JTNews: Edition II

Here is the second half of the article I was quoted in, about Evergreen. I’m not in this half, but its worth reading anyway. You can find the article here

The best part, in my opinion, is the man who says, “It’s beyond just Israel; it’s sort of the Lord of the Flies… The kids without parental control all of a sudden start to run amok and lose all sense of civilization.”

Personally, I think that is a bit of an exaggeration… However hippie-dippy Evergreen students might be, we are far from savages.

As far as accuracy goes, the first half of the article (the one I posted a few weeks ago), says that all 6 members of the right-wing SIAA Shalom group left Evergreen before graduation, due to intense feelings of uncomfortableness and intimidation. In this article, they say that two SIAA Shalom members actually did graduate from Evergreen. I guess they didn’t feel too bad after all. Not a huge deal, but enough that I’m going to send them a correction.


Su’r (not my own)

Su’r, the arabic word for “photographs”

A few of my favorite photographs, taken in Massri (Egypt) w Lebanon  w Falestine (Palestine)

مصر Massri:

(Artist: Mai Mayeg, link to more work here)

لبنان Lebanon:

(Artist: Badr, link to more work here)

فلسطين Falestine:

(Artist: Masser, link to more work here)


I was interviewed for an article a few days ago, and the article just came out. Basically, ever since divestment passed at my school some “high profile” Jews (like Akiva Tor, the Israeli Consul General) have been spreading lies, saying that Evergreen is anti-semitic. He even flew to washington to meet with my college president to tell him how anti-semitic we are. Lousy, right? Anyway, the story spread like wildfire (after all, who doesn’t jump at the chance to write about anti-semitism?) and I was called up by a man who writes for a fairly conservative Jewish newspaper in Seattle called JTNews.net

The interview went okay – it’s amazing he even bothered to talk to me, as usually these stories interview one single Jewish student (I won’t name names here, but it starts with “J” and ends in “Osh Levine”) who has radically different opinions than me but is always represented as expressing “The Jewish Opinion at Evergreen.”

So I was pleased (though concerned about my words being taken out of context) when the reported interviewed me. After finishing the interview, I decided to take a look at their online newspaper which I had not yet seen for myself. Browsing around, I found an article from a few months back that talked about me! Whoa. The article describes me as “Hamas-loving.”

What? Me?

The exact words used, were: (note: I was not mentioned by name)
“[the student] published a vicious article condemning the flotilla operation, expressing deep sympathy for Hamas, whose charter demands not only the total destruction of Israel but encourages Muslims to murder virtually every Jew on the planet. The student author informs her readers she is Jewish!
I was sick when I read it and began composing a rebuttal, but stopped myself.”

He felt sick that I condemned the murder of 8 activists? And here I was, thinking he had no heart!

You can find the rest of that article here:

You can find the article that came out a few days ago here:

Wildfire blamed on 14-year-old boy

For the last week we’ve been hearing about a horrible forest fire in Northern Israel that burned 10,000 acres and killed 42 people. Three people were arrested: Two 14-year-old boys and a 16 year-old-boy, from the only non-Jewish village in the area. Of course, there is no surprise there. The NY times originally reported that “two men were arrested”…the ages of the boys were not released until the following day. Two of the boys, according to the NY Times, have now been released because “their connection is unclear.” Well, no surprise there either. The charges are, apparently, “negligence” – an Arab boy who was smoking a water pipe and didn’t report himself to the authorities. Instead, the NY Times reports, he finished his water pipe and went back to school.

Last month, another forest fire spread through the Golan, scorching thousands of acres. This fire was started by some travelers who burned their toilet paper in a nature reserve. Israel’s response was that, “although the travelers were trying to be environmental, it is actually better to not burn your toilet paper.” They were not arrested. Presumably because they were not Arabs.

Although no wildfire is good (at least when it kills people, because in fact, wildfires can be quite beneficial to the forest themselves), and the deaths of 42 Israelis (mostly those trying to fight the fire) is tragic, one does wonder why in this case 3 children were arrested on (considering two were already released) very little evidence, and yet hikers who have been positively identified as burning their toilet paper in the middle of a forest are simply chided for “doing what they thought was right but turned out not to be the best thing to do.”

Why must every problem in Israel be blamed on a minority?

“The complications rose like clouds of butterflies.”

Finished a poem. All the lines are taken directly from blog entries written during my trip. I titled it after a line from Jack Kerouac, from On the Road 1955. I like it because I think it describes the chaos and irony and juxtaposition and never really knowing and the men and women and children whose lives are happening on public television while remaining completely silenced and the foreigner drifts in and out of caring.

“The complications rose like clouds of butterflies.”

A man with a clipboard thought it wise
to go to the West Bank this morning.
He is an older man, who has front row seats of
all the road systems and all the men and women
cooking chicken, ordinary villages.

Men and women, 6,000 of which
are children, windows,
who lost their chance to walk and had to jump instead
because of the shifts in government and war.

He thought Hebrew was hard to understand, and he didn’t speak a word
of Arabic, so he sat on his porch and watched
shells and bombs flying in both

He was enthralled by the cities and the dust
in the streets, but in the middle of
Middle Eastern nowhere, reality hit him in the back
of the knees with its boots.

Every mosque in town is broadcasting their call to prayer louder than
their neighbors, not a prayer exactly, they all have
a different stake in the outcome.

Across the field, the woman’s son tried to show me
another house with a sweeping view of Lebanon.
But it wasn’t really me, because she was teaching
the new generation.

Hungry for fruit, all the men and women offer
me pepsi and cigarettes. We’re supposed to be
better than that.
West bank passports won’t get you
into Jerusalem, but it’s enough to be in the drum circle
in the street, where everyone is coughing.

Arabic music is playing out of loud speakers, and the youth
are still idealistic.

Words I need to get out.

I hate this term. What is a “half-Jew” anyway? I once read an amazing analysis on identity, by an Iranian woman whose name is currently escaping me. What she said was basically, “I am not half-Iranian, and half-American. I do not feel particularly Iranian one day, or particularly feminine one day. I do not choose part of my identity over the others. I cannot separate Iranian from American from female from writer. I am everything, all at once.”

I was at a party the other night, and someone told me they were half-Jewish. I know what he meant. He meant one parent was Jewish, and one was not. He looked at me to see how I would respond. I told him I was full-Jewish. Never mind that my mother is not Jewish, or that I do not go to temple and say the blessings on Shabbat. I am full-Jewish.

I was hurt recently by a family member who told me I was only half-Jewish, as if you can put a mathematical fraction on who I am.

There is no such thing as “half-Jewish,” or half of any identity. There is only Jewish and athiest, or Israeli and American, or Muslim and daughter and queer… or Jewish and female and American and poet and artist and friend and lover and none of these would be anything at all without the rest.

I have often been told, in person or through something I’ve read, that all Jews not in Israel are in exile. This offends me greatly. How can I be in exile, when I am exactly where I need to be? When I am in the mountains that my father nourishes, or the garden that my mothers grows? That’s not exile. Israel is not my home simply because I am Jewish. I feel like that negates everything that matters most to me – my sister, my mother, my father, my grandparents – who are here, with me, exactly where we should be. That is not exile.

Or is exile for someone who is Jewish simply existing outside the Jewish mainstream? That is how Marc Ellis described it recently, during a talk at my school. He calls people like me “Jews of Conscious.” Exile is not wanting the dominant voices to speak for me, but they are speaking for me because they will always be louder and more powerful and more aggressive than my own. Perhaps it is my voice that is in exile. Even though my voice is exactly where it should be.

At home, with my family, and those that I love, home in Bellingham and Olympia and the North Cascades, and thousands and thousands of miles away from Israel, which is not home, not even a little.

Next Year in Jerusalem
Next year, I will be in Jerusalem. Because every day I am not there, the rage fades a little bit. And without rage, there is no fight. There are already too many apathetic people in the world. A friend once told me that peace will only come when we can get over our feelings of rage. I disagree completely. Without rage, no one cares enough to act, and without actions there will be no peace.

I have not thought about the man with blood running down his face in a long time. The man I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. Every day there is another of him, and every day there is another of me – someone who doesn’t care quite as much as they did the day before.

I need to feel enraged again.

I want to practice Judaism. The more I push for BDS and Palestinian rights, the more I feel connected with being Jewish and the more Judaism I want to know. Someone on my campus just started a radical Jewish group, and I think I have finally found what I’m looking for. Not just a pro-BDS Jewish group, but a Jewish group where being Jewish is not mutually exclusive from being an activist. I don’t want my activism with BDS to be caught up with my Judaism. They are different. I want a place to “be” Jewish without having or needing or wanting to talk about BDS, yet a place where it is both acknowledged and accepted.

I missed the first meeting, but will let you know how it goes if I find time to start participating. To start practicing.

“The Spirit of the Practice”
Relaxing with the others after zazen one evening, Owl asked,
“What is the spirit of the practice?”
Raven said, “Inquiry.”
Owl cocked his head and asked.
“What do I inquire about?”
Raven said, “Good start.”
— Robert Aitken, Zen Master Raven. 2002.

A Hole Where My Camera Should Be
I have not picked up my camera in 6 weeks. That is probably the longest I have ever gone without shooting. I dove head first into Middle Eastern Studies this quarter, taking history of Egypt, Turkey and Palestine, Political science of Egypt, Turkey and Palestine, and Arabic language. While I love all of it, and can’t think of a better time to be taking such subjects – fresh from my trip to the Middle East – it means I have not picked up a camera in 6 weeks.

How can I be a photojournalist in the Middle East without picking up a camera?
How can I be a photojournalist in the Middle East without knowing Arabic?

And all I really want to do is paint Arabic poetry into my photographs!

Poetry for a New Day
Working on a poem taken piece by piece from blog entries written throughout my trip. Updates to come.

Even though this is a mural on the Palestinian side of the Seperation wall, in Beit Laham, I always imagine it as being a klezmer band. Perhaps it is. There must be Yiddish words of peace and justice and solidarity, too. I’ll find them.

Hit and Run

This photo makes me sick. An Israeli driver hits “masked Palestinians” – that is, young children with their t-shirts over their heads. Any normal (read:moral, sane) person who back up and drive away if a kid was throwing rocks at their car, not run them over with some sort of murderous anti-Arab road rage.