Pete Seeger donates to Israeli peace camp
Folk star strikes a chord with Israeli peace camp
Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem
Tuesday March 20, 2001
The Guardian (UK)
The legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, who created the anthems of American
protest for nearly half a century, will donate the royalties from one of
his best-known songs to an Israeli peace group.
Jeff Halper, a leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,
which helps Palestinians resist the destruction of their homes by the
Israeli army and civilian authorities, said yesterday that he had received
a handwritten letter from Seeger pledging the royalties from Turn, Turn,
The donation represents a welcome boost for peace activists who have felt
increasingly isolated in the last six months after Israel swung
dramatically to the right following the Palestinian uprising.
"Recognition from Pete Seeger is very moving, and very meaningful for
anyone who has ever been involved in social change," Mr Halper said.
"Pete Seeger is the spiritual father of all of us. He gave a real soul to
protest movements. This is something we are lacking in the peace movement
in Israel where there are not many victories _ and every day things get
The banjo-strumming Seeger, aged 81, became involved in radical politics in
the 1930s, helping to organise trade unions in Tennessee. He was also
involved in the integrated school movement which produced Martin Luther
King and Rosa Parks.
He set the music to We Shall Overcome, which became the anthem of the civil
rights movement, and wrote the songs which inspired anti-Vietnam war
protesters. He wrote such folk standards as If I Had a Hammer and Kisses
Sweeter Than Wine.
Turn, Turn, Turn, like several of his songs, is based on a passage of the
Bible, and the words - "a time to sing, a time to dance" - are drawn from
In the latest uprising, some 500 homes have been bulldozed by the Israeli
army or blown up by tanks under the pretext of security. This week, the
Jerusalem authorities plan to issue demolition orders on dozens of
Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem, occupied illegally by Israel
Seeger read about Mr Halper's group in a progressive American magazine
called Jewish Currents. The article explained how the group was pioneering
a model of peacemaking, supporting Palestinian activists instead of
The American-born Mr Halper, who grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, with the
other American folk legend, Bob Dylan, said he had no idea how much the
royalties of the donated song were worth. Seeger called them modest.
The funds are to be used to rebuild homes in the West Bank and Gaza and to
replant some of the thousands of trees ripped up by Israeli diggers.
^In the most serious attacks against Israel since Ariel Sharon took power,
a Jewish motorist was killed in a roadside shooting, and 60 automatic
rifles were stolen from a kibbutz where the security chief was killed.
Mr Sharon, who was in Washington to emphasise his position that violence
must end before talks can begin, said Yasser Arafat would pay a high price
for the violence.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Mar 26 2001 - 20:22:10 EST