Jesse Rosenfeld reports:
“Oh my god Jesse, you’ve got to come, it’s a Mediterranean cruise to Gaza,” filmmaker and social justice activist John Greyson said to me, tongue partly in cheek, a while back.
He was trying to convince me that I should get on board a boat of Canadian activists and report on their voyage to Gaza as part of a flotilla of ships running bringing supplies and running Israel’s blockade.
Ten days later I find myself on a cramped flight to Athens, sandwiched between Toronto’s contingent on the Canadian boat. After watching the latest rendition of Gullivers Travels starring Jack Black, Greyson chats with me about how his involvement in the struggle against South African apartheid, desire to tackle tough issues in the Queer community and the influence of his progressive Jewish friends has put him on a collision course with Israel’s siege.
He, along with the other Toronto activists flying out had received a less than warm send off by members of the far right nationalist, Jewish Defense League (JDL), who protested their planned voyage at the airport, accusing them of supporting terrorism.
Michael Archer, at Guernica, interviews Alice Walker:
Guernica: You just returned from a trip to Palestine a few weeks ago. What’s changed since your last visit to the West Bank? You worked a lot with Palestinian children there. What were your impressions of that experience? What did you leave knowing that you didn’t know before?
Alice Walker: My first trip to Palestine was to Gaza, in 2009, shortly after “Operation Cast Lead,” during which the Gaza strip was bombed for twenty-two days and nights, with airstrikes every twenty-seven minutes. There was enormous devastation: Over 1400 people killed, including over 300 children, and countless people, many of them children, injured and of course terrorized for the rest of their lives. I tried to get into Gaza a second time to help deliver aid but was denied entry through Egypt. This most recent visit was to the West Bank (for a TED inspired event and a few days with the Palestine Literary Festival) which friends had told us was quite different than Gaza. They were right. There was the feeling of a more intact people, though frazzled and suffering every day from racist oppression which includes witnessing the theft of their land by construction of Israel’s apartheid wall, which is amazingly huge and oppressive: simply gobbling up all the good land to be had, with the wall built right in people’s faces in many instances.
I discovered that artists everywhere are a frisky lot, that we will raise our voices and our songs and our dances and our poems in the face of any oppression, and that we will maintain apparently to our dying breath a sense of humor about the craziness of other people’s actions. This is brilliantly demonstrated in the talk by the writer Suad Amiry, (available on Youtube) who closed out the TEDxRamallah evening by talking about her experience of being put under curfew by the Israelis at the same time that she was being visited by her mother-in-law. She had everyone rolling in the aisles with this story of how important it is to see one’s dilemma, whatever it is, with humor and grit.