Theo Bikel in his own words — with Amy Goodman and Aliza Becker

Theo Bikel in his own words — with Amy Goodman and Aliza Becker

Yesterday (July 23), Amy Goodman devoted the entire broadcast of her independent news program, “Democracy Now,” to remembering Theo, with a repeat of her extensive Jan. 2014 interview. A transcription (as well as audio and video versions of the program) is available at the program’s website by clicking here.

And our friend, Aliza Becker, posted a piece at the “Jewschool” site (“My Song Speaks of My Love for Israel: Theodore Bikel, z”l Speaks“). In May, she interviewed Theo for the American Jewish Peace Archive, which she founded in 2013 and is diligently compiling for the benefit of posterity, as well as our own edification. She had to work hard to cull this material for a relatively brief post. Here’s a sample:

Mandatory Palestine was a kibbutz-oriented, egalitarian society, when my family got there in 1938 – a place where nobody locked doors, where everybody called each other chaver (friend). The dream of a Zionist Socialist society has never left me. It was bequeathed to me by my father, and I still consider myself to be the keeper of that dream. 

The Israel that exists today is a long way away from that. It has turned into a pale imitation of America –a consumerist society with a heavy capitalist emphasis; a society in which many thousands of children go to bed hungry.

It is a society that is intolerant, a society that does not acknowledge the rights of non-Jewish Israelis who are citizens of Israel. Nobody expected there to be a love affair between two people who have built-in enmities and hostilities, but they are expected to be able to live next to each other –not ignored and swept under the rug.  . . .

So what of the Arab neighbor? When he engages in acts of barbarism or terrorism, he has to be opposed and fought. What cannot be done is to put them all into one pot. Entire peoples cannot be tarred with the same brush.

I resent being asked to feel grief only when a Jewish child dies. I grieve when a child dies, period. Any child is entitled to a future.

And a hat tip to our retired executive director and current board member, Charney Bromberg, for citing Masha Leon’s article in The Forward, “Remembering My Friend, Theo Bikel.” Ms. Leon writes:

When honored in 2006 by Meretz USA, where he shared the stage with Tovah Feldshuh, he stated: “My commitment to Meretz and the peace movement has always been intricately and indissolubly connected to my belief in an Israel that is not only secure in life and limb, but anchored in moral rectitude.”

Finally, here’s Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” video tribute:


By | 2015-07-24T09:22:43-04:00 July 24th, 2015|Blog, Zionism|2 Comments


  1. Werner Cohn July 24, 2015 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    In his lifetime, Bikel was muddled and self-righteously “progressive” about Israel, as I have shown on my blog Wernersopinions, 7/14/2011. But it dishonors his memory to now stress his fleeting connection to Amy Goodman.

    Goodman is among the most extreme of the ostensibly “Jewish” haters of Israel. She very much likes Glenn Greenwald; she absolutely loves Noam Chomsky. Just google: “Greenwald Goodman,” and “Chomsky Goodman.”)

    Poor Theo cannot defend himself now. Shame on you, “Partners.”

    • Sara August 10, 2015 at 9:50 am - Reply

      As our religion and history tell us in so many direct and indirect ways, as long as there are a handful of righteous Jews among us, God, or the inner divine spark in each and every one of us, will not destroy the earth. Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald are the prophets of our time and due to their efforts and the combined efforts of others who fight for nuclear disarmament, climate change and human rights and social justice , we still have a chance to gain insight and stop the reactionary default button to hate and war.
      Bikel was hardly muddled and had what I hope all of us have at 90 y/o, wisdom. Thank-you Goodman, Chomsky and Greenwald for your long yrs. of educating us, on a much deeper level, than any other news outlet.
      Thank-you for not simplifying the issues and providing in-depth analysis on all issues – a rarity these days.

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