Shalom y’all. I am anxious to start sharing some experiences and reflections from my recent trip with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. See below for news of my time in Isawiyah. If you are in the Bay Area on President’s Day, come to a reportback at Kehilla Community Synagogue where three attendees who are members there (Rabbi David Cooper, Becca Heisler and me) will do an initial report-back. Monday, February 17, 7 to 9 pm, Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont, CA. Here is a Facebook event announcment about it if you want to indicate interest in coming. https://www.facebook.com/events/624328888393366/
The delegation was both very heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. I am grateful for the ability to maintain friendships across years from 2016, 2017 and into 2020. I am moved and called to action by their ability to stay so open-hearted while under such attack. Israelis and Jews do stand with Palestinians just trying to exist, and many Palestinians know that and can tell the difference. I’m humbled and grateful for their welcome and resilience.
One more special announcement for fellow Bay Areans
The person who first turned me onto Laughter Yoga, the incomparable Celia Farran, will be in the Bay Area in a couple of weeks. She is an amazing musician, singer and songwriter with delightful charm and amazing voice. I’m hosting a house concert with her in Oakland on Saturday, February 22 from 7 to 9 pm at the home of my friends Dress and Kala, 536 45th St., Oakland, CA. Advance tickets are $20 or $25 at the door. I am offering to split the admission price for Missivistas and friends just to get you in the door to enjoy this uplifting treat of an evening. Let me know or just go on line and buy tickets yourself. PLEASE, COME SHOW CELIA SOME LOVE! SHE WILL SHOW YOU LOTS, I PROMISE!
The Nuclear Hair Trigger is Scary Orange!
I have to start this Missive, however, with an anti-nuclear item of the utmost importance; something that I pray finds resonance and amplification across intersectional lines that usually look askance at nuclear activism as not immediate enough or relevant to them or like it’s too much a white people thing. The Pentagon has confirmed that it has deployed a nuclear weapon that can be dialed down to about 6 kT, one-third the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb from 1945 and about fifteen percent of today’s average nuclear explosive yield. The W76-2 warhead is on a Trident missile on the USS Tennessee, an Ohio-class Trident ballistic missile submarine, a stealthy, first-strike weapon beyond all parallel in history, and it left port, on active duty. This should offend and scare everyone! It is not beside the point. It is not a necessary show of force. I fear for the Iranians who will likely be hit, and I fear having to hear people mouth illogical and ignorant defenses of this destruction of international law beyond the immediate negation of the lives of the people victimized by a US nuclear strike.
The W76-2 and the Trident program in general are not defensive in any sense of the word. They are threatening and offensive. Last August I fasted and demonstrated at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia where my friends committed a Plowshares action on April 4, 2018, and where the USS Tennessee, with this W76-2 left port in early February. They are still awaiting sentencing for some reason, and my friend Steve Kelly has been in Glynn County’s local hoosegow since their bit of infiltration and symbolic (and small-scale) destruction of property. Nothing vindicates the defense of necessity more than the active deployment of the W76-2.
I wasn’t sure about heading to this year’s Pacific Life Community gathering, but now I am for sure, and I may well cross the line. We’re gathering near the Trident Submarine base at Bangor-Kistap Washington. We all need to step up from wherever we are.
And for one additional angle on nukes and the Middle East, here is an op-ed from Al Jazeera in which the author, a nuclear expert, discusses nuclear reactors soon to come on line in the UAE. https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/uae-nuclear-reactors-imperil-gulf-200117180846816.html
CJNV Report 1 – Isawiyah
Because of the photo above, promoting the Kehilla event with David, Becca and me, let me continue on about our time in Isawiyah, East Jerusalem. I had been there in 2017 for three different days on the 2017 trip. In fact, I had my most surprised birthday, with the most spectacular sparkler/candles in my life there. The neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem has not bowed to Israeli and Jerusalem municipality pressure to get out. This is their home. I met elders from two of the three families that reputedly started Isawiyah many generations ago.
Our tour guides included Mohammad Abu Hummus (one of the elders who procured the birthday cake in 2017) as well as an inspiring young American/Israeli woman named Dina who helps organize nightly vigils of West Jerusalemites and internationals to stand with the Palestinians of Isawiyah against increased, nightly intrusions by Israeli and Jerusalem military and police. Youth are taunted, attacked, taken away. Parents and elders are threatened with deportation.
One of the main places we visited in Isawiyah was to the remnants of a home that was destroyed for the fourth time by Israel. Ostensibly, only the second floor was being demolished. In 2009, the last time the home was destroyed, the owner, who we met, fell from the upper floor and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Now, rains come into the first floor, and he was prevented from adding the second story that would have aided him with access to his house from his parents home next door, just uphill from his. His children are scattered to stay with relatives for now.
In 2017 our group of Jewish diaspora workers came to help clean up around the local landmark and help make a little parklet for the local children and people to enjoy…the Palestinians. Our presence created controversy despite the advance work that had been done. People suspected we were using the promise of a park to take their land. We weren’t, but three years later, we learn that indeed, outside forces are planning to take much of Isawiya’s land to make a national park. This is land that the people of Isawiyah were not allowed to make plans to use in the form of work as part of a master plan.
It was heartbreaking meeting the despondent homeowner in his wheelchair. Because it comes up all the time here, let me say clearly that he knew we were Jewish and that Dina, our guide and regular presence there is Jewish, but there was no resentment that came towards us from him or anyone.
I don’t mean to say that such broadband animosity and resentment doesn’t exist among Palestinian society, but I clearly sense that Palestinians would just go about their living if their very existence and presence weren’t constantly threatened, turning their existence into resistance. I think they’d still just rather exist and coexist, but with rights and respect.
As a prelude to my discussion of our day working to help Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills reassert access to a water spring, Ein Al Beida in a future Missive, let me share a couple of reports about that day. The one in Truthout is by Oren Kroll-Zeldin who was on the delegation with me, and the one from Mondoweiss is by a reporter who was there but who I don’t know, Miriam Deprez.
Desktop Open Windows
To rig primary against Bernie, DNC chair Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants https://thegrayzone.com/2020/01/27/dnc-perez-regime-change-agents-israel-lobbyists-wall-street-rig-game-bernie/#more-19831
I have expressed sadness and outrage at decisions by the upper echelons of the Democratic Party before. I have increasing fears about regular people and mucky-mucks trying to calculate who can beat Trump and undermine popular, democratic selection of the candidate. My attitude, is whichever it is, we have to rally then and believe any of them can (and should) beat Trump. All have their baggage and problems. Too much calculating looks like playing favorites, and currently, with the seeming accomodation of billionaire Bloomberg and not for candidates of color Castro or Booker, the fix looks all too much in for wealth, yet again. There are such inspiring progressive voices in the Democratic Party, I encourage everyone to get with AOC, Omar and the rest, and at this point, at this late date with nuclear fallout, we gotta believe in and push for more.
Even in 2020, there’s still cause for hope in Israel-Palestine https://www.972mag.com/even-in-2020-theres-still-cause-for-hope-in-israel-palestine/
I really like 972 Magazine. (+972 is Israel’s telephone country code.) I hope you read their coverage in general too. Maybe send them some of your journalism support money. This op-ed, by Hagai Matar, isn’t polyanna. I appreciate the need to honor, if not celebrate, victories and little wrongs, righted, even if temporarily.
Is Apartheid the Inevitable Outcome of Zionism? by Henry Siegman https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/01/22/is-apartheid-the-inevitable-outcome-of-zionism/
I didn’t know who Henry Siegman was until I saw him on Democracy Now! in 2014 during a Gaza assault. He was head of the American Jewish Congress, yet he can see what is going on. Other establishment Jews can (and have to) too!
Martin Luther King Jr: “The Three Evils of Society”, August 31, 1967
And Just a Little Dose of Eamon this time…
I’ll be back when he turns 15 months. I’m promised he’ll still be toddling. Sorry I don’t have the ability to share little video clips here. I’ll try to find a way soon.