[Marxism] Bernie McFall, Presente!

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 27 07:28:02 MDT 2012

I will never regret a minute I spent on the left if for no other reason 
that it put me in touch with people like Bernie, a Tecnica volunteer and 
Nicaragua solidarity activist I knew in the 1980s. A really good guy.

From: Weekly News Update <weeklynewsupdate at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 27, 2012 at 8:17 AM
Subject: Bernie McFall, ¡Presente!

[To see this with links and photographs, please go to

Longtime solidarity activist Bernie McFall died of complications from
pneumonia in Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Oct. 16. He was 76 and had
been fighting two forms of cancer.

Bernie was a reliable presence at demonstrations, vigils and picket
lines in the New York area for more than two decades, with a special
focus on solidarity with the peoples of Central America, Cuba, Haiti
and Palestine. During the contra war of the 1980s Bernie worked with
the California-based organization TecNica in Nicaragua as a volunteer
consultant on IBM mainframes. In the 1990s he traveled to the West
Bank to observe conditions there, and he visited Cuba in the early

Although he was probably best known for his dedication in handling
the routine work of political organizing—photocopying, leafleting,
mailing out fliers—Bernie was knowledgeable in many areas, especially
Middle Eastern history. He could read an astonishing number of
languages, including French, Spanish, German, Italian, Latin, Greek
and some Mandarin. He studied Fijian in the 1970s when he was in the
Peace Corps, and he learned Arabic in a US military school during the
late 1950s, when he was stationed in Eritrea, which was then annexed
to Ethiopia. Years later he would smile and say: “They wouldn’t
necessarily approve of how I’ve used what they taught me.”

The New York-based Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti was a close
friend, and he was staying at Bernie’s apartment in April 2002 when a
joint task force of immigration agents and the New York City police
arrested him in what quickly became a cause célèbre. Bernie worked
steadily in the two-year campaign that finally won Farouk's release;
the federal judge who freed Farouk described the Palestinian’s
imprisonment as “Kafkaesque.” Bernie himself was threatened and
harassed by the police and others during the campaign; filmmaker
Konrad Aderer provides more information on Bernie's role at the Life
or Liberty website.

Bernie was involved with the Weekly News Update from its first days in
1990, working tirelessly to select and clip articles to be summarized
and often arranging for photocopying. We will be joining with others
to honor him with a memorial; we’ll announce the plans as soon as we
know them.

A few weeks before he died, Bernie asked to make sure his books were
made available to people who would make good use of them. Please
contact us at weeklynewsupdate at gmail.com if you would like more
information on the collection, which includes a number of books in

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