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Pete Seeger'’s Continuing Naivete on How to Achieve Peace

Ronald Radosh

Despite his apparent good will in refusing the pleas of the far Left anti-Israeli activists, Pete Seeger’s decision to participate via the Internet on a world-wide Peace in the Middle East Rally emanating in Israel, the noted folksinger is only revealing his naiveté.

As the JTA story reports, “Seeger has rejected calls by individuals and organizations demanding that he cancel his participation in “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,” an online event promoting peace through cross-border cooperation and scheduled for a Nov. 14 global broadcast at www.withearthandeachother.org.” OK, some mild kudos to Pete for doing that.

But, as Seeger is anxious to make clear, “That doesn’t mean that he supports Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, Seeger says quite the contrary. He is a longtime donor to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an organization that became so critical of Israel that it was dropped by the New Israel Fund years ago, and readily decries what he calls ‘monstrous’ Israeli military actions against Palestinian civilians.”

If the group Seeger supports is too far Left for the very far left New Israel Fund, that in itself says a great deal. Evidently, Seeger thinks that calling for peace is good- but naming the real enemies of peace is wrong. Here’s how he sees things:

“My religion is that the world will not survive without dialogue,” Seeger told JTA in an interview from his home in Beacon, N.Y. “I would say to the Israelis and the Palestinians, if you think it’s terrible now, just think ahead 50 years to when the world blows itself up. It will get worse unless you learn how to turn the world around peacefully.” In other words, talk instead of make war; engage in continual dialogue, and eventually you’ll both work it out. No need to examine which side really wants peace and which side does not.

He supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the Civil Right’s movements early days, he says, and therefore, Seeger says, “he does not oppose nonviolent efforts, including an economic boycott, to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. But standing in the way of promoting dialogue makes no sense, he said.”

Let’s take a moment and look at this ridiculous moral equivalence. He wants an economic boycott of Israel, although he evidently is not in favor of doing anything to stop Hamas or Hezbollah aggression against Israel, including the rocket attacks a few years ago. In Seeger’s eyes, the only guilty party that is preventing peace in the Middle East is Israel. He also seems to be rather unaware that Israel pulled out of Gaza, and that it is run by Hamas, and is not occupied by Israel. Nor does he seem to know much about the Palestinian Authority and its weak position in the West Bank.

So he agrees with boycotting Israel “financially,” he says, but he is not for “boycotting dialogue.” His kind of dialogue, of course, amounts to a dialogue of the deaf, in which Israel would suffer from economic boycott by the West while the extremists of Hamas are allowed to plot their aggression without opposition and their desire to destroy Israel goes without protest.

Seeger says he does not want to “abandon the world to those who believe in violence.” But if he bothered to look at evidence, instead of uttering his useless platitudes, he would soon learn that Israel has made substantive peace offers over and over, only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders who never agree to recognize Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state. On this point, they have been consistent since 1947, when they opposed the UN’s decision to partition old Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

Why should we be surprised? Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Seeger called for peace, peaceful co-existence between the United States and the Soviet Union, singing songs like “Put My Name Down, Brother, Where Do I Sign?” a ballad in favor of the Soviet Union’s phony international peace petition that favored unilateral disarmament by the West while leaving the Soviet atomic stockpile intact. He would sing and give his support to peace rallies and marches covertly sponsored by the Soviet Union and its Western front groups and dupes—-while leaving his political criticism only for the United States and its defensive actions during the Cold War.

That the Western and international Left sees Seeger as some kind of traitor speaks only to its own complete extremism. Seeger should pause and ask himself whether these are the people he sees as misguided allies, and instead of his meaningless vague calls for peace, do something really brave—sing and speak out on behalf of Israel’s right to exist freely as a Jewish state in the Middle East, without having to constantly face the threats of its destruction by the Jihadists and their western left-wing allies.

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