One thought that I have been having recently in regard to the situation in Israel/Palestine is about how people have been drawn into activism on this issue. For example, one way that I look at the situation is that given the tremendous suffering and injustice that Jews experienced in Nazi Europe, it is sad that the State of Israel, and some Jews, are treating Palestinians so poorly, in many cases exactly the same as Jews were treated by Nazis in Europe. That sense of injustice is very gripping, and helps to provoke my involvement.
It is further frustrating to me, as I am sure it is to many others, because the crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace, that are committed by the State of Israel are wholly enabled by the USA. In light of this and other pertinent information (like the political economy of nuclear weapons,) I think it makes sense to understand that Israel is an exploited partner in US imperialism, and hegemonic policies of global dominance may very well be down at the deep bottom of this.
And that does nothing to change the fact of reality that what the State of Israel, and some Jews, are doing to Palestinians is unacceptable and must change.
Back to the topic of being drawn into this issue: I was new to Olympia in March 2003, at the time when Rachel Corrie died. I had only been here for about six months. The story of Rachel's death was captivating. Being killed while defending a home against destruction by bulldozer: defending the home of a family that had committed no offense. That's a gripping tale for sure. And so I thank Rachel Corrie for spurring my awareness, and certainly that of many others, on this important issue. I think that will be a big part of the legacy of Rachel's life: helping people to come to awareness of, and to better understand the situation.
Here's another look at the present situation, thanks to the talented photographers at ActiveStills. This is a scene from Rafah, from a couple of days ago:
Meet at 11 AM at Olive Way and Melrose Avenue, Seattle, for bannering over I-5. Then, at Noon, march to Westlake Park for a Vigil until 2 PM. Demonstrate solidarity with Gazans and allies detained by Egyptian authorities. Sponsored by Voices of Palestine.
More information about the Gaza Freedom March: www.gazafreedommarch.org/
Earlier tonight at the Gaza Freedom March event at Traditions, I received the following information about a Sidewalk Procession that will occur tomorrow (later today really) afternoon. Here's the info:
Demonstrate solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March and Gazans under siege. Commemorate the attacks of this past December and January.More information about the Gaza Freedom March: www.gazafreedommarch.org/
Gather at Percival Landing by The Kiss statue between Noon and 12:15 PM. Wear a tears of blood mask (borrowed from Seattle street thespians.) Dress in black or dark colors and wear a kaffiyeh if you have one.
Participants will process silently through downtown Olympia between 12:15 and 1:30 PM, and stop to read from Khulood's Diary (which is the writing of a young woman from Gaza, about her experiences during the attack on Gaza a year ago.)
Rain or shine, dress to keep warm and dry.
More information about the project from the website:
The Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project is an inter-disciplinary, interactive, multi-site public art project that will involve people on a global scale. ORSMP crosses borders and recognizes the unique relationship that exists between the people of Olympia, Washington, the people of Rafah, Occupied Palestine, and all people who struggle and work for justice. ORSMP is co sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Olympia Salvage Company.
The ultimate goal of the project is to use culture and technology in innovative ways to increase the strength and visibility of movements working for social change in Palestine, Israel, the US and the world. The project is a manifestation of the way communities use creativity in public space to cope with catastrophic and traumatic losses in resilient and transformative ways.
Inspired by Rachel Corrie, an Olympian killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003 in a non-violent act of civil disobedience, the mural serves as a reminder of the thousands of lives lost in Gaza and elsewhere, and as an inspiration for those who carry on the quest for justice, unity and peace—symbolized by the olive tree.
Here's a report from Kathy Kelly about the situation in Israel/Palestine. Included is information about Rafah, Olympia's Sister City on the Gaza Strip. Kathy Kelly also asks what size tunnel it would take to transfer weapons from the US to Israel - weapons that are manufactured in the US - weapons that are sold and profited from by people in the US.
Additionally, I would like to ask for your opinion on the ethics of deriving financial profit from the sale of weapons. Do you think or feel that it is right and/or acceptable to make money from the sale of military hardware, and weapons used in war? You can probably guess where I stand on this issue. (mm hmm Boeing?) Read on:
How Do People Keep Going?
By Kathy Kelly
People have asked me, since I returned from Gaza, how people manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gazan or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private, and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.
And the children want to help their parents. In Rafah, the morning of January 18th, when it appeared there would be at least a lull in the bombing, I watched children heap pieces of wood on plastic tarps and then haul their piles toward their homes. The little ones seemed proud to be helping their parents recover from the bombing. I'd seen just this happy resilience among Iraqi children, after the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing, as they found bricks for their parents to use for a makeshift shelter in a bombed military base.
There will be a film showing at 8 PM.
Project artists and leaders will be on-site at the wall this Saturday. We encourage community members to stop by and join us for conversation, paint a tile leaf, and attend an 8pm film screening at the wall of Bil’in Habibti (Bil’in, My Love), a documentary about the town of Bil’in in the West Bank. The villagers of Bil’in, and those who stand in solidarity with them, have for years engaged in weekly non-violent demonstrations to alter the course of the separation wall through their farmlands. Work on the mural will continue throughout the weekend, when the mural’s central image will be completed: an ancient, gnarled olive tree representing life and growth, movement upwards from strong roots, and a traditional aspect of the Palestinian landscape, culture, and economy. Over a million olive trees have been uprooted to build settlements and the separation wall; the International Court of Justice has ruled that the separation wall illegally appropriates Palestinian land within the 1967 Green Line.Saturday, August 23, 2008, Labor Temple Building North Wall 119 Capitol Way, Olympia WA 98501
For more information: Official Launch of the Olympia-Rafah Mural Project
Saturday, August 23, 2008, Labor Temple Building North Wall 119 Capitol Way, Olympia WA 98501
The first brushstrokes have been laid for the Olympia-Rafah Mural Project. A joint endeavor of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and Break the Silence Mural Arts Project from San Francisco, the mural is an expression of the sister-city relationship between Olympia, Washington and Rafah, Palestine, and will be completed cooperatively with artists from Rafah and around the world. Throughout the year, Olympia community members painted over 500 leaf-shaped clay tiles with their visions of social justice and peace; these leaves will “grow” on the tree this spring. In addition to tile leaves, images will be painted on canvas by local organizations with images of linkage between struggles. The mural will illustrate connections between the Palestinian issue and social justice movements for fair housing, land rights, the rights of indigenous people, and environmental justice both locally and the world over. At over 4,000 square feet, the Olympia-Rafah Mural will be the largest mural in the United States to focus on Palestine.
The Olympia-Rafah Mural Art Project presents...
Up Against the Wall—from Palestine to Mexico
Friday, January 25th, St. John’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 7 p.m.
Carlos Marentes of Comité Pro-Amnistía General y Justicia Social in Seattle and Susan Greene of Break the Silence Mural Project in the Bay Area will present Up Against the Wall—from Palestine to Mexico, Friday, January 25th, 7 p.m., in the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 114 20th Ave SE in Olympia.
With Guest Mural Artists: Susan Greene and Lisa Nessan
The Olympia Center, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 26th, The Olympia-Rafah Mural Project presents a full day of workshops led by a team of artists and community members for Olympia residents and artists. Workshops will focus on developing themes and design ideas for a mural to be painted in downtown Olympia later this year honoring connections between Olympia and the town of Rafah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The mural will be an expression of a people’s recognition of the Olympia-Rafah Sister City connection. It will honor that relationship and, also, the common struggles for justice and the hidden histories that impact members of this community. Saturday’s workshops will be from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, in downtown Olympia. A light lunch will be provided.