Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Martha Hodges Katz (1941-2015)

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Martha Hodges Katz (1941-2015)

Article excerpt

Martha Hodges Katz died April 25, 2015 in her Youngstown, Ohio home, surrounded by her family, after a nine-year battle with lung cancer. Born in Ashland, Kentucky, she attended the University of Virginia, Wayne State University in Detroit and Youngstown State University. Katz was a National Certified Counselor (N.C.C.) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (L.P.C.C.). She helped found the Sojourner House Domestic Violence Shelter in Youngstown, and served as president or chair of many organizations and committees, including Woman-Safe, Make Today Count, and the Trumbull County AIDS Task Force.

Martha was also a longtime activist for peace with justice in Palestine. For many years she was a member of the Arab American Community Center of Greater Youngstown (AACC). She was a founding member of the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East (CPME) and the Valley Coalition for Peace and Justice (VCPJ). She established the Youngstown Chapter of Women In Black (an international women's anti-war movement started by Jewish-Israeli women in Jerusalem to oppose Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine).

In 1993, Martha led a CPME delegation from Youngstown to El-Bireh, Palestine, establishing a sister-city relationship between the two cities. In 1995 and 1996, she led CPME delegations from Youngstown to U.N. headquarters in New York City to participate in the North American NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine. In 2002, with other Women In Black and often alone, she stood in silent vigil for an hour each week in front of the federal buildings in downtown Youngstown to protest U.S. government policy toward Palestine. In 2004, as a member of VCPJ, Martha initiated a weekly series of public vigils, which still occur, protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2006, Martha co-led, with this writer, a media delegation from Youngstown to Palestine-Israel to report on prospects for peace in the region while highlighting the Mahoning Valley's connections to the area with interviews of local residents who also live in Palestine and Israel. The reports were aired over seven nights in July 2006 on local ABC affiliate WYTV Channel 33 and concluded with an hour-long primetime special in which Martha participated as a panelist.

She also served as president of the Interfaith Council for Peace in the Middle East (IFCPME) which, during her tenure in 2008, organized and hosted the first Sabeel conference (an international Christian liberation theology movement for Palestine) for northeast Ohio in Cleveland. …

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