive at the NSA, where he blew the whistle on massive multibillion dollar fraud, waste and abuse, as well as on widespread violations of citizen rights through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11, talks about defending the Constitution, the Obama legacy, and the new world of Trump.
PBS Frontline
End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers
From Pentagon to Paradise - 40+ Years of Whistleblowing
Donate to Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Complex system of discrimination

Guest: Fabian Marshall, political activist and resident of the Hudson Valley, talks about the day the Kingston Police arrested him for being a "black man in red shorts," and ended up tasering him 21 times. Fabian and his mother will describe their fight for racial justice this Friday at 7 pm at Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Ave, Kingston.

Fabian and Liz will speak this Friday in Kingston

The Civil Rights era was not all about the cops. The era was about Black oppression in the South, a particularly ugly form of Jim Crow that had festered since the end of Reconstruction.

When the Civil Rights Movement became more than that, leaders were assassinated before our whole system  could be called into question. What about poverty, racial discrimination in the North, or the imperial invasion of Vietnam? Those questions, as non violent as they were, started the bullets flying.

Exposing police racism and brutality may have a similar effect, a huge increase in state supported oppression. The police are the enforcers of a grossly unfair system with a tiny group of obscenely rich at the top and a huge mass of people stuck at the very bottom. The nation's police are as discriminatory as its criminal justice system. It doesn't take too much investigating to reveal the extent of the gross unfairness. Black people get shot by white cops, who invariably get away with murder each time.

But police in the twenty-first century empire are not really there to protect anyone but the corporations, Wall Street, the big banks and that filthy rich who own them. Police feel free to express the racism that the empire is based on, in the conquering of other lands and the exploitation of their peoples. Empires can't exist without "untermensch," what the Third Reich called those targeted for exploitation and extermination. As long as there is an underclass, the empire can survive.

That is why the cops are dangerous, especially if you are Black. But exposing them is dangerous too. Like the apartheid state of Israel, America exists through its complex system of discrimination. 

Don't fear Bolton

Guest: Gareth Porter, activist, commentator and author of "Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare," talks about the ascendency of John Bolton and the pro-war wing of both major parties. 

The American Conservative

America has been in the grip of a war party since Ronald Reagan. It doesn't matter which party either. The Republicans seem to have more of the "crazies," as Cheney's neocon gang was called in the run up to the Iraq War. Unfortunately for humankind, more than one of the crazies are back. John Bolton is just the most obvious.

Bolton has a long history of advocating all out war in the Middle East. Some of this may have been posturing to gain geopolitical advantage. But even careless threats endanger the future of our species, as well as all life on earth.

I believe that people like Bolton are closest to serial killers. Rather than strangling one or two victims each month, they fantasize about a bigger prize. Of course, the American economy has been based on war since we mobilized to fight the German and Japanese empires. Sadly, our country defeated these imperial powers only to catch the disease of empire itself. Bolton and Cheney are as apple pie as our continued racism towards and exploitation of Black people. There is no peace party, nor is there any major party committed to ending poverty or discrimination. War economies are anti-democratic. And our major corporations have always chosen this option over decision making by all American citizens. War entails taking enormous risks to maintain the dominance of the corporate state and its small circle of billionaires. Don't fear Bolton; fear what we have let our country become.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Response to a complaint about our two Vassar student guests


Thank you for listening to Activist Radio and for you exhaustive response to our recent interview of two student members of Vassar College's Jewish Voice for Peace. 

You ask us to correct some "inaccuracies" in their interview statements. No one likes inaccuracies, but these students were there during Vassar's campaign for BDS, and you weren't. Your references to supposed antisemitic statements made by Dr. Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers University, is a good example. Did you attend her lecture at Vassar two years ago? Or are your opinions based on some second hand account of what she was purported to say?

You might be interested in a letter about Dr. Paur that was sent to then President of Vassar College by over 500 scholars and educators.

"As scholars, educators, and and academicians engaged with political developments in Israel/Palestine and their effects in the United States, we are deeply concerned to learn that our esteemed colleague, Prof. Jasbir Puar of Rutgers University, has become the target of a rash of hate mail and other threats since delivering a talk at Vassar College earlier this month. These heinous and misinformed attacks are the direct result of the talk Prof. Puar presented at Vassar on Feb. 3, at the invitation of the American Studies Program and seven other academic programs and departments, including the Jewish Studies Program. We feel strongly, as we’re sure you’ll agree, that universities have a responsibility to provide invited speakers with a climate of security and safety, especially when their views are controversial. We also believe this responsibility to defend the free speech rights and integrity of invited guests continues even after they leave your campus, when they are subjected to vilification and hatred—as Prof. Puar has been, particularly in the ugly op-ed article in the Feb. 18 Wall Street Journal, which was also an attempt to smear Vassar College."

Sadly, you are still repeating this vilification of Dr. Paur in your criticism of my two student guests. I don't find your other "inaccuracies" in their interview any more creditable. 

Moreover, I think your letter confirms a finding by the Center for Constitutional Rights, that “a network of lobbying groups, watchdog groups, public relations entities, and advocacy groups funded by, working in coordination with, and/or staunchly supportive of the policies and practices of the Israeli government primarily drives efforts to silence speech on behalf of Palestinian rights.”

A free and open society must resist such attempts to smear and slander advocates of human rights. 

Fred Nagel

Activist Radio

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Institutionally stunted moral compass

Guest: Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, teacher from Lake Oswego, Oregon and author of several articles including “COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement” and "My So-Called Public School: School Foundations and the Myth of Funding Equity," talks about her latest piece in Common Dreams called: "Disguising Imperialism: How Textbooks Get the Cold War Wrong and Dupe Students."
I was very enthusiastic about this interview. Here is the heart of one of our country's most shameful problems, the fact that we teach the propaganda of imperialism. Whether it is the Pledge of Allegiance said at the beginning of each day, or the Star Spangled Banner played at each school event, our children are indoctrinated at an early age.

Nothing they subsequently learn in middle or high school questions the basic lesson that America is exceptionally strong and just. The teaching of history is particularly important. Students are taught that any moral failures of our country have long since been corrected. Slavery is gone so that problem is solved. The Mexican American War maybe wasn't right, but it helped our mighty country achieved its manifest destiny. And so it goes. Our democracy always corrects itself after; that's just the beauty of our Constitution and our system of government.  

Once a student graduates from high school, the rest is a slow process of discovery. The more one reads US history the less benign it seems. Cointelpro is a good example. The FBI actually has a long history of suppressing free speech. Sometimes that suppression has included assassinating Black or Native American leaders or charging them with crimes they didn't commit. Cointelpro is a good example of the FBI acting like the SS. And the CIA? Little more than an American death squad with unlimited resources, boundless confidence, and an institutionally stunted moral compass. 

So how does a high school teacher reconcile these two worlds? By teaching facts it seems. That gives a teacher like Ursula Wolfe-Rocca some protection. The one area that has remained difficult is teaching about Israel. Of course, Israel is the closest to fascism that our society has come with its unlimited racism, endemic corruption, and unbridled militarism. Israel represents one direction that the American Empire could go in. Let us hope for the world's children that our country eventually rejects the Israeli model.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Progressive except for Palestine

GUESTS: Ally and Paul, political activists and members of Jewish Voice for Peace at Vassar College, talk about Israeli Apartheid Week Apr 13 - 20 and the challenges of running a human rights organization on campus.

I decided to us just use first names after talking about what students at various colleges have gone through as members of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. 

The Zionist and their henchmen have been particularly vicious on our nation's college campuses. Imagine if Shell Oil had put up posters around Vassar College charging students working for renewable energy with terrorism? Or created websites so these same students might find it hard getting a job after college? The Israel Lobby is on another level altogether. As one congressional aid said about the lobby when we met with him about Palestinian rights, "They scare me." 

The Zionists just don't have another point of view. They support a fascist and racist state, and must believe to some extent in Israeli tactics. Those tactics include shooting unarmed protesters as we have seen all this last week.

And is it the fear of losing donations that makes colleges allow such assaults on intellectual freedom on their campuses? Instead of defending their students, many colleges have simply betrayed them, throwing Palestinian support groups off campus and even expelling some of their members. Someday, this history of collusion will be written. It will be a shameful chapter, especially for colleges that have presented themselves as bastions of liberal thought. Progressive except for Palestine.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kleptocratic, two party rule

GUEST: Patrick Martin, long time social justice activist and senior writer on US politics for the World Socialist Web Site, talks about why so many Democratic candidates for the House have backgrounds in the CIA, the military, and the national security state.

The National Security Stare wins big with the Democratic Party. Trying to get away from any Bernie reforms at all, the establishment Dems embrace CIA, NSA, and military candidates for Congress. How could a political party really be any worse than this?

Obama ran from any real reforms while claiming he represented "Hope you can believe in." Could anyone still believe in the Democratic Party, after Bill and Hillary Clinton, and then Obama? Maybe a few wealthy neoliberals. But not the working class of this country. They would have elected Mickey Mouse before watching another sellout pretending to do the peoples' business.

Patrick Martin has done his homework, and his interview was filled with details of the Democratic sellout to the security state. It is interesting, of course, but ultimately sad as well. We are led by malicious and venal people, ever eager to sell out their principals for a few million here and there. The proof is beyond any doubt. If we want to save the planet, we will have to trash the current system of kleptocratic, two party rule.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Awakening of our humanity

GUEST: Eli Kassirer, local peace activist and talk radio host, talks about his trip to Yellowstone National Park with the Buffalo Field Campaign and the  Wild Buffalo Defense group, and shares some interviews he did with environmental  activists protecting wild bison herd.

Buffalo Field Campaign

So nice to have Eli back from Yellowstone. We had a little trouble playing his first interview directly from an iPhone. We finally put it on speakerphone and held it close to the mic. Playing it back, I could hear the interview quite well. He has others, and we are troubleshooting our connection so the quality is better next time.

I'm not going to say too much about Eli's trip. Hopefully, we can put a bunch of pictures on this blog, and broadcast more interviews. It is heartening that people will make this trip out West and spend weeks in fairly primitive cabins to get up early each morning and cross country ski through buffalo territory. Such devotion is the antithesis of what our pioneers ancestors did. The destruction of the buffalo was part of the American genocide of its native peoples. Maybe the current preservation efforts are more than symbolic. They are an awakening of our humanity.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

An anachronism in the age of empire

GUESTS: Eve Madalengoitia (team leader) and Elizabeth Armstrong, members of the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance healthcare group, talk about New York State's plan for Single Payer and how it might be enacted.

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

I continue to be impressed by this group. Of course, many of them were Bernie supporters, trying to make there way in Trump's dysfunctional America. The surprising thing is that their answer is not just to elect more Democrats to Congress. They are demanding real progressives, not corporate stooges and multimillionaire politicians.

Nancy Pelosi destroyed the hopes of millions of Americans. So did the likes of Bill Clinton and Obama. Always eager to give up worker rights without a fight, they betrayed the fine rhetoric that got them into office. They were intelligent, well spoken and completely without moral character. Trump sits in a White House already despoiled by charlatans and corporate hacks. Trump is just more honest in his lack of any legitimacy. Serving the people has long been unfashionable, an anachronism in the age of empire and endless war.

Can universal healthcare be won in a corporate controlled state? Or must the entire system be rethought?

The mediocracy of homogenized opinion

GUEST: Jon Queally, managing editor and staff writer for Common Dreams, covering US politics, foreign policy, human rights, and the climate crisis, talks about the role of on-line publications in the resistance.

Common Dreams

Jon Queally is the managing editor of a news service that didn't exist when I was growing up. We only had three TV stations, and they all said pretty much the same thing. There was no real way to check out anything a politician said. It would take you weeks of library work, and people just didn't do it.

Now we have sites like Common Dreams, where every day a reader can get the type of news that corporate America prefers us not to have. The reader can also get the opinions of the best thinkers and writers of the day, ideas that used to be invisible.

Of course, we have the news and opinions of those who work for the top newspapers, like The NYT. But often the news there is slanted, and the opinions tend to reflect the corporate line. That is the old model, where writers and reporters internalize their blinders if they want to get to the top.

Each day, we can free ourselves from the Pentagon's opinions of Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. We can explore the criticisms of our national security state. We can make the connections between endless war abroad and endless profits for the few. I do read The NYT every day to do Activist Radio. But to be stuck in this mediocracy of homogenized opinion? Sites like Common Dreams just offer us more to think about.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Killing far away and not readily viewable

GUEST: David Swanson, prominent activist and author of numerous books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, War Is a Lie, and War No More: The Case for Abolition, talks about his latest focus, billboards opposing drone assassinations and US war crimes.

Billboards opposing drone wars

How to get people to realize how wrong it is to fly drones into other countries and kill selected individuals or groups? Maybe it is billboards like the ones David Swanson and World Beyond War are putting up.

But we are a numb people, mostly immune to the terrible things our military does in the rest of the world. Like school shootings, we only lift our eyes once in a while from our routine of jobs and children and cutting the front lawn.

Chelsie Manning paid a terrible price for showing us the wanton murders our soldiers were committing in Iraq. You can't look at it and go right back to the lawn.

Collateral Murder: U.S. Apache helicopters killing journalists in Iraq

David didn't think much of my question about drones murdering American citizens (a cleric and a few weeks later, his teenage son). His response that all lives matter sort of misses the point. The rights of US citizens, guaranteed by our Constitution, mean something to most Americans. I think it is a good way to bring attention to drone killings in general. As long as the killing is far away and not readily viewable, Americans have trouble focusing on universal human rights. But we understand due process when it comes to our own rights. Killing an American for his written opinions, and then murdering his son without a trial, on secret evidence, is a violation of citizens' rights that go back to the Magna Carta of 1215:
NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
It is the basis for our belief in and support of our own government. What a shame to discount these rights of the governed in favor of a vague statement about all of humanity. If we want to change the way American's think about war, we must start with what moves them the most. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

We support your brave resistance to occupation

Ahed Tamimi
HaSharon Prison
Ben Yahuda
PO Box 7
40 330 Israel

Dear Ahed,

You have support all over the world, from citizens of so many nations who realize what racism and apartheid mean. But I wanted to assure you that many people of the Hudson Valley, New York support your brave resistance to occupation and oppression. 

We are not in your cell, of course. Our houses have not been broken into and members of our family arrested or shot. Nobody is building settlements on land that belongs to us. We aren't excluded from roads based on our ethnicity or religious beliefs. Our license plates aren't color coded so that we can be discriminated against. We aren't threatened daily by tear gas and rubber bullets when we peacefully assemble to state our grievances. And our 16 year old daughters don't get sent to prison for slapping back when hit in the face by a soldier.  

Your father gave a talk in Woodstock, and we have had other Palestinians speakers over the years. We have also listened to Israeli soldiers, members of Breaking the Silence who talked openly of what occupation does to a soldier's sense of morality. One described the purposeful mistreatment of Palestinian teenagers, handcuffing them and making them sit blindfolded for long periods of time. We know, of course, that Palestinian teens are often sent to Israeli prisons where they are routinely tortured. A Palestinian man spent several years in our community and at times revealed his brutal prison experience as a teenager. 

We in the Hudson Valley stand with you. We are Christians, Jews and Muslims who are working together to boycott the apartheid state of Israel.

Fred Nagel

Friday, March 2, 2018

The last empire on earth

GUEST: Brook Nam, local peace activist and member of the Friends Committee on National Legislation FCNL, talks about her native country, Korea, its history of occupation, and the evolving threat of war.

Thanks to Brook Nam for being on Activist Radio and talking about her country.

In a way, the Korean War is very similar to the Vietnam War. Both were imperial invasions and occupations, with a thin veneer of democratic platitudes for the American public. In truth, both wars were slaughters of the native inhabitants: three million in Korea, and three million in Vietnam. In addition, the bombs and the poisons that were used to invade and conquer both countries remain to this day, wounding and sickening the population even further.

I spent a year in Korea myself, in the Seventh Infantry Division. Our base was only a few miles from where Brook Nam was born. Our experiences have helped us understand the role the US has played in the world since WWII. It is not a pretty reality, for the empire has a sordid history of war crimes in Third World countries. 

Can the American public mature enough to end our fascination with militarism and global pillage? Or is the American Empire destined to be the last one on earth, bringing to a close the age of homo sapiens? 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ralph Nader served the same purpose

GUEST: Luma Nichol, longtime socialist, feminist, queer activist, and writer for the Freedom Socialist Newspaper, talks about her current organizing against the resurgent far right in California.
Impeachment, Is It a Solution

Luma Nichol doesn't think much of impeachment. The problem, she implies, is the entire system. The Dems love to talk about Russia. That means that they don't have to change their pro-corpoate values.

It only takes a step back to realize that the demonizing of Russian is an old Democratic Party strategy. Ralph Nader served the same purpose. As  long as loyal Dems were able to focus their hatred on some external villain, they could go on cheating the working people of this country, ignoring the party's racist support of Black oppression, expanding the prison industrial complex, and waging new wars abroad. Impeachment will not change either political party, and Luma's arguments are very persuasive.

Time to read some Sartre

GUEST: Bshara Nassar, founder of the Nakba Museum Project as well as the Museum of The Palestinian People, talks about his current project, using art and artists to bring an awareness of the history and struggle of the Palestinian people.

Museum of the Palestinian People

Mshara Nassar is advocating for both Palestinian rights and for human dignity. His traveling art exhibit makes both points, and includes music as well as the spoken word.

Occupying countries reduce those occupied to the status of animals. That is why Israel is one of the most racist countries in the world. In fact, it may explain why there is such persistent racism in our own land. We invade and occupy any number of Third World Countries. We use our drones to kill in even more. No wonder we have a madman in the White House, and a military aching for more nuclear weapons.

Time to read some Sartre:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The epitaph of the American Dream

GUEST: Pia Gallegos, longtime civil rights attorney and Democratic Party State Committee member, talks about the research she contributed to a report called "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis."

"Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis."

Pia Gallegos is right on the money. The Democratic Party is addicted to campaign contributions from the fat cats, and in no mood to give up the gravy train. Rather than talk about programs and laws that would help working people who might have voted for them, the Dems talk incessantly about the Russian influence in the last election. That way the party doesn't have to change anything.

Eli and I talked after the interview about how the Democratic Party is like the loser in professional wrestling. The fights are all scams, like our electoral politics. The very rich and the corporations are the winner of every match. The Dems take the falls, and both parties can go kicking and screaming into the next election cycle. They all end up multi-millionaires, so who cares anyway?

The empire is waging war all over the world. At home democracy is on life support. The madman in the White House preaches war, like all leaders of fascist states before they fall. The epitaph of the American Dream.

Until all Palestinians are let out of jail

GUEST: Miko Peled, author and son of the famous Israeli General Matti Peled and the grandson of a signer of the Israeli declaration of independence, talks about his newly published book, Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five, as well as his book signing in the Hudson Valley on Friday, Feb 9 starting at 7 pm at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore in Saugerties.

Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five

This interview caused me a lot of sadness. I guess for all our talk about the racist criminal justice system, it took five Palestinian men going to jail for collecting charity funds to make me realize that my country rarely puts justice first.

If you are Black or Muslim there just isn't much fairness in our system. Two of the men face over sixty years in a federal penitentiary, leaving their families forever. What kind of a social order does that?

Perhaps the people at the top are willing to do anything for money and power. That is when the system needs radical change. I just don't know if the hapless, money addicted Democratic Party is up to it.

In his book signing, Miko said, "These men will not be freed until all Palestinians are let out of jail." That will only happen when the US stops supporting apartheid Israel and our Middle Eastern colony falls.

Free, free Palestine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ammunition for the carnage

GUEST: Robert Gelbach, co-chair of the JVP chapter in New Haven, retired Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University, and member of JVP’s Academic Advisory Council, talks about boycott and the changing opinions of Jewish Americans.

Robert is a very good spokesperson for Jewish Voice for Peace. He stands for human rights for all people, the antithesis of human rights for some and not for others. The state of Israel is built on Jewish supremacy, and all its laws and policing reflect this. It is an apartheid state, a fact recognized by almost every other country in the world.

Progressive except for Palestine (PEP) refers to many supposedly "liberal" Zionists. Liberals are often in the lead when it comes to protecting Black rights, LGBTQ rights or immigrant rights. But when the spotlight turns to apartheid Israel, all bets are off and they are back to quoting the Old Testament about God favoring one people.

I think Jewish Voice for Peace is at its best when it exposes this rank hypocrisy. Not the hypocrisy of right wing Christians who preach the coming of Jesus when all Jews are in the Holy Land. I don't understand that at all. It seems that religion often makes people stupid; it requires that "leap of faith" than makes them into lemmings headed for the cliff. Reason doesn't play much part.

Some Christians and Jewish Zionists have something to gain by stealing land and resources from someone else. America has something to gain from its vicious little colony in the Middle East. American weapon makers have something to gain from supplying ammunition for the carnage. A few are making out like bandits. The rest are blind.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Before apartheid Israel comes to define America

GUEST: Dr. Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, talks about his most recent report, "Historical Landmarks in the Hundred Years' War on Palestine."

The shame that is Israel has been around for 100 years. Defining characteristics include racism, apartheid, and colonialism. So what are the chances that the United States, which has never acknowledged its own genocide of Native Americans nor the criminality of slavery and Jim Crow, will ever recognize or take responsibility for the oppression of millions of Palestinians? 

That is the central question that surrounds all genocides, and Palestine is no exception. However terribly Israel treats its five million subjugated people, it is the United States that makes it all possible. The Israeli colony is just part of an empire that few in this country even acknowledge

Dr. Khalidi looks at the long picture. Israel cannot forever be an apartheid state. The world has progressed too far to allow something like that to happen. The Palestinian people are immensely resourceful and they aren't leaving. Israel will have to resort to a Nazi like Holocaust to get rid of them. If that were to happen, the United States will have become a fascist state, the Third Reich of the twenty first century. 

The battle is here at home; apartheid Israel must be stopped before it comes to define America.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Protectors of peace


Take my blood. Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely. 
Send them to the world, To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded. 
And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace." 

-Jumah al Dossari, who was brutally tortured, sexually assaulted, and held three and a half years in solitary confinement. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 with no charges against him.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Vets are the canaries in the coal mine

GUEST: Ken Churchill, creator of the American Homeless Land Model campaign to set aside public land for citizens and US veterans without shelter, will talk about some of his recent successes in small towns across the country.

Good ideas about helping our nation's homeless population are hard to find. There are so many people without any resources, especially in our major cities. America has become accustomed to seeing them, as we have become accustomed to so many other of our society's failures.

Ken's idea is to grant them land where they can build small homes for themselves and create functioning communities. It is worth a try, of course. Like Occupy however, these communities will have some basic problems. The homeless are often mentally ill, and not able to function in a working system. Many times homeless people are also addicted, further complicating life in such an encampment. 

Perhaps Occupy would have run its course, if it hadn't been violently dismantled by Obama and the fascist police he unleashed. We just don't know how resistance communities do over the long haul.

Maybe the problem isn't just a lack of buildable land. The distribution of wealth within our society is the most unequal of any developed country in the world. Perhaps the fault lies in the fact that marginalized people are often the ones fighting the empire's wars. When they return home, they don't have the skills or the contacts to keep them off the streets. In addition, vets are often traumatized by their experiences killing civilians in the Third World to protect US profits. Depression and addiction often follow. 

So is it the $700 billion we spend on war each year that puts tens of thousands of vets on the street? If our country gave them what it did returning vets in 1945, homelessness would be much less on an issue. Moreover, if our country decided to return to being a democracy, perhaps the rest would follow.  We have an empire, controlled by greedy billionaires who have learned how to squeeze the last bit of money from those in our country who are not filth rich. Maybe homeless vets are the canaries in the coal mine.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rainbow Race

GUEST: Rivera Sun, author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other novels, cohost of Love and Revolution Radio, and trainer in nonviolent campaigns, talks about applying Gandhi's ideas to the fight for Net Neutrality. 
Love (and Revolution) Radio

Rivera Sun offered our listeners some interesting alternatives to the two corporate party rule that we have now. One party gives the corporations all they want, while mouthing support for the working class. The other party gives corporation all they want, while using racism to stir up support from its white, Christian base.

Corporations are very happy, as are the people who own them. The 1% got close to 80% of the huge tax breaks just passed, meaning that so many of the programs that benefit middle America will be cut or done away with. Think Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, healthcare for tens of millions.

All the Democrats in power can talk about is the Russian conspiracy. That's just fine for their corporate backers. In fact, the system works very well for the billionaires, while the rest of us get robbed.

Enter people like Rivera Sun, whose ideas go back to the 1960's. Establish resistance communities, create movements that defy the corporate parties, and don't be afraid to think big. We are all coming to realize that the system we have now is not only grossly unfair, but is suicidal for our very future on this earth. Time to think big, and join the resistance. At this point, what do we have to lose?

I did this program in a snowstorm. The radio studio at Vassar College was empty. It was just me and the blizzard winds I could see from the third floor window. It made me think about the many ideas for social justice. Our species is endlessly creative. In the dead of winter, we can think about the birth of a new social movement that puts humanity above greed and violence. We will evolve in time to save our Rainbow Race.

One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.
- Pete Seeger

Friday, January 5, 2018

In memory of Pia Alexander

In memory of our dear friend and fellow activist, Pia Alexander, who passed away this week. From your trip to the deep South during the Civil Rights Era to your journey to Cairo as part of the 2009 Gaza Freedom March, you always stood up for those who were being oppressed. You were never afraid to speak truth, nor to portray truth in your art. 

You will always be with us ... Presente.