Jim’s September Missive

High Holy Day Reflection

L’Shana Tova. Happy New Year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, continuing into the celebrations of Sukkot and Simchas Torah, give Jews ample points for meaningful reflection. We celebrate the harvest as we move into the darker time of the year, day and night somewhat balanced as the light wanes. I often observe the light in the dark and the dark in the light, like the little spot of the opposite in a yin-yang sign. I pray for that awareness to sow in me understanding and compassion and make me slow to judge, yet also strong in my work to alleviate suffering even when I dance, sing and laugh.

We celebrate on Rosh Hashanah, but we also cultivate humility and are especially ready to apologize and are slow to cast aspersions, deflect blame or shirk responsibility. May our Yom Kippur fasts not be for show. May our hunger pains remind us to feed the divine within and help each other fulfill our God-given potential.Sarura_cave_shade

The precarity of a sukkah (a temporary, outdoor shelter) for us to eat and dwell in feels very poignant personally and politically. I am still not sure of my future housing despite my recent expectations at something more permanent. Still, I am blessed with a comfortable house-sit in Berkeley that was extended a few more months. It’s not all about me though, and the recent devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico, Houston, Yemen, Bangladesh, Burma and elsewhere that has led more and more people to flee or be forced from homes eclipse my own insecurity on a whole other scale. I tend to diminish my own discomfort or needs by reminding myself of all that I have and the privation and torture I am free of.

And then Simchas Torah comes as the reading through of the five books of Moses is completed and started anew. The end and the beginning are shared–a reminder of eternity and the wheel of life like the ouroboros. I always want to highlight the Yom Kippur morning Haftorah portion (A reading from the non-Torah part of the Hebrew Bible, in this case, Isaiah 57:14-58:14). There are many passages that I try to take to heart and live by. This is one of my favorite bits, in this case, taken from a translation by The Velveteen Rabbi: “If you banish oppression, scornful finger-pointing and hateful speech;
if you offer compassion to the hungry and sustenance to the famished; then your light will shine in the darkness, your gloom will disappear like fog at noon. Adonai will guide you. God will slake your thirst when you are parched, God will give you strength deep in your bones. You will be like a watered garden, an unfailing spring. You will rebuild yourselves, you will restore foundations laid long ago. You will be known as one who restores what has fallen.”

Just World events in the Bay Area

I am settling into my job as western representative of Just World Educational Foundation. JWBAs I mentioned in my August Missive, Just World Books has some great authors and titles. One of them, Miko Peled, will be speaking in the Bay Area on October 5 (Petaluma) and October 6 (Lafayette). Check out the Just World calendar of events.

Right now, I’m organizing mostly about Gar Smith‘s forthcoming anthology, The War and Environment Reader. I’m excited at the response I’m getting when I call stores, organizations and radio stations to pitch this important work that brings together many voices and issues into a shared focus. I hope people come to the bookstore readings and buy copies there to support brick-and-mortar book sellers. First though, I really hope people come on out to the book launch event on October 7 in Berkeley!

October 7 Book Release Party — Refreshments at 7:00. Event at 7:30.WER, FB cover, v.3
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar at Bonita, Berkeley, CA 94709.

October 11  at Diesel, A Bookstore — 7:00 pm
Marin Country Mart, 
2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, CA 94939

October 17  at The Green Arcade Bookstore — 7:00 pm
1680 Market St. at Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102
(Note that this is NOT Green Apple Books out in the Richmond!)

We are also setting up other events in the Bay Area including in Santa Cruz in conjunction with the Resource Center for Nonviolence and local 350.org organizers there and in December in Lafayette with the Mt. Diablo Peace Center. The reaction to this work, which brings together two struggles that need to be seen in one light, has been UNtold, chosen coveroverwhelmingly positive. Gar Smith will also be on the radio: October 5, 10 to 11 am on KALW, 91.7 FM San Francisco on Rose Aguilar’s Your Call Radio.  Also, on November 7, 6 to 7 pm on KZFR, 90.1 FM Chico he’ll be on Ecotopia with Stephen and Susan Tchudi.

Zohra Drif’s translated memoir  (Inside the Battle of Algiers) about being an Algerian freedom fighter in the 1950’s is a totally engaging read, and her events, though delayed by visa issues, went very well on the east coast. Coming out in November is yet another important work to be published by Just World Books: Untold, by Ian Williams. This is a compelling expose of goings on at the UN by someone dedicated to its mission, not its destruction. Delightful artwork by Krishna helps bring this work of truth-telling to life.

Gaza 5k Walk/Run Saturday, October 14
benefiting the United Nations Relief Works Administration

Move for mental health with UNRWA USA at the fifth annual San Francisco Gaza 5K on Saturday, October 14! I haven’t participated in fundraisers like this before, but I know that they can raise awareness with people who don’t follow politics as much as I do, and it can raise important money for help for the people of Gaza. The United Nations Relief Works Administration (UNRWA) has been a key lifeline for the people of Gaza going back to the start of the Palestinian refugee crisis in 1948.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Bay Area has been a very helpful team in years past, and I want to help this year’s effort to hold up as well! Register to join Team JVP or donate via my page which then shows I’m helping our team (beyond my own registration fee), and more importantly, helping help UNRWA help Gaza. This year’s money is going to UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) which changes lives and restores hope for children impacted by trauma.

Lake Merced Park, Sunset Blvd and Lake Merced Blvd, San Francisco
Sign up and save! Early bird rates are available until October 1:
Adult: $35
Child (12 and younger): $20UNRWA 5k header group image
Student/Senior: $25

Race day timeline:
9:00 am – Check-in begins
9:45 am – Program begins
10:00 am – Race begins
11:00 am – Closing Ceremony

News from my Center for Jewish Nonviolence partners

Anyone thinking of being in Israel/Palestine at the end of the year should consider joining the Sumud Freedom Tour from December 21 to January 3. It looks like I’ll be giving at least one report-back in Las Vegas in November. Jewish Voice for Peace Las Vegas and I are honing in on the where and when, but pretty sure I’ll speak at a public event they’ll host on Sunday November 12.

Achvat Amim

Jews in Israel who I got to know and respect on my trips with CJNV definitely include activists with  Solidarity of Nations – Achvat Amim. Now, Masa Israel (an organization of the Jewish Agency) has withdrawn it’s support for the Jerusalem-based program. They had given participants scholarships to take part in critical education focused on the conflict and meaningful human rights for the past 3.5 years. Why are they withholding the scholarships? Because of pressure from the right. Co-founder/Educational Director of Achavt Amim, Karen Isaacs talks about the situation very movingly in this article in 972mag.

They’re determined not to let this stop them from building and growing this movement. Help them out via their crowdfunding page to make sure none of their participants feel the material impact from this attack or visit www.youcaring.com/achvatamim Also, folks are spreading the word with the hashtag  #IStandWithAchvat.

Issa Amro and Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)

(From YAS on 9/24) Last week, 3000 settlers forced their way into the Ibrahimi mosque. The Israeli military provided them with protection.

Jim_Issa

Jim and Issa in Sarura in May, 2017.

This followed last month’s declaration by Israel that Hebron settlers would receive their own municipality and official settlement status.

Meanwhile Issa Amro, Palestinian human rights defender who I speak of in almost every missive, still faces his Israeli military court “trial” in October, but on September 4 he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority for social media posts he made. He was released a week later, on bail, but many Palestinians are raising their voices against the new “electronic crimes” law enacted by the PA’s head, Mahmoud Abbas that Amro denounced. It is important to decry Palestinian leadership when called for, but we must never lose sight of the fundamental problem faced by the Palestinian people–the violent dispossession they continue to face at the hands of Israel. Support Youth Against Settlements!

Um Il-Khair

It is heart-wrenching to see Facebook posts with images and videos of destruction in Um Il-Khair. The settlers of illegal Carmel Har Hebron, save_Um_Il_Khair_headerwith their well-built houses connected to water, power and other municipal services, are increasing their violent attacks on the people of Um Il-Khair. All of September settlers have been throwing rocks at anyone they can hit. They sent a journalist, Guy Butavia, to the hospital. Last month I showed a picture of a bulldozer the settlers ordered to destroy a Bedouin structure. It is hard to know how to be very helpful. As Isaiah said though, the less we look away in embarrassment or powerlessness, the more we create the world in which we want to live.

Racist, antisemitic threats and attacks in the USA are fostered by mainstream Jewish and Christian groups, not Muslims

I was aghast to see posters that the David Horowitz’s foundation put up at UC Berkeley FOR ROSH HASHANAH.horowitz_ucb_racist_poster-e1506360067681.jpg Even more disturbing are the posters that have been put up at San Francisco State. They really feel like images I was shown as a kid in Jewish Sunday school about the propaganda created by the Nazis to dehumanize Jews. I didn’t want to sully my Missive with them, but in the spirit of Emmett Till and his mother, and in the spirit of Isaiah’s admonition not to look away from our people in need, I have to show them to you. These posters mock and threaten people I know, like and respect. They impugn whole groups and the people in them. To people who believe that Rasmeah Odeh is a convicted terrorist and shouldn’t deserve any standing or rights, I say, “By what right do you demand nonviolence of another? Do you renounce violence and armed struggle in general? Would that you wanted to banish, ostracize or imprison the likes of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon or some US war-criminal.” More broadly, I can’t stand how sfsu-racist-poster-bothHorowitz and Canary Mission don’t give any credence to fundamental wrongs being perpetrated on the Palestinians, blames them for the violence being done to them and acts like they have nothing to fight against. And they alternately deny Jews like me exist, or they threaten us and say that we harbor violent antisemites when really they work with the likes of John Hagee and Christians United for Israel!

In Jewish schools, we talk a lot about Rabbis Hillel and Shammai. In the Talmud, Horowitz_Abdulhadi_racist_posterHillel is always the one appealing for mercy, to let “sins” be forgiven rather than cause for punishment. Shammai is generally the stickler for detail and seen as unforgiving. Naturally, I usually prefer Hillel’s interpretations of law. These days though, it is Shammai I resonate with, and I hear him crying out against Horowitz, Pam Geller, David Brog, Netanyahu, Jared Kushner, Chuck Shumer,  and other dismissers of anti-Palestinian violence as he rolls over in his grave.

Pushing Aside the “Asides” in Political Asides

I’m really feeling the weight of the bombs the United States is dropping all over the place. Both real and metaphorical bombshells are killing people. I refuse to give into feeling powerless to help, or that the downward, so I don’t want to avoid thinking about the death and destruction caused 100% by humans like in Yemen and to the Muslims of Burma I the devastation caused by joint human/natural disasters like violent hurricanes in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, Cuba, other Caribbean Islands, Mexico…and Bangladesh where 30% of the country has been poisoned by sea water, dead things and toxics of all kinds.

Donald Trump went to the U.N. and made threats there that violate the UN’s own Charter. His ignorance and braggadocio are extra scary, but it is standard operating procedure for US presidents to extol the value of OUR exceptionalism and denounce that of others and undermine international treaties and norms that level the playing field for all nations. [Double entendre alert: Trump and Co. are leveling the playing field too, but in his case, Trump is leveling the field by destroying its features, not by cultivating equal opportunities.] I have been arrested demonstrating against the frequent missile test the United States conducts. I am aghast at the nuclear arsenal that now is in the hands of a modern Nero and that most Americans, including activists, act like don’t exist or are a threat worth bothering about.PLC2014_Nellis_group2

We’re arming the Saudis to kill Yemenis. Even though 15 of 19 hijackers from September 11 were Saudis, we have destroyed much of Afghanistan and Iraq and are helping Saudi Arabia’s wealthy elite kill many more in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, and  and continue to spread a violent brand of Islam. I don’t want us to ban Saudis or kill their families, but the hypocrisy of ignoring what they are doing is as unforgivable as anything I can think of.

Like all violent, religious exponents, they have more in common with one another than with most people of their faiths. Antisemitic, Islamophobic Christian Zionists team up with Jews who seem to care more about Israel than about Judaism and Jewish teachings. And somehow they get otherwise righteous people to blame the Palestinians for the systematic violence being done to them. Like if they aren’t perfect in their resistance, they are to be damned.

The prophet, again, calls us to be our higher selves. Looking away breeds cynical hopelessness. Confronting our problems is a duty and a blessing that creates beautiful communities of resistance.

On a Personal Note…

Jim_Bethlehem_retouched

I’m still house-sitting in Berkeley at least through November. I am grateful for the friends I have to lean on, and I am grateful for you all. I also feel like the streets aren’t that far away.  I may soon find that to have a residence, I need a more substantial income than I am used to earning. Housing requires money, which is easier to work for having a place to live, which requires money, which is easier to work for having a place to live, which requires money, which is easier to work for having a place to live, which…is a treadmill I have generally not ran on. The way I have lived and worked is akin to living in a rickety sukkah. It feels a bit unsafe, windblown, piecemeal, fresh, exposed and liberating: blessed, but with no guarantees.

I’m hanging in there/here. I hope you are too. The grace and resilience of people less fortunate than myself really does inspire me beyond belief! Let’s continue carrying on carrying on. We’re all in this together.

# # #

Advertisements
Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jim’s august August Missive

I am honored to start this Missive off by inviting people to a talk I am privileged to give at noon prayer time at Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque on August 25 in Berkeley. Qal’bu Maryam was dreamed into being in April 2017 by founder Rabi’a Keeble to be a safe, welcoming and inclusive space. I am grateful to my friend Naji Ali for asking me to talk with their community about Palestine and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation I was part of in May. Rabi’a asked me to extend an invitation to my friends and network to attend my presentation and to visit anytime to pray or if you “are curious about Islam and want to get to know us in a relaxed, no pressure environment of support”. The presentation is at noon to be followed by (optional) prayers at 12:45 and then refreshments with Q&A. Again, it is August 25 at noon. Qal’bu Maryam is located at Starr King School of the Ministry, 2441 Le Conte Ave, Berkeley, 94709. Parking is tight around there, and I expect this will start pretty much on-time, so plan accordingly.

August Missive Contents

  1. August 25, noon presentation to Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque, , 2441 Le Conte Ave, Berkeley CA about Sumud Freedom Camp, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and Palestine. See above.
  2. Updates from Palestine and Palestinian Partners of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence
  3. I am now West Coast Rep. for Just World Educational! (very part-time though)
  4. Trumpian Dystopian Outrages: White Supremacy and Nuclear Bombast (Bombass?)
  5. Local Action Alerts
  6. A Few Personal Notes and Remembrances

2. Center for Jewish Nonviolence Partner Updates

  • My article about the CJNV delegation was published in Waging Nonviolence on July 23. I think it gives you a sense of what we did to help create Sumud Freedom Camp, and how inspiring the Palestinian return to their lands in and aroundSumud_signs_flags Sarura has been. My June and July Missives, though a bit messy (in my self-critical view), covered a lot of what CJNV’ers did during our trip. CJNV partners continue to inspire me. I still welcome opportunities to share about the trip and its ongoing impacts on the ground. Look for me in Las Vegas, probably in November, but I’m open to other invites and locales! I promise a rousing back and forth and information that is eye opening for any audience.
  • Meanwhile, Issa Amro‘s trial was set to restart on July 4 but it was postponed to July 9. When it finally convened, Issa_speaking_Sumud_welcomethe proceedings were pushed back to October. Fortunately, Issa is not being held while the case is pending, and he continues to build the nonviolent movement for his nation’s liberation in large and small ways. Read Issa’s article in The Forward about the Al Aqsa Mosque and the massive nonviolence over its access and control.
  • Please support Youth Against Settlements and their new campaign called Segregated and Unequal:
    Things are tough in Hebron right now. Additional checkpoints are being constructed, neighborhoods are imprisoned and a few weeks ago settlers illegally entered a Palestinian house near the Ibrahimi mosque. Soldiers set up a post on the first floor of the house to protect the settlers and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Liberman ordered the army to let the settlers remain. They are receiving water, gas and other services from Israel and have installed a street sign giving the house a Hebrew name.
    We’ve launched a new campaign called Segregated and Unequal. It calls for an end to roads that are divided by religion, fences and checkpoints that imprison Palestinian neighborhoods and setter signs that change the names of streets from Arabic to Hebrew, erasing the Palestinian identity of our city.
    Along with challenging the settlers signs in Israel’s supreme court we are putting up our own signs to maintain the identity of our city. Our signs tell the history of our city and the stories of our nonviolent resistance. On Tuesday we installed the first of our signs. It tells how we used nonviolent protest to establish our activist center, reclaiming it from occupation by settlers and soldiers.
    Make a donation to help us purchase more signs and build our Segregated and Unequal campaign
    Hebron is the most heavily occupied city in the West Bank. Within our ancient city are staffed checkpoints and over 100 movement barriers. Around 1,500 soldiers are stationed to protect between 600-850 of Israel’s most violent settlers. They try to make life as difficult as possible so we will leave. However, we are steadfast in our commitment to remain in our homes and on our lands. Your support helps us to remain.
    In steadfast commitment,
    Issa, Muhanned, Ahmed and everyone at Youth Against Settlements
    P.S. Even U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is showing his support for Palestinian rights. Read about the letter from Sanders and three other prominent U.S. Senators.
  • I was touched to read this Interview with my friend Tareq Hathaleen of Um al-
    Sumud_camp_Eid_Awdah_Jim_Tarek_UmmIlKheir

    Eid, Awdah, Jim & Tareq

    Khair by Cody O’Rourke. Once again: Existence is resistance. Rock on, my Bedouin friends. It dumbfounds me that anyone would want to hurt and steal from them. They have so little, but their dignity and ongoing sense of shared humanity motivates me to carry on with them. Um_Il_Khair_bulldozer_destroys_home“You can’t be neutral on a moving train” as the late, great Howard Zinn said.

  • Very sadly, I must insert a very sad note about Um Il Khair. Awdah, Tareq’s brother, shared this and other photos of Israeli bulldozers destroying homes in their small village. This photo was posted on August 13. Organize, pray, speak, join a delegation or support others to go, carry on, be steadfast…

3. Just World Educational

I have a part-time job now, as the west coast representative for Just World Educational. At present I am doing a fair amount of regional networking to foster events and discussions on topics raised in upcoming publications of its related enterprise, IBA, cover 1-20-17Just World Books. JWB has four titles due out in the next few months. Three highlights:

  • JWE’s first “#GazaChat” tweetchat on Tuesday, August 1 was a roaring success! It is part of the larger #Gaza51Days effort running from July 7 to August 27. The next Gaza Chat is scheduled August 22. If you’re on Twitter, I urge you to join it! Details of how to join the tweetchats are here. You’ll find info about the timing and topic of the August 22 chat at the bottom of that web-page.
  • Inside the Battle of Algiers: This memoir by Algerian revolutionary, lawyer and statesperson, Zohra Drif is available now. Drif and her translator, Andrew Farrand will be touring the eastern United States in September. Drif is one of the WER, War & Enviro reader, chosen coverwomen who’s experience is depicted in the classic 1966 film The Battle of Algiers.
  • The War and Environment Reader: Edited by Gar Smith (editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal and a former editor of Common Ground magazine), this collection brings together engaging texts drawn from a wide array of diverse voices and global perspectives. Look for author events in the Bay Area once it comes out October 3. I was pleased to see this volume includes the text of one of my all-time favorite handouts: War Resisters League’s Superpower/Superpolluter tri-fold (front and rear).

4. Trumpian Dystopian Outrages

This missive is coming out just after the deadly, white supremacist violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. I was already struggling with how to deal with all the ways Trump and his team are doubling-down on racism, injustice, militarism, misogyny and are going out of their way to attack just about everything that is half decent in the world. He even attacks his own, but they don’t seem to care! See Helena Coban’s response to repeated alt-right violence in Charlottesville, Virginia where she and Just World Education (my new employers) are based. See also “Top 10 Misconceptions about Charlottesville” by David Swanson, another compatriot of mine and author of War is a Lie, who also lives there.

  • Racism and white supremacy, Islamophobia and antisemitism all need to be named and denounced explicitly and unequivocally. White skin privilege oppresses people of color. Environmentalists (especially around the world), Black Lives Matter marchers, Water Protectors, Palestinians, Muslims and immigrant rights activists get treated as violent threats no matter what they’re wearing, where they are or what they’re doing. Candlelight vigils ARE a threat to the unjust state, BUT THEY AREN’T A VIOLENT THREAT, and that should make a difference, morally AND LEGALLY!
    There is no consistent and just logic that protects the rights of angry white marchers carrying assault weapons, body armor, shields and lighted torches over the people they are scaring and compared to all the other communities that protest in public and are severely policed. Compare how the white supremacists who attacked Charlottesville are being charged (not!) with how activists at Standing Rock, Montana or the inauguration day protests in Washington DC have been treated and charged. They even have the gall to tell us they’re protecting us from agents provocateurs as they start riots then threaten us with years in prison for being at a riot! I certainly hope that the murderer of Heather Heyer isn’t allowed to take the fall for all the violence in Charlottesville.
  • Police and other armed minions shouldn’t be allowed to say that their fear of the unknown justifies their deadly use of force. They’re suppose to have been chosen and trained to keep their cool in tough and mysterious situations. They’re not serving us if they are presuming unknown persons are armed and dangerous. This is nothing new for people in poor and predominantly black and brown neighborhood. People need to rise up against police impunity for racist violence.
    The failure to render aid I find especially damning. If someone is wounded, shouldn’t police immediately render aid and call for an ambulance? Mustn’t there  be a protocol getting ignored there? Even if you grant police the fear card when they’re rolling up on a scene. If someone is injured or bleeding out though, and they don’t call for medical help, that must qualify as some sort of misconduct or violation of official policy, mustn’t it? If not murder, how could it not be a “wrongful death” and grounds for termination if not prosecution? Even if a killer is fired or prosecuted, as a newly released Washington Post study reports, another problem is that superiors and  police oversight bodies often make procedural errors leading to bad cops getting their jobs back on technicalities…with back pay!
  • Trump is way less stable than Kim: Don’t let the worst nuclear proliferator and scofflaw PLC_Vandenberg_2016_marchers(the USA) tell you who should or shouldn’t have nukes and missiles and what to do about it. Listen to the rest of the world! The nuclear hypocrisy of the United States is so long-standing and bipartisan that it is hard to fathom being more upset now than I was before at how people talk about nuclear dangers as though we ourselves aren’t even a part of the problem, much less the biggest part by far!
    I actually have compassion for Kim Jong Un and North Koreans wanting nuclear weapons. Getting rid of weapons of mass destruction may have hastened the downfalls of both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. I’m against all nuclear weapons, but I can’t rightly demand that they lead the way towards unilateral disarmament. The hypocrisies of Putin and Russia—and Stalin and the USSR before them—pale by comparison to those of the United States, the most dishonest, two-faced renegers of agreements, nuclear and otherwise, on Earth.
    North Korea has always offered to stop their nuclear weapons program if the United States would finally negotiate a peace treaty with them. Sadly, typically, the US has never followed up on the overtures. The United States killed 30% of their population and destroyed 80% of their structures including some dams which is a war crime. Somehow, we have to make the United States include that history in its foreign policy planning.
  • Voter suppression, not voter fraud, is the real assault on democracy, but tragically, the Democratic Party leadership refuses to support its progressive base, preferring its doomed strategy of wooing hesitant Republicans and blue-dog Democrats. And that commission the Liar in Chief set up is scary, but it is giving an opportunity for Republicans to break ranks in numbers and piss off His Orangeness.

5. Action Alerts and Local Efforts of Note

  • Attacks on Palestinians  and people who support them are growing. In Oakland, a focus of solidarity is Reem’s Bakery in Fruitvale Plaza just outside the BART entrance because they have a mural inside of Rasmeah Odeh who I was honored to hear and meet in Chicago at the JVP National Member Meeting in April.
  • Meanwhile, at San Francisco State, horribly chilling and dishonest lawsuits have been filed against the university administration charging it with not combating antisemitism even as racist attacks on Palestinian students, student groups, faculty like Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi and JVP have grown more offensive and threatening. SFSU poster 5-3-17Islamophobic posters have appeared that (as much as I try not to relate current affairs to Nazi Germany) are eerily reminiscent of cartoonish antisemitic cartoons from the 1930s. My compatriot in JVP, David Spero got the J Weekly to run this very good article about the situation there.
  • Take a strong stand against efforts to criminalize free speech that outlaw  individuals, organizations and companies in the United States to participate in boycotts of Israel or the territories it illegally controls. Israel shouldn’t privilege Jewish visitors and immigrants, but it does. Now though, they are questioning the politics even of Jews trying to go there.
    Scary legal machinations include measures that are already enacted in states like California and New York.
    At the federal level. S.720 and HR.1697 would create a minimum sentence of a fine of $250,000 for some participation of an Israeli boycott. These bills are bad because of how they address Palestine. They are bad because they intend to confuse people and chill free speech. They are bad because they undermine international efforts to build pressure on Israel to stop dispossessing Palestinians, and in fact, are an assault on humanitarian norms and international law.
    Palestine Legal in conjunction with other groups including Jewish Voice for Peace released an outstanding critique of these bills as did the ACLU. Best info is from the links above, but if you want to hear yours truly talk about it,  I was interviewed about the federal bills for Myrna Lim Live on San Francisco  public access television alongside Stephen Jaffe who is challenging Nancy Pelosi for her Congressional seat next year.

6. A Few Personal Notes and Remembrances

I am being paid to house sit in north Berkeley until the middle of September. It’s quiet, but pleasant with very nice neighbors. There is a lot of overgrown yard and little clean-and-fix things to do, so I can find plenty of distraction when I want to step away from my computer. The apples, blackberries, peaches and plums are wonderful, as is the mint smell all over the place. Thank you to the Graniches for their welcome and trust.

Starting September 15 I’ll actually be spending more time at home in Bernal Heights with Bob and Marian. Aidan is going to make some space for me in his old room before he heads back to Leeds for his final year of undergraduate studies.

I’m very pleased finally to have figured out Blogger to the point that I could turn LaughingJim.com into something to point people to. So I’m pointing you to it. I have some content to fix up more so people understand better what exactly I am offering if

33921115

they want Laughter Yoga for an ice breaker or longer sessions cultivating “childlike playfulness” and how exercises an be tailored to a group’s purpose (if there is one).

I loved Kate Raphael’s first murder mystery, Murder Under the Bridge. Now the second installment of this emerging series is out, Murder Under the Fig Tree, and I can’t wait to read it. Go ahead, and beat me to it. Buy yours now!

And finally: My friends Jerry Zawada and Bill Doub passed away since my last missive.

That’s Bill on the left in 2015 during one last backpacking trip to his beloved Yosemite. I love that wry, knowing look on his face. Whenever I use my car I think of Bill and feel a little guilty, but in a good way, especially when I could have planned a little more and used my bicycle or public transit instead!
The picture of me and Jerry is from the Pacific Life Community gathering in 2016. The next day Jerry was detained at the main gate of Vandernberg Air Force Base demonstrating against US ICBM tests that are routine there, making world-class hypocrites of the United States vis-a-vis North Korea. Other people were arrested, but they just detained Jerry. They didn’t want to have to be responsible for him and his physical needs, but his spirit and body compelled him, yet again, to get in the way of injustice.
Jerry was so meek and self-effacing. He never wanted to be a bother, and sometimes that was hard for me; I confess! Talk about finding your power when you need it though: When standing up to authority, blessing The Host or offering a prayer, Divine Glory would imbue his words with a rare power. I was going to say I’ll miss it, but I can feel it right now as I type! THANK YOU, JERRY!
Thank you, my friends, for teaching me about activism, integrity, passion and faith. What is remembered lives!

#  #  #

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jim’s June Missive, vol.3: Getting Right to It!

[This missive starts with a few event announcements and a call to keep public, international pressure up on Israel to drop the Sarura_Iftar_Tariq_19Junefabricated charges against Issa Amro. His next court date is July 4.  Then there is a letter to the editor I wrote about false charges of antisemitism at SF State, a report from me about the harrowing experience I had on Jerusalem Day. And finally, some personal updates and some old, heart warming, family photos. Before I even start though, here’s a photo my friend Tariq took just a couple days ago at a Ramadan iftar in the cave CJNV and I helped prepare for Fadal and his family in Sarura to reclaim and re-inhabit after 20 years. People are still on the land there, after a whole month! This is empowering despite the ongoing harrassment from nearby settlers and soldiers, exceeding most expectations. This photo thrills me!
Thanks for caring, everyone. -Jim]

 

Starting off: Some immediate self-promotion…

Listen to me on KALW (91.7 FM) at 11:00 pm this Saturday, June 24, talking about my second Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation, including Sumud Freedom Camp, my time in East Jerusalem, in Israel, the horror of Jerusalem Day, and what it all means coming home. Listen in live at KALW.org, webcast on Berlin’s multicult.fm or at 91.7 FM on an actual radio.  Gaza Corner segments are archived at the Tangents Radio website. Dore Stein’s Tangents Radio (Saturday nights, 8:00 to midnight) has a regular segment at 11:00pm called Gaza Corner. It isn’t always about Gaza, but generally something about the Middle East. I was on last year after the 2016 CJNV trip, and I am happy to be welcomed back.

 

Joanna Macy Center Fundraiser Concert with Rising Appalachia,
Joanna Macy & Thrive East Bay Choir!

Monday, June 26, 7:00 to 9:00 pm (Doors open at 6.)
First Congregational Church
2501 Harrison, Oakland 94612

I just love Joanna Macy and her work. This benefit is for the Work That Reconnects Center at Canticle Farm (Oakland). It is going to be uplifting and beautiful. I hear amazing things about Rising Appalachia. Tickets are free, but donations are gratefully accepted in the spirit of free will offerings and the gift economy to support their work. This event was sold out, but then they shifted the venue, so more tickets are available again.

 

Support Issa Amro Now!Issa_speaking_Sumud_welcome
http://www.codepink.org/stand_with_issa

I gave space in the second June missive about Issa Amro. He and his case are very important to me and for the Palestinian liberation struggle. The letter being circulated in Congress is gaining some traction. Initially there were four sponsors of it, and now there are at least fifteen; small still, but a large increase. It calls on the State Department to try to get Israel to drop the 18 trumped up charges against Youth Against Settlements organizer, Issa Amro of Hebron. The link above has several other links to articles, the “Dear Colleague” letter by Congressman Marc Pocan, summaries of his two recent court dates, supportive UN statements, the determination by the EU that Issa is officially a “human rights defender” and more.

I have mentioned Issa before since he has been an important leader for me in both CJNV delegations I have gone on. I was amazed at his good humor and composure while dealing with the army busting into our camp during the night. [Click here or on the image of Issa to hear him welcome us to Sarura and the Sumud Freedom Camp. There is a bit of wind, but you can feel how fully he understands the power of organizing with nonviolent principles as he tells us to keep them in mind in case we are attacked by settlers or soldiers.]

 

See the SF Mime Troupe this year!Poster
http://www.sfmt.org

The show is entitled “Walls.” They have had to scale back their production size due to income stream problems. This was the case the last couple of years too, but the shows still packed quite a punch, musically, thematically and emotionally. Go to their website and be sure to come out. Donate to them through their website too. Free shows in Bay Area parks start in Berkeley on July 1. Dolores Park on Independence Day or Labor Day are always good, and remember to donate at the end when the thespians surround you. Also, their shows are great places to give out political literature.

 

At San Francisco State: Stand with Palestinian Students,
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and Middle East and Islamic Studies Program Against Trumped up Charges of Antisemitism

I just sent in this letter to the editor to the SF Chronicle in response to this article about a lawsuit being filed against San Francisco State University. They printed my friend Clyde’s letter which was great. JVP also created great talking points since the lawsuit garnered articles in other papers like the Washington Post and Ha’aretz. The university is being unfairly smeared as though it has an antisemitic administration. Actually, the administration is not nearly as supportive of its Arab students and faculty as it needs to be since they are under attack.

Concerning your article about the frivolous lawsuit being filed against SF State University for allegedly being antisemitic and not protecting Jewish students from threats or attack: The Jerusalem mayor was shouted down, and the outside investigator’s assessment was that the Palestinian students were not threatening (unless you consider interrupting menacing). Some level of civil unrest is valid, even necessary to express outrage. The Jerusalem mayor is overseeing the “Judaization” of Palestinian neighborhoods with increasing dispossession of their people. Video also shows they weren’t threatening. And as for Hillel and being welcome or not at the human rights fair: As David Spero, who was there, reported to our Jewish Voice for Peace chapter, “It was a bunch of talks by law people and a lot of human rights and activist orgs with tables.  Hillel students were all over it, but they were not allowed a table at it, which makes sense to me as they are not a human rights group.” The lawsuit is frivolous and offensive against the university and any expression of Palestinian solidarity, even by Palestinians, who must be allowed to advocate for themselves. I’ve been a Jew at SF State. I think Palestinians have more to fear there.

I am concerned about how bullshit charges of antisemitism are used to silence and attack people and groups. This is not a new phenomenon, and the existence of real antisemitism doesn’t excuse the recklessness and methodical intentionality of these cases. From the files of my friend Allan Solomonow I have examples going back to the late 1960s. We all, activist and non-activist alike, need to be smart and discerning.

 

What Happened on Jerusalem Day?

I can’t go into everything about the CJNV trip at once, and a gestalt analysis is still percolating, so right now, consider what happened the Wednesday after the delegation ended, May 24, Jerusalem Day 2017. Jerusalem Day is a real thing. It is a day when Jewish Israelis and their friends parade all over the city including the Palestinian Quarter of the Old City. They are rude as they do it, proud, arrogant, at times violent, always a bit threatening. In the afternoon, small bands of white-shirted people with Israeli flags roam the old city singing loudly. Any sign of disapproval is met with a bit of in-your-face-ness. On Jaffa Street as I walked up to the bus station, it felt more celebratory than threatening as it did in and around the Old City. Jaffa_Street_masses.jpgAround 4:00 pm, Palestinians vacate and are made to close their businesses because of the impending invasion. Damascus Gate is cleared by Jerusalem police at a busy time on a week day. Later, the large parade evidently snakes its way in and through the Old City. I didn’t stay that late since I needed to get back to Kibbutz Gezer. That was a bit of a relief as the vibe was starting to wear me down, and for my part, I wanted to keep a good demeanor.

We were encouraged to shop before the stores closed to show support for J_Day_inside_Damascus_GatePalestinian business. That was a funny part of the action, but I was happy to spend a little money there in commercial solidarity. When a small group would go by a store I was in, I would go to the front of the store in case someone wanted to break something. Shopkeepers were appreciative of a customer showing concern for them. I think I over-relied on that to get me better deals than I did. I still needed to haggle more! As I approached Damascus Gate from inside the Old City a group walked past me. The nearby police officers gave me a blank looks when I asked them, if they arrest anyone who causes damage. [Click here or on the image to see a 40 second video.]

Some people I was on the trip with were Jerusalemites who along with internationals planned IMG_0382to nonviolently occupy part of the Damascus Gate plaza to hold space, maybe enough to make it hard for the white-shirts to march through. Some of us planned to link arms, and even pile on one another to make it hard to clear them out. I wasn’t at the meeting and was willing to be pushed around, but I wasn’t planning on pushing to the point of being arrested. It felt good to walk out Damascus Gate at that point and see my new friends, arms linked, singing, holding space. I immediately joined the line. It was an awesome few minutes before we were pushed hard, most people falling to the ground. I was on the end and didn’t go down, so I got my camera out, no longer part of the scrum, shifting from “most-risking” to “less-risking,” expecting more to be pushed and shoved than pulled and dragged. Click on image above or here for short, video of chanting and dragging, singing and more.

INTERESTING POINT: Time and again throughout this trip, the police and army would be rough, mSarah_broken_armaybe detain people for a while, but they went out of their way NOT actually to arrest people. They just wanted everyone out of the way of the large march yet to come. They were rough as you can see in this video clip, and they broke the arm of Sarah Brammer-Shlay, my friend from both CJNV trips, and in fact, one of my small group leaders. Even

J_Day_Palestinians_sidewalk_scenewith Palestinians, once they pushed us out of the plaza and across the road, they just wanted us out of the way. At times a tourist would come and they would let them cross the road, or a Palestinian resident of the Old City. There was a moment when it seemed like police and army were grabbing someone, but people were able to be in the way enough that the people were liberated. You can see this short incident start at about 1;45 here or by clicking on the image to the right.

 

 …and Personally?

I feel the political turmoil in my bones and soul. It creeps into my about-to-wake moments and my conscious, doing life.Issawiya_work_group It is important to find joy and bliss amidst the constant backdrop of escalating violence. I’m looking forward to Pride this weekend. And mixing the bliss and pain: my birthday was a real mixed bag in East Jerusalem.

We saw a peaceful vigil in support of the hunger-striking political prisoners end violently when police tased one man sending him to the hospital and arrested three others. And we weren’t able to work in Issawiya because of someJim_birthday_thumbnail confusion I will talk about another time. Still, our friends there arranged an amazing dinner for us and a heartfelt talk by Omar, an Issawiyan. We took a group photo in the wedding reception hall (something we weren’t expecting to encounter). Then, I was surprised with the most uproarious cake and singing for me since my 40th party.

I have found a paid house-sit gig in north Berkeley that will start sometime in July. I think it will last at least a couple months, depending on how fast the family can clear their mom’s stuff out, but it seems like that could be a slow, methodical process. I haven’t seen the place yet, but I believe it is going to work out great. I have long said if I had a place to live and a few hundred dollars a month, I could survive quite well. We’ll see. I did like settling in here, feeling like I had a room that was mine, but I may be entering a nomadic period again. We’ll see. I can’t define a trend yet.

I have some possible employment irons in the fire too, but I don’t want to get into them at this point. I am missing two weeks in a row of laughter yoga where my mom lives because of a virus in a wing there–not my mom’s–that causes them to cancel activities. Darn! I hope people get and stay well asap. Prayers for Baywood Court.

As I prepare to move out after a couple years, I am looking through books and boxes of Aunt_Marilynphotos and journals and letters, wanting to clear out space in my storage unit to put stuff back, but  not to bury everything. I am enjoying looking at old photos and scanning some of them. My beautiful Aunt Marilyn passed away shortly before I left on my May trip. I missed the funeral, but there is a memorial gathering for her this Saturday that I am looking forward to. My heart is always warmed at remembrances. They soften people in my experience, amidst the sense of loss and grief. What is remembered lives.

Parents_Grandparents_wedding_photoAnd I realized that I have photos in my room of people from my life, but I was missing my own grandparents. Hardest to come across are shots of my mom’s dad, Papa Irv. Second hardest is my dad’s mom, “Nanny” to me. Here is a wedding photo that has them all in it, looking mighty good too! That was in 1955.

And finally, the classic Longs photo of my dad when the Serramonte store was opening in Daly City in 1968. I always knew my dad as a Longs Drug Store manager, so in a lot of ways this pic is quintesentially him. Loving and missing you, dad.Dad_Longs

 

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | Leave a comment

JIM’S JUNE MISSIVE vol.2: The Personal is Political

Dear Missive Readers, Here are a couple of urgent action items followed by some reflections sparked by my trip to Palestine and Israel. The urgent actions keep me from ruminating too long, but the first action item is really immediate..by the end of the day Tuesday (tomorrow). I still have lots of lessons to process and share from my time away: too much for one sitting or post. In this Missive, I touch on various parts of our time together, but I focus a little more on the hunger strike that was going on at the time. I will fill in the holes about Issawiya, Sarura, Sumud, Battan Al Hawa, Gezer, Istanbul, interpersonal lessons and dynamics in the next couple of missives. Ask me for any clarifications. Your questions will help guide my reporting. Thanks for your interest, support and patience.  -Jim

VERY TIME SENSITIVE.
THEY ARE TAKING THIS UP TUESDAY NIGHT, JUNE 20:

Tell Berkeley City Council Not to Participate in Urban Shield
or other Insidious, Militarized, Police Training Programs

(Speak up, even if you aren’t a Berkeley resident)

In an unprecedented move, the Berkeley City Council is considering fully withdrawing their participation in Urban Shield. A decision in favor of pulling out of Urban Shield by the Berkeley City Council paves the way for other cities in the Bay Area to do the same. The Council has scheduled a special hearing on Urban Shield for vote on Tuesday, June 20th at 6pm at Longfellow Middle School, 1500 Derby St in Berkeley. Rally Facebook event.

The community wants resources for mental health crises, earthquake and fire preparedness. We say no to increased militarization of police, our emergency medic services and our communities.

We want to redouble our efforts at the upcoming meeting in showing the Berkeley City Council that they need to stand on the side of the people and not on the side of militarization and oppression. More background is in this great op-ed in the local Berkleyside.

First: Fill out this poll conducted by the City of Berkeley itself: http://www.peakdemocracy.com/portals/257/Issue_5095/
(non-Berkleyites too, please)

Second: All letters sent to council@cityofberkeley.info will be sent to the Mayor and each council member, and will be included in the agenda packet (which is also posted online for the public). (non-Berkleyites too, please) I think the Facebook event above also has phone numbers of councilmembers if you want to call them.

BERKELEY RESIDENTS: Sign the Berkeley petition to demand Berkeley pull out of Urban Shield.

ALAMEDA COUNTY RESIDENTS: Sign the Alameda County petition to demand county officials pull out of Urban Shield.

TIME SENSITIVE:
Act Now to Help Keep Issa Amro of Hebron Free.
http://www.codepink.org/stand_with_issa

“In the midst of nonviolent struggle, I have never
trusted anyone more!” -Jim

Past petitions have helped Issa and other nonviolent activists hold their own against biased Israeli courts and military and civil administrations. Stand With IssaPRESSURE LIKE THIS CAN ACTUALLY MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE! Despite fickle Democratic leadership (at best) on human rights, and despite the way Palestinians are generally treated as inherently violent and guilty, members of Congress (including Republicans) have stood up for Issa and others before, so please click on this link to share a letter with your representatives: http://www.codepink.org/stand_with_issa.

Here is a short video clip of Issa addressing CJNV and others as we arrived at Sarura where we all created the Sumud Freedom Camp. Here is an article by Issa that also came out in May.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH ISSA:

I was amazed by Issa’s creative, steady, brave and uplifting leadership in 2016. He had us start cleaning up a shuttered factory to turn it into a movie theater for the people of Hebron and Tel Rumeida. After being injured during that action, he still directed us as we wound our way through Kiryat Arba to demonstrate outside the police station where our friends were being held.

I was even more impressed this May as he led us to create, defend and maintain Sumud Freedom Camp in Sarura, a Palestinian village in the south Hebron Hills that Israel cleared out in the late 1990s. Issa Amro was instrumental in formulating  and carrying out such a clear and powerful plan with a winning spin no matter how it played out.

Jim_Issa

Jim and Issa at Sumud Freedom Camp, Sarura.

The Israeli military (IDF) came into camp at 11:30 pm on May 20 to steal equipment, rip up tent and shade material, and harass our legal, peaceful gathering. They produced no orders or legal basis for their intrusion. They acted afraid even though they were the ones with the guns. They came as armed invaders into a camp organized not just in the name of justice and peace, but as an explicitly nonviolent effort.In the face of their imposed authority, Issa met them time and again with good humor, even jokes, but also with his good-sized but non-threatening body. He addressed them in Hebrew, English and Arabic. He directed us as we held our space. He even took a moment to ask me to cover food so it wouldn’t get ruined. There was chaos in the dark. Cell phone lights barely helped. People chanted, yelled, tried to engage in dialog. Issa knew what was what and led us warmly and selflessly. Then, when it was obvious that we couldn’t keep them from leaving with our supplies, he directed us back to camp, to regroup and check in with a levity that was so genuine it was quite surprising. Issa kept our spirits up. I want to go back and stand with him again. I want to be like Issa when I grow up! (smile) Right and wrong are so clear sometimes. Which side are you on? Please act now!

Hunger Striking Political Prisoners and a Young, Freed Detainee

The May delegation took place near the end of what would turn out to be a rather successful hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners that lasted for forty days. My work group attended a rally/vigil in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of

Hunger_Strike_vigil_Sheikh_Jara_Free_Prisoner_Jim

Ali Jeddah was freed in a 1985 prisoner swap. He was remarkably gentle for all he has been through

 

It felt like a rally I could have helped organize in the USA. And like what sometimes happens here, at the very end of the peaceful gathering, the police moved in and picked out a few people to arrest. A Palestinian pointed out that supporters of Israel better hope that their nonviolent efforts bear fruit. Hamas negotiates prisoner exchanges for a few Israeli soldiers and hundreds or thousands of Palestinians. It makes Hamas look successful, even to Palestinians who don’t like them. There is power in nonviolence, but we need to win some fights, or people will  continue to turn to violence. As John F. Kennedy put it: “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

Speaking of prisoners: For our first three days, CJNV divided us up into six work groups. Mine went to Issawiya, a village near/neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It is near Mt. Scopus and Hebrew University. A national park continues to be planned on some of the only open space there even though the people of Issawiya continue to move their master plan ideas successfully through the Jerusalem civil administration process. Even when they win, a new hurdle is suddenly created, so it seems like they lose no matter if they win. More on that in my next Missive.

In Issawiya we met a sixteen year old girl named Sondos who was just released from Israeli detention after five months. She was held on suspicion of planning to carry out a knife attack, but she was released because there must not have been any evidence against her. She was presumed guilty and spent five months in jail as a minor.

Uri_Sondos_Muhammed_Issawiya
Uri of Free Jerusalem was our guide and interpreter in Issawiya. Mohammed Abu Hummus (right) is a community leader in Issawiya who was our community liaison. Sondos is in the middle.

 

Relating her story to my sister and others on Kibbutz Gezer garnered a response that I am disturbed by: Since I don’t really know this person, how can I take her side? Even though the system is biased against her, I should remember that I don’t really know the whole story. There is truth in that, but still…The system formally treats her as guilty until proven innocent whereas it would treat an international or Israeli as innocent until proven guilty. To ask me to suspend judgement in the face of such injustice is to ask me to buy into the separate and unequal legal systems instituted prejudicially against Palestinians. I won’t do it, and I don’t want other people to either. The system convicts Palestinians over 99% of the time, and almost never convicts settlers or soldiers. In this case, the arrested must be treated as victims by well-meaning people. The rights and needs of victims’ families must not be cynically used to justify wrongful detention and to mute the outrage of good-hearted people. And the real possibility of trumped up charges being used to oppress activist Palestinians or their communities can’t be overstated, as in the case of Issa Amro.

THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL:
REFLECTIONS ON MY SECOND DELEGATION TO PALESTINE
WITH THE CENTER FOR JEWISH NONVIOLENCE

  • My gratitude and respect for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence continues to grow. The way they helped us follow the lead of our Palestinian partners who’s invitations/pleas/asks for help we were responding to could be a model for nonviolent resistance and solidarity for the whole world (not that one size fits all).
  • Work done during the May trip continues on the ground. It wasn’t just relevant
  • Sarura_cave_shadeThe IDF invaded on Saturday night. On Sunday, we used a sizable remnant of material to make a smaller canopy in the courtyard outside Fadal’s cave. He and his family have moved back in despite threatening visits from the military and nearby settlers. Sumud Freedom Camp has continued to be a rallying point for Palestinian, Israeli and international activists. People hope to keep a presence in Sumud and Sarura through the end of Ramadan at least.  I just saw photos of a Ramadan iftar held in Fadal’s cave that we helped prepare for living in. Palestinian life in Sarura continues!
  • I get teary-eyed when I think about the people I met sometimes. I’m very sensitive that way.
  • Sumud_camp_Eid_Awdah_Jim_Tarek_UmmIlKheir

    Eid, Awdah and Tariq of Um Il Khair, with yours truly in Sumud Freedom Camp. New friends from 2016, together again in 2017!

    I have been so touched, enriched and empowered by everyone involved, sometimes I cry for a warm remembrance, and sometimes I cry in dismay and outrage. The time together is very intense with an amazing amount of trust flowing across presumed walls of difference and indifference. There is a deep connection between Palestinians, Israelis and Jews from the diaspora in this work. This emotional response comes up for me with people from my sister’s kibbutz as well as with Palestinians and other people from the delegation.

  • For three days in Sarura, we cleared paths of rocks and thorny weeds. Sarura_FadalWe helped pave a road so water can be brought in more cheaply (by pick up truck instead of farm tractors) since Israel refuses to let Palestinians in Area C have water, sewage or power hook ups. We mixed and poured concrete to floor the cave of an elder named Fadal so he and his family could move back in after twenty years in exile. In between military raids, they fired up their oven and made the first pita bread on site since 1997! And as I type this, they are still there! Seeing the FB post this morning of last night’s iftar there really drove home to me how important every little effort is for peace since big ones are built on little ones…and EXISTENCE IS RESISTANCE!
  • A SOMEWHAT MORE PERSONAL LESSON/REFLECTION: I need to stop interrupting people so much. Am I really that impatient for the other person to get to their point? Am I so scared that I will forget what I was going to say? Am I afraid my thought or question will no longer be relevant? Do I feel a need to be the first to make a good point? Do I think my point won’t be said, and then the conversation will go off track or get bogged down? Do I really know where the conversation had better go? Answering “yes” to any of those questions doesn’t justify interrupting people. And yes, men interrupt women more often than the other way around. That point isn’t lost on me either, though I think I’m an equal opportunity interrupter. In this case, the political is personal!

NEXT MISSIVE: The personal is political continues; More lessons from my trip; The problem and attraction of police dramas on television; If I no longer have David Nesmith to care for and I am no longer staying at his wife Annie’s home, where am I, and what am I doing?

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | Leave a comment

Jim’s June 5 Missive

I have been wanting the dust to settle in my brain and files and piles to be sorted and put away so I can clearly articulate what I learned from my recent trip back to Palestine with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. I’m not quite ready, really, but time’s a wastin’! I really need already to have been promoting this next item:

CENTER FOR JEWISH NONVIOLENCE DELEGATION
REPORT-BACK 
featuring Rabbi David Cooper and Jim Haber
Kehilla Community Synagogue

Saturday, June 10, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont
(just over the border with Oakland in the wheelchair accessible social hall)

Here is the Facebook event. Please like it or express interest in it.
Here is the synagogue’s calendar’s listing.

Please be in touch with me if you are interested in more report-backs about this and last year’s delegation experience. I also was at this year’s Jerusalem Day action that was very different from last year’s Jerusalem Pride parade that I attended after the delegation to the West Bank was over!

There were several other people from the Bay Area who also have stories and perspectives to share who can’t make it on Saturday, so with your interest, we will plan more. This event is sponsored by Kehilla’s Middle East Peace Committee that I joined after last year’s delegation led me to join a synagogue for the first time in my adult life.

If you want to see some of my photos from the CJNV delegation, check out my “Sumud For All” Flikr Album. I also have an album of images from the “Jerusalem Day 2017.” If you want to view some video clips of people speaking to me/us about their lives, or to see some clips of police and people at work, in Sumud Freedom Camp or near Damascus Gate on J-Day, check out my YouTube channel videos.

I am still working on descriptions of photos, and writing something insightful about what I learned. I am grateful to have been asked to report on the delegation at Kibbutz Gezer the day it ended. That was a good push to start the process of reflection, but it was rather sudden, and then I was still on the road, taking in new experiences (like a first visit to Istanbul which was really great. Thank you, Tycho!) as much as digesting what I had just been through. And while the turnout there was small-ish, the questions raised there also weigh on how I want to talk about my experience, so it helped get me going, but it also added grist to the mill.

Also, what we started there continues to unfold! Sumud (“STEADFASTNESS” in a hybrid Hebrew-Arabic neologism) Freedom Camp in Sarura remains in use by Palestinians and sympathetic Israelis and diaspora Jews though in much smaller numbers than when we were all there. (LANGUAGE NOTE: I was simply typing, “Sarura remains occupied by Palestinians and sympathetic Israelis and diaspora Jews…,” but then the difficulty of the word “occupy” in this context came up for me. In a similar way, translation of our name, CJNV and a description of who we are and how we work is difficult if you have to avoid words related to “collaborate.” Nonviolence (or “non-violence” which I personally don’t tend to use) is also tricky since Israelis want to disarm Palestinians but keep all of theirs.

These and other conundrums need further exploration, and soon. Look for a more in depth look at my May travels later this month. I hope my Bay Area peeps will come out this Saturday, or let me know, and we will schedule another time. And VEGAS…I have my eye on you for a report-back too!

I really want to thank you all again for the support many of you sent me so I could go back. And thanks to Chava and everyone at Kibbutz Gezer for your hospitality (in particular Roxanne and Elliott & Judy for comfy lodging) and Tycho in Istanbul for being such a great host (with an amazing view!) and fun person to hang out with again.

IN OTHER NEWS…
I NEED NEW WORK AND A NEW PLACE TO LIVE BY AUGUST 1!

When David Nesmith, who I provided part-time care to at his home with his wife Annie for two years, moved into an assisted living residence in April, it was clear that I would probably be moving on before too long. It is a beautiful house with amazing grounds. Annie and I very much appreciate each other and have lived together well. We care about each other deeply. It may have been a great situation for me to stay here longer, but she has another friend who would like to live with her and who already has more income to spend on rent than I have needed to in my adult life. So, I am looking for work and a place to live. Probably East Bay since I have been enjoying the proximity to my mom in Castro Valley, and the only work I actually have is an hour of laughter yoga a week on Saturdays where she lives. Now, that is something to build on.

Send me focus. I want to talk about Palestine. I want to focus on peace. I want to help whoever comes my way in need. I need to pay attention to myself too though, not just in my particularly self-absorbed way that I specialize in, but in a way that will help me down the road, so I can look back and not feel like I ignored what was important to deal with now.

A FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT OR TWO

JUNE 11
JVP Bay Area is organizing a series of facilitated discussions using JVP’s new book on Anti-Semitism (Haymarket Press) as a jumping off point. The first one is June 11 in Berkeley from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

JUNE 21
Also co-sponsored by JVP Bay Area and other groups, a film-screening at the Shattuck Cinema of an Israeli/Palestinian film called Junction 48. The theater booked this film on condition that there be most if not all sales in advance by June 12, so if you would, please order a ticket or two now rather than waiting. Thanks.

SUMMER SOLSTICE!
Reclaiming is holding the solstice plunge at Ocean Beach on Tuesday, June 20. Chapel of Chimes has its incredible Garden of Memory musical enchantment on June 21. East Bay Reclaiming is holding its Summer Solstice ritual in Ohlone Park on June 24.

…and then there’s Pride!

…and then I still need new digs and more of an income (oh, well).

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Palestine Israel Zionism Isalmophobia Antisemitism | Leave a comment

Jim’s April Missive

“Our only hope lies in our ability to go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal opposition to the giant triplet of racism, economic exploitation and militarism.”

Today is a day to reflect on war and its impact on the world, humanity and each of us as individuals. 50 years ago today Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most important speeches of all time. It was prophetic in that his descriptions remain truer than ever as his warnings remain less heeded than ever. Exactly one year later, he was shot and killed. Today even those who hate him disturbingly try to claim something of his mantle. I bring MLK’s words up a lot because I think they get glossed over far too readily in favor of treating him as an icon (by people who want to dismiss him, but also by organizers who revere his memory). It is important that progressives seek out and bring to the fore new voices rising out of oppressed communities, and this I try to do. But sometimes, we must revisit the lessons of our elders and modern-day prophets to better turn their loss into an ultimate gain. (How about “One step back. Two steps forward,” for a change?)

As I wrote in one of my January Missives, I am inspired by a version of this talk that MLK gave, in Chicago, on August 31, 1967, at the first (and only) National Conference on New Politics. In that presentation he focused more on the “radical revolution of values” our society needs to undergo and less on the specifics of Vietnam. He spoke in detail about the “giant triplets” or “triple evil” of “racism, economic exploitation and militarism” (emphasis added). He gave examples that are eerily similar to fights for rights going on today.

In 1958 he spoke of the “inseparable twins of racism and economic exploitation.” His radical trajectory was pointed to confront militarism as an inseparably destructive, third tine of that demonic pitchfork, against which he implored us all to organize. Despite earlier attempts on his life, many commentators feel that his growing work against United States military aggression and racist, corporate greed was what led to his assassination on April 4, 1968. “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

Explore more of King’s wisdom…Beyond Vietnam and beyond his wonderful but over-referenced “I Have a Dream” speech. This Stanford link easily allows you to read or hear other speeches from his life too. I especially encourage you to explore the wisdom he gained and shared in the last year of his life to better understand how his radical trajectory was growing and deepening, leading the way to what today is generally referred to as “intersectionality.”

People are starving in Yemen because of
racism, greed, and militarism. 

Martin Luther King Jr is famous for saying, “Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.” Actually, I think he understated the point. Injustice anywhere diminishes justice everywhere. I feel less free because I know others are enslaved. I am typing from the office of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in Chicago. In the bathroom is a sign with a great quote by Eugene Debs: “While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

And now, the United States is poised to throw even more of its military force against starving people in Yemen, people our nation has helped push to the brink of famine by our heartless support for Saudi military brutality there. How many times can the USA wear a people down and then attack them or goad a few of  them to some desperately violent act and convince people that it was all their own fault?

Please check out this sign-on letter/action item produced by the Yemen Peace Project. Also, in New York, across from the United Nations, several groups including Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) and Catholic Workers will be holding a week long vigil and fast for Yemen starting on April 10. Please join them if you can. For background ala one of my favorite people and fellow activists, Kathy Kelly, check out this VCNV post. And while I am mentioning VCNV, I must share this heartwarming video from the Afghan Peace Volunteers. The kite is a wonderfully ironic symbol of liberation, of something flying free. Ideally, a kite is held, tethered somewhat. Free but grounded. May we all be free, and grounded.

Who is the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today?”

Not Iran. Not Russia. Not North Korea. Not the Houthis. Not Hezbollah. Not even Saudi Arabia, France, Sweden or Mexico. Not refugees or asylum seekers. About half of all military spending in the world is by the United States, and over 60% of arms sales are brokered by the USA too. The United States gives 75% of its military aid to Israel and Egypt. The US military budget is about equal to the combined military budgets of the next seven or eight nations down the list behind us. “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government,” said Martin Luther King Jr, and that is only more true now than when he said it 50 years ago.

We have a duty to doubt every single justification and call to arms that comes from the White House or the halls of Congress. “We had to destroy the village to save it” was so Vietnam! History is repeating itself, although currently, there really seems to be shockingly little, if not blatantly dishonest, concern about saving anyone. (A sobering aside about forgetfulness: At the JVP National Member Meeting in Chicago, I was talking with Cindy Corrie, the late Rachel Corrie’s mother. She told me that many younger activists she met last weekend didn’t know who Rachel Corrie was or that she was killed by militarized, Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. And this was a gathering of 900 activists who focus on this issue! We need to watch our assumptions. What is old is still new, and what doesn’t seem that old, may be totally unknown to some people. May I keep learning new things until the very end too.

I still need some help with funds for my return to Palestine/Israel
with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence in May

Thank you to everyone who has responded to my various appeals for money so I can return to Palestine/Israel in May on another delegation with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence: End 50 Years of Occupation: “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue”. I still need some support. If you have PayPal, you can easily send me money that way with a debit or credit card. (Paypal has terrible politics, but I have had it a while and don’t use it much.) Checks can be made out to:
James Haber
15 Mirabel Ave.
San Francisco CA 94110

Last year I exceeded my minimum goal of $3000, and I really needed it for getting there and back, and also for some of the many follow ups I was able to do as a result of that inspiring if disturbing trip. There is so much to support and so much need; I appreciate everyone’s generosity.

Personal Transition

For the past two years I have been helping care (part-time) for a stroke survivor in Oakland. He has finally decided to move into a care facility. I’m not sure what I will do to support my comfortable but precariously, minimally financed lifestyle. I will need some income or financial support, but I’m not sure exactly what I will do. I want to wish David and his family all the best moving forward. I think it has worked out very well for all of us.  I prefer to stay in the Bay Area so as to be close to my mother, but we’ll see. Would I move for love or a job? for community? We’ll see what develops over the next couple of months. Hopefully I’ll have a plan before I leave for my trip on May 10. If not, I will surely come up with one on May 30 when I return!

And happy birthday to my mom! It’s the big 8-0 on April 15! I look forward to laughing out loud together and celebrating as we all grow longer in the teeth day by day, as long as they don’t fall out!

We’re all in this together!

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jim’s March Missive!

Hello Friends,

Disbelief. I shake my head in disbelief a lot. Plus I sigh and feel a little tightness in my chest. I constantly wake up early, having fallen asleep easily but reluctantly. Then some thought or pang of awareness jogs my consciousness just a little too much forswamp_monsters_b slumber. I don’t think I’ve had a nightmare, and I know I am not in immediate danger like some people are, but I still cringe, shiver and think of people who are under attack, looking for help, and then treated as perpetrators of the violence they are fleeing. If today’s refugees have the saying, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire,” they must also wonder, “No way! That wasn’t the fire already?” (Click image for @trumpdis link.)

TNP_discovery1Patriarchy. Trump and the Republican leadership are globalizing their violent misogyny and racism and fomenting war. They almost have the ability to legislate out of existence anything that stands in their way, namely anything gentle or humane, generous or self-reflective. They are prosecuting their patriarchal worldview, in what deserves to be termed a war on women, on the people of the United States and the world, attempting to steal whatever they set their eyes on and destroying everything else. The Women’s March in January was phenomenal and inspiring. On International Women’s Day, I was touched and uplifted watching the morning’s Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Eve Ensler was just astounding, along with Christine Schuler Deschryver. Give it a listen or a watch.

Kinship. I listen in disbelief as more sane sounding, less ridiculous sounding, Trump supporters get airtime, and I wonder how these people can feel more kinship and trust with Donald Trump than they do with someone crossing desert or sea, desperately fleeing whatever is behind them for the sake of their families. They repeat administration and right-wing assertions that anyone who questions (no matter how minimally) what the Republican leadership is pushing down our throats is a paid, white dupe of China (or someone) and doesn’t see, much less care about, their white, if unpaid suffering. I just don’t understand why anyone would expect Trump to be an honest player at anything, how someone could think that he has anyone else’s back but his own, ever. The Democrats came in second to violent racism and misogyny! That does say something about the Democrats, I’m sorry to say and they need to start listening to the likes of Robert Reich if they really care.

Hearing and Listening. I hear Trump supporters say that they aren’t listened to by the old establishment nor by activists like yours truly. But they talk like evidence doesn’t matter, that history is totally subjective. JVP-All-Responsible-logoThey somehow are the ones threatened by violence even though they and the USA have most of the arms. If something doesn’t support their view, it doesn’t exist and anyone who supports the opposing view is a legitimate target for any response. I am not doing that to Breitbart and sources like that.
I am not the one using, confusing or advocating violent means. My allies from across the world are fleeing and opposing violence, not making, inciting or shrugging off violence the way they are. Journalists and environmentalists are attacked globally as they are treated as enemies of the state. Honest inquirers are being attacked and killed, but their struggles continue, despite all odds. Well-meaning people are being turned against those who are standing up for them. Evidence is being ignored and even destroyed. I don’t know how justice will be possible without evidence. Our opponents are anti-empiricists, seemingly proud of it and largely okay with any discrimination and violence that is done to impugn and beat down anyone drifting out of step. And we’re being robbed blind, eyes wide open.  Right-Wing Billionaires Have a Project Going to Rewrite Our Constitution, and They Are Shockingly Close to Pulling It Off.

Chaotic Bedfellows. chimp-2I have long associated with anarchists who are clearer on what that means than me. Anarchism isn’t the same as chaos or simply anarchy. It includes ideas about process, responsibility and accountability. I feel reluctantly called to denounce anarchy, the destructive, chaotic one. The vast majority of people would take somewhat repressive normalcy over rampant, wanton, large scale random violence and
disorganization. I’m a long time war tax resister, and I support not paying for war, but now, I have to weigh how that plays into the hands of a regime hell bent on destroying its own mechanisms and body, some of which I use and appreciate. I even support some parts of the CIA compared to Steve Bannon’s version of reality, but that doesn’t mean I support the CIA and its dirty tricks. I would still take the Democratic Party over the Tea Party, but that doesn’t mean I buy into the Democratic National Committee’s delusions, collusions and dirty tricks. It is devastating that their arrogance, incompetence and militarist dishonesty brought them down against the blatantly violent, dishonest, anti-democratic, idiotic and ignorant vitriol of the eventual victor. The Democrats. over the course of multiple administrations, set the stage for the resurgence of violent nationalism, the diminishment of diplomacy, the stealing of The Commons.

End 50 Years of Occupation: “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue”

  • I mentioned in January’s missive (pt.1) that I am returning in May on another delegation to the West Bank with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. Thank you very much to people who responded to me already.  I have received pledges for about 60% of the $3000 I need to raise for my travel and to help purchase work equipment we will use when there. See just below for a couple of Bay Area benefit events that benefit CJNV and this trip.
    If you have PayPal, you can easily send me money that way here. Checks can be
    sent to James Haber, 15 Mirabel Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110Forward_activists-1468604402
    If you want your donation to be tax deductible, then donate through CJNV’s donation page and indicate that you are donating in honor of my participation. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is CJNV’s fiscal sponsor.
    I have decided not to create a Generosity.com or GoFundMe campaign. Based on my experience last year, those platforms are more for new ideas to get support from new circles. CJNV itself is launching one for the May delegation, but I am looking for support from people I know first.
  • +972 Magazine CJNV video This is a great 10 minute report produced for +972
    Magazine about the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. It was filmed during the July 2016 delegation.
  • San Francisco Social: A fundraiser for CJNV on March 26, 3:00 pm.4th Floor Clubroom
    170 King St. / 177 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA
    Dial #0809 on callbox for entry
    Call (415) 336-0507 if you’re lost.
    Through film, photos and stories from past participants, and a taste of za’tar and falafel, learn what ‘Occupation is Not our Judaism’ and ‘Existence is Resistance’ means and how you can support an upcoming CJNV trip – Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue: End 50 Years of Occupation.
  • Film and Discussion: April 8, Al Helm (The Dream): MLK in Palestine film screening at Kehilla: benefit for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. I promoted this film a lot when it came al heim 6 sponsorsout and am glad for it to be featured again. It is about a play about King being interpreted by the Palestinian National Theater. It is about the dynamic between the Palestinian actors and the American gospel singers for whom being in The Holy Land was as significant a motivation as was connecting the songs and King’s life and message to the lives of the Palestinians. Timed to be near April 4, the 50th anniversary of King’s Riverside Church speech in which he powerfully called on people to resist war. He was murdered on April 4 the next year, and now, there are emerging various initiatives to raise the profile of King’s sermons and work against war, side by side with the necessary organizing against economic exploitation and racism. May his memory help us redouble our efforts for justice, for “peace is the fruit of justice” to quote scripture ala the Transform Now Plowshares.
  • Israeli television comedian host really calls his people OUT! Assaf Harel nails it in what Ha’Aretz calls a “searing indictment of Israeli society.”

JVP anti Islamophobia window signWe Support Our Muslim, Arab and Immigrant Neighbors.

Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area Interfaith Committee, in conjunction with a number of partnering organizations, organizes very uplifting and successful canvassing of neighborhoods offering signs to put in windows of homes and businesses. The response has been overwhelmingly positive at the three I have helped with. The next two will be held April 23 in San Francisco and May 20 in Walnut Creek. To find out more, e-mail BayArea@jvp.org and put “canvassing” in the subject line.

Confronting Nuclear War and Militarism DIRECTLY:  Here are some resource recommendations that emerged for me during this year’s Pacific Life Community gathering during which we demonstrated in the snow at the Kitsap-Bangor Trident submarine base near Tacoma, Washington. The PLC concerns ourselves with important Rivers_anti_Nuke_sign_jhanti-nuclear, anti-military, pro-self-determination issues that include the entire Pacific. We were privileged to view a pre-distribution copy of The Coming War On China by John Pilger: It included rarely publicized footage and interviews about the impact of US war preparations in different countries including Japan, Korea, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and China.

Nuclear Savage by Adam Horowitz: About nuclear testing and the plight of the people of Rongelap in particular.
Village Versus Empire: by Mark Kaplan: Featuring performance artist Dohee Lee who is from Jeju Island, about Jeju and Gangjeong Village’s history in becoming “the island of peace” and their fight against the destruction of their beautiful and sacred coral reef, rocks and way of life.

Thank  you, everyone for reading and for your work in the world. I encourage people to share any of these missives, and even more, to leave comments so we might generate a discussion on any or all of what I ponder and share in my Approximately Monthly Missives.

Solidaritally yours,
Jim
haber.jim@gmail.com

Posted in Jim's Approximately Monthly MIssives, Nuclear Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments