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
- 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.
- Updates from Palestine and Palestinian Partners of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence
- I am now West Coast Rep. for Just World Educational! (very part-time though)
- Trumpian Dystopian Outrages: White Supremacy and Nuclear Bombast (Bombass?)
- Local Action Alerts
- 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 around 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, the 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.
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-
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. “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, Just 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 women 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 (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. Islamophobic 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
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!
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!
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