Posts Tagged ‘march’


We’re ready for every possible scenario, even if they start firing at us. Nowadays, to be a Palestinian is to be an almost dead person. Palestinians die every day and we know that’s part of our reality. I was at the Erez checkpoint back in 2011 [during the last return march]; I’ve seen the full force of Israel’s cruelty.

The whole idea is based on UN Security Council Resolution 194 (the right of return) and the current unbearable living conditions in Gaza. It is actually a peaceful act. We want to ask the Israelis to welcome as if we were visitors from another country, the same way they welcome refugees in certain countries in Europe — though we’re not actually visitors here.

—Hasan al-Kurd (one of the March organizers)

I have been many times to Gaza since my first trip in 2004. Mainly to support the young adults programs of the American Friends Service Committee, but also to photograph what I observe within the locked box of the Gaza Strip. Some call it the largest open air prison on earth. During my first visit, now 14 years ago, I asked a friend there if he’d concur: no, he said, worse, the largest grave yard on earth. His observation then was up to date and prescient. He’d declared this before the major Israeli attacks of Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and Operation Protective Edge (2014). Death by Israeli live ammunition, rockets, bombs, white phosphorus, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium warheads against Palestinians, usually young adults, usually civilians, some perhaps who’ve I’ve taught photography to or photographed, and death by illness, despair, suicide, resistance, and the myriad of other Israeli violence over the years.

…an illegality that pains the eye and outrages the heart, if the eye be not blind and the heart be not callous or corrupt.

—B’Tselem, referring to Israeli soldiers accepting orders to shoot unarmed, nonviolent protesters in Gaza

First some relatively positive news, an instance of revived international attention on Gaza, I hope one among many: the demonstration and die-in last week in front of the Israeli Consulate in Boston. Here are some photos:

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And a video showing one of the organizers, Nancy Murray, speaking about Gaza.

Then news from the front: The Great Return March,
dated perhaps because this report is from the first week of a strategic 45 day nonviolent expression of frustration and hope.

Palestinians participate in a tent city protest commemorating Land Day, with Israeli soldiers seen below in the foreground on-March 30-Photographer- Jack Guez:AFP via Getty ImagesSM2

Palestinians at the Israeli border, Gaza Strip, March 30, 2018

Friday’s protests [March 30, 2018], which Israel estimated drew 40,000 people, were the first of six weeks of planned anti-Israel actions meant to dramatize the Palestinians’ plight as refugees. Israel said Sunday that Gaza militants used civilian demonstrators as cover as they fired at soldiers and tried to lay explosives near the border fence. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the militant Hamas group that rules Gaza and sponsored the protests, called the killings a “massacre.”

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A young Palestinian looks at a poster listing the villages that demonstrators at the Great March of Return plan to return to once the Palestinian right of return is honored. (Photo- Moha

A young Palestinian looks at a poster listing the villages that demonstrators at the Great March of Return plan to return to once the Palestinian right of return is honored. (Photo- Mohammed Asad)


Gaza Martyrs

Martyrs, killed on March 30, 2018


We’re a group of 20 organizers, only two of whom are affiliated with Hamas. Actually, most of us, including myself, are leftists. All the political parties in Palestine are behind us and supporting us, and Hamas — being an elected party — is one of those parties.

If we’d felt that [Hamas], or any other party for that matter, tried to control the protest and make it about them, we wouldn’t let them. Hamas is actually very understanding on that point.

—Hasan al-Kurd

ProtectiveEdge-Breaking Silence-map only

Thanks to Breaking the Silence

Recent comments from some of my friends in Gaza:

Great efforts dear.. keep supporting us to end the siege and live a human life like all others in the world
—Montaser Abu Kmeil



Thank you Skip for sharing with such a good material. Gaza is bleeding these day although the protesters are peacefully demonstrating without any violence. Many people killed and hundreds were wounded. We anticipate a real action from your side to raise American awareness on the Palestinian rights to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.
In justice and peace in the holy land,

—Mustafa ElHawi

Al Hawi.jpg


Thank you so much dear Skip, your solidarity and support highly appreciated, for sure your video and photos will encourage us to end the Israeli occupation. 
Be well, and please keep in touch. 

—Ibrahem ElShatali
Ibrahem ElShatali SM

Palestine en vue


With the Great Return March, Palestinians Are Demanding a Life of Dignity

“Israeli snipers open fire on Gaza protests second week in a row”

“Gaza ‘Return March’ organizer: ‘We’ll ensure it doesn’t escalate to violence — on our end'”

“Palestinian Journalist Yaser Murtaja Killed by Israel Sniper on Gaza Border”

Reading Maimonides in Gaza, by Marilyn Garson (2018)
From 2011 to 2015, experience in Gaza’s economic sector

This is How We Fought in Gaza, Soldiers׳ testimonies and photographs from “Operation Protective Edge,” by Breaking the Silence (2014)

Book suggestion: Night in Gaza, by Mads Gilbert (2015)
A participant’s view by a Norwegian medical doctor in hospitals during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014, Operation Protective Edge, with excellent photographs by the author. Israel has now banned him from entering the region for life.

Night in Gaza 2

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Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit


April 6, 2014, Sunday, Detroit

Cool, low 30s, clear, calm.

Leaving early from my meeting at the Boggs Center I drove to Birmingham [on April 5, 2014] , a wealthy suburb north of Detroit, to join a rally and march organized by various United Church of Christ congregations shouting out for proper treatment of pensioners, home owners, people of color, etc. Make the banks pay!


Quotes from Cornell West and Martin Luther King Jr.


This group was slow to form. Nearly 1 hour after what I thought was the declared start time of 2:15, at Shain Park in the center of Birmingham, speeches began, many of them moving, as was true of Rev. Rowe from the Central Methodist church who led with a joke about Methodists always being late, and a young Black minister who rapped his sermon. A former police officer, female, spoke to us about integrating the force. She now advocates for retirement rights for city workers like herself. The last speaker, a woman, Mamie Chalmers, was from Birmingham, Alabama, the real Birmingham, the illustrious, Birmingham, the Birmingham famous for its role during the Freedom Movement. At some length she informed us about the reality of Jim Crow, including how she was forced to order thru a window and move aside to wait for the food, and—a fact I was not aware of—to buy clothes, to be fitted for clothes, one would be measured and was prohibited from trying on the clothing. Wearing the jacket, trying on the shoes, both prohibited.


“Mamie Chalmers personifies the Birmingham, Mich. to Birmingham, Ala. connection in the struggle for human dignity. At age 20, the Alabama native joined the movement and in 1963 was among the demonstrators attacked by police dogs, and eventually losing part of her hearing from the water hose blasts. She was arrested and spent five days in the Birmingham County jail. Yet, she attended the historic March on Washington that year.”

I made a point of standing with Black people, talking with them, gaining trust so I could photograph them, with each other and with White people. It was a hearty mixture of human beings, friendly and welcoming.




Finally, finally, the march. Thru the downtown section of this rich suburb. Many noticed. I tried to show them noticing. To the Chase Bank, one of the many banks seemingly profiting from Detroit’s poor conditions and the bankruptcy. We chanted and sang one song. I wished there were more in the style of the Freedom Movement. As someone noticed later, resurrecting Detroit is good for the burbs, for the state, and probably for the nation. Renewal is in all of our best interests.





April 7, 2014, Monday, east of Erie Pennsylvania, on the train

Cool, low 30s, partly cloudy, calm—all without feeling the weather, merely sensing it thru a train window as I cruise home to Cambridge.

A few stories from last night’s [April 6, 2014] dinner conversation at the Covintrees’s.

Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Denise, recently married, Denise also a minister, were in a serious auto accident, but unharmed. I believe an oncoming car leapt the barrier causing Bill’s car to veer into an embankment. The first driver sped off. This is on Bill’s Facebook page if I can remember to check it later for details. He and Denise had intended to a participate in the Birmingham march and may have been on their way there when the accident occurred. Several at the march wondered where they were, since they were expected. And it was Bill, I believe, who told me about the march.

George and Winkie related a contrasting story about a White man, Steve Utash, who accidentally struck a young Black boy at night with virtually no street lights functioning. A crowd of neighbors, led apparently by 2 young Black men, assaulted the driver who’d stopped to assist the boy he’d struck. They beat him savagely and crushed his head. He may not recover. The driver had done the right thing, the neighborhood was shocked and disagreed with the beating. George and Winkie bemoaned how this incident will cause more Whites to not enter Detroit, an escalation of the great divide. The problem of the Color Line, as described astutely by W.E.B. Du Bois, remains with us.

My comment on the lack of street lighting may have elicited this story. Lights off—crime on. This story directly affects me because of my night travels, either in car or on bike [I later learned the assault occurred not during the night, but at 4 pm.]. Also my willingness to frequent and even live in Black neighborhoods. We agreed that the Dalai Lama’s injunction to carefully consider the consequences of one’s actions before acting is wise. Also using language rather than fists, rocks, and guns to communicate.



Interfaith March for Justice: From Birmingham to Birmingham

Five Plead Guilty to Beating a Motorist in Detroit,”  19, 2014

Reading Rivera, Resurrection and Remembering in Post Industrial Detroit by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

“Resurrection City” by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

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Yoga in front of the Federal Reserve Bank, Dewey Square, Boston

A UN observer inspecting an unexploded cluster bomb-laden rocket in southern Lebanon. (AP)

Photo courtesy of The Independent 2011

Pages from my journal about the Occupy Movement

Occupy Boston

International Day of Solidarity with the Occupied Movement & a march to end US wars :: October 15, 2011

Occupied Wall Street—1

Occupy Boston March on Indigenous Rights Day, Oct 10, 2011 (video)

October 16, 2011

Another iteration of Occupy Boston yesterday [October 15, 2011], my third. The main camp remains. With some reported violence last week the police had dismantled the second camp along the Greenway. Yesterday all seemed calm, even when the peace march reached Verizon and stopped to chant slogans, and later outside the Bank of America, a hated symbol of corporate greed and congressional and administration malfeasance. At this second site, I stationed myself between marchers and the bank, joining a surprisingly small phalanx of bicycle cops to stand between institution and opposition. Speeches, chants, waving fists, and the march continued. I filmed and photographed, prepared at any minute for violence. This reminded me of clashes in Israel-Palestine at spots like Bil’in, the Palestinian village which for more than 5 years has resisted the separation barrier, where one could not predict outcomes. The power of a crowd, a mass, a mob is not easily directed. Or might be effectively directed by the likes of Samuel Adams. Oh Sam, where are you now?

In front of the Bank of America

In front of Verizon

I believe the march had been planned by the Boston branch of the United National Antiwar Committee before Occupy Boston started, as a demand to end US wars. It turned into a march that also supported Occupied Boston. Because of the multivalent nature of the march young people were not the usual high proportion.

Guarding the Army recruitment center

Wishing to not bore myself or any possible audience I strove for unusual photos. One might be at the Army recruitment center, the march reflected in the glass wall with its Army signs. Another might be the low camera angles.  Another might be faces. I tried.

A travel and couple dream. With others we rode in a bus thru the night, arrived in Cambridge after one leg of a longer trip. We all helped the driver remove the folding chairs serving as seats so the bus could be cleaned. I’d acquired 2 large loaves of crumbly bread, one I dropped on the ground but retrieved to eat later. I wished to save both loaves for the rest of my journey.

A young man and young woman who’d also ridden on the bus intended to go further. They needed to catch their next bus somewhere in East Cambridge. I directed them thru Central Sq, confident I knew the way. By now I might have been on a bike. I looked longingly at them, this newly forming couple and thought fondly of when I was in a similar stage of life with P. I felt grateful that P and I had met and loved and married and had children, all when young, and by recalling our history I felt less old, less left out. I kept all this meditation to myself.

In a hotel I found for my overnight stay, I showered by turning the entire bathroom into a shower, spewing water all over walls and floor. I did this wantonly but with permission.

October 18, 2011, Tuesday, home in Cambridge

Australian Delegation Visits Cluster-Bombed Areas of Lebanon, Calls for Ban

I see a connection, albeit a slender one, between our Quaker meeting’s monthly prayerful witness at Textron Industries in Wilmington Massachusetts, manufacturer of cluster bombs, and the popular movements now erupting internationally. Some 85 of us “occupied” a conspicuous space in front of the building, held it for one hour as a multitude of people rode by, prayed for peace or whatever we felt impelled to do during our “occupation,” and created a visible and irrefutable sign and question about the meaning of this building—what Textron made, how it profited, and who lost limbs, sanity, and lives because of its product. One year earlier I’m not sure we’d have found many from Friends Meeting at Cambridge willing to sit in prayer in front of Textron. Or if we had that we’d have so many participants. Our visits to Textron date back nearly 2 years when John Bach—love that man!—initiated nearly single-handedly a monthly series to Textron. I joined early, regularly participate, and for this recent manifestation, contributed a display about the company and its nefarious work.

John Bach, founder of the Textron Industries monthly prayer sessions

October 20, 2011, Thursday, home in Cambridge

Cool and wet, after a day of rain, heavy at times, mid 50s, overcast, calm.

Photographing the tents at Occupy Boston reminded me of the Simplex Tent City set up in 1987 to contest MIT’s take over of residential property between Central Sq and the university. So I investigated my archive. The negatives must be at P’s and so for now remain unavailable.  In my basement I found a few prints, and then I remembered that I have photocopied sets of many of my earlier photos on the shelf above my computer. So I dragged a bunch of notebooks down and perused them. I found only a few from that tent city, and they were not very inspiring. I found other photos from various political projects. I’d assess them as of mixed value. Juvenilia perhaps. One or two images might warrant inclusion in a retrospective. (Will I ever reach such a point? Hang up my cameras, get out my archives, make a selection for a retrospective?)

1970 MIT Tech File Photo


1997 Agnes Borszeki — The MIT Tech

The important point is precedent. Simplex Tent City is one small but important local precedent, as is the wave of factory takeovers during the labor movement, and after that the lunch counter sit in’s and the freedom bus rides. And obviously the much more recent uprisings and revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Israel, to a limited extent Palestine, and extending to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Kansas. (Before that, Serbia and the downfall of the dictator Milosevic and the “Battle of Seattle” in 1999 and other revolts against dictators and world domination by corporate and financial institution powers like the World Bank and IMF.) Each of these was a takeover or occupation of territory and with that, the claim to human rights.

Textron is one immediate local manifestation that’s affected me powerfully. Another is the recent temporary occupation of the Israeli Consulate in Boston. Tomorrow’s rally [November 9, 2011] to sustain Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in the face of pending cuts might be joined by Occupy Boston. Across the country such occupations supply an often eager cadre of marchers, ralliers, and occupiers for a variety of issues. I hope the list lengthens. Occupy is an infectious model, a template for building awareness and expediting action. It is curiously and perhaps unconsciously reminiscent of occupation—the occupation of Iraq, the occupation of Palestine. Whether this is a productive reference or one that is self-defeating is yet unknown.

Another unknown of the movement is the meaning of declining public support, or so suggest some polls. Currently it’s something like 45% oppose, 35% support. However I suppose this is true of all movements and actions. None garnered widespread support thruout their entire duration. I know many people opposed the Freedom Bus Rides, and later the Poor People’s Campaign organized by Martin Luther King Jr shortly before his assassination. Certainly his stand against the Vietnam War was unpopular among many supporters and might have been one factor that led to his murder. This is simply part of the dynamic. We now laud at least the Freedom Bus Riders, and many of us view the Poor People’s Campaign as a paradigm for wide-spread action. One works to increase support but lack of support does not necessarily point to failure.

OK, the dream: about X for a change. She agreed to help me conduct a photo workshop about rivers or some other element of the environment. The assignment was vast and challenging. I asked her to do lots of background reading. She was taking time off from her studies which were about law (the professions of medicine and law eliding together in my dream). I looked forward to working with her. She was to share a house with me and others.

Around this time, D came to visit. She brought lots of her stuff and we couldn’t manage to find a space to store it that wouldn’t interfere with X’s stuff. While trying to sort out space I introduced D to X. At that very moment X was on the computer and D recognized the program X was using. It was about international law. They immediately connected. I felt good about this.

The phone rang, one of many mobile phones, it belonged to X, I answered. It was Amory. I think I knew that he was X’s lover or boy friend. I answered, hello, this is Skip answering for X. I then announced the call to X who seemed overjoyed to receive it. I was jealous. Dream ended.



Occupy movement

Occupy Boston

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Together

Simplex Tent City in Cambridge

Ten Years Later, Simplex Issues Remain Unresolved

Boston project creates new niche, November 28, 2005, by Christopher Montgomery, in the Plain Dealer Reporter

Textron Industries in Wilmington Massachusetts

Made in Mass., bomb stirs global debate

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Occupy Boston—1

International Day of Solidarity with the Occupied Movement & a march to end US wars :: October 15, 2011

Pages from my journal about the Occupy Movement

October 6, 2011

Oh, yes, Occupy Boston! A grand event, modeled after Occupy Wall Street (OWS) which has been running for 3 weeks [as of October 31, 2011], spawning local variants around the world. Boston began about 1 week ago, taking over, with municipal participation and approval, Dewey Square which is opposite South Station and at the end of the Kennedy Greenway. I dropped by yesterday on my way to M’s, emailing her to join me or at least to accept my tardiness. Some 100 tents were implanted side by side, a blazing variety of tent gear, many with signs, some showing solidarity with labor organizations. Tents for food, clothing, medical assistance, legal assistance, media, coordination, etc. And a nightly round of General Assemblies at 7 pm, which is a meeting to discuss plans, using the consensus model, but bending this to agree to a plurality. So far the police have been mostly cooperative. As far as I know, no large-scale civil disobedience is planned. This information comes mainly from one young man who’s been volunteering for the past 3 days.

I arrived around 3 pm, as Cornell West, the preeminent scholar, university professor, author, rapper, preacher, and activist co-led a large contingent of nurses in a small march around the square. Even tho I was aware of his key role in supporting the Occupy movement, I’d not expected him here. There is a very powerful YouTube video showing him leading chants for the occupiers on Wall Street. Yesterday many gathered around him, hugged and kissed him, called him a hero. He looked embarrassed by this attention, joyfully hugged and kissed in return. I did my best to show this energy and chemistry, accidentally in a position within brushing distance.

Needless to confess: I am ecstatic about this popular movement, how rapidly it’s spreading across the country, based on the simple call of We are the 99%, that is the 99% of the population who are not rich and dominant. The unifying call is against corporate greed, and spreads out from there to oppose war, advocate for better health coverage and education, and regulations of commerce, especially the financial industry. One young man tried to gain support for marihuana legalization. He began imperiously: the single most important issue is the marihuana laws. Change them. Are you with me? People booed. He moderated his call, but only a handful of supporters cheered him on. This reminded me of a poetry slam or a film festival when the audience votes for their favorite movie. At Occupied Boston, by popular assent, perhaps, the participants may clarify their platform.

October 12, 2011

I’ve minimally edited and posted a 2.5 minute movie about the Occupy Boston march on Monday, Indigenous Rights Day, altho I spotted few indigenous people and no indigenous organizations. Estimates were as high as 10,000 marchers—I guessed 3,000 when pressed by Rachel and Abby. Lots. And mostly young, I’d estimate mostly students. Most white, most looked middle class. Which might be one key weakness in this movement. R pressed me to join the support group on Monday night that would try to block the police from removing the occupiers who by then had expanded their zone past Dewey Sq. to another nearby site along the Greenway. Police justified this removal by stating that the Greenway had been recently improved there and would be ruined if occupiers used it.

Park Street Station & Boston Common

Guarding the Army recruitment center

In front of the Bank of America

In front of Verizon

By some accounts the removal was violent. I’ve seen several photo sets and movies which have not clearly demonstrated this quality. In fact, in most of the media I viewed the police did not wear riot gear. Reportedly the Veterans for Peace group stood between police and occupiers to “protect the kids,” and the police handled the vets roughly.

I declined R’s invitation on the grounds that 1. It would be late and dark and so it would be nearly impossible to photograph, 2. I’d already been on the job for the afternoon with lots of photos, 3. I’m not too interested in photographing yet another confrontational scene, and 4. My role is primarily a photographer, not activist.

There seemed to be confusion about leadership and communication during the march. Who is leading? Periodically everyone sat down and the “peoples’ mike” was brought out: this is a novel technique for amplifying voice. For instance, I might speak, using short phrases, as if expecting translation. The crowd nearest me repeats my phrase, thus amplifies it. Anyone can call for the mike. At the Charlestown Bridge, the projected end of the march, chosen because it represented how money could be better spent on infrastructure rather than bank bailouts and Wall St. support, blocked by police (with the justification that the bridge would not support so many people), once again the peoples’ mike was put into use. Several groups shouted out their requests: one to stay at the bridge and one to return to the campsite to protect it. The former were mostly the anarchists, most of them wearing black and covering their faces with bandanas. They suddenly and inexplicably ran down a side street.

I asked one young man wearing a bandana, why the bandana? For the gas, he replied. Really? I said, quizzical. And might have asked, what gas? The police give no sign of shooting tear gas. I suspect the mask is primarily to prohibit identification in case the group decided to attack property. And also as a fashion statement and a way to identify one’s politics. However, for many viewers it might signal terrorist, criminal, someone with something to hide. Not a very positive statement.

In photographing the march I searched for high places, like the parking garage, for an overall view. For the climactic photo of the series I anticipated they’d cross the bridge and rather than photograph them from a first person viewpoint, in the march itself, I cleverly chose a different position—from the waterfront near the Charlestown locks so I could show them streaming across the bridge. I anticipated this position from prior experience. So I sat awhile, took the opportunity to pee into the water, waited and waited—no marchers. No signs of marchers. A helicopter hovered overhead so I knew they were still nearby. Had the police blocked them? Probably. Wouldn’t surprise me. I phoned R, he’d left the march (Wimp! And then he berated me for not showing up for the nighttime confrontation.) Reluctantly I left my treasured position, abandoned the final dramatic view, and found the marchers stalled by the police.

Providentially the Program on Negotiation and the Harvard Law Documentary Studio at Harvard Law School had scheduled a screening of the new movie last evening about Gene Sharp, How to Start a Revolution. Sharp, the movie director, and the deputy head of the Albert Einstein Institution which is Sharp’s main vehicle for disseminating his ideas about nonviolent change, were present. During the discussion following the screening and talk I asked Gene, how can a leaderless movement like the Occupy movement formulate the detailed strategy that you call for? He answered humbly, I don’t know. I have my doubts that they can.

Had I the opportunity I might have asked a second question: some, like Grace Lee Boggs, Martin Luther King Jr, Vincent Harding, and Joanna Macy, suggest that the revolution should be about values rather than regimes. Since your methods seem most useful for regime change, as with Serbia, Egypt, Ukraine, and other nonviolent eruptions, how can we adapt your principles to this shift in focus? One of his latest writings, Self Liberation contains the phrase “and other oppressions” to suggest the methods can be translated to this new orientation. I should read the booklet. All his writings are downloadable from the Einstein Institution website below.

His lessons, effectively portrayed in the movie, suggest careful attention to detailed planning: know one’s adversaries, prepare for different contingencies, be resilient, etc.

On a personal note, the film and Gene himself resonate with me in at least 2 ways. Like Gene and the movie, someone made a movie that features me, Eyewitness Gaza. And like Gene I find myself in a mentorship role, sometimes with very attractive young women. In Gene’s case it is Jamila, head of the A Einstein Institute, a refugee from Iran, extremely beautiful and youthful, devoted to him as a daughter might be to a father. He is in his 90s, I have no idea about his interests in her, whether they range further than mentoree or father-daughter. Perhaps at one time they did. Now he looks feeble. Might I be him in 20 years (if I survive that long)?

The various manifestations of the Arab Spring bring needed attention to Gene Sharp, nonviolence, and the movie. I wish all well.

I should apply his techniques to my own life, at least my life as an artist and activist: what are my goals (to open eyes, doors, and hearts to new realities, so that my deeper goals of enlightening myself and others and ending suffering can be realized), what is my strategy (make evocative media, true to my heart, prepare for harsh criticism and much avoidance), who are my adversaries (“good liberals,” pro-Israel folks, many Jews, some Quakers coming from a misguided culture of peace, etc), how to deal with them (by truly working from an open heart as I attempt to practice with Sderot, the Israeli town frequently attacked by rockets from Gaza), and who are my allies (such as Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, some Quakers, some Israel-Palestine activists), etc.

Lent by the Peace Abbey of Sherborn Massachusetts

One major recalled dream from last night: I was on a hiking or camping trip with a large group and I knew no one. First we were to climb down a long ladder and then swim. I’d brought only my mobile phone, camera, and wallet, but, altho I knew we’d be immersed, I’d forgotten to bring plastic bags. Following an older woman who needed help climbing down the stairs, we reached a respite spot. It was connected with a Protestant church and featured a bar filled with liquor. I wanted some. But I wanted plastic bags more so I surreptitiously scouted the kitchen and toilet. I finally found a few bags that I believed might protect my gear.

As central as the bags were, even more central was my need to shit. Where would I do it and when? Somehow the toilet exploration didn’t figure into my calculation. Seemingly a non sequitur, when I emerged from the bar—happily with my plastic bags but still needing to shit—I walked thru a porch on which a young black boy was getting a haircut.



Occupy Boston

Dr. Cornel West – We the People Have Found Our Voice (video)

“Occupy Boston: Veterans clash with police, scores arrested” by Elizabeth Flock in the Washington Post

Gene Sharp

Gene Sharp – How to Start a Revolution

Gene Sharp: Author of the nonviolent revolution rulebook by Ruaridh Arrow, Director of Gene Sharp – How to Start a Revolution

Albert Einstein Institution

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Together

Eyewitness Gaza

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Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.

—Woody Guthrie

Excerpts from my journal


May 2 and 4, 2011, Cambridge Massachusetts

Clear, chilly, low 40s, still, lilac buds appeared.

Yesterday Bread and Puppet theater assembled at the Paul Revere mall in Boston’s North End, providentially under his statue, so as I sat resting from the previous 3 hours of intense photography with my Spring Light Charles River workshop I finally realized I can show the Haymarket Martyr puppets standing close to the statue’s base. (I’d snacked on a small chocolate mint cupcake with coffee and peed at Mike’s Bakery—effectively embedding in the largely Italian district—and felt the tourist in me merge with the artist.) Another episode in a splendid spontaneous day.

All but one of the paraders was easily under 30 years. They wore the colors of revolution and anarchism, red and black. Some wore IWW insignia, International Workers of the World—An Injury to One is an Injury to All. I recognized a few from the Bread and Puppet cast which I’d seen perform recently at the Boston Center for the Arts in the Cyclorama. They brought instruments, gradually more and more filled in the ranks to form a march that processed thru the North End, stunning residents and visitors with their grand music and the somber martyr puppets.

(The death of someone many would term a martyr was announced this morning, NPR is devoting its entire morning broadcast to the event—Osama Bin Laden is dead. Martyr only meaning martyr to some, evil man to others. As some—many long ago during the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago—would have called the Haymarket Martyrs evil or murderers or terrorists, when in fact they were organizing for the 8 hour day and other workers’ rights.)

I tracked the parade, anticipated it, and caught up with it, happy, as I was earlier in my solitude and with the earth as I led the photography workshop, to now be with a multitude and with the politics of May Day. More and more often and with more and more people International Workers’ Day returns to Boston. The issues of immigration rights, worker rights, and revolution generally seam together in this popular movement. The march ended in the Rose Kennedy Greenway, met by others who’d assembled previously. More youth, more people of color, more good energy: May Day in Boston. (I noticed that none of my current photo students showed up, despite an invitation from me, nor did I see any I recognized from my Boston email contact list, nor anyone from the local Palestine rights movement. Very curious, the lack of awareness about May Day and is significance.)

In viewing and photographing the May Day parade thru the North End I observed that the music and festive nature of the paraders—the geniality and joy—alerts the audience to politics rather than educates or exhorts them. A good lesson for my own work. I am too much the educator, the exhorter, the preacher, the pontificator, and not enough the inspirer, the pinpricker that simply alerts others to an issue or cause or need or topic: set the stage, plant a seed, prod a weary soul, content oneself with that, and keep on parading, blowing my horn, beating my drum.


The Brief Origins of May Day (aka International Workers’ Day)

Bread & Puppet Theater

Earlier photos of Bread & Puppet Theater in Boston

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Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.

About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.

In several parts, with periodic photos and videos.


To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true.

—Bayard Rustin

June 23, 2010, Wednesday, Detroit, home of KD

A frustrating start yesterday. Our little group at KD’s are all on different sleep routines, K the latest to arise, Grove before her, then Rick, and then me, the earliest. I’m up by 5:45 am, sometimes as early as 5:30, whereas K is lucky to be up by 10 or 11 am. Our bedtime is commensurate, more or less, with our wakeup time. Because of our wish to travel to the Forum site together, this means some of us, me usually, sits waiting for the others, never clear on when and who.

I spoke to the group about this issue yesterday, with some anger, and Grove suggested today we have a discussion. We had that discussion and might have resolved it. Today Rick and I plan to be at the Palestine tent by 8:45 am to set up our displays.

The parade was the main event yesterday, truly a thrill. It was also a personal culmination: I’d missed the opening parade at the first US Social Forum in Atlanta, 2007, confused about which was the opening day. That was the debacle when, after Y and I had planned to train together to Atlanta with DS, I thought the start day was the day after the actual day. So yesterday, clearer about the schedule, I was able to join a portion, perhaps 5,000 people, many from Detroit, of the 15,000 or so actually registered for the forum.

Thanks to Rick knowing about a peace vigil along the route, maybe 1/2 mile from the end point, Cobo Hall, meaning we didn’t have to move ourselves all the way to the starting point at Wayne State University (a walk of about 5 miles, no shuttle, only bus service which is not superb), I joined at a nearer end point. Accidentally we arrived at the vigil site as a feeder march from Detroit arrived, chanting they say cut backs, we say fight back, about a burning local issue concerning utility stoppages and evictions. Mostly black, many young, they exhibited abundant energy as they paraded around the federal center. They then waited patiently while the main march approached. As the feeder march waited they chanted ain’t nothing like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop, sang, listened to rousing speeches, while youth chosen to lead the contingent practiced linking arms in solidarity.

I picked a vantage point and relaxed, speaking briefly with a young woman from Saskatchewan who’d arrived by train after a grueling 36-hour ride. She reported that the last segment of the trip was in a tottering, wavering chain of cars.

I was near the head of the march when it triumphantly arrived at Cobo Hall, our main site. After I’d left the march, Rick reported that police or security forces hired by the Forum (said to practice principles of non violence) pushed marchers to the sidewalk, not allowing them to finish.

Inside for the opening ceremony various groups performed and spoke. The Native American group animated me, despite my fatigue, by their dancing and drumming. Hip hoppers, folk singers, spoken word artists (AKA poets), African dancers and drummers, and others—a vast array of ethnicities and talents—performed for us. We were situated in one of the largest halls I’ve ever experienced.

Thanks to Karen (traveling with a group as I’m doing has its blessings, despite the conflicts) we attended an informal concert by David Rovics and Anne Feeney sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace in a mansion overlooking the river. Built in the 1700’s as a farmhouse constructed half way up from the river on the 1 mile strip of land (French style of land use), it now houses a law firm known for its political and social work, offering pro bono services. One principal in the office is a cofounder of the National Lawyers Guild. A huge photo of the monumental Frederick Douglass hung on an office wall.

Rovics was inspired—hearty, hale, lively, with a curious high, tight voice. At least 1/3 of his songs were about Israel-Palestine. Is he Jewish? I wondered. [I believe he is after much later I noticed a button on his shirt, Another Jew for … with a Palestinian flag.]

While sitting in Cobo Hall after a surprisingly efficient registration, frustrated (frustrating is a major emotion for me these days) by not knowing where the theme tents would be so we could set up, I met a young impaired woman who’d noticed my t-shirt. It was about Israeli refusniks [Israeli soldiers and officers, active duty or retired, who refuse to maintain the occupation]. She told me she’d been to Israel with Taglit Birthright-Israel [a tour indoctrinating young American Jews in the righteousness of Israel] and was horrified at some of the attitudes expressed by soldiers the group met and by the reactions of some in her group. One instance was a soldier offering his rifle to a participant for a photo, saying, pretend you’re shooting an Arab. I told her about Birthright Unplugged [also for young American Jews but which attempts a broader view of conditions in Palestine/Israel by actually visiting the West Bank, which Birthright does not do].

Next, 2 women from San Francisco, one who was Jewish, also noticed my shirt and asked for conversation. They were astonished to learn about the recent Assembly of Anti Zionist Jews in Detroit that I’d attended. So my shirt is a natural conversation starter, among this crowd at least.

I met also a young heavy Black man originally from the South Side of Chicago [my home neighborhood], now living in Alabama. He reinforced my observation that there now is a reverse migration of Blacks, mostly retirees, returning to their southern roots. Jeff Halper [scholar, writer, activist and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, ICAHD] casually walked by. Followed by former Colonel Ann Wright [an outspoken critic of Israeli policies oppressing the Palestinians]. Altho the Forum tradition does not rely on big name people, big name people often attend, in humble disguise. Later, as Jeff was leaving the Rovics concert, I introduced myself, reminding him that he was the surprise guest at one of my fundraisers. He greeted me warmly, promised further conversation later.

Jeff Halper, photo courtesy of the internet

Retired Army Col. Ann Wright is removed by Capitol Hill Police on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007, as Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testified on the future course of the war in Iraq before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Karen, Rick, and I scouted for the tents, think we discovered them about 1 mile from Cobo along the river. They are hard to reach, minimal tents, apparently lacking sidewalls. So how do I exhibit my photos? And without electricity how do those of us needing power manage? [I’d been scheduled to exhibit my Gaza photos and present my Jordan River slide show.]  Earlier, hoping to find the site, Rick and I meandered east along the river searching for the tents, thru Hart Plaza where concessions were housed in tents, but no theme tents. All very mysterious: frustrating. Or simply part of the adventure.

Two dreams last night:

Dream #1 was horrifying. I was either watching a film about or actually watching a beheading, or rather, a near beheading. An actor was sweating thru the prospect of a throat slicing. The executioner had sharpened his large knife and slowly, repeatedly, drew it across the victim’s neck. At the last moment a man emerged from the top of a hill and shot the would-be killer. Pow, one shot, the shooter thru his British accent saying something like, there I got ya, and the scene was over.

Watching this I felt the emotions of the victim, feared not only for my life but for a painful and possibly prolonged end. How does a throat slitting actually kill—and feel? I found myself pondering.

Dream #2 was frustrating. I was showing a slide show to a large group, ran out of time, paused the show, and then perhaps inappropriately decided to expose the inner workings of the show, the software, Mac’s Keynote. I elided into a brief lecture and pitch for Keynote as being superior to PowerPoint, forgetting the main reason I was in front of my audience, the slide show itself.


All Aboard the Mavi Marmara by David Rovics (Israel’s attack on the flotilla attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, May 2010)


They took every laptop, every camera and cell phone

This is what Goliath does to those who dare to throw a stone

The ghost of the Exodus is shouting at the sky

But Netanyahu isn’t listening, he’s just watching people die

For days nobody knew just what happened on that boat

Because everyone was held in jail and dead men do not float

All the world will remember what happened on that night

And to end the siege of Gaza more will go and join the fight

Last Chorus:

All aboard the Rachel Corrie

Sailing toward Goliath’s kingdom armed with nothing but a stone

To tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone

All aboard the Mavi Marmara

Sailing toward Goliath’s kingdom armed with nothing but a stone

To tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone


U.S. Social Forum: Marchers Demand ‘Money for Jobs, Not Banks’

Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs

“Fires burn throughout Detroit, Residents hold energy giant responsible,” by Andre Damon and Larry Porter, 9 September 2010

“Four family members die after utility shut-off,” by Bryan G. Pfeifer, Detroit, July 27, 2009 PM

David Rovics

Assembly of Anti Zionist Jews

Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions

Ann Wright

Taglit Birthright-Israel

Birthright Unplugged

ISRAEL: ‘Refuseniks’ say they won’t attack civilians

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The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza formed after Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza in winter 2008-09.

To mark the one year anniversary of the Israeli attack the coalition is mobilizing an international contingent for a nonviolent march alongside the people of Gaza on January 1, 2010 in order to end the illegal blockade.

The coalition conceives this march as part of a broader strategy to end the Israeli occupation by targeting nonviolently its flagrant violations of international law from the house demolitions and settlements to the curfews and torture.

More information here

I heartily endorse the Gaza Freedom March, organized by Code Pink and others, for January 1, 2010.

I write from Gaza City on a humid evening.

Eyes wide open, directly, with much pain in my heart, I offer photographic testimony to the large scale suffering of my friends and compatriots in Gaza. I suspect they would be very willing to welcome international walkers of the Gaza Freedom March at the Gaza side of the illegal border with Israel. Please, as many as possible, consider participating at whatever level is appropriate for you: endorsement, actual participation, financial help, spreading the word.

—Skip Schiel


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