Recounting my trip to southeast USA with my photographic presentations about Palestine & Israel, in 15 parts, one for each day. All photos in this post are from my presentations.
Getting in—the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel
After a long train ride from Boston to Greensboro (10 pm to 7 am, Boston to Washington DC, and then 11 am to 630 pm, DC to Greensboro) I am ready to begin the show.
Camping overnight with David R, sleeping on his couch, I dreamt about watching a car in which rode an unwary couple; they hit a pigeon, stopped abruptly to check, freed the pigeon from the front wheel gear, and drove off. The pigeon, apparently in retaliation, struck out at the most available target, it attacked me, pecking at my ankles. Is this pigeon a stand in for Israel?
On the train I met a woman, Quaker, and at her request, I sent her the link to quakerpi.org, and the Boston based Declaration for Peace in Gaza, since we’d been discussing how her Quaker meeting might become more active on Palestine/Israel. They’re hosting an event today about Gaza, a video.
I also noticed that she, like many now, is shifting attention away from Gaza to other topics. For her it is now Afghanistan, and the killing of alleged militants and others by a USA drone, ordered by Obama. As someone predicted weeks ago, the moment Obama orders such an attack, accepting culpability for the use of violence that injures and kills civilians, he and his presidency are tainted.
One might argue, what else is he to do? A valid question. It points to how entrenched the system is.
Qassam rocket fired out of Gaza into Sderot, an Israeli town
I’ve been much in touch with Yusef of Gaza. He’s sent me some writing, based on his first and second week’s experience of the assault, with photos he’s made. He offers a unique perspective, into his heart, a poetic and somber heart. He’s permitted me to revise and post. Which I will try to do while traveling. it helps keep me sane—the connection, the responsibility. Connecting with suffering, responsibility to alleviate it by publicizing it.
Which I begin to do today at 2, the first show of the tour, Gaza, Eyewitness Gaza.
During the DC layover in Union Station, attending to the Google alert for “skip schiel” I learned details of my second and third days, where I’ll be and what I’ll be showing. I also browsed the various responses to my plea for feedback about the Wounded Knee-Gaza article. This is rich. I’ll have to more seriously attend to it when home.
A light snow covered the ground south of DC for about 50 miles. Surprising. The land is very flat, even as far as Greensboro, despite this area being named the Piedmont, the foothills. Near DC it is also historic civil war country. Imagine: 150 yrs ago, same terrain, different tone.
DC weather was cold and clear. Ditto for the single stop I made getting off the train for a stretch. Union station was nearly empty when we pulled in at 7 am, gradually filled up, but it was nothing like when I usually drop by—rush hour. Many African Americas riding the train, of all ages and conditions. Sometimes the car seemed filled with only people of color. The train crew also was mostly Black. The train was on time; the café car attendant, an older woman, pudgy, told me it is sometimes ahead of schedule. A result perhaps of better coordination with the freight line that owns the tracks. I’ve also heard there is a major proposal to upgrade the tracks thru this region, emplacing tracks dedicated to passenger traffic. Is rail making a second grand entrance? Am I one of the pioneers?
The cars are not as ample, spacious, elegant as in the west. Simple cars, more like commuter rail than cross-country. No leg or foot rests. But—a big plus—power outlets at all seats. No wireless.
Awni, the taxi driver hired by the Quaker Palestine Youth Program
Amal Sabawi, director of the Quaker Palestine Youth Program
Ibrahem Shatali, staff of Quaker Palestine Youth Program
Dave R, my local host in Greensboro NC, is a young man, about the age of Dave Matos, maybe early 30s, apparently single, living with a male roommate in a section of the city near the center, adjacent to the University of North Carolina campus. He works closely with the International Solidarity Movement, knows and helps coordinate media with Neta G, and was denied entry last summer when he tried to return. His first and only trip was around 2005 when he worked with ISM. He feels the denied entry was mainly because of being listed thru his connection with ISM. Which could happen to me.
He told a scary story of a long airport interrogation, some 7 hours, by folks who he feels are low level, dumb, uncaring. He was detained overnight, forcibly placed on a plane back to his last flyaway point, Paris, and treated rudely. At the airport he was met by French police who brought him to a station to sign a statement that indeed he’d landed in France. The plane crew and police were polite and indicated that denied entry and deportation were a common occurrence.
Snagged with him was a young man who had no affiliation with activism, simply profiled and denied. Yes, capricious. Another nail in the coffin of the state of Israel? Maybe.
He treated me to Mid East food, shuwarma for me, and I discovered that the family owning the restaurant is from Ramallah. Bushara is the name.
—February 1, 2009, Sunday, Greensboro NC