Skip to main content

Tidbits - August 7, 2014

Reader Comments - Gaza War - Israel, Palestine, the Jewish community and Zionism; Why Is Washington Risking War With Russia?; Labor - Kellogg Lockout and Coal Miners Anger; The Whitewashing of James Brown; Criminal Prosecution for Environmental Crimes; Bill Gates and the testing industry; Teacher Tenure (video); Celebrate the Life of Vito Marcantonio - Aug 9; 9th annual Dissident Arts Festival - Aug 16 - both in New York Today in History

Tidbits, Reader Comments, and Shorts - August 7, 2014,Portside

Re: Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza-Debunked

I would add to the "Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza - Debunked" ---

#6.  "We are after destroying the tunnels used by Hamas for sneak attacks into Israeli territory."

The Hamas rockets have proven ineffective.  Israelis explain this by pointing to their own "iron dome", but many doubt it.  They just aren't very good weapons in the first place.  This justification is somewhat threadbare.

The "terror tunnels" are now a main justification by Netanyahu for the recent waves of bombardments and invasions.  Does it make sense?

Presumably, such a tunnel has two or more ends, at least one of which should open on Israeli territory or very near to it.  It would seem a lot cheaper and safer to simply locate those openings in Israel and cave them in, fill them with concrete, or do whatever is necessary to incapacitate them.  Is it that much harder to find them on the Israeli side than mobilizing and sending in troops to find them within Gaza?  And better PR than simply raining artillery, missiles, and bombs more or less at random, hoping to hit a Hamas tunnel, activist, or arms depot instead of often hitting civilian men, women, children, and what domestic infrastructure is left by now.

My suspicion is growing that many of these so-called tunnels may really be bomb shelters.  If so, and if they are destroyed in Gaza itself, people have no place to go to escape the bombardment.  I  am not sure that deliberately destroying bomb shelters (rationalizing them as possible "tunnels") rates as a war crime, but if not it should.

I think questions and doubts about these "tunnels" ought to be addressed.

Dave Ecklein

Re: Why Is Washington Risking War With Russia?

Once again, the mainstream media either are not reporting aspects of major importance here or are uncritically simply echoing the Obama administration's position!

Alfred Rose
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Judge Orders Kellogg to End Lockout, Reinstate Workers
(posted on Portside Labor)

At least a small victory...

David Newby
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Mel Packer: Coal Miners Are Mad, and Scared. And they have a right to be

That statement by Mel Packer really says it all.  People have a right to live and to the jobs that make living possible.  Our children and their children have a right to a world that's green and beautiful, not a wasteland of storms and rising seas.  I don't think EPA is going to do what he asks, but we can demand it and organize for it.  If the environmental movement sees the jobs of these workers as important, it has enormous power to force concessions from the government and the companies.  And politically, it makes sense.  Organizing for the welfare of mining communities will help give them political power and that will help the rest of us.

David Bacon


Excellent speech Mel, I think you said it all very concisely with passion for the miners as well as the rest of us to make it an easy decision to wean off fossils once and for all.  Now if we could just get those pesky politicians to wean themselves off of the dirty coal money then we'd have something to write home about.

John Christensen

Re: The Whitewashing of James Brown

Gregory Allen Howard wrote an important, great and disturbing article on the whitewashing of James Brown. I was with him the entire way with outrage. But then my feelings turned to sadness when he made the same error that whites are making about race when he claimed that this couldn't happen to a female icon because "people respect women." No? That's why there were exactly zero women were on the Congressional panel to decide the fate of women's birth control:…

Respect women? That's why women are murdered daily by their male partners? Stoned in some places for being raped?

Dear Gregory - let's join forces and not pit ourselves against each other.

It can - and does - happen to women all the time.

Jeanne Lenzer


Good points made throughout. Hard to believe what you report on the lineup of "writers" for the JB pic. They couldn't even hire Al Sharpton as a consultant? Rev Al was a manager for JB at one point. There must be dozens of black writers that could have led the project.

However, as I'm sure you'll agree, being black doesn't guarantee political or artistic truth. Look at the "Malcolm X" done by Spike Lee (completely dodged the issue of who assassinated Malcolm).

One nitpicking comment: "Roots" was based on a novel written by A.Haley, who stole the plot from a white author.

Onward! And thanks again for the report.

Jim Smith


I saw it last night. This article doesn't have much specific criticism of the movie, which was what it was, some pretty good, a lot of stuff just not dealt with. The author is wrong in one important regard, and it is his most JB related problem with the film. He states that JB was responsible for the popularizing of the word Black to describe African Americans (Negroes). His one song, Black and I'm Proud, puts him in the top ten civil rights icons. Well...

Black Power was being popularized as a slogan in 1966, in Lowndes County, then all over the country. The Black Panther Party for Defense was organized same year. The use of Black was widespread by 1967. Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud came out in... wait for it... 1968. The author of the article way overstates his case on this. Not to diminish the song's impact, but the song didn't come first.

Jack Radey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This is so true! I saw this and felt much the same as this writer!

Curtis Muhammad
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Saw the movie last night and liked it. It likely would have been better in the hands of skilled Black writers as the author points out.

John Jernegan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Here Are Some Great Alternatives to Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novel Classics

Some other great SF writers are Octavia Butler, Brian Aldess and Norman Spinrad are all great reads. Philip Dick's The Penaltimate Truth is also great.

George Snedeker

Re: Jewish Morality is Criticism of Israeli Policy

The two articles associated with the title of this, are about two of the best on this subject and speak for me. I could not have said it better.

Phyllis Mandel
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Ms. Lipkin,
What a moving, thoughtful piece. Thank you for writing it. May the killing end soon -- and forever.

Luis Torres

Re: A Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry: End the Occupation

Really fascinating interview - I wish it had been longer....

Julia Rothenberg
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


It was longer. Here's part two.

Thomas Hsu
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Must read, plenty of informative facts that debunk Israel's claims on Palestine in general. He highlights the hypocrisy of Israeli claims and even calls Netanyahu out on blatant lies he has made during the recent Operations.

Hadeel Salameh
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This Rabbi has a lot to teach us.

Mary Carter
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Netanyahu's Gaza Game Plan

Israel is at the most crucial turning point in its entire brief history. The Big Fan in the Sky is about to fly directly into the huge historic pile of the most toxic Kuck-ah-Pooh Pooh ever. The explosive disaster will smell to high heavens.... This article argues this is not inevitable... If somehow passive moderate "bystanders," --most especially in Israel and in America-- find the courage and the will to become outspoken "up stander."

Larry Aaronson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Liberal Zionism After Gaza

What Israel is doing is making life very dangerous for all Jews all over the world. Israel is creating global anti-semitism. Ignorant folks think all Jews are pro-IDF unconditionally. Pro-IDF = Nazism, at this point with all we've learned about the methods the IDF is using. It appears to everyone that Israel wants to wipe out anyone who isn't Jewish in order to create a totally Jewish Statehood. That's pretty ugly. It tears me apart, personally, with my own background.  

Judith Ackerman


How can you be a liberal Zionist. I think it's a contradiction in terms. Unless you define liberal, as I do, as lukewarm.

Bob Townsend


This article puts forward succinctly exactly the reason why
the abandonment of the quest for the two-state solution is untenable.

Leonard J. Lehrman

Perhaps you should read RABBI,Henry Seidman's interview of this week on Democracy Now. As a Zionist that thinks as WELL as feels. And he makes a powerful case the liberalism need not be at war with Isreal's legitimate right to survive. He has also recently written a relevant article in POLITICO. Check it out!

Timothy L. Jenkins


"When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we're watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis - and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success," Rabbi Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Democracy Now, 7/30

From the Old Testament:

Numbers 31: 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

Numbers 31: 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Numbers 33: 52 Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:

Numbers 33: 53 And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.

Deuteronomy 7: 2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

Deuteronomy 7: 6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORDthy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 20: 16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

Deuteronomy 20: 17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

Joshua 24: 13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

Ezekial 9: 6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women:

Ed Felien

Re: Gaza: The Jewish Right and the Muslim Right

I appreciate Meredith Tax's position overall, but she has made a fundimental error when she claims that Hamas Has agreed to accept the 1967 boudaries of Israel if Israel recognized Palestinian national rights. Her own citation makes this clear when the Hamas leader says Hamas is ready "to offer Israel a long-term hudna, or truce..." That makes it clear that Hamas is offering a temporary truce (a hudna can't be for more than 10 years) before returning to active attempts to eliminate Israel inside the 1967 lines.

So Israel would give Hamas up to 10 years to prepare for a war of extermination in exchange, not for a real long term peace, but just a temporary cessation of hostilities. Sorry, but the Israelis would have to be suicidal to accept a deal like that and that's why most of the Israeli left (and not just the right) rejects it. Deals with the PLO are possible, but Hamas is still committed to eliminating Israel and slaughtering all Jews (read the never changed Hamas Covenant which calls for just that and which blames the Jews for the French and Russian revolutions--and cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for evidence) and refuses to even negotiate directly with Israel, so a real deal with them for peace isn't on the table.

Stan Nadel

Israel Grows Desperate

The Israeli cabinet is under the impression that it can win the war by pulling back its land forces whose maintenance involves large numbers of casualties. Israel has lost its appetite for face to face combat. After Israel haughtily rejected the Cairo option, it hopes to defend itself by endless air strikes over Gaza with heavy civilian Palestinian casualties.  

In absence of any agreement on a cease-fire, Hamas might well come up with more ways to inflict casualties, whether civilian or military. Where do Bibi and his cohorts go after the last idiotic plan - we bomb them until they give up - proves futile? The next small success for Hamas will expose the simple fact that Israel has no real answer to the next stage of fighting.

It appears that the IDF generals have advised the political echelon that any ground offensive might involve thousands of casualties. What can  Israel do to save itself from internal implosion?  The right is strong enough to push the government to consider any solution, even a non-conventional one. This is the unmistakable significance of Israel's refusal to come to Cairo to negotiate. Bad news from the front will enhance the pressure from the right and the people to do anything, i.e., anything conceivable to stop the spreading pain. A large scale ground attack is a thing of the past. The danger of nuclear and non-conventional alternatives increases.

If the simpletons in Washington and NATO believe they can isolate themselves and the rest of the world from the turmoil in the area, they are wrong.  They will find themselves involved in a crisis of unimaginable scope.

Reuven Kaminer
Jerusalem, Israel

On Criminal Prosecution for Environmental Crimes

There is one group who do get prosecuted and prosecuted severely: those who are trying to defend the environment.

Many of them receive extraordinarily long sentences after their convictions.

Marie Mason, for instance, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison for two acts of property destruction: 1) damaging a Monsanto office which was researching GMOs and 2) destroying logging equipment that was being used to destroy an old-growth forest. No person was hurt in either of these two "crimes."

This selective treatment of what the government considers criminal behavior is similar to the treatment meted out to whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning. The latter received a several-decades long sentence; those who committed or authorized the criminal acts Manning revealed were not even brought to trial.

This is what passes for "justice" in the twenty-first century in the U.S. of A.

Gene Glickman

Re: Bill Gates and the testing industry

Read the list in Aubrey Heihaus's post for yourself. If you have been involved in math education at all, you will recognize the names of math educators and mathematicians who have devoted their work to broadening access to the joy and power of mathematical understanding.

Kate Abell

Fact-Checking Diane Ravitch on the Common Core
by Aubrey Neihaus

In an article about the Common Core State Standards that was published on Huffington Post, Diane Ravitch claimed that ".the largest contingent of the drafting committee were representatives of the testing industry." This is false, as you can see for yourself.

The committee that produced the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics numbered over fifty people, of whom two were affiliated with ACT or the College Board.

Teacher Responds to Whoopi's Response

Keith Reeves

Whoopi Goldberg recently stood by her initial comments regarding teacher tenure. I thought it'd be helpful to ask her for another revision to her original work, to improve her understanding of "tenure."

Here is the original Whoopi Rant on teacher tenure:

Celebrate the Life of Vito Marcantonio - August 9th, 2014

Join the Vito Marcantonio Forum at New York City's Historic Woodlawn Cemetery for a Celebration of the life of East Harlem Congressman Vito Marcantonio on Sunday, August 9th, 2014. For more details, please visit:

For seven terms between 1934 and 1950, Vito Marcantonio represented East Harlem in the United States House of Representatives. He acted as floor leader for major civil rights legislation, submitted five bills for Puerto Rico's independence, led the fight against the Cold War, and rallied to prevent the passage of the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. In his last term, he cast the sole dissenting votes against both the Korean War and the contempt citations handed down by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Marcantonio lived his entire life in East Harlem. Through his creation of a coalition of East Harlem's Italian American, Puerto Rican, and African American communities - as well as well as the mobilized support of the left - he became America's most electorally successful Radical of the last century.

Marcantonio died of a massive heart attack just steps from New York City's City Hall at the young age of 52. Despite the fact that he was found with a crucifix in his pocket, the man known to his constituents as "Our Marc" and "The Bread of the Poor" was denied a Catholic burial by Cardinal Spellman, solely because of his political beliefs. Following a funeral procession through East Harlem that saw thousands lining the streets to say good bye, Marcantonio was laid to rest in New York City's Historic Woodlawn Cemetery, just steps away from the grave of his mentor, Fiorello LaGuardia.

Fifty nine years later members of the Vito Marcantonio Forum traveled to his grave site to honor this fighter for justice. Dedicated to creating awareness about his life and accomplishments, the Vito Marcantonio Forum is encouraging even more people to visit his resting place this year on August 9, 2014, when the group commemorates the 60th Anniversary of his death, a tragic loss of a heroic and legendary leader, whom many consider a phenomenon.

9th annual Dissident Arts Festival - Aug. 16 - New York

A celebration of revolutionary Free Jazz, New Music, World Sounds and radical Poetry, Performance Art and Film, moves uptown to the celebrated cultural space El Taller Latino Americano as it celebrates its 35th anniversary. THIS YEAR'S FESTIVAL IS DEDICATED TO THE _MEMORY OF CHARLIE HADEN AND FRED HO

The Dissident Arts Festival serves as a showcase of radical arts commemorating the rich heritage of movement culture. The 2014 edition encompasses a tapestry of liberation jazz and new sounds including Festival headliner WILL CONNELL AND VINCENT CHANCEY'S SADHANA QUARTET, THE ANDREA WOLPER/KEN FILIANO DUO, THE RED MICROPHONE, BERNARDO PALOMBO, TRUTH TO POWER!, HARMOLODIC MONK, UPSURGE!, PERFORMANCE ARTIST CRYSTAL SHIPP, POETS SANA SHABAZZ and CHRIS BUTTERS, and Festival house band, THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA, performing an improvised score to "BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN" (Sergei Eisenstein, 1926).

[THE DISSIDENT ARTS FESTIVAL 2014 Is Produced By Dissident Arts and El Taller. Curator/Host: John Pietaro.]


2710 Broadway at 104Th Street, New York, NY




6:00-6:30 TRUTH TO POWER! (Juan Quinonez-guitar, Michael Bisio-bass, Michael Wemberly-drumset)

6:30-6:40  CHRIS BUTTERS (poetry)

6:45 - 7:15 BERNARDO PALOMBO (Bernard Palombo-vocals/guitar, others TBA)

7:20-7:50 THE RED MICROPHONE (John Pietaro-vibraphone/percussion, Ras Moshe- reeds/flute, Rocco John Iacovone-reeds, Philip Sirois-bass)

7:50-8:00 SANA SHABAZZ (Sana Shabazz-poetry, Laurie Towers- electric bass)

8:00-8:30 UPSURGE! (Raymond Nat Turner-poetry, Ras Moshe-reeds/flute, Ken Filiano-bass)

8:35-9:05 SADHANA (Will Connell-reeds/flute, Vincent Chancey-French horn, Max Johnson-bass, Jeremy Carlstedt-drumset)

9:05-9:20  CRYSTAL SHIPP (performance art)

9:20-9:50 ANDREA WOLPER/KEN FILIANO DUO (Andrea Wolper-vocals, Ken Filiano-bass)

9:50-10:20 HARMOLODIC MONK (Matt Lavelle-trumpet/alto clarinet, John Pietaro-vibraphone/percussion)

10:25-11:30 THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA/"Battleship Potemkin" (John Pietaro-vibraphone/percussion/conduction, Nora McCarthy-vocals, Cheryl Pyle-flute, Rocco John Iacovone-reeds, Ras Moshe-reeds/flute, Matt Lavelle-trumpet, Gil Selinger-cello, Ken Filiano-upright bass, Laurie Towers-electric bass, others TBA)

The Dissident Arts Festival began life in 2006 in Beacon NY, where it remained for the first four years before moving to NYC in 2010. The Festival's primary goal was the establishment of an annual showcase of radical protest music, poetry and performance art--perhaps the only such annual fest in the nation. The concept of an art as daring and bold as the participants' world views soon shaped the Festival's philosophy and the focus on liberation through free improvisation and post-modern sounds commanded the stage.  Increasingly the Dissident Arts Festival has presented the New Music and Free Jazz statements it remains embedded in now, along with similarly outspoken arts of other disciplines. Over the years, performers and speakers included downtown jazz idol Roy Campbell, folk legend Pete Seeger, celebrated raconteur Malachy McCourt, world jazz icon Karl Berger, latter day Beat poet Steve Dalachinsky, spoken word artist Louis Reyes Rivera, political activist/satirist Randy Credico, free music mainstay Ras Moshe, international poet Erika Dagnino, noted filmmaker Kevin Keating as well as revolutionary hip-hop and rock artists, balladeers and many more. Festival house band the Dissident Arts Orchestra performs live, improvised scores to silent film classics. Now, in the midst of right-wing fear-mongering and teabag hysteria, radical artists continue to speak out for social change-and creative liberation!

Today in History - Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution - Aug. 7, 1964

Fifty years ago today, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the bombing of what was then North Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam - DRV).

"On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing President Johnson to take any measures he believed were necessary to retaliate and to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. This resolution became the legal basis for the Johnson and Nixon Administrations prosecution of the Vietnam War."

If you like this article, please sign up for Snapshot, Portside's daily summary.

(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)