Hard Labor and the Mad Russian

May 11, 2018



In the Moment
The whistle blows
and I am caught
between curbing my anger
or hitting the player
who just fouled me.
Oh, what the hell, I say.

or this one

If only I’d known
I didn’t have to throw that elbow
at LaRusso or stalk Chet Walker
to his locker room, spoiling for a
fight or take a swing at Wilt,
while my breathless teammates
feared for my life.
All I had to do was breathe
my way out of anger.
Lungs instead of fists.


Sam Smith’s Hard Labor is a great respite from the hard analyses and serious tomes which fill my life. We all need a breather from discerning the warp and woof of history and if you once were a basketball coach, this book is quite engaging, jam packed with the stuff of life.




At one level, the idea of even caring about privileged NBA players having hard labor is ridiculous. For example, Kyle Lowry of the Raptors makes $28 million per year. Grossly overpaid for sure. Lowry seems like a decent guy but his salary in a suffering world is an insult to creation, a good example of what’s wrong with capitalism. Half of humanity lives on a toonie a day so why should we give a damn about NBA players? Good question.


As Lewis Mumford wrote in 1934 “Sport is one of the least effective reactions against the machine. ”It is just part of the spectacle which diverts our attention from the serious matters at hand. Give it a glance and move on.




But the book Hard Labor is about a different time when mostly black players were treated like they were still on the plantation. In 1964 most had second jobs. Smith lays all of this out in compelling terms. Jim Crow was still alive when Oscar Robertson and friends challenged the owners to treat them as more than chattels.


This was the generation of players which paved the way for the mega salaries of today. As Robertson says in the book,”Most of today’s players don’t give a shit” about the trail blazers. Amnesia goes with capitalism.




One nugget among many in this book is the fact that Shaquille O’Neal paid for the funeral of George Mikan, the first great NBA big man.


I liked this book because, like the incomparable Dave Zirin who writes about the politics of sport for The Nation magazine, Smith places sport within the broader confines of society and politics. Few sports writers today are worth reading at all simply because they treat the topic as stand alone and worthy of our time. It isn’t. check out Zirin’s latest Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down (The New Press.)


Back to Hard Labor.


The most interesting story was about a journeyman player named Tom Meschery, the author of the poems above. Smith calls him the Mad Russian warrior poet, a good handle and a fascinating story.




Meschery was born in Manchuria as Tomislav Nicolaivich Mescherakov. His father, a Russian officer fought with the Bolsheviks in the revolution. His mother was related to Tolstoy’s second cousin the family finally got a visa to the US in 1938 the year Tom was born.They never got there and were interned in a Japanese internment camp where young Tommy learned English from missionaries.


After the war they landed in San Francisco and Tom had to fight his way to school and in the playground because his mother dressed him in knickers. He quickly learned two things—how to fight and sport was the great equalizer. Meschery went on to be a two-time All-American at St. Mary’s College, 20 miles east of Frisco where he was taught by the Christian Brothers and later incarnated the school’s motto ‘enter to learn, leave to serve.’ In 1961 he was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Warriors and enjoyed a 10 year career averaging 12,7 points and 8.6 rebounds.  He generally led the league in fouls and brawls hence his nickname the Mad Russian.The other side of this was he was loved by his teammates as a gentle warrior the lost and lonely.


I had a temper, I admit,” he says. “And I wasn’t about to back down. And maybe that was sort of the immigrant in me, come to think of it. You know, I had to put up my dukes a lot when I was young. So I think I had a little bit of a short fuse.”



When his time in the show was up, the insatiably curious multi-linguist met the American poet laureate of 1991 Mark Strand who suggested “he retreat to a life of poetry and contemplation full time.”


After running a bookstore into the ground he discovered teaching in Reno and Truckee ,Nevada. With his degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop he had found a new home, writing poetry and teaching and ranting on his blog about Donald Trump (http:/mescherysmusings.blogspot.ca

Working Man

I admit sleeping in late at the Hilton,

ordering room service, handing out

big tips while your kind of men

were opening their lunch buckets.

You would have scolded me:

“Что это за работа для человека?”

“What kind of work is this for a man?”

Old immigrant, I admit all of this

too late. You died before I could explain

sportswriters call me a journeyman.

They write I roll up my sleeves

and go to work. They use words

like hammer and muscle to describe me.

For three straight years on the job

my nose collapsed. My knees ached

and I could never talk myself out of less

than two injuries at a time. Father,

you would have been proud of me:

I labored in the company of large men.


In the end Hard Labor is a serious attempt at contextualizing pro sport in our turbocapitalist world.



Joel Kovel: Overcoming Zionism pt.1

May 9, 2018



The writer Joel Kovel died on April 30. The New York Times thought so much of this scholar that last week they honoured him with a huge obituary. This was a guy you’d liked to have known

Sam Robert’s obit begins
Joel Kovel, a former Freudian psychiatrist who evolved into an apostle of what he called ecosocialism, a so-called green-and-red agenda against the environmental evils of globalization and in favor of the nonviolent eradication of capitalism, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 81.
Kovel was a spiritual quester his whole life.this was obvious in his 1991 book History and Spirit: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of Liberation. At the end of his life Kovel was baptized Anglican.




Roberts totally glides over Kovel’s brilliant evisceration of Zionism Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine (London and Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2007).In 2011 this review appeared the Journal of the Research Group on Socialism and Democracy.


Joel Kovel has given us an impressive and important book. Its first printing sold out without a single review, major or otherwise. Nevertheless word of this extraordinary work is spreading. The taboo in the United States (not Israel) against seriously discussing and criticizing Zionist Israel has been broken with the publication of Jimmy Carter’s bold book labeling the situation in the Occupied Territories “apartheid” and with the exposure by prestigious professors Mearsheimer and Walt -– in the London Review of Books after rejection by the Atlantic Monthly –- of the power of the Israeli lobby. Kovel, by focusing squarely on how to “overcome” Zionism, takes the discussion exactly where it needs to go from there. He writes beautifully, even poetically, not just on Zionism’s sordid history, but on its ideology, its ethics, and even on the terrible ecological devastation in Israel itself, where every river is polluted, some to lethal levels. And he writes with courage and hope.




Kovel “a jew from Brooklyn” believes that the creation of Israel in 1948, as a colony of settlers who established an exclusively Jewish and discriminatory state, has created a multi-faceted disaster -– “a dreadful mistake” -– that should be undone, with Israel de-Zionized and integrated into the Middle East. His solution is stated in the book’s subtitle and restated in the title of the last chapter: “Palesrael: A Secular and Universal Democracy for Israel/Palestine.” This is an elegant solution, and he lays out an action program to accomplish it.


Kovel writes that the ethical reference point for Jews is the tribal unit. Since ancient times they set themselves off as “a people apart,” chosen by Jehovah, with whom they have a covenant. In Kovel’s view, “Zionism’s dynamic was drawn from the most tribal and particularistic stratum of Judaism, and its destiny became the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militarized and aggressive state,” which they implanted in the center if Islam. Herein lies the tragedy.


At the turn of the 20th century, a Zionist conference in Vienna delegated several rabbis to travel to Palestine on a fact-finding mission. The rabbis cabled back, “the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” Kovel writes incisively of what ensued. The “tremendous struggle” to dislodge Palestine’s inhabitants would involve three great difficulties:

the resistance of those who stood in the way and would have to be displaced; the exigencies of geo-politics; and one’s own inner being, which would have to be retooled from the self-image of an ethical victim to that of a ruthless conqueror. All of these obstacles could be dealt with by signing onto Western imperialism and capitalism.

Jewish suffering and persecution became justification for aggression in asserting the “outlandish claim to a territory controlled 2500 years ago by one’s putative ancestors.”




The Israelis took 78% of the territory in l948 and the remaining 22% in l967. The logic of Zionism –- to create an ethnically pure Jewish state -– led to organized terrorism; “the essentials had been put in place by the mid-1930s” and the opportunity came in l948. The leaders of Zionism, Chaim Arlosoroff, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and especially David Ben Gurion, quietly articulated the need to drive the Arabs out.


South African Prime Minister Henrik Verwoerd said in l96l something the liberals wouldn’t: “that the Zionists “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”




When the smoke lifted in l948, 531 Arab villages had been destroyed, some 750,000 Palestinians driven out. In l948 Menachem Begin (later Prime Minister of Israel) organized the dynamiting of the British headquarters in Jerusalem, killing 88 persons, including 15 Jews. That year also saw the terrorizing of the village of Deir Yassin. With Begin in command, Yitzhak Shamir -– who was also to become a PM and whose frankly fascist organization the Stern Gang had actually made overtures to the Nazis to create a Jewish state along totalitarian lines -–were part in the operation. The terror at Deir Yassin was a decisive factor in the Arab exodus. The ethnic cleansing had been clearly planned by the Zionist leadership, as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has documented. Thus the Zionists established Israel with a crime against humanity.

Hard Labor part 1

May 8, 2018


It’s true. I once was a basketball coach but never a fan of sportsworld that fantasyland which too often swallows people up. It has always amazed me the number of supposedly mature people who got caught up in this playground of life.


Guard 6
Cultural historian Lewis Mumford’s 1934 statement–and this was before mass culture engulfed us-still holds true:


Sport” he said “is one of the least effective reactions against the machine.”


The reason is simple – it siphons off our time and intellectual energy that should be at the service of the common good. Sport given over to hyper-competition rather than play demands much time, energy and concentration. The adults and schools engaged in it have little time left over for justice pursuits and active citizenship.




This is one of the reasons I took early retirement from coaching. However I never lost my own appreciation of sport as a locus of serious engagement with young people on the court and the diamond. Valuable lessons were learned; relationships were formed. All in all I thought something holy was shared. But in truth the coaching fraternity never inspired me and their narrowness allowed my early exit.


I have never watched a pro basketball game all the way through.Firstly, I  could not justify the time and secondly despite the pure grace and talent of some of the players, the game was boring, much too slow.


College ball was much more exciting—constant movement, full court presses etc. And I never watch the NCAA tourney the so-called March Madness. To me the only madness is the time wasted when you could be reading or doing something less passive.



Inevitably since sport has been part of my life I do pick up the odd book as relief from the serious history or theology I engage in. Sometimes a bio which I skim of sad sack Joe D or the self-destructive Mick or the one and only Babe and my favourite, the “Christian gentleman” Matty.



This brings me to the most interesting sports book I have read in years, Hard Labor by Sam Smith. The book was interesting because it dealt with the labour struggle and “the battles that birthed the “Billion dollar NBA.” In other words it placed pro basketball in the social context of America changing. It went beyond sportsworld, a separate country where the politically indifferent too often dwell.




The players were all familiar to me as was the context. Their personal stories were engrossing. Real heroes emerged in the fight for dignity in a racist time. Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn were also critical citizens who did not allow the ball to bounce them. At the forefront indeed was the brilliant Robertson who led the charge for economic freedom which paved the way for the mega contracts of today.



The sport was becoming black but racist rules still were in place. There was a quota on black players especially as teams were located south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Bob Cousy “the master passer of them all” (Red Auerbach) was the first great basketball star and a colour-blind New Yorker. In 1953 he embraced roomed with the first black player signed Chuck Cooper.In 1954 he started the first players’ union.


Cousy had graduated from the Jesuit Boston College in 1950 where his senior thesis was on the persecution of minority groups. Asked why he, one of the highest paid players joined Robertson’s group said, “I think it was my Jesuit education at Holy Cross. It was drilled into you to improve situations.If you saw something wrong it was your responsibility to help fix it. We believed you just simply were supoosed to help people who needed help.”


Later in life in 2013 as his wife of 63 years descended into the alzheimer black hole, Cousy became her sole care giver, the ex-Celtic put it all into context:


“I was busy playing a child’s game,’ Cousy said. ‘I thought putting a ball in a hole was important. Looking back, I should have participated more in the lives of my family. But my girls were in the best possible loving hands.’


Remembering James Cone: Embracing the Cross

May 7, 2018



A Personal reflection in memory of the Rev James H. Cone

(Rev,) Brian Hart

We cannot truly fathom the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ without recognizing both, that he was an oppressed Palestinian Jew living in a land occupied by Roman oppressors, and that the cross was used as an instrument of oppression of his people. The crucifixion of rebels and other law-breakers, by Romans, in a very public execution was a way to terrorize people so that they would never consider challenging their oppressors. Therefore the cross, used to exact a prolonged and torturous public execution, became a visceral reminder of Rome’s dominion over the Jewish people.




Furthermore, we cannot fathom the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ unless we come to understand that he, a messianic proclaimer of God’s Liberation, also was oppressed by the religious institution to which he belonged; an institution that could not countenance any perspective of the Jewish faith that would challenge the status quo of its religious power structure.



Jesus’ challenge was to give witness to God’s love that was inclusive of those who were made outcasts by reason of a religious prejudice and practice that then became societal norms. Jesus went out of his way to associate himself with idolaters such as tax collectors who collected tribute to the Roman god-emperor; with women who were left with no other opportunities to support their families and so turned to prostitution; with lepers who were reviled as their affliction was declared a “curse” from God; with gentiles – such as the centurion in the Roman army – who were not of the Chosen People. Jesus declared by his actions that the criminal, the sick and the possessed – those reviled by religious authorities – were all embraced by God’s love.




This radical, loving witness of Jesus was turning the pyramid power structure upside down and was creating an enormous scandal for the the leaders of his faith. Jesus, a rabbi, was seen frequently in the company of these undesirables, and people were talking. And to add insult to injury, Jesus went further to declare that those men in prestigious positions of religious authority and wealth would not enter into paradise whereas those people who received Jesus, heart and soul, both in word and deed, would. It’s no small wonder then that these same religious leaders saw Roman crucifixion as a sure way to relieve them of this Nazarene annoyance.



My awareness of these two aspects of the oppression of the powerless – both by Rome and the religious establishment of Jesus Christ and his contemporaries – opens up for me the deeper meaning of the crucifixion, and so too, the meaning of the Resurrection.



I have lived within the insulated walls of the Christian Church. Insulated from any true awareness of how we, both lay people and clergy, continue to participate in oppression of the powerless among us. And by awareness I mean not of the head but of the heart. We, clergy and lay people alike, deny our complicity in abuse of those who are vulnerable; we deny our complicity in mysogeny, in homophobia, in racism, in the economic domination of impoverished people near and far; and we deny our complicity in ecocide. Our chosen naiveté, our willing blindness to our daily participation in these forms of oppression sadly prevents us from joining Jesus on the cross.


“Too much risk” we are told by religious authorities and so we too quickly acquiesce to the “wisdom” of inaction. We can offer a prayer, we might even take up a collection, but we must never, ever, enter into the experience of the oppressed. The true “risk” we fear is not vicarious liability. We fear the risk of loosing our willing blindness; of waking to the truth of how we are the oppressors. And so under the guise of prudence we listen to our lawyers, to our insurers, to our religious leaders. “Too much risk. Best to stay away from what will awaken us to the crucifixions going on all around us. Don’t get on that cross!”




I would rather live in community with those who have been oppressed by an economy that has chosen profit margins over the human need to have meaningful work. I’d rather live in community with people that society has thrown out onto the streets, park benches, vans, shelters. I’d rather live in community with people who, because of their personal histories of being abused as children are now adults struggling with addictions and other mental health issues. I’d rather live with others who have been oppressed, than live within the “risk free” walls of chosen blindness that was my path for too long in the past.


Perhaps that is the love that I hope to express by remaining a priest, instead of accepting the bishop’s need to see me laicized. I want to remain a challenge to the naiveté, the willing blindness, of my fellow Christ followers. I want to love those who participate in these forms of oppressions, of crucifixions, by being the “pain in the ass” that just won’t go away. I want to be the person to whom people say “I could never do what you are doing”, and to reply to them, “well you can, and you can do even greater things!” If we are to truly proclaim Christ crucified, what’s needed first is to wake up to how we, the church, participate in the oppression of our sisters and brothers by our personal choices of “prudent” inaction, and by our fear of risking to love the oppressed, even to the point of joining them on the cross. For it is only from the cross that we are able to see beyond the horizon of our doubt and impotence to glimpse the dawn of the Resurrection.




Brian Hart is a priest in the Kingston diocese

The Senator from AIPAC

May 4, 2018

Senator Chuck Schumer, New York, widely known as “the Seantor from AIPAC” is the Democratic talking head (Dem minority leader) you often see on TV. What you didn’t know is that God, himself, deputized him to be Israel’s man in the Senate:


“You know, my name …. comes from the word shomer, guardian, watcher. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov. And I believe Hashem [Orthodox for God] actually gave me that name. One of my roles, very important in the United States senate, is to be a shomer — to be a or the shomer Yisrael. And I will continue to be that with every bone in my body …”


And here’s Schumer at AIPAC.

Those Palestinians do not believe that the bible is a real estate document and a Jewish sttate< cannot be democratic based as it is on supremacy. This was always the argument of the great rabbis of the early 40s (Berger, Reichert, Philliposon) who warned fellow Jews—we just fought a war rejecting “blood and soil” as anti-democaitc. Schumer probably never heard of these great rabbis who were universalists not tribalists.




And here’s Schumer at AIPAC.



Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin…


This is what you are dealing with here, a true believer ,a tribalist, a shill for Israel, no matter its egregious faults.

Pi=Not anti

The Council on International Relations, a Gaza-based NGO, issued an invitation yesterday to Schumer to come to Gaza so that he can see that he and the Palestinian community share many attributes, from humble origins to a high value for education. The group said it is confident that Schumer would call for an end to the blockade, as Senator Bernie Sanders has done, if he only observed the “inhuman” Palestinian conditions there.
Schumer has had nothing to say about Israel’s killings in Gaza, despite pressure from young Jewish progressives.
The Gaza council’s invitation is below.


\The Council on International Relations, a Gaza-based NGO, issued an invitation yesterday to New York Senator Chuck Schumer to come to Gaza so that he can see that he and the Palestinian community share many attributes, from humble origins to a high value for education. The group said it is confident that Schumer would call for an end to the blockade, as Senator Bernie Sanders has done, if he only observed the “inhuman” Palestinian conditions there.


Schumer has had nothing to say about Israel’s killings in Gaza, despite pressure from young Jewish progressives.
The Gaza council’s invitation is below.
Dear Senator Charles Schumer 
U.S. Senate Minority Leader
Come See Gaza for Yourself !
We, Council on International Relations – Palestine, formally invite you to visit Gaza.
You are recognized as an enlightened, humane leader of the Democratic Party.
You also share a lot in common with the people of Gaza.
Your father was an exterminator and you grew up in a simple home.
You come from a humble background.
So do we.

Fully 70 percent of our population are refugees, while over 40 percent of our population are currently unemployed and over 50 percent are suffering from food insecurity.
You were valedictorian of your high school class and attended Harvard University.
You value education.
So do we.
Although impoverished and wracked by endless war, Gaza can proudly boast of a 98.4% literacy rate, the highest in the Arab world.
You were ambitious when you were young and set out to conquer the world.
So were we.
Except that, trapped in a tiny enclave that is more densely populated than Tokyo, we just yearn to see the world.
You are a devoted husband and have raised two accomplished daughters.
ETC, etc full invite below
Good luck reaching the “Senator from AIPAC”

Life in the Kingdom of the Occupation

May 3, 2018

She should know. As an israeli journalist she heeded the famous Jewish philosopher Groucho Marx


Amira Hass  is a real journalist not a propagandist



Haaretz readers are probably sure they know what’s happening in the kingdom of the occupation, because this newspaper is Israel’s only mainstream media outlet that consistently provides information from there. This of course is an illusion. All the reports, articles and editorials don’t cover a thousandth of what constitutes Palestinian daily life under Israeli control.


As a service to anyone who wants to know more and doesn’t speak Arabic, here’s a partial reading list that provides information shocking in its ordinariness.

The biweekly report on protecting civilians, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which appears in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The latest (April 23) issue notes that over the previous two weeks the forces of the Civil Administration had demolished 16 Palestinian structures in Area C ( the section of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control), citing the lack of a building permit. Some 360 people were affected by the demolitions. Over those two weeks, 19 demolition and stop-work orders were served for other Palestinian structures.


The news website Siha Mekomit, or its English equivalent, +972 Magazine. For example, last week Orly Noy visited the school in the Palestinian village Burin, a regular target of Israeli gangs who come down from the surrounding settlements and terrorize people under the protection of the Israeli army. To read her report is almost like to be there with her. The previous day, the site posted a B’Tselem video showing soldiers cheering after “identifying” their precise hit: a resident of the nearby village of Madama who was trying to remove an earthen barrier and was shot at.



The English website Mondoweiss describes itself as “an independent website devoted to informing readers about developments in Israel/Palestine and related U.S. foreign policy. We provide news and analysis unavailable through the mainstream media regarding the struggle for Palestinian human rights.” Its founders are American Jews.



One can’t help but envy the site for its network of writers and reporters from the field. Fadi Al-Naji, for example, wrote Friday from Gaza about what doesn’t appear in the standard Israeli media: The Palestinian March of Return isn’t only a protest, it’s a combination of cultural and heritage events such as children listening to adults tell stories of their lives in their villages and cities in Palestine before 1948. Or its reading groups learning about imperialism and colonialism. Sometimes, he writes, you can also encounter a wedding procession.



Don’t miss the human rights websites in Israel. B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha and Adalah need no further words. In contrast, the Center for the Defense of the Individual hasn’t been good at promoting its treasures: praiseworthy legal work and the information that stems from it. A look at the site every two or three days is worth it. For example, on April 17, attorney Abir Joubran-Dakwar petitioned the High Court of Justice, based on the Freedom of Information Law, to order the army to answer questions about procedures for issuing permits to access land behind the separation barrier.



As the Center reminds us, “Ever since 2003, the Israeli military has been employing a draconian permit regime in the area of the West Bank located between the Green Line and the separation wall. Israel refers to this area, which it declared closed to Palestinians, as the ‘seam zone.’ Though it is an inseparable part of the West Bank, any Palestinian living in this area or wishing to enter it is required to obtain a military issued permit in order to do so. This permit regime applies only to Palestinians. Others, be they Israelis or tourists from anywhere in the world, do not require any permit to enter the ‘seam zone’ or remain in it.”


When the separation barrier was built deep in the West Bank, the authorities claimed that it wasn’t intended to steal Palestinian land; only security dictated its route. The years passed and the fears came true: Fewer and fewer Palestinians can reach their land on the other side of the wall. Their land became green parks and hiking sites of prestigious Israeli suburbs and settlements.


Some of the activities of the women’s group Machsom Watch also focus on maintaining contact with farmers whose right to work their land and make a living from it is thwarted by the separation wall/fence. “Every Israeli should know what is happening in the West Bank,” is the headline on its Hebrew homepage.


One group of women among them devotes long days in the military courts. Their reports on the site are chilling. By the way, in a chance conversation Friday, a founder of Machsom Watch clarified why this is a feminist movement, even though it doesn’t focus on the rights of women as such, and even though not all its members identify as feminists. It’s because “there’s no hierarchy in the group,” she said.


Information, as much information of this type, painful, and as close as possible to the real-time events, is conveyed out of respect for readers – a show of a deep, basic faith in their humanity, wisdom and sense of justice.




Readers don’t need the intervention of theoretical articles to conceptualize how abhorrent it is that a Jewish Israeli clerk prevents a woman with cancer from going for treatment, or to compare the whitening of South Africa to the destruction of the Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran. Readers can conclude for themselves that as citizens of this state they’re partners in the terrible system of oppression and dispossession. If they don’t realize it today, they’ll realize it tomorrow.

Genetic Judaism not enough

May 2, 2018

Once again the intrepid Israeli writer Amira Hass attempts to help North American Jews and indeed those seduced by Israeli propaganda to really arise from their slumber and understand the depth of depravity the Israeli governmement has sunk.




If Americans and Canadians and in particular Jews knew the facts on the ground they would quickly understand that they must withdraw support from a state which prides itself as Jewish. It is doing irreparable harm to the universal tenets of the religion from which Christianity sprung. If they knew the reality instead of the hasbara spun on Israell’s behalf, they could no longer support such abhorrent behaviour in “the kingdom of the occupation”(Hass).




No democrat and no human being would tolerate for any length of time what the state of Israel is doing to Palestinians. This is why young Jews are abandoning knee jerk fidelity to Israel, They have moved way beyond an atavistic tribalism to a higher plane.These beautiful young people applaud the sentiments of Jews such as Orthodox former speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg when he says:



For me the Jewish people is about a values system not about genetics. …When you ask today a Jew in Israel, what is the nation, unfortunately too many of my cousins will say it is about the Jewish blood. To me being Jewish is not about blood system. 

if cousins of mine literally speaking are racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, they are genetic Jews but I don’t have any partnership with them. If somebody,might be an Arab, might be the educator of my grandchildren, who is pluralistic, tolerant, humanist, who comes to her position from her Islam not Judaism– she is my partner.

Tomorrow Amira Hass, an Israeli writer whose mother survived Bergen-Belsen writes on


The Websites You Must Visit to Understand Israel’s Policy Toward Palestinians 

For those who don’t speak Arabic, these sites will put you on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza


Jean Gump, Tireless Fighter for Social Justice, Dies at 90

April 30, 2018



Who knew her outside of Chicago? Yet the NY Times ran a huge obit for her on their big fat Sunday edition. It made my day. Hopefully the 55% of Catholics who voted for the Groper in Chief read it too.

As the button on my coat says:




At a time when more and more people are living in Fantasyland and posting another picture of their dog on Facebook, it is people like Jean Gump who will save the world and possibly renovate the Catholic church presently good at charity but absolutely lousy at justice.


RC JUStUnknown


While Jean Dalton was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her parents became so disgusted by Mayor Richard J. Daley’s ethnocentric and monolithic Democratic machine that they not only enrolled as Republicans but also hid their Irish ancestry from their five children.


Within just a few years, though, Ms. Gump had an epiphany. Perhaps it was inspired by the birth of her 12th and last child in 1964, after Kennedy’s assassination, that nonplused her about what kind of world her children would inherit. Maybe it was the rumblings of social justice reverberating from the ecumenical Vatican II council in Rome.


iPope Justmages


Or maybe it was the inconvenient question posed by her son Joseph one day in 1965, when he turned to her despairingly from the brutal television images of blacks being mistreated in the South and asked what she was going to do about it.


“I took the next available plane to Alabama and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery.”



So began jean Gumps’ life as a citizen, a life that inspired the Gump children to describe her in a paid obituary last month as “a lifelong advocate for peace and justice, and a convicted felon for antinuclear activism.”


In 1986 she served more than four years, 63 days of that time in solitary confinement, for invading Whiteman Air Force Base near Holden, Mo., with two other Roman Catholic peace protesters on Good Friday earlier that year. It prompted her husband to quit his job,, and join the antinuclear weapons movement. In 1987, he was convicted of conspiring to damage another Missouri missile site. He was imprisoned for three years.



Most people go to prison for violating their conscience. The Gumps were sentenced for rigidly cleaving to theirs.


Ms. Gump’s moral code could be condensed into a single sentence: “If you don’t act against it, you must be for it.”




Her last arrest was in 2010, when she was 83. She was protesting upgrades of Trident submarine nuclear warheads at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.


“We are people of conscience who know that nuclear weapons are immoral, so we make our statements and expect to be found guilty at our trials.”


I was brought up as a bigot and could have become a Nazi,” she told the weekly newspaper The Chicago Reader in 1987. “If the German people who were stunned by what the leaders were doing had said ‘no,’ it wouldn’t have happened. Very early in my life I realized I would never have a child of mine come to me and say, ‘What were you doing then?’ ”


“My mother was living the American dream and rejected it all in her fight for social justice,” Holly Gump, who confirmed the death, said in a telephone interview.


When her first grandson was born, she recalled, she decided that her civil disobedience had not gone far enough. “I realized I had to do something,” she said. “He would have no world to grow up in unless I did something.”


““I thought I might be frightened,” Ms. Gump said, “but as we were driving out, I felt a tremendous peace that I had never felt before.”


After moving to Bloomingdale, after prison, the Gumps wrote letters opposing the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank and helped start the Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War.




We have got to have a future for our children, and we’ve got to make some sacrifices for it, O.K.?,” she told Studs Terkel in a Playboy magazine interview in 1988. “Call it a legacy if you want to. What else is there?”



Another plea from Palestinian Christians

April 29, 2018


Well, this is just the latest sally from the besieged for an act of solidarity, for faith groups to step up to the plate and act on their faith but as the man said, don’t hold your breath.


In 2009 all the Christian churches in Israel/Palestine pleaded for solidarity


“Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace.”

We declare that the military occupation of Palestinian land constitutes a sin against God and humanity. Any theology that legitimizes the occupation and justifies crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people lies far from Christian teachings.


Can it can get any clearer from  those who are suffering? and yet, silence.



Since then—virtually nothing from the Roman Catholic community, a little more from other denominations, especially United Church and Presbyterians.


For Catholics, a dearth of socially aware bishops named by the preceding popes, and leaders terrified of offending Jewish communities. Get over it! Israel is a state and states often do barbaric things. It is not a judgment on Jews or all Israelis. It is not “pro-Palestinian, it is simply pro justice.


Marc Ellis, a prominent Jewish theolgian gave us valuable advice when he spoke on Nov.14, 2000 to the General Synod of the Church of England:


Your respnsibility is not to patronize, not to flee in fear from us, not to treat us as children and not to repent endlessly for the Holocaust. Your job is to speak honestly` to us, to even scold us, to point the finger in the way we pointed the finger at you, to tell us to stop before it is too late.

Once again, an open letter from the Christian base


Palestinian Christians and Muslims call on faith communities to help end the occupation

Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. (Isaiah 59:15b)
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)
We the undersigned, a group of Palestinian-American Christians from several church traditions, call on all faith communities to:
◦ Denounce the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
◦ Lift up, in your places of worship, the plight of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, recognizing that Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid are leading to the virtual extinction of the indigenous Christian population in Palestine.
◦ Recognize the urgency of ending Israel’s genocidal siege and attacks on the entire Palestinian hostage population of the Gaza Strip.
◦ Continue to use economic pressure as well as other nonviolent means to compel Israel to end its apartheid practices and policies against the Palestinian people.


We express deep concern at the increasingly hostile direction of Israeli policies and actions, emboldened by the equally aggressive foreign policy stance of the Trump administration toward the Palestinian people. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the final nail in the coffin of the so-called “peace process,” which has now been unmasked as a farce, exposing the United States not as an “honest broker” but as Israel’s unquestioning advocate. There is little doubt that the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision, although condemned by the overwhelming majority of the international community, will encourage Israel to act with even greater impunity.

The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, as well as the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights, is now in its fifty-first year, the longest military occupation since the end of the nineteenth century. Palestinian Christians and Muslims are calling on the church to use its influence to end the occupation.
Since its occupation of Arab East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has consistently followed a policy aimed at confining the city’s Palestinian population to ghettos surrounded by a ring of expanding Jewish settlements. It annexed the city and its suburbs into a much-expanded “greater Jerusalem,” and isolated it from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. This separation of Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank has resulted in grave economic and social consequences for all Palestinians in the occupied territories, because East Jerusalem has been the economic and spiritual heart of the Palestinian territories. Even the U.S. State Department recognized in a 2009 report  that “many of [Israel’s] policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.” Palestinian Jerusalemites complain that conditions are far worse now.
Last year, a Palestinian mass protest forced Israeli authorities to retreat from a decision to impose obtrusive “security measures” in the form of metal detectors at the entrances to the Muslim holy sites of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Christians joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in peaceful protest, some praying shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets surrounding the mosques. …

Palestinian protests and international pressure have since compelled Israeli authorities to suspend the legislation in question. However, Palestinians are rightly concerned that Israel will continue to find ways to weaken Palestinians’ control of their land and property. Many are concerned about Jerusalem as the birthplace of Christianity: will it become a city with Christian shrines and cathedrals but devoid of the native Christian population?


On Friday, March 30th, Israel committed a massacre in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians were engaged in a demonstration on Land Day. This annual event commemorates the killing, in 1976, of six unarmed Palestinians in the Galilee who were protesting against the confiscation of their lands. The Gaza demonstrators were protesting against the genocidal conditions that Israel has imposed on the territory of two million inhabitants over the past eleven years; most importantly, they were expressing their right of return to their lands and villages from which the Israeli forces expelled them in 1948. The peaceful protest was interrupted by the Israeli army, which used tanks and militarized drones as well as over 100 well-hidden snipers.


Violence began by the Israeli forces who shot a farmer working on his land. This served as incitement to a few protestors—out of a total of about 30,000 peaceful demonstrators, to engage in throwing stones from behind a large, barbed wire fence. The unarmed Palestinians’ actions did not come anywhere close to endangering the Israeli forces. Eighteen Palestinians were shot dead and hundreds of men, women, and children were wounded.


These events occurred on Good Friday, when the Christian world was mourning the crucifixion of Jesus. As the injustices and human rights violations keep piling up against the Palestinian people, we call on all churches and faith communities to take bold steps to end these grave injustices. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step up even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

◦ Palestinian Christian Advocates for Justice
◦ Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
◦ American Muslims for Palestine
◦ Israel-Palestine Mission Network, Presbyterian Church USA
◦ Franciscan Action Network
◦ Friends of Sabeel, North America
◦ Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
◦ Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
◦ Pax Christi USA
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the  Episcopal Peace Fellowship
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the United Church of Christ
◦ United Methodist Kairos Response- Steering Committee


Gentle prophet Naim Ateek in Ontario

April 27, 2018


A book and speaking tour with the founder of the Palestinian liberation theology movement, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek! Co-founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, Rev. Ateek is a former Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. For three decades he has inspired readers with his ideas about justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land. Join us for the launch of his latest book, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine–Israel Conflict.


I have interviewed Naim 3 times, the first one being at St George’s Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem in 1990. The year before he had written Justice and Only Justice which I had read on route to London, Auschwitz and then Jerusalem. I wisely left this well marked tome in London and for good reason. A copy of the book in my luggage would have gotten me a return flight home right away.


I had been warned about “the only democracy in the Middle East” which was even then paranoid and heavy handed. When I interviewed him I transcribed my notes and mailed them home.That was 28 years ago and Israel has only gotten uglier—even forbidding American Jews ientering the country if they support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.I srael continues to shoot itself in the head with such anti-democratic tactics.


So here the gentle priest is on a cross-Canada tour and harrassed every step of the way by the Zionist thought police who have tried to get his lectures cancelled. Of course it is outrageous and counterproductive  as Ateek offers the only way out of this morass, justice for Palestinians.


The depressing news i got yesterday  was my alma mater St Michael’s College U of T  caved in and cancelled his talk scheduled for May 2. The St. Michaels Faculty of Theology is still co-sponsoring him and it has been moved across the street to 70 St Mary St, 2 blocks south of Bloor off Bay.—the Mary Ward Centre, 7PM

I will be introducing Naim in Hamilton with a with a 10 minute excursus on Liberatiion theology in general.


April 30 – Hamilton: 7pm, New Vision United Church 24 Main St E
May 1 – Kitchener-Waterloo: 7pm, Conrad Grebel University, Great Hall (1111) 140 Westmount Rd.N
May 2 – Toronto: Mary Ward Centre 70 St Mary St 7 PM

Ateek 4