Remembering Alfred Marder, Jan. 18, 1922-Dec. 19, 2023: A Century of Struggle for Peace, Justice and Socialism

by Henry Lowendorf, contributor to People’s World

The PAR newsletter committee is greatly saddened to inform our readers of the passing of Al Marder. Al was a member of the PAR community from its inception over thirty years ago. He was active in dozens of peace and justice organizations and instrumental in the founding of many New Haven groups. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all who worked with him.

Al Marder, in his capacity as Amistad Committee President, welcoming the president of Sierra Leone to New Haven City Hall in 2019. Thomas Breen Photo.

Al Marder, a stalwart of the U.S. peace movement and prominent figure in the Communist Party USA, passed away Dec. 19, 2023, at the age of 101. In some ways, the story of his life reads like a serial thriller, with plenty of comedy and tragedy, victories and defeats.

As a teenager, he would sneak out of his parents’ house in a working-class neighborhood of New Haven, early in the morning to meet his good friend Sid Taylor, pushing the family car down the road before starting it so as not to waken his parents. They would distribute fliers and Daily Worker newspapers to workers arriving and leaving plant gates at Sargent and Co. …  Years later, his mother revealed that his parents were in fact aware of his goings-on….

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015. The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee. (photo: cjzurcher)

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015. The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee.
(photo: cjzurcher)

Al Marder entered the fight for justice and peace when he was 14 years old, the height of the Great Depression. He saw families being evicted, his own included, and he saw Communists moving their furniture back into tenants’ houses. He wasn’t alone. The nation was demanding peace. Workers were struggling for their rights and moving unionization to the fore. Peace, he said, was a central demand of the Communist Party in the 1930s.

He became an organizer for the Young Communist League (YCL), becoming a leader in the group at age 16. Al began to connect the anti-Semitism that his family, Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, experienced with the prevalent anti-Black racism. He found that Communists modeled equal treatment of everyone.

At the New Haven Peoples Center, Al found his milieu. The community center had been bought by immigrant, socialist-oriented Jewish tradesmen for their own families and the broader community. … Eventually, Al would become the president of the non-profit that runs the Peoples Center….

After the war, the U.S. turned its big guns on its former ally, the Soviet Union, and with McCarthyism, attacked the progressive movements at home. In 1954, one of eight charged in the Smith Act witch hunts in Connecticut for thinking communist thoughts, Al had to leave his family and go underground. Eventually caught, he was tried and acquitted, but not without serious consequences to many lives.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Al became a leader in the peace movement as the president of the U.S. Peace Council and vice president of the World Peace Council, positions he actively held until the end of his life.

A prime organizer of the anti-apartheid struggle in Connecticut, Marder helped create and lead the City of New Haven Peace Commission in 1988 and the years that followed….

The Peace Commission introduced resolutions into the New Haven City Council, the Board of Alders, calling for abolition of nuclear weapons and moving money from war spending to human needs. On three occasions, the resolutions became ballot initiatives that won overwhelming approval from the city’s voters.

As a result of these activities, New Haven was invited to join the U.N.-sponsored International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, of which Al Marder was president for 12 years, the only non-mayor to hold that position.

Urged in 1987 by African American school board president, minister, and friend Rev. Edwin Edmonds, Al founded the Connecticut Amistad Committee, Inc., in the spirit of the original 1839 Amistad Committee, the first integrated abolitionist organization….

With his amazing memory, wry sense of humor, and easy laugh, Al was known to all as a great storyteller, attending to detail and drawing basic lessons. He shared many of those lessons with those who knew him—lessons they will carry with them forever.

A memorial service will take place at Beaverdale Memorial Park, 90 Pine Rock Ave., on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 9:30 a.m. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of these causes: Hospice Foundation of America,; Jewish Voice for Peace,; and US Peace Council,

[Read the full article online from People’s World:]

[Read an article by Paul Bass for the New Haven Independent and the Marder family’s obituary:]

Honoring Ali El-Issa: A Legacy of Justice, Peace, and Sovereignty.” 6-8 p.m. Friday Sept. 29, 2023, SCSU

After our September newsletter was printed, we received notice from the Women’s and Gender Studies Department of SCSU of this event honoring Ali El-Issa. We want to make sure you know about this.
Best wishes, the PAR Planning Committee

Please save the date and join us for a special event “Honoring Ali El-Issa: A Legacy of Justice, Peace, and Sovereignty.” 6-8 p.m. Friday Sept. 29, 2023 in ASC Rm 301.

RSVP here:   or scan QR code on flyer.

Co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace – New Haven, Middle East Crisis Committee, Peace Development Fund, and the Women’s & Gender Studies Department at Southern Connecticut State University.

Title: Honoring Ali El-Issa: A Legacy of Justice, Peace, and Sovereignty
Date: Friday, 9/29/2023
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Adanti Student Center, 3rd Floor, Rm 301. Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St, New Haven, CT 06515

The Women’s & Gender Studies (WGS) Department at Southern Connecticut State University invites you to join us as we celebrate and honor our long-time friend, Ali Saleh El-Issa (1952-2022), who passed to the spirit world early on the morning of September 27th, 2022, at home after a brief illness.

Leaders and Elders from a multitude of Indigenous communities will be in attendance, as well as family, with speakers from American Indian Community House, Jewish Voice for Peace – New Haven, Middle East Crisis Committee, the Palestinian community, Peace Development Fund, and members of the WGS community.

A proud son of Palestine, born in exile and educated in Lebanon, East Germany, and Cuba, Ali was active in the Palestinian liberation movement locally and internationally, as well as all struggles for liberation and sovereignty in Indigenous communities around the world. Many, including WGS members, consider Ali a member of their communities working towards justice and peace. Following the death of his wife Ingrid in 1999, Ali founded and became the President and C.E.O. of the Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sovereignty, to honor Ingrid’s life and carry on her work on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples of the world as well as her home community, the Menominee Nation, in the state of Wisconsin. WGS established a student service award in Ingrid’s name in 2004. Ali never failed to show up and support our student recipients of the Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa Service Award.

Upon his first anniversary, WGS shares the resolve as articulated in the tribute published after his death to do our best to carry on with and honor his legacy of peace and justice: ‘The world mourns the tremendous loss of a fierce and fiercely loving leader/brother/mentor in Ali, now a warrior ancestor. His global community will miss him profoundly, and we will do our best to carry on with his legacy and his work, and to hold his and Ingrid’s memories in the light. They were always in service of the people, from all walks of life, in grief and in hope.’

We hope you can join us for this special event honoring Ali’s life and legacy.

Contact WGS Dept. with any questions via email at [email protected] or call our office at 203-392-6133.

Jews, Muslims Gather on New Haven Green to Protest Islamophobia, Hate Crimes

by Kate Ramunni, New Haven Register, Dec. 22, 2016

Two groups that have been the target of hate crimes joined together Wednesday [Dec. 21} night to jointly recommit to justice for both and urge others to do the same. Members of Jewish Voices for Peace and the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut gathered on the New Haven Green, where they sang songs, held signs and advocated for tolerance. More than 30 people huddled together and traveled from corner to corner around the Green as evening traffic rushed by. [….]

“It’s gotten difficult to be a Jew or a Muslim in American society,” said Patrick Korth. “They are irrationally targeting the wrong people,” he said as he stood with the others at the corner of Chapel and College streets.

Wednesday’s demonstration was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Network Against Islamophobia and set on the backdrop of Hanukkah, which starts Saturday night and runs through Jan. 1. The eight-day “festival of lights” celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. Signs the demonstrators held laid out their beliefs: “We will not be silent when encountering Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes. We challenge through our words and actions institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned anti-black violence. We welcome Syrian refugees and stand strong with immigrants and refugees. We stand with Jews against Islamophobia and racism, rekindling our commitment to justice. We stand against U.S. policies on the ‘war on terror’ that demonize Islam and devalue, target and kill Muslims.”

“We need to change the direction of this country to address the problems of the world,” Korth said, “and we are not getting there with our politics.”

Read the whole story here at the New Haven Register’s website: Jews, Muslims gather on New Haven Green to protest Islamophobia, hate crimes