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.
Near Nablus, Occupied West Bank of Palestine
Here I sit, comfortable, warm, well-fed, happy, safe, tunneling thru northern North Carolina on the Piedmont train. Free coffee and the sweetest, most fat-filled Danish, self serve café car, the train as far as I can tell only about 1/5 filled, plenty of leg room, power hookups at each seat, no wifi, a 4 hr ride to my next show. Light snow covers the ground, not in Chapel Hill or Durham, but now while heading southwest, oddly enough. Perhaps we are climbing further into the foothills of the Appalachian chain.
At the Huwarra check point
The shows yesterday—Gaza in the afternoon at the newly opened county wide senior center and Hydropolitics last night at the retirement community, Carol Woods—were mixed. Gaza seemed too long. Light streamed in thru white translucent window screens, ruining the photos. Air stream was blocked, the room grew humid and hot until someone spoke up and we opened doors. The show was too long; the show still needs much editing.
But last night—ah, what a difference! Big crowd, some 60, sponsored by the Elders for Peace group, as was the day time show, apparently headed by the vivacious Hank, dark room, decent sound, excellent intro by Hank, sharing the stage with Curt Jones, former foreign service officer with a book out about the Mid East, and a well honed show, cut short for the occasion: elders who might tire quickly.
Both audiences were surprisingly well informed and activist, mainly I suppose because of the sponsoring group and the evening venue, the retirement community, being a haven for progressives and democrats. (Marilyn told me about other retirement communities, filled with Republicans who wish only to discuss their social clubs). At the Hydropolitics show a woman spoke during the discussion period and later to me privately about her misgivings concerning my balance. With a strong accent, which might have been Israeli, she told me, You should say more about the other side, give a broader perspective, add history, admit that others might see the situation differently from you.
I tried patiently to listen to her, to that place beneath the words where her heart is, her pain. I also had in mind how Jimmy Carter may have responded: a mixture of compassion and fortitude. Listen and speak.
Nablus, “City of Fire”
Curt praised the Hydro show, declaring it the best portrayal of the water situation in that area. Later he recommended I find a publisher for either a book version of the show, or an abbreviation that combined statistics with photos. Others praised the photos.
At the dinner preceding the show, mostly female residents of the residential community, Hank’s wife, Nancy, asked me if I knew David R of Friends Meeting at Cambridge. Nancy and Hank have a son in Cambridge and occasionally attend meeting. Do I know David?!
We’re long-term friends and short-term adversaries. And I then launched the story of the Compassionate Listening Project practice group and the widely recognized breakthrough of David and me. People listened closely, seemed to appreciate the story, one of bridging differences within the family.
I might have used the Compassionate Listening Project model for my conversation with the woman from the audience.
A long walk broke up the morning, walking the mile long circle, a sort of circumferential highway directing traffic away from the housing units. I noted the community garden, the large, filled parking lot outside the medical center, the craft shops, and the noise of the nearby highway system. Nothing to photograph, unfortunately. In fact, little of note photographically so far on this trip. Lots of chatting with hosts, especially Marilyn and Hank, some revision of my slide shows, preparation for the Hydro show, a trifle of reading, and lots of eating. They feed me well. Certainly this travel is as much vacation as work, blending beautifully together.
Roof top rain water collection, provided by the Palestine Hydrology Group
Ruth, a new resident of Carol Woods, seemed excited about volunteering in Palestine/Israel. I suggested the Ramallah Friends School and the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions since she said she has skills in home construction and primary grade teaching. With the elders I briefly mentioned one advantage of an elder witness: as Art Gish declares, Free to die, free to live.
Dave Matos has done a fine job tracking me, making sure the hospitality and travel arrangements are all in place, a sort of guardian angel. I have no clear idea about who is meeting me in Charlotte, what the venue is like, where and with whom I’m be residing tonight, what’s to happen tomorrow. I trust this will happen. I fear nothing. I am free from worries. I’ve left my sordid past behind, for now. I am utilizing the geographic cure. I am happy young man. I am a boy again, graduated from high school last summer, on the train west to Utah for my first big getaway from home adventure.
Raised in Palestine, marketed in Israel during a year of jubilee when orthodox Jews
do not work their farms
As I write, the train is barreling thru Burlington NC, racing past autos, laying on its horn, cruising from a residential development into the woods, laced with decaying factories. There is no trash on this sector of earth—the snow blanket hides it.
—February 3, 2009, Tuesday, on the train between Durham and Charlotte, NC