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.
One very powerful dream, M featured. She and I were to meet at the end of a long path thru a thickly wooded forest. I was with another woman, someone very close to me, like Louise. I forgot to turn on my cell phone to hear from M exactly where and when to meet. The other woman, Louise, and I arrived at what might have been a meeting place, deep in the forest. No M. Of course, how would she know where to meet?
I remembered, turned on the phone, saw I had 2 messages, then the phone shifted modes and I couldn’t access the messages. I was sure they were from M. Now what to do? Race back to the parking lot on my bike (why had I brought a bike?) Ok, leave Louise waiting, alone in the deep thicket, dangerous. No M in the parking lot. I kept checking my watch, saw we were now some 30 minutes from an estimated meeting time. M must be on her way home, probably furious at me.
Later, somehow I prodded the phone to produce its messages and I heard from M. She was not only furious but deeply saddened by this debacle. Maybe crying. I’d ruined everything.
Mediterranean Sea shore, Gaza City
HIVE (History, Information, Vision, and Exchange) is a community center in Greensboro NC—a large meeting space, adjoining offices of non-profits working with the environment, poverty, women’s rights, etc. Dave helped establish it. Since December 15, in response to shelter overflows and winter weather, they’ve opened WE, a program offering hospitality to men, mostly or entirely black men. 8 pm to 8 am. They use the central room, set up their cots and pads, store personal things in plastic bins, use the kitchen, plenty of food, maybe from Food Not Bombs, access the computers, and are tended by the facilitator, a vibrant Jonathan, ever smiling and helpful.
Dave told me the rent paid by the organizations helps sustain the center. Behind the building a bike shop has welded together pieces of old bikes to form a cage, in which they store bikes to be repaired. Someone’s been breaking the welds and stealing the defective parts, apparently unaware the parts are broken and that the shop will give away free used parts. Despite this problem, crime in the neighborhood, a mixed race zone, has decreased since the establishment of HIVE. It opened about 2 years ago.
Dave tells me it is going thru a management transformation, from relatively anarchic to more mainstream with a paid staff and board. This in answer to certain problems he did not list.
Net fishing for sardines near a raw sewage outflow, Gaza City
My Gaza show fit well in this space. About 20 people showed up, mostly young folks, a few elders, 2 or 3 residents of HIVE, and notably the wife of Max Carter, Jane. Also Chelsea, a young effervescent woman with pock marked face, nose ring, scraggly hair. She’s originally from Charlestown MA, her family sporadically attended Friends Meeting at Cambridge, she is now at or recently graduated from Guilford.
Maybe for the first time I showed the entirety of Gaza, some 70 minutes of it. When I asked Dave later how he thought I could improve it—always expecting the reply: shorten it, cut a lot out—he said instead the following—and here I will only mention the list I made from his suggestions.
Notes on Gaza at Greensboro, via Dave R:
Music doesn’t always match picture, sometimes seems repetitive
Add detail in history between Aphrodite
and “children of the stones”—websites that Dave might suggest
Balance between despair and hope
Ragdha first of family in Bureij
Fewer hospital photos
Bold “me” in Belal
Have someone read Obama et al?
Crisp dates for recent history
“Jump to Rafah” in early slide
Add most recent Yusef?
More personal stories and experiences and people
Add candle light vigil with Ibrahem
I can’t say the audience was fully attentive (I saw some sleeping or at least with heads bowed, maybe in reverence, I’m not sure), nor dramatically appreciative (a tinkling of applause), nor financially generous ($30), but most stayed for discussion and it was lively.
Some thoughts about Israeli accountability, about Obama, about Hamas, but nothing very personal, either about key characters in the show or about me. Which always puzzles me. More along the lines of geo politics. Jane C helped the discussion with first hand experience. Dave remained silent, looked distracted thru the show.
Uncompleted building, waterfront, Gaza City
Beach refugee camp, Gaza City
He is 30 years old, near graduation from University of North Carolina Greensboro in political science and history, considers a career in conflict resolution, may sign up for the grad program at the local university, knows most of the key players in the Palestinian solidarity movement, including Matan Cohen, and is a lively and gracious host.
After a 50 minute ride to Chapel Hill for my next gigs, with a discussion about HIVE, Dave himself, the solidarity movement, etc, we met my next hosts, Oscar and Marilyn E, both I believe from the elder center which is hosting one of today’s 2 shows. As on the December tour one virtue of this arrangement, handing me off from new to old hosts, is expediting people in the movement meeting each other. We dined at a cafeteria that suggested a step up from Shoney’s in quality and maybe price. I snagged too much, made a pig of myself, eating Spanish mackerel, beets, salad, baked potatoes, lima beans, and chocolate pie. What did they think of me?
At first I felt engaged by the conversation about Israel-Palestine politics, the prospect for instance outlined by Dave that Netanyahu might be useful as the next elected prime minister because he has a history of caving to strong pressures, unlike folks like Ariel Sharon, a former prime minister now in a coma. Dave claimed even Neta G feels this way, not supporting his candidacy but realizing a prospect. The conversation was notably upbeat, recognizing the possibility of a tipping point arriving sometime in the near future. And then for the second half of the dinner, attention shifted to local politics, leaving me blank. Who did what in the campaign for senator and house rep and why it mattered?
Israel heavily attacked Beach Camp recently during the 3 weeks of heightened violence from December thru January 2009. Some of these boys may be injured or dead.
A plus about journeying as I’m now doing is poking into people’s personal lives, living as they do for short periods, probing their histories. I listen to their stories, and I attend to how they lived, their furniture, food, clothing, and pick out details on which to array conclusions.
Beach camp, looking toward the Israeli city of Ashkelon
Yesterday morning I chose to attend, of the 3 Quaker meetings in Greensboro that I know about, First Friends Meeting (or church), programmed, pastored. Arriving early I noticed a plethora of cars in the lots, but then entering the sanctuary, large, very churchlike, all pews facing forward, a pulpit, as is the churchly Quaker way, I found very few sitting waiting. So I returned to the greeters, picked out a young woman, asked, Could I tour the building while awaiting the service? She guided me.
We first met the pastor, Deborah, a woman in her 40s perhaps, smiling, attractive, thin, married, gracious, engaging. I learned later, from Mary Ann, my escort, and from Deborah herself during her sermon, that at the end of this month the pastor will join an ecumenical tour group visiting Jerusalem and the Galilee. I didn’t hear mention of the West Bank, certainly not Gaza.
Deborah’s sermon, essentially about staying focused, one thing at a time, paying attention, began with an account of her struggle to transform her upcoming Israel-Palestine journey from what might be simply a tour into a spiritual pilgrimage. She used the word pilgrimage. She went awalking to pray about this, and concluded with the notion of attention. Every detail of the experience, noted, thought about, recorded, discussed, portrayed. Of course I resonate with this direction, hoping myself to be fully attentive to all experience.
Following her sermon, a period of open workshop, beginning with a deep silence, leading to about 4 messages, all from the heart, not always directly related to the sermon. I was impressed, loved the combo of music from a talented chorus, the congregation singing, sermon, beginning silence for open worship, public joint prayer, greeting everyone, Deborah inviting me to introduce myself, and the warmth of the assembly. All very fine, and, as I mentioned to a few, if I were living in Greensboro I might chose this church as my home.
—February 2, 2009, Monday, Chapel Hill, NC