Queens’ Man Convicted of 34 Felonies.

Go back to where you came from, Donald Trump.

Go back to the very bottom of your Jamaica, Queens dump.

Go back to where your chubby cheeks can be squeezed like overripe melons,

To the Queens Correctional Facility made for low-level loser male felons.

Go back to the 1927 KKK rally where your father was arrested,

Go back to your federally funded housing where Black people were rejected.

Go back to Roy Cohn, and coke-sniffing at Studio 54,

Go back to kissing Mobsters asses and salivating for more.

Go back to Gambino, Genovese, Gotti and John Cody,

Go back to being the Mob’s whore, and every Russian’s toady.

Go back to calling for death for the innocent Central Park 5,

Thanks to E.Jean, you’re done preaching pathetic lies in print and on TV, live.

Sentenced to Solitary, the Narcissists’ screaming night alarm;

You’ll be force fed stories about NYC Council Member, the Honorable Yusef Salaam.

Go back to where all you losers land, the Criminals whose dreams are fractured;

Repeat the line you used yourself, about not liking people who get captured.

Go back to your mental shitholes, your anti-immigrant bile,

Go back to fingering pussies, in sloppy Jeffrey Epstein-style.

Go back to lying about Obama’s birth, and losing to Joe Biden;

Go back to lying about your girth, and all the crimes you’re hiden’.

Go back to stealing 9/11 money,

And cheating by tens of millions on your taxes.

Go back to buying silence from your honeys,

And falsifying business records faxes.

Go back to where you came from, Donald Trump,

Go back to the Ninth Circle of Hell in Dante’s Dump.

Go back to all your mirrors and your thinning hairs — fewer and fewer;

Go back to where you belong, in the scummiest of scummy sewers.

Does My Judaism Still Exist?

I am a Jew.

I speak for no other Jews but myself.

I converted to Judaism 44 years ago today, drawn to a set of beliefs not threatened, but strengthened, by rational questioning and debate; that found beauty in acts of faith and generosity, small and large; that understood, from centuries of experience, the insanity and inhumanity of exclusion and demonization; and was built on the bedrock of fundamental human decency, dignity, love and the preciousness of life.

Which is why, despite the current collapse of democracy in Israel and the careening of Israeli leadership into a fundamentalist, nationalist chasm not unlike those in history responsible for the slaughter of millions of Jews, I was shocked by the depth of hatred aimed at me for criticizing the Netanyahu government’s abandonment of the fundamental principles of Judaism and human rights.

Early last month, I wrote on an Instagram posting by Chris Cuomo of News Nation, that: 

“I am a Jew.  Netanyahu’s extreme Right Wing government is an attack on all of us.  A fundamental tenet of Judaism is advancing humanity; the present Israeli government is setting humanity back.  On Holocaust Memorial Day when we Jews say “Never Again,” we mean never against us again, nor against any other peopleincluding non-combatant Palestinians.  We are not attacking Israel; we are attacking inhumanity…”

While more than 250 readers/viewers agreed with my statement (including a reminder that the IDF’s own Code of Ethicsprohibits a disproportionate response to an attack) respondents from Israel and the United States alike (some of whom may have been Bots) piled on.  A sampling of some comments:

1.    “Whose side are you really on?”

2.    “You’re calling for the death of your own people.”

3.    “Thanks for showing us what the ‘Judenrat,” did.  Jew.”

4.    “Sad to see a fellow Jew who is product of Hamas propaganda.”

5.    “Here we go with the “as a Jew” comment.”

6.    “So, you’re one of those ‘Self-Hating Jews? You’re a fraud.”

7.    “Palestinians must be slaughtered. We are dealing with psychopaths.”

8.    “You’re not a Jew. Villano is anything but a Jewish name.  Putz.”

9.    “You probably love US garbage pails like Biden & Schumer.”

10. “Why don’t you just Convert—OUT of Judaism?”

The Judaism I converted to 44 years ago, was a far different Judaism than the false faith being practiced by some Extreme Right Wing and Ultra Nationalist Jews in Israel and the United States today.  It was the Judaism articulated by Israeli writer and activist Fania Oz Salzberger, daughter of the great Israeli writer Amos Oz, who writes that:

“God does not belong as a political entity telling us what to do; what to teach; where to invade.”

Menachem Begin was Israeli Prime Minister at the time I converted, and while he was more conservative than Israel’s Labour Party leaders of the previous 30 years whom I revered, he had just, 2 years earlier, been a signatory to the Camp David Accords, along with US President Jimmy Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat—an historic peace agreement which earned all three leaders the Nobel Peace Prize.

There was a flicker of hope in the air, that a nearly 30-year constant state of War between Israel and Arab nations could be taking a pause, and could, perhaps, lead to a more permanent peace in the region.  Centuries old and seemingly irreconcilable differences over geography, demography, faith, ancestry and ancient rights of land ownership could be navigated if there was a willingness on each side to reach some livable accommodations with the other—and if the humanity of each side was respected.

If Menachem Begin, a leader of Israel’s armed revolutionary group for Independence the Irgun, who was labeled a “terrorist” by the British forces he fought for freedom, could shake hands with a sworn enemy of the State of Israel like Sadat, who led Egypt in the 1973 Yom Kippur War to retake the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had occupied since 1967—anything was possible.

There was great hope in the air for peace between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors, in the Spring, of 1980.  And, there was great hope in my life, that, after years of searching, I had found in Judaism, a set of ethical, humane, spiritual teachings and practices, in which I could believe, and rationally act upon.

I was a father of a five-year old son at the time when I chose Judaism as my new faith, the faith of his mother.  The hierarchy of my previous faith, Catholicism, had long since turned away from me by blindly supporting the American War in Vietnam, opposing equality for women, insisting that the promise of life was more important than life itself, discriminating against individuals because of their sexuality, and refusing to accept AIDS patients into their hospitals, and hearts, because of an outdated, and inhumane, concept of “sin.”

I spent years studying other faiths, and gravitated toward Judaism because of its grounding in reality, as well as spirituality; its’ fundamental commitment to repair the world (Tikkun Olam), and its’ insistence on refusing to wallow in darkness, and always, always work toward hope and the better side of human nature.

Converting to Judaism is not done on a whim; Jews have certain requirements for those they choose to let in.

After reading an article in the late 1970’s by the great Reform Jewish leader, Rabbi Alexander Schindler (the founder of ARZA, the American Reform Zionist Association) welcoming non-Jewish spouses in interfaith marriages to become Jews, I decided it was time to accept his invitation, and begin my journey toward Judaism. 

 It was a decision  which did not make my mother, a devout Catholic happy.  In fact, when I informed my mother I was converting to Judaism, she wrote me a letter in which she expressed how “heartbroken” she was; and that the announcement of “your becoming a Jew is not something I am proud of.” 

“I will never accept your decision to change your religion,” my mother wrote to me  six months before my Conversion to Judaism took place, on May 20, 1980.   In reality, it took years for her to become “comfortable” with my becoming a Jew.

We joined a large Reform Jewish Congregation in Albany, N.Y., and I came under the tutelage of a leading Reform Rabbi, Rabbi Martin Silverman, a disciple of Schindler’s, who guided me in my readings on Jewish history and Judaism.

Rabbi Silverman, whose wife, Phyllis, taught with mine in the Albany Public Schools, was already a remarkably courageous figure within the American Reform Jewish Community.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s before the Roe v.Wade  US Supreme Court decision which declared abortion to be a fundamental privacy and healthcare right of women, Rabbi Silverman had a secret compartment behind the sacred Torah Scrolls in the Chicago-area congregation he headed.   In it, he kept files of illegal abortions he’d helped women obtain, as well as a list of doctors willing to perform them.

Along with many other rabbis, ministers and priests across the nation, Silverman was a member of the Clergy Consultation Services, an underground network of fearless clergy, dedicated to protecting the life of the woman, first and foremost.  That was, after all, an essential teaching of Judaism—that the woman’s life was of paramount importance, and even if an abortion was necessary to protect the life of the woman, up to the moment of birth, abortion was a required medical procedure under Jewish Law, as well as in the Old Testament. 

Rabbi Silverman’s daughter, Amy Cohen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Adoption Agency Adoptions with Love, and an advocate for women’s reproductive rights, told the Jewish Journal of Greater Boston: 

 “If someone was pregnant and couldn’t have or didn’t want the baby, he counseled women of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds about their predicament, explained what an abortion entailed, and then he’d refer them to where they could get a safe abortion.”

Cohen described her father as a “liberal, forward-thinking person, always involved in people’s rights.”

 After my guided, independent study with Rabbi Silverman, I was considered to be ready to participate in a “Conversion class” sponsored by the Capital District Board of Rabbis, with Rabbis of all denominations of Judiasm—Orthodox, Conservative, Reform—participating. 

Teaching the Conversion course, was the diminutive Susie Isser, no more than five feet tall–who was trained in the law and had escaped from Austria just before the Nazis made it impossible to leave.   An immigrant to the United States in the late 1930’s, Isser—a Jewish, female attorney– found the door to the American legal profession slammed shut to her, a similar story to the one recounted decades later by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.   

So, for 20 years, to help support her family, the brilliant Susie Isser scrubbed floors, and taught Hebrew Sunday School, one day per week.  Her son, Dr. Raymond Isser, went on to become Chair of the Judaic Studies Department at SUNY Albany, my undergraduate alma mater, where my wife and I met. 

Word of Susie Isser’s passion for teaching and her commitment to a humanitarian Judaism—and to the State of Israel—spread throughout New York State’s Capital District.  In her class, the Jewish spouse was required to take the six-month long conversion class along with the spouse converting to Judaism.  Among our fellow students, was an Iranian Jew, and his non-Jewish spouse—both of whom had just escaped from Iran before the Ayatollah and a cabal of fundamentalists had taken over that country.

In her lessons on Jewish history, Susie Isser cried when she spoke of growing up with a Tzedakah Box, found in Jewish homes throughout Europe, being filled with pennies each day, year after year, to support the development of a homeland for Jews—with the promise of no discrimination against any faith, and legal protections and respect for all human rights.  In fact, those human rights protections, became key elements of the UN Charter which created Israel in 1948.

That was the Judaism I converted to in 1980, and it’s mission to advance humanity and repair the world, while not perfect, was carried out in spirit and substance by a succession of Israeli governments, from Begin’s to Yitzak Shamir’s, to Shimon Peres’, to Yitzhak Rabin’s. 

 That Judaism was violently attacked with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, by an Ultra Right Wing Nationalist disciple of convicted Jewish terrorist Meir Kahane, who was himself killed by an assassin’s bullet.

That Judaism began its slow slide toward assisted suicide, with the election of Benjamin Netanyahu, for the first time in 1996, and his repeated pandering to and enabling of the poisonous growth of Ultra Nationalist & Extremist groups throughout Israel by placing them in key Israeli government positions of extraordinary power—including power over religious matters, such as questions of “Who Is A Jew?”

Many of Kahane’s ultra nationalist adherents are now, nearly 30 years later, in key Israeli government positions, including Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli Finance Minister with oversight responsibility for the West Bank, arrested on terrorist charges in 2005 by Israel’s Shin Bet for plotting to block Israeli withdrawal from Gaza; and, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s National Security Minister, convicted multiple times for supporting terrorist organizations, and according to The New York Times investigation on Israeli extremists, published on Sunday, May 19, 2024, threatening  the life of  Yitzhak Rabin “ in front of TV cameras in 1995,” two weeks before Rabin was murdered. 

Rabin was murdered at a Peace rally, where he was speaking on behalf of the Oslo Accords—the US brokered peace agreement in 1993 between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization—which advanced the long held US foreign policy objective of a two-state Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement.

My Judaism, like Rabin’s, is one that believes in diversity, equality, inclusion, humanity and love, and a sacred obligation to repair the world.  My Zionism, like David Ben Gurion’s, Theodore Herzl’s, Amos Oz’, Susie Isser’s, and Yitzak Rabin’s is a Humanist Zionism, in which a State of Jews could only be a liberal democracy, NOT an exclusionary Nationalist Zionism. 

As Fania Oz Salberger has so eloquently said:

“Ben Gurion, the child of Socialist Zionists and of old Labour, and Theodore Herzl, a liberal, BOTH believed that Arabs AND Jews had to be part of Civil Society.”

That was the fundamental premise upon which Israel was founded; that was the basis of the international agreement which created the State of Israel 75 years ago; and that was the pluralistic, humane, loving, generous and intellectually honest faith to which I converted 44 years ago this week.

My Mother’s Message to Trump: “You Want Respect? You Give Respect.”

My mother was a beautiful Italian woman of great dignity, faith and courage. She was born during the Polio Epidemic of 1915–16, and paralyzed on one side of her body. She considered herself fortunate that it wasn’t worse.

When she saw other “Polio children” in the Crippled Children’s Home where she spent several months–living their lives in Iron Lungs because they could not breathe–my mother was grateful that she only lost the use of one arm.

From her earliest days, my mother faced hateful discrimination because of her disability. Her father, an ignorant, arrogant, bull-headed, demeaning, macho-man — much like Donald Trump — told her she’d never get a job or get married because of her “limp” arm.

As a “polio” child born in the Italian neighborhood of Greenwich Village, NYC public health restrictions kept her out of public swimming pools. When she was sent upstate New York to a New York Times “Fresh Air Fund” camp for disabled children, she noticed signs in front of private camps throughout the Catskills which read: “NO POLIO CHILDREN ALLOWED.”

My mother taught herself to swim in the waters off Coney Island, using her “one good arm”, and raised and diapered four children in the days when diapers were made of cloth, and all washing was done by hand. She never complained, nor cursed her disability, even when my father went off to World War II to fight Fascism and she was left alone, to care for three children, with her youngest still in diapers.

My mother never lived in a mansion, never was driven to school in a rose-colored Rolls Royce, and never received millions from her father, as Donald Trump did, nor did she ever delight in calling people names or insulting them. She was a devout Catholic until the moment of her death in 2007, and believed in the kind of all loving God that Pope Francis has preached about over the last few years. Money never mattered much to my mother; human dignity, kindness, caring and love were the sources of her wealth. Her life-long disability made her even more sensitive to all kinds of human frailties.

I’ve thought of my mother often over the past several years as Trump’s toxic cruelty has taken hold in this country. I channeled her anger when when the shrivel-souled beast who mocked disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski was elected President in 2016. My mother, loving and forgiving as she was, would have been outraged.

“You miserable son-of-a-bitch,” I imagined her yelling at the television each time she watched the video replay of Donald Trump mocking Kovaleski or discriminating against anyone “different.” “You should be forced to spend time in a Crippled Children’s Home to see people struggling to live each day with a disability.”

My mother’s political hero was FDR because he showed the world how a person with a disability — Polio, specifically — could accomplish great things for others. When FDR helped launch the “March of Dimes” to raise vast sums of money for Polio research, my mother sent off her annual contribution of dimes with a religious fervor for decades. With FDR fighting for a cure, surely one would be found, she told us. She was proven right in 1954, when Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the Polio Vaccine, some 60 years after the virus was first identified. Her faith in scientific advancement, medical research and vaccines was unshakeable.

My mother isn’t alive today to call Donald Trump a miserable son-of-bitch, for making fun of the disabled, dehumanizing women and for his blatant bigotry against immigrants and communities of color, ethic or sexual difference. So, I will carry-on for her. This son of a courageous Polio survivor thinks Trump is a miserable son-of-a-bitch, and a shrivel-souled creature of the lowest order. And the cretins who enable and support him are no better.

My mother fought meanness and cruelty every single day of her life, persisting on the strength of her sheer will and refusal to give up. She fought bigots and brutes every time they reared their ugly faces or philosophies. She never, ever lost hope.

On this Mother’s Day, it’s in the spirit of such an indefatigable battler against bullies, that I’ll continue her fight, against Trump, and any other miserable son-of-a-bitch like him, who seek to make themselves larger by picking on those more vulnerable.

My mother’s mantra lives on, some 17 years after her death with great dignity: You want respect? You give respect.

The Only “Outside Agitators” Advocate Endless War.

(The Kent State University Massacre, May 4, 1970. During a peaceful anti-War demonstration on the Kent State campus, 20-year old Kent State student Jeffrey Miller, of Plainview, Long Island, NY., was shot through the mouth and throat, and killed by the Ohio National Guard. Mary Anne Vecchio, a 14-year old visitor to campus, knelt by Miller’s lifeless body, screaming for help.)

There is no single image, yet, from these current Anti-Gaza War college protests, as transformative as the photo of 14-year old Mary Anne Vecchio, a run-away from Opa-Locka, Florida, kneeling over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller of Plainview, Long Island, a 20-year old Kent State student, shot through the mouth and killed instantly by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. 

It serves as a sobering reminder, on the 54th anniversary of the Kent State killings, of  the way this nation’s powerful political, military and corporate interests tried, unsuccessfully, to silence us in those days:  they shot us through the mouth, or beat us to a pulp, as they did in the streets of Chicago, in 1968. Still, we persisted, and were prescient about the outcome of a War, like the one in Gaza, which was a wanton waste of human life.

It is that image of a screaming Vecchio—the age of my oldest granddaughter—kneeling over Miller’s motionless body, which never leaves millions of us who protested against the U.S. War in Vietnam for years, on our college campuses, and in the streets of Washington, DC, and Albany, New York, and towns and villages across the country.    That life-stopping image, coupled with the grisly photo of an American-backed South Vietnamese military officer executing a Viet Cong soldier in the head at point blank range, and the photo of a naked, shrieking Vietnamese child running in horror from an American Napalm attack, are our recurring night terrors..

And, when we awaken, the reality of thousands upon thousands of coffins of young soldiers coming home, wrapped in American flags, sacrificing their lives, their youth, their limbs, or minds, in a war which US military, intelligence and political leaders knew, for years, could never be won, but lied that it could, and kept blindly wading ahead and spreading it into Laos and Cambodia, because they would sooner kill and maim millions of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian women and children, than admit their catastrophic policy mistakes and humanitarian atrocities.

In fact, it was mere days after President Richard Nixon announced, first the end to undergraduate student deferments, which kept many of us out of the War, and then the expansion of the War from Vietnam into Cambodia, that demonstrations across US colleges and universities exploded almost as exponentially as the 2.75 million tons of American bombs dropped indiscriminately across Cambodia, according to recent Yale University findings.

In all, up to as many as one million Cambodian civilians were killed during the four years of Henry Kissinger’s carpet-bombing campaign, which led to the rise of the deadly Khmer Rouge and the genocide of nearly three million innocent Cambodian citizens.   Only a few years after the Kissinger–conceived blitzkrieg of Cambodia, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the American War in Vietnam.

On May 1, 1970, the day after Nixon & Kissinger announced the expansion of the American War into Cambodia, many of us than-college students across the United States staged a series of sit-ins, teach-ins and marches to protest the expanding, and increasingly brutal War throughout Southeast Asia.   Kent State University in Northeastern, Ohio, was no exception.

Student-led demonstrations erupted on the Kent State campus on May 1, and physical attacks ratcheted up on the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) building on the Ohio Campus and on several others.  Nationwide, ROTC was functioning as a funnel to facilitate the delivery of fresh faced, young American fighting forces in Southeast Asia.  It became the very symbol of the voracious appetite of a US war machine devouring everything, and everyone, it could get its hand on. 

With the actions against Kent State’s ROTC building becoming more violent, Ohio’s Republican Governor Jim Rhodes, ordered 1,000 Ohio National Guard troops to roll onto the University’s campus with tanks, and military equipment meant for a battlefield.  Armed soldiers were stationed in front of every dormitory.  Thousands of college students, ages 17-21—regardless of whether or not they were protesting–were held hostage on their own campus by the heavily armed, and poorly trained, members of the Ohio National Guard. 

Historian Howard Zinn wrote that on May 3, Governor Rhodes gave a virulent speech at the Kent Firehouse, where he called the student protesters “un-American, Revolutionaries, out to destroy higher education in Ohio.”

We are going to eradicate the problem,” Rhodes said.  “They are the worse type of people that we harbor in America.”

Rhodes irresponsible, dangerous and false accusations foreshadowed by some 54 years those made by GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson, who first accused the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for being behind the US college protests against the War in Gaza, and than, less than one week later, accused the progressive Jewish philanthropist George Soros of orchestrating the demonstrations.   Ironically, Soros has been a long-time target of anti-Semites, by the extreme Right Wing groups, and global conspiracy theorists.  When pressed, Johnson could produce no evidence for his wildly contradictory claims.

On the evening of May 3 1970, a few Kent State students reacted to the Ohio Governor’s incendiary language by chanting at the Guardsmen standing in front of their dormitories.  In reaction, National Guardsmen bayoneted several students, and forced others back into their dorms: they bayoneted, or stabbed, the students in front of their own dorms.

University officials tried to ban an anti-war/anti-campus occupation rally scheduled for noon the following day, May 4, at the center of the Kent State University campus, by distributing some 12,000 leaflets claiming, falsely, that the rally was cancelled.  Despite the mimeographed lie by University officials, which tragically backfired, some 2,000 to 3,000 Kent State students—some 25% of the entire campus student body at that time—showed up under intensely threatening conditions to peacefully call for an end to the War, and the military occupation of their campus.    Astonishingly, the inflammatory act of inciting students with a mass distributed, printed threat of academic retribution was repeated last week by Columbia University officials threatening academic retribution against Columbia’s own students in the Anti-Gaza War encampment on the New York City campus.

 As the Kent State rally began on May 4, 1970, a small group of a few dozen students became more strident, and National Guardsmen, armed to the teeth, opened fire toward the center of the group of unarmed students. One unit of 12 Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 shots at the crowd of unarmed college students in a matter of 13 seconds.

Four officially enrolled Kent State University students were killed:  Allison Krause, age 19; Jeffrey Miller, age 20;  Sandra Scheuer, age 20; and William Knox Schroeder, age 19.  Nine additional Kent State students were wounded, with one, Dean Kahler, a 19-year old college freshman, shot in his spine and paralyzed for life.

 All of the students who were shot were students in good standing at the University; none were “outside agitators.”   Two of the students murdered by the Ohio National Guardsmen, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, were simply by-standers, observing the demonstration.

Spontaneous expressions of rage and protest broke out at hundreds of American colleges and universities throughout May, 1970, involving more than a million students, not “outside agitators.”  More than half of all US college campuses experienced the nationwide strike, with many schools cancelling classes, replacing them with anti-war teach-ins, and going to pass/fail grades, which is what happened at SUNY Albany.  For us, it became known as “The Strike Semester.”

It was, according to Zinn, the first general student strike in United States history, embracing an expanding quilt of related issues:  the American War in Vietnam; the carpet bombing of Cambodia; the presence of military and police forces on campuses; the growing corporate and military involvement of universities,  growing income inequality, institutional racism,  and, the Jackson State, Mississippi police murder of two Black Students for protesting the War. 

At one demonstration, my life was threatened by a National Guardsmen at bayonet-point for being too politically radical (for merely demonstrating) and, at another, by the leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) for being too politically moderate (for merely demonstrating). My mother’s much physically bigger brother Eddie called me a communist for opposing the War and putting up a peace sign on the front of our home.  My mother, a diminutive Italian woman with one arm paralyzed by Polio, threw my uncle out of her house for making the ignorant accusation against me.  It’s not just the War in Gaza that has torn families apart.

The “Kent State Massacre”, as it became known, electrified the country, sharpening opposition to the war in Southeast Asia, and galvanizing many otherwise uninvolved Americans.  My own mother, an FDR/JFK/LBJ Democrat, became furiously anti-war, since all she could see was her own son in Jeffrey Miller’s life-less 20-year old body, bullet through his mouth and throat, silencing him for eternity.