Category Archives: nonviolent resistance

Living Resistance from the U.S. to Palestine

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Wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the Oak Hill Community Center (a very cool place) in Baltimore. There were only a handful of people, and I feared the worst. It always seems to be a battle to fill a room when “Palestine” is on the agenda, especially in Maryland where the Zionists have the ear of Senator Cardin in DC, and Legislators in Annapolis are pushing an anti-BDS bill again.

I decided to attend to show my support for the organizers, not expecting to learn anything new. Wow!  Was I wrong . . . on both counts.

The space quickly filled up to standing room only, perhaps 50-60 people. And the speakers were extraordinary, both in passion and information.Palestinian children locked up in Israeli jails is a horrible reality. The school-to-prison pipeline in the U.S. (ensnaring predominantly brown and black children) is a reality too. Thanks to Norma Hashim, Yousef Aljamal and others, Palestinians are finally being heard in The Prisoners’ Diaries and Dreaming of Freedom.

Thanks to the sponsors of the multi-city tour for No Child Behind Bars, the connection between the Palestinian injustices and the US juvenile criminal system is also being heard. See list of the cities and the sponsors here.

There are clearly parallels between the two criminal justice systems for juveniles in Israel/Palestine and the U.S. but I learned at this presentation that they are far more insidious than I imagined, and far more interconnected.

Thanks to Ahed Tamimi from Nabi Saleh in the Occupied West Bank, and Amanda Weatherspoon & Nadya Tannous from California, we learned facts that stirred many in the audience to engage in a robust Q & A after the presentation.

Ahed Tamimi (15 yrs old) was not given a Visa to travel to the U.S. (highlighting the travel restrictions that nearly all Palestinians face). The organizers creatively resisted by sending a videographer to record Ahed in her community.

The evening began with a short video of Ahed speaking in January 2017. Here’s another short video clip of Ahed speaking a year ago.

 

Some facts I learned!

Did you know that Israel is the only country in the world that has a juvenile military court?

A Palestinian child and an Israeli settler child who live merely feet from each other in the West Bank will face very different criminal justice systems and laws for the very same offense (throwing rocks for example).

Did you know that the tear gas used in the City of Ferguson was likely field tested in the occupied West Bank and Gaza? People in Ferguson quickly learned that water doesn’t ease the pain of the tear gas, it exacerbates the pain. On social media, they posted a question “What’s this new type of tear gas?” Palestinians knew immediately and advised them to use milk and coca cola as an antidote for the tear gas.

Do you know which cities have the highest number of drone-testing? Gaza is #1.The Lakota Nation in the US is #2.

Amanda, a Unitarian Universalist minister, shared a helpful framework to think about the entrenched violence and imprisonment of our children in Palestine and the U.S.brick-wallConsider 3 bricks in that wall of violence.

Brick #1 – The foundation of the wall is built on structural racism, such as redlining in our communities which established borders to provide opportunities for building for some people and restricted opportunities to build or buy homes to other people. There are many other examples.

Brick #2State violence is obvious and clearly in the public discourse now. Think about the examples of police brutality, and the school to prison pipeline. We all know that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rates in the world. Did you know that 2.3 million Americans were imprisoned in 2009, and the highest % of them were women of color?school-to-prison-pipelineBrick #3Profit is the third brick. Profit provides the motive, and our private prisons need prisoners to make a profit.  See the ABA publication Prisons for Profit: Incarceration for Sale.  Israel and the U.S. are marching in lockstep together creating this wall with these 3 bricks.

Towards the end of the evening, Amanda asked a provocative question. What race are we? she asked. The answer — we’re the human race. This construct about “race” was created specifically for profit. Think about it. She’s right.

I left with my head buzzing, thinking about these 3 bricks and how the injustices perpetrated on Palestinian children and American children are so interconnected. We can’t fight one without acknowledging and fighting against both.

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Filed under nonviolent resistance, Peaceful, People, Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

An Epic #BDS Apology

A performance? A work of art?  Not an apology?   When is an apology not an apology?

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-wont-norway-theater-apologize-embracing-israels-war-crimes

It is not immediately apparent that this isn’t the real thing.

But in fact, the video and a written “apology” were published as a work of art on Friday, onlineand in the national newspaper Morgenbladet.

The ambiguity was deliberate and those who didn’t pay attention to the small print might not have noticed that it was a performance.

The woman in the video is Gjertrud Jynge, a nationally renowned actor in Norway.

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Join the Postcard Brigade to Gaza

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip is Israel’s manufactured prison for the nearly 1.8 million Palestinians who live there, of whom more than 1,258,000 are refugees. Their parents or grandparents were forcibly removed from their homes and villages in present-day Israel in 1948. Many have lived in Gaza their whole lives, never getting permission from Israel to cross the border, jump on a plane, train or board a cruise ship.

Unbelievably, Israel even controls the mail that goes to Gaza. Packages, letters and postcards all get stopped in Tel Aviv, then scanned, sometimes opened, and forwarded on to Gaza weeks later.

In August 2011, I mailed a box from the main post office in Cairo to Gaza (217 miles as the crow flies) and it arrived more than 2 months later. In March 2016, I tried to mail a package from the main post office in Cairo to Gaza, and was informed that they no longer accept packages addressed to Gaza.

Back in the U.S., I tried to mail a letter from Baltimore to Jericho, Palestine in the occupied West Bank. The postal clerk found “Palestine, Texas” in her computer, but not Jericho, or Palestine, or the occupied West Bank. She was stumped until I told her we could try sending it to Jericho via Israel.  My friend in Jericho finally received her letter more than 2 months later.

In Brindisi, Italy last week, I tried another experiment. I mailed a postcard to my friend in Gaza. Again, the postal clerk had no idea how to handle my request. Her computer just couldn’t find Gaza or Palestine. She passed me to another clerk who had the same problem. She finally decided to put the same amount of postage as if my card was going to the USA …. and then dumped it into her bag.

What if people from all over the world sent a postcard to Gaza?  

  • A simple exercise that might educate a local postal clerk about Gaza and Palestine.
  • An ingenuous way to get the attention of the Israeli authorities. Imagine their consternation with postcards addressed to Gaza flooding their office.
  • The simple joy of receiving a picture postcard from a stranger – a new friend – somewhere in the world.

If you want to join the postcard brigade, send a postcard to:

Alamal Orphanage

Wehdaa Street

Gaza, Palestine

If you care to share your experience at your local post office, please write me at LoraLucero3@gmail.com

You can send your postcard anonymously if you wish. If you’d like to hear about the reaction from the children in the orphanage, please send me your contact information.

Thank you!  And pass it along. The more postcards, the merrier!

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Lora with orphans in Gaza in 2012.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, Peaceful, Uncategorized

#GoingtoGaza – August 2015

On my journey back to Gaza, I spent the summer in Baltimore with a visit to Albuquerque in August. I wish I could travel without adding to my carbon footprint.  The following entries are from August 2015. I started my journey one year earlier.

Day #332 – I shared a bit about my experience in Gaza yesterday with the Baltimore Women-In-Black group.  The lunch meeting was in a house of worship shared by 5 different congregations (including both Christian church and Jewish synagogue) and lasted until 5:00 pm because everyone was so engaged and interested in learning more. I realized that I can only share the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to share. How?  #GoingtoGaza

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The House of God is the Home of five congregations. Rev. Carol Lynn Cook.

Day #333 – Jewish/Zionist/settlers/terrorists burned a Palestinian baby to death 2 nights ago. The Israeli collective guilty conscience is feeling a twinge of remorse. But the IDF killed 521 children (including many babies) in Gaza last summer and that was greeted by Israelis as a source of national pride. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Thx Mati Milstein for putting it so succinctly. #GoingtoGaza

Day #334 – While waiting and exploring options for returning to Gaza, I’ve decided Plan B is walking Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.  (500 miles – 5 weeks) Sept/Oct timeframe. #GoingtoGaza

Day #335 – My roommate and I each received emails this morning. His urged him to call Congress and tell them to defund Planned Parenthood. Mine urged me to call Congress and tell them to support Planned Parenthood.  We both made our calls and canceled each other out. Fortunately, Congress sided with me this afternoon. Abortion is an emotional issue but my roommate and I remain civil and respect each other (I think). #GoingtoGaza

Day #336 – ISIS (aka Daesh) proclaims jihad in the name of Islam. They want to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. Netanyahu and the Knesset fight terrorists (aka Palestinians) in the name of Jews worldwide. The want to establish a Homeland for the Jews in the Middle East. Simple question: What’s the difference?  #GoingtoGaza

Day #337 – Learned today of another Palestinian from Gaza who was denied a student Visa to pursue her education in the U.S. despite the fact that she had been accepted to a university and received a scholarship. Stated reason? Because the embassy officer doesn’t think she has enough ties to Gaza to ensure that she will return home! The same reason given for the denials of all the others. This reminds me of the Palestinian student who was granted a Visa and is currently studying in the U.S.  He is now seeking asylum and does not wish to return to Gaza despite having family there. I wonder if his asylum request has harmed the chances of other Palestinians who wish to study here. 😦   #GoingtoGaza

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Professor Noam Chomsky (r.) and Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj (l.) in Gaza, October 2012.

Day #338 – Recalling Noam Chomsky’s visit to Gaza in October 2012. Chomsky is a Jew. Some Americans are puzzled because of the hate-filled venom they’ve been fed by the Zionists.  Jews (not Zionists) are welcomed in Palestine. Jews (not Zionists) are treated respectfully by Hamas and other Palestinian factions. I believe Jews (not Zionists) have a secure future in the Middle East. #GoingtoGaza

Day #339 – I’m puzzled why professional journalists don’t connect the dots. This week they should’ve connected the dots between the nuclear weapons used 70 years ago, and Israel’s current threat to unilaterally and preemptively bomb Iran to prevent that country from getting nukes. Haven’t we learned any lessons? Really?  #GoingtoGaza

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Red Emma’s in Baltimore

Day #340 – Just following my heart today I ended up @ Red Emma’s in Baltimore, a self-proclaimed radical bookstore.  Pleased to see copies of “Gaza UnSilenced” on the table!   #GoingtoGaza

Day #341 – I’m seeing very little difference between the Jewish extremists/Rabbis/settlers and the Muslim extremists (aka ISIS) except for the way that the mainstream media portrays them. Oh, another difference — one acts under the cloak of legitimacy by a nation-state while the other doesn’t. Oh, another difference — one receives protection (both $$ and security) while the other doesn’t.  #GoingtoGaza

Day #342 – The Egyptian Embassy in DC informed me today that they will process my Visa application to travel through Egypt to Gaza.  Al-hamdulillah!   Doing the happy dance tonight. Of course, “process” doesn’t necessarily mean “approve”. But this is a big improvement. A few months ago, they wouldn’t even consider an application.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #343 – Searching for travelers’ health insurance while abroad, I came across this program online that compares different policies and prices depending on the variables you input. Travel destination is one variable. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Palestinian Territories is a destination option in this program. I was not surprised to learn that there are absolutely no health policies available for travelers to that destination. #GoingtoGaza with or without travelers’ health insurance.

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President Jimmy Carter signing his new book

Day #344 – Learned today that Jimmy Carter has liver cancer that has spread to other parts of his body. First thought: I wish he could live long enough to see peace in the Middle East, something he’s worked tirelessly to achieve. Second thought: I wish Congress would act on my petition and request that Carter address a joint session. He deserves their respect. Third thought: I’m going to write to Jimmy Carter. THANK YOU!  #GoingtoGaza

Day #345 – Submitted my Visa application with the Egyptian Embassy in DC today.  Purchased my ticket to Cairo.  Feeling like the roller coaster ride is just beginning.  A friend asked me “Why apply to Egypt, not to Palestine, for a Visa to visit Gaza?” Answer: Gaza, Palestine does not control its own borders because it is OCCUPIED by the State of Israel. You can’t fly to Gaza. You can’t take a ship to Gaza. You can’t drive to Gaza.  Either Israel or Egypt must grant you permission to enter Gaza. #GoingtoGaza

Day #346 – I think I may understand why some Jews can’t accept the truth about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It’s human nature to want to be right – not wrong – and to be on the winning side – not the losing side. So when Israel is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, it’s human nature to turn eyes and hearts away from the Occupation. Just a thought. #GoingtoGaza

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Lora with the Blue Crab on the Baltimore Inner Harbor

Day #347 – On this journey as a pilgrim, I need to learn how to be grateful today and every day.  My current grade is probably D-   #GoingtoGaza

Day #348 – “He who has a why can endure any how.” ~ German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. WHY am I going to Gaza? Because my heart calls me and because Justice and Human Rights demand it. HOW am I going to Gaza?  Only Allah knows. #GoingtoGaza

Day #349 – I think I know the biggest anti-Semite of them all. It’s Netanyahu. Palestinians = Semites, and Bibi is killing them with impunity. Jews = Semites, and Bibi’s actions are delegitimizing the State of Israel, “the home of the Jews”. Yep, Netanyahu is the biggest anti-Semite today. #GoingtoGaza

Day #350 – People have preconceived notions about their neighbors hardwired into their brains. Two examples today. On Facebook, a Zionist responds to my post from an Israeli newspaper about Palestinians building new tunnels into Gaza — “Only one logical reason . . . to kill Israelis.” It never occurs to him that there may be other reasons for building new tunnels—-a military defensive measure (Gaza’s version of the Iron Dome) is one example. I’ve never seen or read any evidence that showed Palestinians used the tunnels to enter Israel to kill Civilians. But this Zionist won’t acknowledge the humanity in the “other”. Second example happened to me on the bus today. Waiting at the bus stop, I sat on the bench next to a young Native American man who appeared inebriated. I was in the sun, he was sitting in the shade. He stood up and said “Sit in the shade.” I moved over and thanked him and held out my hand to introduce myself.  He took my hand and we had a very cordial conversation until the bus came. You can imagine the stereotype I had in my head, and the reality I learned after I met him. #GoingtoGaza

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Federal Hill, Baltimore

Day #351 – I often told my Palestinian friends in Gaza, when they asked me my religion, that I simply live my life by the Golden Rule (treat others how you wish they would treat you). A fact of life – not everyone follows the Golden Rule, and I can’t expect others to treat me the same way. That’s where the challenges lie. #GoingtoGaza

Day #352 – Writing today — putting pen to paper — trying to figure out the best way to share my pilgrimage with the most # of people.  Any ideas? Thinking of sharing a sample “column” with local newspaper to see if they might be interested in a regular monthly column. #GoingtoGaza

Days #353 & 354 – A friend I hadn’t seen in 10-15 years told me yesterday that she’s very confused about the Israel-Palestine conflict. One person tells her to read about one side and avoid the other side. Another person recommends she read the other side and avoid books about the first side. I told her “Read books from ALL sides and sit quietly and meditate about the questions those authors raise inside you.” It took me 10+ years of actively reading and searching for answers before I started seeing some clarity about Israel-Palestine. #GoingtoGaza

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Delicious meal at Cyndie Tidwell’s house

Day #355 – Attended a presentation tonight at the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque about environmental peace building in Israel & Palestine. Lots to share in a blog post soon, but the take-away message for me was: There are people (Americans, Israelis and Palestinians) working together on some exciting joint environmental projects in Israel and the West Bank (including plans for a regional sewage treatment plant, rainwater harvesting, and more.) The people on the ground want the projects, the technocrats want the projects, the politicians on both sides (Israel and the PA) do not. I asked if they had worked in Gaza, and they said “No, because we can’t get access to Gaza!” #GoingtoGaza

Day #356 – I rode my yellow bike with the cute basket all around town today.  Downtown, then up 4th Street to Menaul, back downtown, over to Rio Grande, and back to my old neighborhood. When the sun went down, my friend showed me how to turn on the flashing lights on the front and back of the bike. (I never knew how!) If we could import 1000s of bikes into the Gaza Strip, we could (1) reduce reliance on fuel, (2) reduce air pollution, and (3) improve physical health.  I wonder . . . #GoingtoGaza

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New Mexican jeweller in Old Town showing off his beautiful jewellry

Day #357 – Today I sat with an old neighbor (96 years old) and we talked. His eyesight is bad but he can hear very well, and his mind is as sharp as a tack. He lives with his daughter who has cared for him for many years. My friend and his daughter remind me of many of the Palestinians I met in Gaza. Family caring for family. He built his adobe house with his own hands just as many Palestinians build their own homes. I can sit and talk with my old neighbor for hours about my experience in Gaza, and he “gets it”. Is there wisdom with age or is it something else? #GoingtoGaza

Days #358 & 359 – This Spring an American was told by the Egyptian Embassy that he would not receive permission to travel to Gaza through the Rafah border unless he got a letter of approval from the U.S. Consulate’s office in Cairo.  But that office told him they would not issue any such letter. The typical Catch-22. Me?  The Egyptian Embassy accepted my Visa application two weeks ago and said they would process it.  No mention of needing any letter from the U.S. Consulate in Cairo. #GoingtoGaza

Day #360 – Had lunch with a long-time reporter from the local newspaper of record. She acknowledged that the industry is changing drastically. And I have serious disdain for the Editors’ politics.  Thinking about which media venue to approach with my idea for a monthly column about Palestine.  Maybe ABQ Free Press. www.freeabq.com #GoingtoGaza

Day #361 – I walked an hour for a great candidate running for Albuquerque City Council knocking on doors and telling people about why Pat Davis will serve them well. Palestinians haven’t had an election in 8 years I think. The people are stuck with the same old farts with no way to boot them out of office. Americans take our elections for granted. Most of us don’t even bother to vote.  Shame on us! #GoingtoGaza

Day #362 – Sitting in the Houston airport today watching travelers walk past me to their next flight. There’s no fear here, no despair, no humiliation, as there is in Rafah or Erez — the ONLY two checkpoints where Palestinians may travel in and out of Gaza, IF Israel grants permission. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #363 – Trying to figure out why it’s so frustrating to talk with some people with whom I disagree. 1) a very good long-time friend finds #BlackLivesMatter offensive and divisive. 2) a Zionist I’ve never met in person refuses to see the impacts of the Israeli occupation, and the Apartheid system of laws and regulations. Spending time trying to explain my position just ends in frustration. #GoingtoGaza

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“Why can’t the Palestinian leaders build a state like the Zionists did after the Holocaust?”

“Why aren’t the Palestinian leaders building a country like my parents, survivors of the Holocaust and millions like them, did with Israel, instead of building tunnels, shooting missiles and subjecting their people to untold horrors?”

I gasped when I read this question sent to me by a well-educated, university professor in Israel. It was a serious question, deserving a serious response.

Where to begin?

To dissuade my friend of any notion that Palestinians might be incapable of building a country, I’ll remind him of the cities, industry, agriculture, schools and civic life that flourished in Palestine before my friend’s parents and other Zionists arrived. Please watch this 10 minute video.

When I returned from Gaza two years ago, I wrote my layman’s version of the history of Palestine here and here. Israel’s 67 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing, and occupation of Palestine — as well as current events, including the Palestinian resistance and Israel’s successive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza — can only be understood in the context of the Nakba. I believe my Israeli friend’s question is sincere because either he doesn’t know about the Nakba (past and present) نكبة or he has decided to ignore and minimize the ongoing impacts of the Nakba.

I credit Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky for opening my eyes about the Nakba.

In the late 1980s, a group of Israeli historians, including Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris, began to challenge the commonly accepted version of Israeli history based on newly declassified Israeli government documents. Morris called them the New Historians. They went head-to-head with the traditional historians who cast Israel as the peace-seeking victim in a hostile Arab world, the David-and-Goliath narrative. The New Historians shared a more nuanced history of the exodus of the Palestinians and the reasons for the persistent political deadlock with the Arab states in the region.

Professor Ilan Pappe’s book “Ethnic Cleansing” was my education about the Nakba. I hope my friend will read it. In this video, Pappe describes in great detail about the Zionists who committed the Nakba crimes. He urges us to know the names of the perpetrators, the victims, the places and events of the Nakba. Pappe also speaks about the “conspiracy of silence” by the international community in 1948. Please watch.

So . . . . . why can’t the Palestinian leaders do what the Zionists have done (are still doing) in creating the State of Israel?

  • If my friend’s parents and other Zionists had decided to live peacefully side-by-side with the indigenous population when they arrived in Palestine, as Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived for many years, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today.  The footage in this short clip shows a time when Palestinians of all faiths lived and worked side by side in harmony.
  • If the Zionists believed in a democracy that values plurality rather than an apartheid regime that values Jews over non-Jews, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today. Saree Makdisi explains apartheid very well here and in his book “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

“Apartheid” isn’t just a term of insult; it’s a word with a very specific legal meaning, as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1973 and ratified by most United Nations member states (Israel and the United States are exceptions, to their shame).

apartheid wall

  • If Israel had not waged three military campaigns in Gaza over the past six years, Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) which I witnessed first hand from the ground in Gaza, and the most recent Operation Protective Edge (2014), and if Israel lifted the multi-year siege and blockade of Gaza, and if Israel allowed Palestinians in Gaza to travel freely to pursue educational opportunities, visit family, accept jobs, seek medical attention, etc., — if none of these inhumane actions had occurred and were still occurring — we certainly would be witnessing a vibrant economy in Gaza with the next generation of Palestinians living in hope, not despair. Instead, the U.N. is predicting that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Some of my blog posts from Operation Pillar of Defense are here, here and here.

I can hear your retort now, my friend.  It sounds something like this.  (I hope you are not offended, but I’ve heard the same words spoken seriously by many, many Jews.)

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So long as the Zionists maintain the brutal occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinians, as they have for decades, resistance will continue.  Resistance in the form of political resistance at the United Nations, resistance at the International Criminal Court, cultural resistance such as teaching the next generation the Palestinian traditions, economic resistance, non-violent resistance in Budrus, resistance with the pen, and violent resistance.

I’ll conclude with Noura Erakat’s well-reasoned explanation of why Israel’s occupation is illegal. As an attorney yourself, I hope you will give Ms. Erakat the time and respect she deserves by reading her paper.

I appreciate your question which initiated this blog post, and I hope we will continue this discussion. Even more, I hope the occupation and dispossession of Palestinians from their land, which your parents and other Zionists started so many years ago, will come to an end very soon.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Nakba, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, Peaceful, People, Politics, Settlers, United Nations, US Policy, Video

Playing catch – or not?

Communication is what makes the world go ’round. Everything — the good, bad and the ugly — can be traced back to communication — either good, bad or destructive communication.

I’m flummoxed about why some of my communication on “hot button” topics is so frustrating.

Sign on church fence in Baltimore

#BlackLivesMatter sign on church fence in Baltimore

Two recent examples. In the first, I’m responding to a friend’s objections to my T-shirt with the words #BlackLivesMatter. He finds the message divisive and offensive (his words).

I explain that #BlackLivesMatter is not #OnlyBlackLivesMatter, and certainly not #OthersLivesDon’tMatter but that it raises the real and pervasive racist policies and prejudice against black people engrained in our national psyche.  I think my friend agrees that we need to stimulate a national dialogue about it but he thinks my T-shirt hinders, rather than facilitates, a productive discussion.

“You should be sensitive to how people might react to your #BlackLivesMatter T-shirt,” he tells me. “I don’t care what other people think!” is my retort, and we drop the conversation.

The second example has taken place over many weeks on Facebook with an ardent Zionist about various issues related to Israel and Palestine. He responds to my posts about Israel/Palestine respectfully but never understands the points I raise. Here’s a recent exchange on Facebook about the video above.

Zionist friend: Some might point out the restraint the Israeli soldier displayed allowing himself to be beaten up without fighting back, instead of blaming him for arresting a juvenile rock thrower. It is sad that these soldiers have their hands tied when it comes to their own defense because they know that they’ll be blamed for anything they do to respond.
Lora: George Orwell might have described the soldier’s actions as “restraint” but no one using the English language today would.
Zionist friend: I’m not sure why you think that. We both saw the same video. Getting hit repeatedly on the head seriously hurts. The soldier could’ve easily started swinging wildly in self defense, but he choose to take the blows instead. We should both be able to agree that it took considerable restraint on his part not to respond.

Lora: I saw a soldier running after a Palestinian boy with a cast on his arm…take him down in a choke hold and then get pummeled by the boy’s mother, sister and others. Given the persistent pattern of IDF violence (killings) in the West Bank, I think these women were very lucky there was a video camera capturing the whole thing. The soldier’s “restraint” is directly proportional to the videographer’s determination to keep filming.

 

Zionist friend: Rocks thrown by a boy with a cast are not any less dangerous. These women knew that they could beat the soldier without serious repercussions because of the insane restrictions and scrutiny placed on the IDF.

 

Lora: I cannot open your eyes. Goodbye!

 

Zionist friend: Not sure what part of what I said was incorrect, but I guess I’m getting used to our conversations ending this way. Goodbye.

There’s usually more than one version of the events, and so there is in this case about the Israeli soldier, see here and here.

I’m aware there are different variables at play in each of these examples. The first involves a good friend I’ve known for many years about my age, a white professional, and our conversations occur face-to-face.

The second example involves an anonymous person on Facebook whom I’ve never met but suspect that he’s young, has probably been raised in a Zionist household and has bought that worldview hook, line and sinker.

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Now a good conversation is like a good ball game. One person tosses out the ball so the second can catch it and return it. The conversation, as a good game, proceeds smoothly with both participating and enjoying the give and take.

Some communication can be wild games where one throws curve balls which are impossible for the other to catch; or throws the ball over his opponent’s head never intending that the ball be caught; or slams a hard ball into his opponent’s gut. Who wants to play ball under those circumstances? I would just pick up the ball and go home.

My example #1 above resembles a stunted game of toss — but no catch. The conversation is frustrating because I don’t think my partner understands the #BlackLivesMatter message. No matter how I might pitch the ball, he doesn’t catch it.

Instead, he tries to toss another ball back to me — about how others might respond to #BlackLivesMatter — not about whether there is some validity to the assumptions behind the #BlackLivesMatter message. I want to talk about substance (and I pitch that ball) and he wants to talk about process (and tosses back a completely different ball). I suspect my friend may disagree with the substantive issues involved, but it’s too difficult to admit or discuss.

The substance about #BlackLivesMatter that I want to toss to my friend includes:

  • Black Americans are far more likely to be homicide victims than white Americans. See here.
  • Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated in federal, state and local prisons than white men. See here.
  • The black vs. white economic inequality (income, jobs,unemployment, etc.) is staggering. See here.
  • Homeownership is much more difficult for blacks than it is for whites. See here. And there are many more stats.

My friend either doesn’t acknowledge these statistics, or doesn’t agree with them, or perhaps agrees but doesn’t think the #BlackLivesMatter meme is a constructive way to raise awareness. He doesn’t want to toss my ball back to me, he wants to play with another ball. He’s likely as frustrated as I am when I reject his ball.

What type of ball game is my young Zionist friend playing?

Although he’s respectful and seems genuinely interested in playing ball (contrary to many Zionists I’ve met on Facebook), we aren’t having a very satisfactory game of toss and catch. This is very perplexing for me.

I don’t expect my friend in example #1 or the Zionist in #2 to agree with me.  A good game of catch doesn’t require agreement, but it does require the ability to catch and respond. Neither are catching my ball and responding. They each want to play with a different ball entirely — a way of deflecting the game to their agenda. So I’m left wondering, what can I do differently to have more satisfying and productive conversations?

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Days #42-43 Aug. 17 & 18, 2014 — Sumud

I walked out of the courthouse in Albuquerque today feeling pissed and angry. The Judge ruled against me, but it shouldn’t have surprised me. I didn’t have the expert testimony and couldn’t prove my case.

My case was no larger than a tick on a flea on the back leg of a fly resting on a dog’s tail. It was nothing. But it represented 18 months of hassling and haggling and took my energy away from where it might have been better focused. I’m disappointed.

Many losses this past year.  Maybe they’re catching up with me.

A good friend succumbed to cancer in January —- a slow and painful end. And with that passing was also the death of a friendship.

Another good friend succumbed last December to many health maladies that she had been fighting for years. I said ‘goodbye’ to her a month earlier knowing it would be the last time I would see her.

An Uncle passed away in January — the last member in that generation of my family. Although I spoke with him a week earlier, I didn’t realize it would be our last conversation. I would have said “I love you” twice as hard as I did.

And now this itty bitty loss today in court has brought up all the tears.  Crazy!

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The word “SUMUD” came to mind as I stepped onto the elevator at the courthouse. I learned about “Sumud” from the Palestinians in Gaza. They told me it means “steadfastness.”  It means so much more.

Sumud is standing your ground when Israel is throwing one of the world’s most modern arsenals at you.

Sumud is teaching your children to understand and appreciate their ancestors’ history and struggle.

Sumud is resisting the occupation by whatever means it takes to hold on to your land and your dignity.

The Palestinians in the West Bank, Jersusalem and Gaza teach the world about “Sumud” every today. Maybe today the lesson is meant for me. Even when I feel like a loser, when I feel the losses of people dear to me, when I get discouraged, when I lose hope about acheiving my dreams, I need to show “Sumud”.

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I need to be a role model for the next generation. The generation that’s growing up in a more hostile environment than the one I grew up in the 1950s-1960s. The generation that has inherited a burdensome debt and an insecure future. I need to show them “Sumud” — steadfastness — and determination even in the face of loss.

This time last year, the Palestinians in Gaza were waiting to hear whether a negotiated truce might end Israel’s horrific assault. As reported on Democracy Now on August 18, 2014:

Israel and Hamas are continuing indirect talks in Cairo as a five-day ceasefire is set to expire. A Palestinian official says the two sides remain far apart on a long-term agreement. Hamas has made an end to the blockade of Gaza a central demand, while the Israeli government has reportedly hardened its stance in recent days. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to continue the assault.

Protestors worldwide were demanding an end of the assault. Thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv in support of negotiations with the Palestinians.

In the United States, protesters in Oakland have prevented an Israeli ship from docking in protest of the assault on Gaza. The Zim Piraeus had been due to unload its goods at the Port of Oakland on Saturday. But several thousand activists with the “Block the Boat for Gaza” campaign gathered at the port, forcing a delay. Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union took part in the action.

Haaretz reported these headlines:

PA urges Hamas: Continue Gaza truce talks, even without immediate guarantees
Palestinians: Egypt seeking extension of cease-fire for talks
UN: Gaza reconstruction 3 times more dire than after 2009 war
Netanyahu tried to hide Egyptian cease-fire proposal from cabinet
Israel, Palestinians agree on 24-hour extension of Gaza cease-fire as sides try to reach a deal

In the face of all of this, Palestinians in Gaza displayed Sumud last summer and every day.

sumud 3

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