By Casey Peters
Posted on May 29, 2016 by the Communications Committee
When I first joined the Peace and Freedom Party in 1971, Israel Feuer was already a fixture. He rubbed some people the wrong way because he was constantly referring to the party's registrants and saying that the central committee was making decisions arbitrarily. He also often abstained on votes about issues that many people thought were important, and so irked them. But I rather liked Izzy (as he was known then). He was not doctrinaire and so gave a great deal of thought to what he was doing rather than to follow the “line” of a particular faction.
If anything, Israel was of the “Green” persuasion, because environmental concerns and the effect of public policies on the planet was of utmost concern in his consciousness. He was Southern California's founder of Ecology Action in 1968, presaging the now ubiquitous Earth Day.
A colleague from Peace and Freedom Party, John Donohue, who got the Peace and Freedom Party nomination for United States House of Representatives several times, said that Israel was a most valuable person to have about when P&FP was newly on the ballot, as his experience in the 1948 Progressive Party gave him the knowledge of what was required and allowed by the state of California. Israel had a hand in drafting the Peace and Freedom Party section of the Elections Code that passed the state legislature to become law in the early 1970s.
In 1953, he took his case as a Conscientious Objector to military work to the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. He ended up serving prison time for refusing to be drafted. In the 1950s, Feuer also helped to revive CORE (the Congress on Racial Equality) in Los Angeles.
Israel Feuer was the nominee of Peace and Freedom Party for the office of California Secretary of State in 1970, 1974, 1994 and 1998. He was a strong supporter of Proportional Representation, using his candidacies as a way of spreading the word about the true nature of democracy and promoting the idea that every vote should count toward establishing a voice in one's own government.
Israel was elected to the Station Board of KPFK, and served admirably in that position. From the very beginnings of the station in the late 1950s, Israel was one of its staunchest supporters yer also one of its severest critics. He made clear that he did not expect the station to become a policy advocate like a political party, rather saw it as an avenue of back-and-forth communication. Israel was an advocate of Lewis Hill's vision of the Pacifica Radio network as a means for the community to express itself without commercial constraint.
“It is urgent,” wrote Israel in his candidate statement when running for the station board, “that we all learn something from the lessons of our tumultuous and strife-ridden past and change the self-destructive, wasteful, and dysfunctional ways that have been so costly, in every sense, to all of KPFK and Pacifica!”
Yet Israel's sense of humor allowed him to be self-deprecating and to interact freely with non-political people such as my wife Marilyn (whom Israel called “Dorothy” because she reminded him of the movie star Dorothy Lamour. KPFK's Suzi Weissman described him as “indefatigable”, a “rational voice” and a “mensch”. As Nancy Pearlman noted, “He was an activist his whole life”.
While never minding that his social activism kept him poor, Israel did always wish he had more time to attend to the many projects that he undertook. But his time ran out at the age of 86, on March 11, 2016. Now the time is up for Israel Feuer, and it is incumbent upon the rest of us to take up the slack. As Wendy Schroell of KPFT in Houston said, “Israel Feuer, Presente!”
Casey Peters, formerly of Los Angeles and currently of Australia, was a long-time member of the State Central Committee.