Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is from an article written a few years ago by Nomika Zion, a resident of Sderot and founder of Other Voices.

I am afraid of the Qassam rockets. Since the current war started I have hardly dared to go beyond the bounds of our street. But I am much more afraid of the inflammatory and monolithic public and media discourse that is impossible to penetrate. It scares me when a friend from the "Other Voice" is verbally attacked by other residents of Sderot while being interviewed and expressing a critical opinion about the war, and afterwards gets anonymous phone calls and is afraid to return to his car for fear that something will happen to him. It scares me that the other voice is such a small one and that it's so hard to express it from here. I am prepared to pay the price of isolation but not the price of fear.

It frightens me to see my town lit up, as if for a festival and decked out with Israeli flags, groups of supporters distributing flowers in the street and people sounding their car horns in joy at every ton of bombs that's falling on our neighbours. I am frightened by the citizen who admitted to me, with a beaming face, that he never attended a concert in his life but that the Israel Defence Forces bombs is the sweetest music to his ears. I am frightened by the haughty interviewer who doesn't question his worlds by one iota.

I am frightened that, underneath the Orwellian smokescreen of words and the pictures of [Palestinian] children's' bodies that are especially blurred for us on TV as a public service, we are losing the human ability to see the other side, to feel, to be horrified, to show empathy. With the code word "Hamas" the media paints for us a picture of a huge and murky demon that has no face, no body, no voice, a million and a half people without a name.

Huffington Post-War Diary from Sderot

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Tears of Gaza" is being screened in LA now, hopefully it'll reach the rest of the country, people need to see the civilian toll of the Gaza siege. Really, any footage will do. Check out the trailer, it's been kicked off Youtube a few times already...

Yeah, born right heere in the USA
But due to tragedy
looked on by the whole world as a refugee
So accept my emotion,
do not take it as an offensive gesture

It's just the epitome of my soul
and I must be me
We got spirit, yall
we got spirit
We got soul, yall
we got soul
They don't want us to see
but we already know
-Lil Wayne

IFPB Report #2

A new Interfaith Peace-Builders Delegation is now underway in Jerusalem! This is the first African Heritage delegation, some of the members have posted their Day #2 reflections here. More to follow.

Freedom and Struggle
What this trip has done for me is twofold:
Firstly, it has heightened my sense of awareness on the value of freedom.
Secondly, it has allowed me to see struggle and restriction at a level I never imagined.

-Mike Nettles

Life Plan:

Aug 1: Fly to Minnesota
Aug 8: Fly home to Seattle with dad
September 3: Go to Bumbershoot festival, watch Trombone Shorty
September 5: Go to Bumbershoot festival, watch Hall and Oates
Mid-September: Fly to Jordan, cross over to Jerusalem, live in Al Aqaba for 3-6 months
This spring: Apply to grad school? Live in Jerusalem? Get a real job?
May 17: Fly to New Orleans, watch KIPP Believe Class of 2016 graduate from 8th grade
Last week in May: Chaperone Class of 2016 End-of-Year trip
End of May: post trip journal entries in blog

I feel pretty good about this.

Journey Through the South (Entry 1)

At the end of May, I went with the seventh graders on a Civil Rights Tour of the South. We all kept a journal of our week, so here is my first entry, finally... :P

May 23, 2011

I'm in Selma, Alabama. Our group of 44 7th graders just visited the Voting Rights museum, the Slavery Museum and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Dr. King and John Lewis led a march toward Montgomery and were met with a line of state troopers. Their confrontation became known as Bloody Sunday. The marchers were told by the poilice, "This is an illegal march" and "you have to two minutes to go back." OR ELSE. Between the slavery museum and the bridge, the students were asked to relate to the marchers. What would you march for? Can you think of anything today?

Flashback to Beitin village....

December 27, 2010

I had arrived in Beitin with 80 or so French activists. Hundreds of people from the village and some internationals and reporters were starting to walk down a hill. They were holding Palestinian flags and chanting "1, 2, 3, 4, occupation no more!" The guy leading the chant was in a Santa suit. We joined in, all the French people in their bright green vests. We were marching because the road that passed from the village to the city of Ramallah had been closed to Palestinians. If the people of Beitin wanted to get to Ramallah, they couldn't take the 3-minute road, which was now for Israeli military and settler use. The villagers had to take a 30-minute back road. As we approached the bottom of the hill and the off-limits road, we saw a line of Israeli Defense Force soldiers waiting for us. As we approached, we heard over a loudspeaker, " go back, this is an illegal demonstration." 

The leaders of the village committee approached the officer in charge to explain their intention to use the road, and protesters got up to the soldiers and stood in front of them. They were pushed back. A boy with a flag yelled "Yalla al-Ramallah!" Let's go! He was small enough to squeeze through the soldiers. As I inserted myself between two soldiers, encouraged by the kid but not brave to cross the line, the soldiers started firing tear gas. Protesters started running up the hill. I felt isolated, and I knew I'd have to run through the gas to get back to safety. A sound bomb landed right next to me and went off, and I thought my eardrums had popped. I couldn't hear. I looked the the soldier who'd done it. He was older than the rest, who mostly looked younger than me. I gave him the finger and mouthed "FUCK YOU." In that moment I wasn't scared, I was just angry. Boys were starting to throw rocks from the olive groves, and I was between them and the soldiers. I side-stepped up the hill, waving my arms yelling "don't shoot!" but the gas landed behind me and I had to cover my mouth and close my eyes and run through it. I knew I was quite a sight, a blonde girl stumbling out of a cloud and dry heaving on the road. The villagers came to me, offered me onions to inhale, and led me up the hill...I stepped in front of an Arab news camera, puffy-faced and crying and determined to express something of what happened, and show the face of one American who cared. 

Now our students were learning about lines of police, tear gas, restricted movement and segregation, and being asked to draw connections. My heart melted into my pen.

Monday Night Reflection

Did Sam's (our guide at the Voting Rights Museum, who had been jailed for protesting at the age of 11) experiences matter?

Yes, Sam's experiences matter because they're a part of American history. When some people had an idea of what it meant to be American, some other people had another idea, and it's the natural order that they succeeded in winning their rights. You have to know in your heart what's right, that things can change.

*Courage to fight for what you believe in!

All over the world, kids don't really have a choice
-they won't lie down and take anything less than freedom
-if your parents or brothers were being arrested, would you take it?

Slavery museum:

We were all treated like slaves for about 20 minutes. It was really heartbreaking hearing my students being called the n-word because I know how unique and special they are and to rewind this wonderful journey we've been on, learning about each other, rewinding history, it really made me see ourselves as making history. What we're achieving together in New Orleans is legendary. 

Reactions to the n-word...

"what does it mean?"
"It was like I was nothing, that you don't care about me, so you can call me whatever you want."

Responses were varied, "it's ok for rappers to say it because it doesn't mean the same thing anymore." or "it's not ok because it was meant to be racist"

My question: Why are we having this conversation? So we can grow out of this word? What are we striving for, and how can we live that vision?

End of Day 1! I passed out at 11, only to be woken up by my girls screaming at 1am. Apparently the Oprah special on our new library make-over was re-aired and they were the first KIPPsters to catch it. Everyone was so jealous the next morning they didn't even ask me why our TV was on at 1....hmmm.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Exchange program brings Creole kitchen celebrities to Golan base.

By Liz Steinberg

The four New Orleans chefs were crammed into a commander's office on an Israel Defense Forces base in the Golan Heights last Wednesday. They were decked out in kitchen whites, their names in Hebrew embroidered on the jacket.
Well-known chefs back home - John Besh was voted one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine in 1999 and has appeared on shows including "Top Chef"; Alon Shaya is Besh's partner at their Italian restaurant, Domenica; Jacques Leonardi runs the Nawlins-style Jacques-Imo's Cafe, and David Slater is chef de cuisine at celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's Emeril's New Orleans - their mission that night was to prepare a four-course Creole dinner for several hundred soldiers from the Namer battalion, with the help of three Israeli chefs and the base's kitchen staff.

But this wasn't the food they were used to cooking at home. There would be no ham or shrimp, and certainly no alligator cheesecake - a Leonardi specialty. This meal would be strictly kosher, and made from the available ingredients on a far-flung army base.

Chef Gilad Dolev, a culinary consultant and one of the organizers of the event, sternly called the chefs to order. It was 3 P.M., and they were starting an hour behind schedule. Their deadline was 8 P.M. He apologized: Due to kashrut limitations, they'd be lacking some of the kitchen tools and spices they had asked for. He requested their patience.

But the chefs were cool as cucumbers. After Hurricane Katrina, they cooked for 20,000people at a time, said Shaya.

"This is what we do. It's certainly not the food we cook in our restaurants, but that's okay. It doesn't need to be," Besh said.
Evidently it wasn't the physical task that challenged them - that was all in a day' work. It was the significance of what they were doing, said Besh, who had served in Operation Desert Storm as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Leonardi, too, is a former military man. He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy and served in New Orleans in the 1980s.

"This is exciting. I've always dreamed of coming here," Besh said as he put on his shoes and apron; visiting Israel has helped him better understand his Christian faith, he said. "I respect that all these people are protecting their home. I think it's a very noble thing to give back to those who are giving so much."

The four chefs were in Israel last week as part of Partnership 2Gether, a Jewish Agency program coordinated by volunteers in Rosh Ha'ayin and New Orleans. During their one-week trip they had helped prepare Shabbat dinner at a home in Rosh Ha'ayin, visited tourist sites including Masada and Jerusalem's Old City, met with local chefs and dined at an array of top-rated restaurants.

The next morning they were scheduled to rise at 4 A.M. to see an artillery demonstration. Danny Shani, the Rosh Ha'ayin chairman of the twinned-city partnership, arranged the visit to the army base, where his brother-in-law was the commander.

Meanwhile, the chefs checked out the mise-en-place. There was a side room filled with large metal trays of chopped vegetables, prepared a few hours before by the soldiers. There was chicken in the fridge, and a large vat of chicken stock simmering one of the eight commercial burners in the middle of the kitchen. Spices were laid out on a table to the side.

Soldiers bustled about. On an ordinary day, five army cooks made dinner; today there were 15, not including the soldier prep cooks and the visiting chefs.

Charged with preparing dessert that evening, Shaya stepped into a separate room with Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the U.S.-based Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. The chefs affectionately referred to Hirschfield as "the rabbi." Shaya was born in Israel but left when he was 4. He said that as a child in the United States he had rejected his Israeli identity, but was now trying to relearn Hebrew and make up for lost time. He and Besh had even discussed launching a restaurant in Israel; they simply weren't sure they could do it well, Shaya said.

Haaretz-The Nawlins Way to Feed an Army

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Today's prayer at First Grace United Methodist

O God, keep our whole country under your protection. Wipe out sin from this land; lift it up from the depth of sorrow, O Lord, our shining light. Save us from deep grief and misfortune, Lord of all nations. Bless us with your wisdom, so that the poor may not be oppressed and the rich may not be oppressors. Make this a nation having no ruler except God, a nation having no authority but that of Love. Amen.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Audacity of Hope has been stopped by the Greek Coast Guard.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Let Our People Go