Featured Essays

Women Rising Radio presents an Op-ed from Dr. Alice Rothchild, an MD with long experience working on mental health in Gaza. Alice is featured in Women Rising Radio #47, “Healers Face the Catastrophe in Israel-Palestine”.

In Israel-Hamas war, where are the voices of the healing profession?

Jan. 3, 2024 at 2:56 pm Updated Jan. 3, 2024 at 3:56 pm The Seattle Times

Surgeons operate on a Palestinian wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in a hospital in Rafah on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (Hatem Ali / The Associated Press)

1 of 2 | Surgeons operate on a Palestinian wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in a hospital in Rafah on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (Hatem Ali / The Associated Press)


Alice Rothchild

Special to The Seattle Times

It is possible to be horrified by the deaths and injuries resulting from Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians and at the same time be horrified by the Israeli military response that is killing tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza.  

Until recently, the health care professions that have spoken out about wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine in the past have been either silent or defended the bombing campaign. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided an excellent description of the catastrophic health crisis in Gaza but did not call for an end to the bombing. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies took a similar approach.  

The American Medical Association declined to debate a resolution calling for a cease-fire. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has been remarkably silent, despite the fact that over 180 pregnant women are delivering daily in Gaza under bombardment. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its policy to emphasize protection of children during armed conflict but has not mentioned the estimated more than 15,400 women and children killed or the thousands injured, still under the rubble, or severely emotionally traumatized during the conflict. 

Some organizations have spoken out for an end to the carnage. The American Public Health Association, Doctors Without Borders, the  World Health Organization, the prominent medical journal The Lancet, and the World Federation of Public Health Associations have all called for a long-term cease-fire, release of hostages, restoration of water, fuel, electricity, and adequate humanitarian aid.  

To my medical colleagues who have not spoken out, I ask: When is the line crossed? 

  • When the number of women and children killed in Gaza exceeds the number of civilians killed by the U.S. and its allies in nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan? 
  • When a group calling itself Doctors for the Rights of IDF Soldiers advocates for the bombing of all hospitals in Gaza, using hateful rhetoric implicating the entire civilian population, after 45 prominent Israeli rabbis state that the Israeli military has a right to bomb Al-Shifa Hospital? 
  • When the provision of food, fuel, electricity, oxygen, medications, and clean water are deliberately denied as a weapon of war, targeting an entire civilian population that now faces dehydration, starvation, lack of access to health care, and unimaginable emotional trauma? 
  • When hospitals and ambulances are targeted and destroyed with patients and staff inside, when incubators fail due to the lack of fuel such that sick newborn babies are wrapped in foil and laid next to each other to keep warm, and when parents are writing their children’s names on their extremities so they can be identified after the bombs fall? 
  • When Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of Al Shifa Hospital, is detained by Israeli forces, along with other colleagues, and a convoy from Doctors Without Borders is targeted by Israeli fire, killing one person? 
  • When over 312 medical workers have been killed, more medical staff are being arrested, interrogated, and detained, and only a third of the hospitals are even partially functional? 

We can agree that Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians was a war crime, but why is it so difficult to acknowledge that the Israeli military attack on health care facilities and personnel, water and sewer infrastructure, housing and educational institutions, killing more than 21,978 civilians and displacing 85% of the population, is also a violation of the right to health in defiance of international law, and therefore a war crime, too?

As health care workers, we have a choice. As Frantz Fanon stated, doctors can heal “the wounds of humanity” or we can be complicit in systems of oppression. We can resist or collaborate with the unfolding violence in Gaza. We can be silent and fearful about our reputations and careers, or we can recognize that making the accusation of antisemitism against those who speak out against the wholesale slaughter of civilians is a poisonous form of silencing and weaponization. 

To stay silent is an ethical failure by the U.S. medical profession. Palestinian doctors and health workers have refused to abandon their patients under devastating conditions. We should honor and support their commitment and our colleagues who are promoting their efforts, working for a total cease-fire, release of hostages, massive humanitarian aid, and an end to the oppressive occupation and siege. 

Alice Rothchild is a physician, author and filmmaker focused on human rights and social justice. Until retirement she served as assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School.

Women Rising Radio presents an article by Samah Salaime, who is featured in Women Rising Radio #46, “Visionaries Face the Catastrophe in Israel-Palestine. Samah is a well-known writer and commentator in Israel and Palestine, and this article was published in +972 magazine.

Women’s liberation mustn’t stop at either side of the Gaza fence

Feminist principles compel us to stand with both the Palestinian women being slaughtered in Gaza and the Israeli women testifying about sexual violence.

Samah SalaimeBy Samah Salaime December 22, 2023

In partnership with

The two most important struggles of my life are the fight against gender-based violence and the fight against Israeli occupation. I have always understood these struggles to be inextricably linked, both of them striving for liberation and equality for oppressed groups: women and Palestinians. But for the first time, it feels like those two worlds are clashing. 

Since the onset of the war, we have all been pushed to choose a side — to support or condemn, to be for or against. This language, which we know so well from the toolbox of patriarchy, has also permeated feminist strongholds. Still in shock, Jewish and Palestinian feminists have been forced to take a stance: to believe or deny that Jewish women were victims of sexual violence during the Hamas-led October 7 assault on southern Israel. This question has been subsumed into the war of narratives in the aftermath of those attacks and amid Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

I believe that gender-based crimes occurred on October 7. Even though we don’t know exactly what happened, or the form or scope of the sexual violence perpetrated that day — though we do have some indications — I believe that it happened because I have studied the history of women in war zones. 

We know that systematic rape and sexual abuse against girls and women is a common phenomenon in war zones. Armed men, drunk on power, see women’s bodies as part of the battlefield. Those who attack civilians in order to murder, intimidate, control, and occupy, and those who take innocent people as hostages, are likely to go beyond putting a gun to a woman’s head.  

Pictures of the people killed and kidnapped at the Nova music festival on October 7 are displayed at the site of the massacre near the Gaza fence, November 29, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

We know, for example, what happened in former Yugoslavia, when Serbian soldiers raped thousands of Bosnian women, whose stories only came to light when unwanted children were discovered in refugee camps. It took many months for the full picture of systematic rape to emerge. 

We know what happened to women during fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo; we know what Boko Haram soldiers did to girls in North Africa; and we know what British and American soldiers did to women in Iraq. We know what happened to Yazidi women who were taken captive by ISIS; we know about the sexual slavery Syrian women and girls were subjected to during the war; and we know that indigenous women in Canada were raped and murdered in forests. 

Similar horrors have also been perpetrated against women in Algeria, Myanmar, Darfur, and Rwanda. And yes, here in this land, too, there are horror stories of sexual violence against Palestinian women during the Nakba. Those crimes weren’t photographed, documented, or investigated, and only the stories of the survivors – our grandmothers – remain.

The historical and geographical prevalence of sexual violence in no way diminishes the trauma and pain experienced by Israeli women or the solidarity we must show with them; rather, it emphasizes why their testimonies should be taken seriously. 

Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34, and her twin daughters, Yuli and Emma, who were released from Hamas captivity, arrive to their home in Yavne, December 7, 2023. (Jonathan Shaul/Flash90)

While it is important that a thorough investigation be carried out, we must remember that stories of gender-based crimes in war zones generally come to light very slowly. It takes many survivors of sexual violence years, if not a lifetime, to be able to talk about what happened to them. Too often, however, patriarchy silences, diminishes, or denies the truth, and it is therefore crucial to say: we believe women.

And it is on the basis of these same feminist principles that we must also stand with the Palestinian women in Gaza facing untold suffering at the hands of the Israeli army since October 7. Our struggle for women’s liberation must not stop at either side of the Gaza fence. 

Israeli feminism on the offensive

Asserting that international women’s groups have shown a lack of solidarity with Israeli women after October 7, the mainstream Zionist feminist apparatus has gone on the offensive. It is not only targeting those who are silent, but also those who have dared to call for an external investigation into the gender-based crimes committed on October 7, decrying them as racists who have taken the side of the Palestinians and abandoned Israeli women. 

The central target of this rhetoric has been UN Women, which Israeli feminist organizations have accused of denying sexual violence against Israeli women — a product, of course, of the UN’s “antisemitism.” The truth is more straightforward: that UN Women, like every organization belonging to the colossal dinosaur that is the UN, works very, very slowly. 

UN Women should, indeed, have responded quicker to reports of sexual violence on October 7. Its first statement, published on Oct. 13, was bland and vague, including a call to stop the fighting and to prevent harm to innocent people, especially women and children. A second statement, published on Dec. 1, went further: it expressed alarm at “numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks,” and noted that the organization is supporting the wider UN commission of inquiry into war crimes on both sides, including sexual violence. 

Demanding that the horrors of October 7 be investigated and documented, including through the collection of survivor testimonies, does not diminish the severity of what occurred. Nor does attacking the global feminist movement reflect more vigorous solidarity with the victims. On the contrary, it puts feminists in a place of defensiveness and hesitancy and unnecessarily demands a loyalty test of the feminist values of sisterhood, the commitment to the liberation of all women regardless of race or nationality, and the obligation to support and preserve the dignity of victims.

Moreover, much of this rhetoric totally erases Israel’s bombardment of Gaza since October 7, which has had appalling impacts on the lives of Palestinian women in the Strip. Tens of thousands of women have been killed or wounded, their children dismembered, and their premature babies left without oxygen. Women have been giving birth in tents, breastfeeding and menstruating without access to clean water, hygiene products, privacy, or clean clothing. 

These numbers and images don’t reach women in Israel, but the rest of the world is seeing what’s happening and must also care about the feminist angle of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Today, the balance of blood and horror leans toward the Palestinian side; this cannot be ignored, but nor should the suffering of women in Israel and Gaza be a competition.

Our fight must continue together

It would be much easier for me to immerse myself in videos of women being killed in Gaza and, at least until the end of the war, to be a sharp Palestinian and a blurry feminist. In that regard, I can understand the Jewish women for whom it was easier to return to their own national camp and join the ranks supporting the war. But turning inward at this time betrays the feminist values we have fought for together over so many years and ultimately harms the well-being of Israeli and Palestinian women alike.

Five years ago, I was part of a group of Palestinian and Jewish feminists who partnered together to fight against plans to make it easier to receive a gun license in Israel, which we knew would lead to more domestic abuse and violence against women. That reform was proposed by Gilad Erdan, who at the time was Israel’s public security minister and now represents Israel at the UN. Sadly, some Israeli feminists now see Erdan as a partner in their struggle because of the war he is waging against UN Women in the wake of October 7.  

Similarly, we cannot view Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has harmed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian women in more ways than one can count, as a partner just because he proclaims to the world: “Where are you? You are being silent because they are Jewish women.” 

As a Palestinian feminist, I stand with my Jewish feminist colleagues and partners at this deeply distressing time, and I expect them to also stand with me and the cause of Palestinian feminism as Israel slaughters our sisters in Gaza. I expect them to have the courage to stand up and call for an immediate ceasefire, which will save the lives of countless mothers and children who will otherwise be killed or wounded. 

The struggle against militarism and militarization has for years been a shared struggle among Jewish and Palestinian feminists. Right now, that struggle is more important than ever.

Just as I do not deny the experiences of Israeli women, I expect Jewish feminists and the rest of the world to recognize the effects of Israel’s longstanding gender-based violence against Palestinian women: sexual violence by soldiers at checkpoints; abuse of female prisoners; and the ways in which Israeli soldiers in Gaza are currently degrading Palestinian women even in their absence, taking pleasure in rifling through their intimate belongings after they have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

I am proud of my friends in Palestinian women’s organizations and the statement they published, which I also signed, which stated clearly: “Our firm stance against sexual assaults, harassment, and rape remains unwavering, supporting every woman who speaks out, regardless of nationality, religion, or ethnicity.”

“We don’t question reports from Israeli organizations combating sexual assaults against Israeli women regarding the events of October 7,” the statement continued. “In light of this, we call upon … those active in women’s organizations in Israel who raised their voices against the sexual assault [endured] on October 7 to boldly condemn all violations, including killings, demolitions, and displacements occurring in the relentless war against the Palestinian people, particularly affecting women and children in Gaza.”

Sexual assault is not a matter of political gain. Our struggles as Palestinian and Jewish feminists are intertwined, and must include opposing occupation, racism, discrimination, patriarchy, and fundamentalism at all times and in all places. We will not succeed if we are divided; our fight must continue together.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here

Samah Salaime

Samah Salaime is a feminist Palestinian activist and writer.

The Left As Israel’s Sacrificial Lamb

by Lynn Feinerman Producer, Women Rising Radio

Just today, October 24 2023, Hamas released two hostages, among those two Yocheved Lifschitz, an 85 year-old peace activist from Nir Oz, one of the kibbutz communities near the border of Gaza. Ms. Lifschitz stated: “We were very hurt by the fact that the IDF did not know. We were the scapegoats! They warned us three weeks earlier, with people who came to the roads and burned fields. Sent incendiary balloons to burn our fields. And the IDF did not address this seriously.” She went on to explain that she shook the hand of her Hamas captor because “they treated us kindly and took care of our needs”.

“We were the scapegoats” …? Yocheved Lifschitz’s comment could not have been more of a validation of the view that I present in the following article about the current Israel-Palestine conflict and its roots.

Near as I can recall, the last major peacebuilding event in Israel with a wide media reach and deep support from Israeli society, was the 1995 rally in what is now called Rabin square, at which Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin joined in singing Shir L’Shalom – a popular anthem of the Israeli peace movement at the time. That very night he was shot and killed by a member of the “knitted kippah” religious settler movement.

That evening I had been laying in the music tracks for my movie, If You Make It Possible – profiling grassroots Israeli and Palestinian peace activists across the political and religious spectrum. The assassination of Rabin was more than a devastating gut punch to me, and to all others still hopeful for a real peace process. It was a takeover of the Israeli government by violence, a coup d’etat.

And the political struggles since that time have carefully orchestrated an avoidance of that watershed reality.

That heinous overthrow had been prepared for months, years, by the Zionist religious right wing under the leadership of Benyamin Netanyahu. They had plastered hundreds, thousands of posters of Rabin dressed in a Kefiyah, a traditional Palestinian headdress. The photo wasn’t real, it was a photoshopped image, on poles, walls, in corridors, all over Israel. And Netanyahu spoke at right wing rallies, in ominous words, of the dangers of making peace with the Palestinian people. He implied that the peace makers should be stopped, by any means.

At the time, David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, tells us, “There were moments when Netanyahu was advised that there are real nutcases in the national religious camp that we see, that we need to calm down, even gesturally… Netanyahu never did that, he never did that, to his enormous discredit”. Recalling quotes from some of his speeches at that time, I would say that contrary to mediating or “calming down” the settler zealots, he was driving the violence and hysteria of those “nutcases”.

Since that time, while the Zionist left including Labor and Meretz parties have struggled to maintain their historical influence on Israeli politics and society, they’ve sacrificed those who have always made the difference for them, in elections – the non-Zionist left including “Arab” parties and the Israeli peace movement.

The Netanyahu coup d’etat not only sidelined the peace movement and put Israel in denial of Palestine. It also brought more privatization and the dismantling of agencies such as the Histadrut, Israel’s original organization of workers and labor unions. And above all, the coup solidified Netanyahu’s, and Israel’s, pact with the international masters of war, weaponry and violence.

Israel’s most creative and humanizing organizational network, its kibbutzim, have also been drained of attention and support, in favor of propping up religious settlements in and near the West Bank and Gaza.

Confined in its open-air prison, blockaded, starved and constantly subject to the repression of Israeli military surveillance, did Gaza note that the kibbutzim nearest its borders, Kerem Shalom in particular, were against the Israeli occupation and actively seeking peace and understanding? Did that matter, finally, to those who escaped the prison and wreaked devastation on those kibbutzim?

Steven Zunes, an author and professor of politics and international studies at University of San Francisco, gave a nod to the sad fact that, in addition to being marginalized in Israeli society, those left-leaning kibbutzim took the hit for a right wing government and its increasingly ethno-nationalist policies. On KPFA radio Zunes recently said:

“One of the tragic ironies of this is the vast majority of the casualties were kibbutzim and the people at this outdoor concert. And people who live in kibbutzim and people who go to raves tend to be the more left-wing, secular Israelis who oppose Netanyahu. Who oppose the occupation, who oppose the seizure of Gaza. Not the right wing ultra-religious nationalist types. I have a good friend who, just a few months ago we were doing training in nonviolent civil resistance to war and occupation, for activists. She lived in kibbutz Kissufim, and she is missing and likely dead or kidnapped. Kerem Shalom, which is probably the most left-wing kibbutz in Israel, they’ve been involved in nonviolent direct action against the occupation. They were overrun, massacres there …”

Kibbutzim, communities carrying on a mostly socialist communal life style, were the founding roots of Israeli society in the early days of the nation. They have a politically progressive tradition. Steven Zunes

gets to the heart of a controversy about kibbutzim: “ That’s one of the great contradictions of Zionism as a whole. On the one hand it was a national liberation movement for an oppressed people that was led by …social democrats, but it was also a settler colonial enterprise on land that was already inhabited.”

Perhaps a major hope for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, and for co-existence on contested lands there, has been the willingness of those progressive kibbutzniks to advocate for understanding with their Palestinian neighbors, and to develop humane, mutually respectful ties. And now, the debacle of destruction of those left-wing kibbutzim.

With the coming of the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, came a slew of articles in the Israel Times, Ha’aretz and other journals pointing out that whenever Netanyahu was prime minister, Israel propped up Hamas, funneling it up to $1 billion through Qatar, in order to hobble Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and prevent the formation of a Palestinian state. So in essence, Netanyahu armed Hamas.

I hate to think this, let alone write it, but is it possible that Netanyahu and his henchmen, Smotrich, Ben Gvir and others, knew of or anticipated the Hamas attacks, and were willing to sacrifice those left-wing kibbutzim?

Certainly, Smotrich, previously arrested of inciting racist violence in Israel, would not be above that kind of cynicism, and he stated on October 8: “We must be cruel now and not think too much about the hostages (in Gaza). It’s time to act.”

After international outrage erupted over the bombing of a Gaza hospital, which killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians, Netanyahu reinforced his customary racist memes of Palestinians as “children of darkness” – as opposed to Israel’s “children of light”.

Further, the report that 40 Israeli babies had been decapitated by Hamas, which the Israeli military won’t confirm, has now been walked back by the Biden administration and most credible news organizations. But that “news” inflamed fury and revulsion, and US president Biden rode that wave of hatred with comments about the “pure, unadulterated evil” of the Hamas attack. And by implication, of course, of Hamas itself. Israel trumpeted its usual condemnation of what it termed “animals”.

Why was Netanyahu assisting in the preparation of those “animals” with financial support? This doesn’t add up… the black and white here is so, so gray. Good and evil here are not, certainly not, at all clear.

I want to recount an incident from my time – two years aggregate – in the Middle East. When I arrived in Israel/Palestine for the first time, to study Hebrew, I took a tour of the Burnt House Museum, Katros House, presenting an excavated home from the second Temple period, in ancient history. The tour guide, a knitted kippah (yarmulkah) religious settler, asserted that the reason Jerusalem was burned, and the second Temple destroyed, was that Jews became too “liberal”, and their departure from orthodoxy infuriated Creator, and the catastrophe came from that.

Basically, that tour guide was teaching people that anybody liberal, or left-leaning, was responsible for Israel’s heaviest suffering.

But I had learned, in Torah study, that the reason for the burning of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second Temple, was because of sinat hinam, unreasoning hatred. Not because of liberals.

That experience was my first hint that religious intolerance, and condemnation of those with differing religious or nonreligious views, was precisely the unreasoning hatred, the sinat hinam,

the scapegoating, that brought down the Temple and ancient Israeli society, according to most Torah analysts.

Netanyahu, Smotrich and Ben Gvir have spewed racism, hatred and violence for decades. Could it be that they were willing to set up those kibbutzim near Gaza, and those ravers at the concert, those left-wingers and secularists, as the scapegoats for their current imposition of chaos on Israel and Palestine?

Is the left in Israel the Hevel, the Abel, to the right wing’s callous, authoritarian, and much more violent, Cain?

Maybe it doesn’t really matter if they “knew and planned” the assault on those kibbutzim and those ravers. They are clearly and directly responsible for the current violence and vitriol.

How will you get rid of those “leaders”, Israel? Start planning that now.

Lynn Feinerman is a media activist. Her award-winning movie If You Make It Possible profiling Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, screened on PBS, the International Channel and cable in Israel. Her radio series Women Rising Radio is broadcast and podcast with Progressive Radio Network 24/7 online.

Phosphogypsum: Florida’s Plan to Build Roads to Hell

By Wendi Lederman

Among a slew of dangerous bills put forward this year in Florida’s legislative session termed, “The Summer of Sprawl,” HB 1911 was signed into law by the Governor in June. As a result, despite outrage from citizens, a formal letter signed by over 20 environmental groups, and an outright ban by the EPA, HB 1911 authorizes that the radioactive waste known as “phosphogypsum” will be tested for use in road construction by Florida Department of Transportation. 

Florida mines roughly 10 million tons of phosphorus per year, a quarter of the world’s supply. When phosphate rock is chemically treated, converting it into phosphoric acid used for fertilizer, radioactive components are released. A phosphogypsum by-product is created which is then stored in massive heaps called gypstacks. These gypstacks can cover 800 acres and reach 60 meters high. Florida currently has 24 gypstacks containing roughly 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum, adding 30 million tons each year.

The phosphorus industry estimates a single ton of phosphoric acid equates to 5.2 tons of phosphogypsum. Now that industry seeks ways to profit from its toxic waste.

The Florida fertilizer market is cornered by two major companies, Mosaic and Nutrien, who are worth around $40 billion each with a combined profit of $10 billion in 2022. That’s not counting profits from their mega-polluting Big Ag customers like Big Sugar.

Florida has 27 phosphate mines, nine are active, using tens of millions of tons of groundwater daily. Runoff from the finished product causes devastating algae blooms, red tide, and dead zones which decimate wetlands and all life that depends on Florida’s precious water systems. The monstrous gypstacks lead to sinkholes, aquifer contamination, countless disasters like Piney Point, and leach radiation into the environment. This hazardous material contains uranium, thorium, and radium which break down to radon, a radioactive gas with a propensity for seeping into homes and accumulating. Florida leaders now want to pave our roads with it.

In Soda Springs, Idaho, phosphate mines supply raw material for Monsanto’s  notorious weedkiller Roundup where a thermal processing method turns out a byproduct called “slag.” Because of its molecular structure, radiation is less easily emitted in this form. For years slag was used to construct homes and roadways until radiological surveys done in the 1980’s found elevated risks of cancer for those residents. Soda Springs banned the purchase of slag, and new regulations were drawn for the state.

Phosphogypsum has been banned as a road aggregate since 1992. But a potential loophole lets interested parties petition the EPA to permit “other uses”.  The corporate petitioners must “demonstrate that introduction of this material into the environment will not result in risks to the public or the environment that are greater than leaving the phosphogypsum in the stacks.”   It would be a criminal contradiction for the EPA to grant this permit by disregarding its own strict regulations against this specific matter. Unless there is vocal public attention, that might happen.

Not only can radon leak into the air and into homes, endangering the health of residents as well as road workers, but certain conditions make the gas even more deadly. The EPA states that temperature, barometric pressure, moisture levels, and standing water can all impact radiation levels, therefore no two gypstacks are the same. Florida is home to storms, flooding, heat and humidity making a perfect petri dish of atomic doom if these roads are built.

The only benefit or sensical reason for this dimwitted and suicidal proposal is to relieve the phosphate companies of their waste burden. So what is the true benefit of producing phosphate in the first place, and what purpose does it serve? 

Of the 23 million tons of phosphate rock mined in the US each year, 95% goes to agriculture, primarily fertilizer and animal feed. The other 5% goes mostly to industrial use in addition to the production of glyphosate, previously mentioned. Applications requiring hardness or heat-resistant coating, which can range from oilfield parts to kitchen utensils. Teflon is a phosphorus-based product and anything involving PFAS and other “forever chemicals” originates in these mines. Forever chemicals are found in everything from cleaning products, food packaging, food additives, to cosmetics and more. They’re known to cause cancer, disrupt hormones, and compromise immune systems leading to disorders like diabetes. As the name suggests, they do not break down because of their solid structure, and are now found everywhere from fetuses to ice caps.

Other seldom discussed uses of phosphorus are the military applications of incendiary munitions and smoke for visual obscurants. When used as a chemical agent, White Phosphorus reacts immediately upon contact with oxygen and can “burn right down to the bone.” It keeps burning until it’s deprived of oxygen:  “Exposure to heavy smoke concentrations for extended periods (particularly if near the source of emission) may cause illness or even death.” GlobalSecurity.org reports the detailed functions of phosphorus in warfare, and says that, “White Phosphorus is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory.”

So what are the alternatives to exorbitant phosphorus mining which generates toxicity, leaving radioactive decay in its wake? For most of the 5% going to industrial use, consumers are already shifting demand to more natural, safer options than continually ingesting forever chemicals through unhealthy additives in food, personal care, and home goods. Regenerative agriculture and organic farming proves manufactured phosphoric acid is not the only source of plant nutrients. Sustainable practices are available which actually heal the soil rather than deplete it, without the noxious consequences of runoff, algae blooms and fish kills. Composting initiatives are successful throughout the country, and may even be considered as business models to boost local economies. In Florida we have the ability to compost seaweed, that in turn helps maintain the health of our shorelines. Yet somehow we sit in the toxic shadow of radioactive gypstacks. While the EPA unbelievably allows for phosphogypsum to be spread directly as a fertilizer, “There is no limitation on the amount of material that can be applied and farmers do not have to maintain certificates or application records.” Who and what is the agency actually protecting?

The phosphate industry has no limitation to its greedy and unscrupulous policies and behavior.  Our government lacks integrity or even decency, as it clears a path for the ultimate sell-out. The many headlines citing “Radioactive Roads” seem like a fantastic fiction rather than a real news story. Florida residents are bewildered, wondering what supervillain could possibly imagine such a scheme, and simply can’t fathom their elected officials advancing it.

But here we are. If the EPA petition is granted, our roads will be paved with a death wish. Then when floods inevitably hit, and the crumbling infrastructure inevitably fails, the sewage-filled streets may glow green like the money for which we were betrayed. 

Wendi Lederman is a Florida-based environmental justice activist who creates imaginative, thought provoking content to inspire conscious change for public good.

Conversations with Clan Mothers:

Searching for Meaning in a National Statue

By Katya Miller

Atop the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., stands the magnificent Statue of Freedom. With her eagle-feathered headdress, she has stood guard over the dome for more than 150 years. A significant symbol of our nation’s history and identity, on par with the Statue of Liberty, she is frequently seen on nightly news broadcasts, yet she is largely invisible and unrecognized.

The Statue of Freedom in front of the Capitol before she was
placed back on top of the dome after her renovation in 1993.

My background is in fine arts, and I worked for years as a metalsmith. After reading about this statue in 1993, and connecting to her spirit, I felt the need to share her story. I began reaching out to historians and scholars who might have clues to my questions. For more than 25 years, I pored over maps, atlases, and hundreds of documents in the Office of the Curator. I met with historians at the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and other D.C. institutions.

Who was this Statue of Freedom?  What did her headdress represent? And how did the mixture of European and Native American imagery that adorn her, come to be created?   

Ironically, these questions would not be answered by historians or archivists.  In the lives and knowledge of real Native American and Canadian women was where I would find the meaning of her Native symbols, which I was determined to clarify and understand.

So, in the spring of 1997, I drove my son’s car from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst to Nedrow, New York, near Syracuse, where I spent two days with Alice Papineau Dewasenta. She was a Clan Mother at Onondaga, the smallest of the Iroquois’ Six Nations, aka the Haudenosaunee, dedicated to the balance among humans, plant and animal kingdoms, and the Creator.

Alice lived on a small piece of land left of the 900 million acres of original Haudenosaunee territory. She was in her late 80s and still a vital and outspoken advocate for her people. Today the people of Onondaga continue to keep the Central Fire Council and the knowledge of how to survive as a nation.

Alice Papineau Dewasenta,
Haudenosaunee Clan Mother

Alice had always wondered about the Statue of Freedom’s crowning feature and was glad I was addressing it. Her son spoke proudly about their lacrosse team.  Lacrosse is a traditional game invented by Native Americans. He showed me his Gustoweh, the headpiece worn by Onondaga chiefs, made of turkey, hawk, or eagle feathers. It was similar to the statue’s headpiece but likely not its primary influence.

I feel privileged and grateful to have met Alice, and to have learned from her.

When I moved from California to New Mexico, one of my first acquaintances was Greg Schaaf, a historian of Native peoples. When he found out about my research into the Statue of Freedom and her native connections, he asked me if I would like to meet a “Clan Mother.” I had never heard of a Clan Mother, and honestly, I didn’t know such a role existed.

Seven generations of Shenandoah

I knew there were matriarchal societies scattered from east to west, but I had not seen anything written about them. I was given an album of music called Matriarch, by Iroquois singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah, which I played repeatedly. A few years later, I met Joanne and her husband, Mohawk author and historian Doug George-Kanentiio.  I shared the history of the Statue of Freedom with them, and explained how the imagery had evolved through the years. Later, when they spoke and sang their songs in 2013 for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration, Doug told me they had invoked the U.S. government’s Native roots.

Singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah from the album cover of
Peace and Power: The Best of Joanne Shenandoah.

Joanne’s role as a cultural ambassador allowed her to share her unique talent in representing her people. The songs in her many albums reflect the traditional values of the Haudenosaunee. Women, as life-givers, and custodians of Mother Earth, are the true matriarchs monitoring the land’s resources.

I learned that Clan Mothers are selected among the mothers, serving as spiritual advisors, political counselors, and healers within their families and communities.

Joanne told me that her house sits on the homestead of John Shenandoah, who had been longtime friends with Benjamin Franklin. John was her seventh-generation ancestor who died there at the age of 110. She said, “Our family holds the oval Peace and Friendship Medallion bestowed upon [John] by George Washington. I heard that he was at Independence Hall for the signing of the Declaration of Independence!”  Seven generations later, descendants carry on their cultural traditions at the very place where he lived. It is said that Washington named the Shenandoah River and Mountain in John Shenandoah’s honor, in recognition of the critical Haudenosaunee contribution to the Revolutionary War, bringing Washington and his troops food and supplies during the harsh winter of 1777. 


Today, Joanne’s niece, Michele Shenandoah, carries on her ancestors’ passion for protecting their lands and bringing about the truthful telling of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s influence on democracy throughout the world. With the guidance of her mother, Faith Keeper and Sculptress Diane Shenandoah, Michelle has seeded Rematriation, based on the concept of Seven Generations, with love, forgiveness, and peace. They are Keepers of the Land and see it as a relative, not a resource. Michelle’s organization helps to strengthen their traditional teachings, and to heal from the impacts of colonization. They are truly returning the Sacred to the Mother, aka Rematriation.


The Fire Next Time: Deforestation and Climate Emergency

by Lynn Feinerman Producer, Women Rising Radio

In November of 2021 the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland boasted of its Leaders’ Declaration to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.  The monumental hypocrisy and duplicity of this announcement, hailing signatories from 145 nations, is that the declaration replaced a similar one made in COP21 in 2015, wherein heads of state worldwide announced that deforestation would be halted by 2020.

Having nothing much else to announce, the PR spinners for COP 26 cynically threw this at the media as if it was a big breakthrough from the Glasgow summit.  It wasn’t. 

And in fact, this month the Forest Declaration Platform Assessment reported that “not a single global indicator is on track to meet these 2030 goals of stopping forest loss and degradation and restoring 350 million hectares of forest  landscape.” 

Experts warn that there is no way to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius unless the world stops cutting trees – no matter for what purpose.  That means that somehow, global grassroots communities are going to have to rise up and demand an end to the devastation of forests for roadways, access to petroleum and mining, timber and agricultural lands use, and any other enterprise.    

States and their corporate puppeteers have mobilized both their militaries and police to crush any grassroots uprisings.  To get a sense of just what kind of violence and manipulation grassroots activists are up against when they organize to stop the destruction of forests, you can listen to our Women Rising Radio program titled “Deforestation Emergency”, and listen to the stories of women from the US to Chile to Paraguay and to the Netherlands, who are battling against deforestation: 


An End to “Big Fossil” Must Come Swiftly and Soon

Big Fossil versus Human Life on Earth

by Dr. Carolyn Orr   

We’re already well into the 2020’s – the decade which will be critical in determining our future. And yet greenhouse gas emissions keep rising despite our knowledge that we need to drastically reduce them in order to keep the world to the (relatively) safe limit of 2.7 ℉ (1.5 ℃) global heating.

As it is we’re currently on track for 4.9 ℉ (2.7 ℃) of global heating, which will be catastrophic for human health and prosperity.

Why are we not managing the turnaround? Why are we still headed towards the cliff?

It’s not that we don’t know what to do to safeguard our present and future. We need to stop burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – and transition rapidly and urgently to renewable forms of energy.

There are lots of reasons we are failing – and some are simply to do with how we are wired as human beings. Humans are very good at solving problems that are immediate, visible, precedented, that have direct personal impact, and that are are caused by an obvious enemy (the Bad Guy).  But climate change is none of these things: it is slowly evolving; it can seem invisible (depending on what media you choose to read); it is unprecedented in human history; and for most people in the developed world it hasn’t yet had a huge personal impact. And we’re all to blame (unless you don’t ever eat meat, drive a car or fly in a plane).

But there’s another very significant reason that we’re failing. There really is a Bad Guy in this story – the fossil fuel industry – who are making obscene profits as we careen to the cliff face.

Big Fossil have known the harm they cause through air pollution and climate change for decades.  They responded by funding junk science designed to muddy the ever increasing evidence of climate change, while funding lobbyists and politicians to promote doubt. And because they intentionally misled us, we wasted decades arguing about whether or not climate change was real. But it is now proven and widely accepted that climate change is real and happening at a frightening rate.

And so the fossil fuel industry has pivoted to messages that acknowledge the problem, but downplay its severity and urgency. Their new strategies are delusion and delay.

Delusion includes the fantasy that new technology just around the corner will save us. The best example of this is carbon capture.  This is storing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions underground – literally burying the problem. Unfortunately carbon capture has never been shown to work at anything like the scale that would be needed to address the climate crisis. Instead carbon capture and other emerging technologies (the solution always being just around the corner) are used as an excuse to keep funding fossil fuel companies.

Delusion also involves overstating the industry’s progress toward addressing climate change – greenwashing.  When you read about fossil fuel companies reducing their emissions – invariably they are talking about the emissions created in digging up and processing fossil fuels – not the emissions created by burning them, which dwarf the former.  The industry that has done the most to create the climate crisis will not solve it.

And Big Fossil is still hard at work to prevent meaningful timely action on the climate crisis. Invariably this is coached in terms of financial prudence, by pointing out the expense of transformative action away from fossil fuels and towards renewables. And so we hear constantly about the cost of the clean energy transition, in the media and from certain politicians.  In fact, delay in action on climate change is forecast to be far more expensive.

There is a historical precedent for this, in the struggle to abolish slavery. Decades were wasted on economic arguments that the economy would collapse if slavery was stopped. That wasn’t true then, any more than arguments that is it too expensive to make the changes we need to stop global heating are now. In fact, the abolition of slavery led to an era of enormous technological innovation and prosperity. It is not hard to foresee that the same is likely to be the case for the renewable transition.

And just like slavery, the false economic argument ignores the cost of the human suffering that is being and will be caused by global heating.



The Deadly Cost of “Turning Back the Clock”

One family’s story from when abortion was criminal

Valerie Love

By Valerie Love

Valerie Love is a mother of two, and an activist, organizer and spokesperson, currently, with Greenpeace.

Jane O. Webb is Dead in the West” reads the obituary headline of my great grandmother, who died at age 35 in Seattle, Washington in 1921. But the obituary cryptically states “the further particulars are lacking regarding the cause of death of Mrs. Webb’s illness.” 

Only recently did I learn the tragic truth behind her death: she died of an illegal abortion. In light of Friday’s Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade and strip women of their constitutional right to obtain an abortion, I feel compelled to tell the story. This is Jane’s story, a dire warning and a call to action. 

Jane Webb and child

At the time of Jane Webb’s death, she had four small boys at home age five and under. When Jane discovered she was pregnant for the fifth time in 6 years, she and her husband made the decision together that they could not support another child in their family. Abortion was not only illegal, but inducing abortion was a criminal offense at the time in Washington state. Still, Jane and her husband George knew it was the right choice for them and they went to their trusted apothecary for help.

This apothecary had worked miracles for them before. He had offered a cure for their son’s diabetes, giving them a concoction made from pig’s bladder, which mimics today’s modern insulin shots. It was literally a lifesaver, and so they turned to him for help in their dire situation. He gave them a potion, presumably in good faith, and Jane took it. But days or hours after ingesting the “cure,” she died of internal bleeding. How excruciating and heartbreaking those last hours were, I can only imagine.

My grandfather Oliver was just 2 years old when she died. Being left motherless, with three other siblings, took its toll. As an adult, he was a gruff man who rarely showed affection and spoke little. As my mom sees it, he “lost his main attachment in the world at age 2 and never trusted love again.” The ripple effects of this trauma span the generations; we are still working to unwind the far-reaching tendrils of this tragedy. 

When I heard this story, I prayed I would never live to see the clock turned back to a time when women were forced into the shadows, risking their lives to maintain choice over their bodies. And yet, here we are

Just like my great grandmother Jane in 1921, women in post-Roe America – especially Black, brown and working class women – will be forced to make dangerous, and sometimes deadly, decisions. As my family knows all too well, you can’t ban abortions. You can only ban safe abortions.

At this critical moment in history, it’s time to fight back and ensure that women in the US maintain access to safe and affordable abortions in the face of these unprecedented attacks. About 60% of Americans support legal abortions. With our collective action, this is possible. 

Because the truth is, there is no way the radical right can turn back the clock completely. For example, unlike in 1921, there are now safe, effective and affordable abortion pills that are available by mail across all 50 states. These pills are safer than Tylenol, FDA approved, and effective up until 13 weeks of pregnancy. While legislators in Red states are moving to outlaw them, it is currently up for debate whether they can actually be banned.  And even if the pills are banned, policing people’s mail boxes and other conduits for receiving packages will likely prove challenging. 

If we work and fight together, we can ensure that we leverage this decisive moment in history to not just maintain but expand access to abortion care in America.

Here are the ways you can help: 

  1. Spread the word that there are safe, effective, affordable abortion pills available by mail in all 50 states
  2. Make a donation to an abortion fund that will financially help women obtain the care they need.
  3. Support independent clinics (which provide the majority of abortion services in the US) by donating to Keep Our Clinics

Turning back the clock isn’t an option. But it’ll take all of us working together to move forward. Let’s do it for all the women we know and love. Let’s do it for Jane.

Publisher’s Note:  Women Rising Radio can’t resist adding a historical reference to The Jane Collective, or “Jane”, officially known as the Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, an underground network based in Chicago, Illinois in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, just prior to the Roe v. Wade decision.  In honor   of decades, centuries of struggle for women’s right to control over our bodies and our lives, let’s do it for all the Janes! Currently there is a documentary on The Janes playing on HBO.

Movie Reviews Through a “Poverty Skola” Lens By Lisa TIny Gray Garcia, Editor, Poor News Network

“I live in there, its my home,” Frances McDormand “playing” a houseless woman named Fern in the new movie Nomadland, says to mechanics who tell her it will be $5,000 to fix her van, which she “lives” in, in the movie. These and other moments are some of the excellently “crafted”, lines by brilliant actor McDormand and are classic examples of Hollywood’s ongoing dedication to performing poverty, disability and homelessness. to feed  the ever-hungry, ever-exploitative film, media and akkkademik industries.

Another example is Adarsh Gourav, “portraying”  Balram Halwaia,a very poor chauffeur working for Indian wealth-hoarders, scamlord class in the movie White Tiger a depiction/performance/portrayal of Poverty in India.

Both of these movies are artistically powerful, both of them have critiques (albeit way too subtle in Nomadland) of wealth-hoarding, employee slavery and CorpRape entities like Amazon. White Tiger is a deeper and more powerFULl critique of the scam-lord “upper classes” and even politricks itself. But they both are depictions of us poor people without us poor people. (Notwithstanding the only redeeming part of Nomadland,  three poverty skolaz “playing” themselves)

Aravind Adiga, author of the book White Tiger and Jessica Bruder, who did a “story” on houseless “Nomads” for Harpers magazine and then published a book of the same name, are both themselves middle class/owning class academics, journalists, who have “never missed a meal” as my mama would call it, but who were “fascinated” with the “underbelly” aka Bleeds it leads possibilities of writing about poor people. And as my OG ghetto poverty skola mama would also say, because they are well-educated mofos, they are excellent editors and writers, story-builders and are able to create spins and slants and stories out of our messy, CONfusing realities. But the thing they both share with countless writers before them who write, perform, and create an endless stream of “about us without us” narratives about poor, houseless, landless, disabled, indigenous Black, Brown, and immigrant/migrant communities, from Dickens to Steinbeck to most recently, the fake Raza writer Jeanine Cummins of American Dirt, is what I call By-line privilege and linguistic dominance. 

In other words these writers had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet, while growing up so they could focus and learn what I call in the Poverty Scholarship book- linguistic domination skills, so they could carve a powerful story arc, and create these beautiful portrayals.  In both cases, the filmmakers of  these movies, Chloe Zhao and Ramin Bahrani, were also schooled, clothed, loved and protected so they could go to institutions and “learn” expensive software editing programs, get high-priced computers, meet people who would finance them and make connections to Sundance festival and other spaces, to fund their budgets so they could create powerful productions with excellent sound, and cinematography , and more.


Worker in NYC cooperative Up & Go

Newsom Twists and Turns Against Worker Protections

Earlier this year we at Women Rising Radio posted a short article lauding the California governor’s announcement of  a commitment to support the state’s substantial population of undocumented and essential frontline workers, during the Covid-19 pandemic.   Governor Newsom said: 

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still  addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians.  And that’s why I’m proud  as governor to be the first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals, a total of $125 million.” 

Since we published that piece, I as the author have wondered what proportion of that $125 million has actually been spent on the ground, in beneficial support for the undocumented doing the critical work to maintain us all, in this chaotic time. 

I haven’t been able to do that investigation, but Women Rising Radio is broadcasting program titled “Women Challenge Capitalism”, in which we visit with domestic workers spearheading workers’ cooperatives in New York City.   Those women, while they are not undocumented, faced exploitation and physical endangerment cleaning residences, until they formed cleaning cooperatives to protect them and their work. 

Domestic workers in the USA, primarily women and people of color, are excluded from OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) regulations and other protections offered workers.   The California state legislature just recently passed SB 1257,  to remedy that problem.  The bill removed the exclusion of domestic workers from CAL/OSHA, and gave them the same basic safety protections as other workers across the state, such as health and safety training, protective equipment, and legal protection against retaliation if they need to advocate for their own health and safety. at work. 

The bill was authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and co-sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates, the California Domestic Workers’ Coalition, Worksafe, and the California Employment Lawyers Association.    

SB 1257 went to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom  for signing   –   and he vetoed it.   Why?!


New at Women Rising Radio’s Featured Essays Department!


April 15th is a day that the undocumented must dread more than any of us who pay taxes.  Out of their minuscule wages received for long hours of often backbreaking work in farming, food factory labor, domestic labor and caregiving, they must pay taxes to the United States government.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a report in February 2016, stating that 11 million undocumented workers in the United States are paying annually an estimated amount of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes, “on average an estimated 8 percent of their incomes.”

California’s governor finally  – and miraculously in a nation that largely ignores the poor and marginalized – Governor Newsom finally recognized the undocumented for doing labor that, in the time of Covid-19, is considered to be essential, frontline and indispensable.

Newsom recognized and honored undocumented workers in California  – and by inference in the USA  – on April 15th, normally “tax day”, underlining the irony of the undocumented being forced to support the US government but getting almost no services from that same government.

Said Newsom, “We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians.  And that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals, a total of $125 million.”

The program will assist 150,000 undocumented workers in California with support payments of $500 to $1,000, depending on their circumstances.  Granted there are about a million and a half of these essential workers in California alone, and Newsom is quite aware of that.  But the recognition, the swift action to give relief, and the gratitude expressed by the governor of California are a huge breath of fresh, healthy air.

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Solidarity with a Kurdish Women’s Eco-village Community in Northern Syria

In early October 2019, when the US administration announced that it was abandoning its Kurdish allies in northern Syria, and  leaving about 1,000 US troops trapped there to face the onslaught of the Turkish military, Women Rising Radio got an alert from a conference in Italy, where Syrian Kurdish women appealed to their supporters worldwide to come to their aid.  They were, and are, directly in the path of the violence in northern Syria, and the  eco-village paradise they created there is also in dire danger.  Women Rising Radio  has featured women working with eco-villages, peace villages, and women’s activist cooperatives across the globe.  We are in solidarity with the women of JINWAR, the feminist and democratic eco-village in northern Syria.   And we want all of our listeners to know about JINWAR.   Perhaps among you there are organizers who can give assistance to this great undertaking  –  helping to protect it.  Here is an excerpt from a letter delivered to the conference in Italy, from the women of JINWAR themselves:

“JINWAR is a place where women are able to live in a communal way and autonomously raise and educate their children freely and without huge daily influence of the dominant male mentality. Many brave women and men fought and gave their lives, in order to liberate this territory and make the possibility to build a new democratic system inspired by the concept of Democratic Confederalism. This system is based on ideas of Abdullah Ocalan concerning women’s freedom and self-administration of different ethnic and social groups, which are living here side by side together. Our village JINWAR is a part and in the same time a result of this revolutionary process. Furthermore, it is also a practical example, how we, as women, can create alternatives in fields as communal living, ecology and economy. During this process many things have been built here in Rojava:  Women are organizing autonomously in every city. Examples for this are “Kongreya Star” and “Mala Jin” (Women’s houses), where women are gathering and developing solutions for problems of the whole society. In the “Mala Jin”  women are supporting each other in solving conflicts in families.   Women’s leadership and participation in decision making processes is also a key component of the direct democracy model being enacted in Rojava. Through that women could gain a new position in society and in politics. This achievement can be an example for all the women in the world.”

The women of JINWAR who drafted this letter go on to describe    the dangers facing them and their visionary enterprise:

”You could see what we have built up: the houses made of clay, in which we live together, the school, the healing center for natural medicine which is supposed to be opened soon, our bakery, the garden, the fields, all the trees, which grow bigger and bigger and all of all our common life, far away from oppression and violence, based upon our will to live together as free women and children.  …All this is now under direct threat by the Turkish State, which openly launches attacks against Northern Syria. Erdogan’s plan is to extinguish the Kurdish people and to occupy our region. We can see the results of this politics in Afrîn, which has  been occupied by Turkey, DAIŞ and other Jihadist groups. The situation in Afrîn turned out really bad for the people, especially for the women,  whose rights were taken away, who suffer from violence and rape, who are sold and treated as slaves. The attacks and another occupation by the Turkish state in other parts of  Northern Syria could mean the same brutal exploitation for  women here.”

The women of JINWAR are calling out to the people of the world to raise our voices and assist them in rescuing all that   can be saved, from the violence of war:

“In the moment we are writing this letter different villages and places around have been bombed and many people have already been killed. Our village, our society, our lives and the life and future of all people here, especially women and children, is under urgent threat.   We, as women and children from JINWAR call you to raise up your voices and take action against this war. Use all the possibilities you have to spread information and raise awareness about the Turkish occupation politics!   Don’t stay silent! Let’s stand up together for free life and for our common future!”

Please send out this plea to all who can be of assistance to the brave and visionary women of JINWAR.



Women Rising Radio‘s program on reproductive health here: 

Democrats and Democracy:  Chicago 1968.  

by Lynn Feinerman, Producer, Women Rising Radio

A Killer Kulture

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago in 1968, the Democratic National Committee is set to hold a significant meeting  –  in Chicago  –  August 24th  and through the weekend, to consider election issues that have been critical for a long time.

That coincidence of time and place evoked in me deep memories of the debacle I witnessed 50 years ago.

April 1968 was “the cruelest month”, in the words of T.S. Eliot, blooming in red, black and blue with the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,   undisputed king of the civil rights movement, and a hero of mine.

With that spring of 1968 came an offer from my college professor, to join a group of student activists headed to Mississippi for a summer of registering voters of color  – mostly African Americans blocked from exercising rights enshrined for them in the Voting Rights Act.  I wanted to go with that group.

By 1968 I’d been a foot soldier in the nationwide movement against the war in Vietnam for a few years.  I’d helped to swell the ranks of the hundreds of thousands marching in New York and Washington.  I’d participated in a reading of the trendy play MacBird!  with  Smith and Amherst students  –  as a witch chanting “double, double toil and trouble, Burn Baby Burn and Cauldron Bubble…”    I went on to organize teach-ins against the war.

But I hadn’t devoted much time to focusing on civil rights and voting rights.  So I called my parents, who always supported my student political activities both morally and financially.   “I’m going with a Smith group to register voters in Mississippi!”

After an unexpected, stony silence at the other end of the phone conversation, my father finally responded, “Over my dead body.”

“You’re not going there, Lynn,” my mother added.  “You have no idea of the danger involved.”   They pointedly reminded me of the gruesome deaths of three CORE field activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman,  and Michael Schwerner just 4 years previously during  “Freedom Summer”  of 1964.

My parents linked forces to demand that I do something else.  When the conversation ended I was, to use a phrase of the time, “hung up”.   I couldn’t go without their financial support, and I clearly had neither that nor their emotional support.

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 “Nuclear is NOT an Option  

by Women Rising Radio Producer Lynn Feinerman

Published in the Tikkun magazine Daily Blog:


Here is the article.  Join the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb:  June 2017

Digging in my tiny Jewish library this Passover season, I came across a short contribution to a published symposium, made by Rabbi Nehemia Polen, a well-known scholar, author and congregational rabbi.

Polen wrote his short piece in 1986, for the literary publication  New Traditions.  But his words were ominously current for me, discovered as if by what we Jews call “hashgachah pratit”,  a kind of destined timeliness.

He was considering the phrase in Jewish prayer liturgy,  “hem yevoshu  ve’yehatu mi’gevuratam”,  translated  “may the nations of the world be put to shame and crushed despite their power.”   He meditated on the meaning of this phrase, and its intention in prayer:

“Then it hit me.  Ever since nuclear weapons entered the world,  with the  potential to destroy not only the victim but the attacker as well, the nations of the world have indeed become terrified of their own power.  A sense of shame does indeed adhere to this power.    The logic of power in history has reached its extreme,  self-negating limit…”

Polen perceives this part of Jewish prayer as “a lengthy meditation on the shamefulness   of power”.   I’ve been considering it throughout this Passover season.   And the world’s so-called leaders  have given me   plenty of evidence corroborating that shamefulness.

This past weekend, as we observed both Passover and Easter worldwide, and likely other holy days not given so much publicity;  as we asked for freedom and commemorated the death of a free-thinking Rabbi,  we watched and listened as Trump and Un of North Korea rattled nuclear sabers at one another, threatening on one side to send “armadas”  –  sailboats from Spain?

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