At home in Cambridge Massachusetts I am now recounting my trip to southeast USA with my photographic presentations about Palestine & Israel, in 15 parts, one for each day.
Now the Palestinian center of culture, government, and perhaps business, Ramallah is known as the Best of the Worst: a city in the Occupied Territories
Ramallah, Occupied Territories of Palestine, click here for an enlargement
Near the foothills or in them of the Appalachians, called the Piedmont, the high country, northwestern South Carolina, the weather continues unseasonably chilly. I’m in the home of Ann L, who teaches music therapy at Converse College, a private women’s college.
2 shows yesterday, both at small private colleges, Furman and Converse, to relatively small and definitely quiet audiences of about 25 each. Some 5 Palestinians attended the Furman show, one vociferous older man from Jerusalem who kindly drove me to Converse, arriving late, him discombobulated by the instructions—and wishing to talk endlessly about the conflict. He reminded me of one of the many characters in Joe Sacco’s graphic novel, Palestine: mouth wide-open, words spouting out, angrily. Altho this man, Ramzi, did not seem so angry. I think he only wanted someone to listen and understand.
Margaret Hawthorn interviewing Palestinians
Why these 2 audiences were so quiet puzzles me since other university audiences were more outspoken. Could be me—tired after so much daily travel and back-to-back shows—or the intros—not with overwhelming spirit—or the colleges themselves, but more likely the location. Dick M who drove me to Greenville for the first venue, and others, have told me this is one of the most conservative regions of the country, the home of many Christian Zionists. There seemed little awareness of some of the key features of the Gaza story, such as the Free Gaza movement and Rachel Corrie. This is a litmus test I can use to scope the audience: how many have heard of x or y? In these 2 cases only a sprinkling of hands went up and they were usually only from adults.
2 of the questions last night provoked good thinking: what can be done, and how can a humanitarian worker sustain him or herself? Ann told me later the woman asking was the only Muslim on campus.
I’d relished the thought of visiting a women’s college. The women at the show were not particularly attractive, overall, but in my single dream last night they were. I was with a woman friend, maybe H, someone like that, attending a play put on by women. The cast entered, and then reclined near us. They were all skimpily dressed. Breast and legs were in abundance. I was thrilled. My partner noticed my attention and chided me. So, finally, if not in fact, then in fantasy, I am at my ideal women’s college.
Traveling as I’m doing, town to town, I notice very few fields producing crops. How did the agriculture disappear? Instead, yesterday, fields and fields of new growth trees. Suggesting a fairly recent turnaround from agriculture to either tree harvesting or abandoned fields. Where the forests are absent the malls take over. So we have endless strip malls—“the malling of America.”
My hosts yesterday include Ann L, the slender relatively young vivacious music therapist teacher who brought me to Ruby Tuesdays, the chain restaurant, for a late evening meal of Creole fish, rice, and steamed broccoli. All dishes were cooked so sumptuously that I asked our waiter, a handsome young man in his senior high school year, if I could meet the cook. The cook appeared, a similarly young handsome man, and I praised him for his talents.
Also Alfonso, a religion professor at Furman, from northern Germany, gracious, half bearded, wearing a dashing black beret. And his friend, a visiting history prof from Denmark who introduced me. Then Ramzi who drove me. I tried to duck conversation with Ramzi by napping in the car. And last night at Converse, Jason, a campus minister, who worked with me to set up the show last night and the exhibit which I will see this morning.
I am meeting many, can barely remember their names, let alone learn much in depth about them. Many have first hand experience with Israel-Palestine, as does Ann, who was recently there twice, once with a Lutheran group, once working in music therapy. I visualize bringing all my hosts together for a party in my little apartment, hosting them with food I’ve cooked Mideast style, maybe learning how to make muqluba. I’d give them each a photo; I’d invite each to tell a story of their involvement with Palestine/Israel. I’d suggest we go together to the Holy Land and each ply our talents to end the occupation and build security for the Israelis. We’d finish our trip by visiting the murder site of Rachel, that trip hosted by Amal, Ibrahem, Mosab, Issam, Ehab, Mustafa, Rawand, Yusef, Belal and the crazy lovable taxi driver Awni.
Proprietor of an electrical supply shop
Worker in an electrical supply shop
A letter to Martha Y:
I’m contemplating making a tour this spring of New England with my photos and stories from Palestine/Israel. The several tours I’ve done (I’m currently in the south for 2 weeks, North Carolina to Florida) have gone very well, bringing the materials to churches, mosques, universities and colleges, political groups, senior centers and residential communities and Quaker meetings. Making this all possible is an organizer and a network. The young man doing this, David Matos, works thru networks he’s discovered thru, for one instance, a conference held by Sabeel. The American Friends Service Committee might be such a network for New England. A further reason for considering AFSC is that I work extensively with the organization in Israel-Palestine.
I’m wondering whether you might be interested in helping me organize such a tour. Or if not, if you have any suggestions for people connected with AFSC.
Please let me know at your convenience and feel free to circulate this request to others.
I just learned that Adam Horowitz is no longer on the AFSC staff. Too bad, he seemed very good at his job. And I remember he was on the delegation when you and I met providentially in East Jerusalem a few years ago.
—February 6, 2009, Friday, Spartanburg, SC
Fadi Mosa Masad