Traveling

So much to see, so little time!  Have you visited the Tate Modern in London?  First of all, it's free.  I'd never heard of such a thing.  All you could wish for in two buildings with several floors and free. In my attempt to shake loose from the Impressionists and Abstract art, I have begun looking at the most modern I can find to jar me into now.  I've found it.  When I describe it to you, you make think me mad as well.  An African artist, now well known, makes huge wall hangings, lovely to behold, from aluminum bottle caps.  I've seen his work in Australia and now here.  From a distance it appears spun from gold.  An India artist uses human hair woven like strands of knitting wool hanging in every pattern you can imagine from auto bumpers. Another artist uses tools like levels to create linear statements about the beauty in work.  I have so much to learn. How about you?  Do you like art?  Do you go to museums or art openings?  Do you introduce your children to the world of creativity using whatever is at hand?  

The Benefits of Travel

Dear Readers, sometimes while in the middle of social justice issues it's refreshing to have a change of scene and thought.  I'll be sharing some reactions to all I'm seeing. I spent my birthday in Russia at the Hermitage Museum and was told by the guide that if I stopped at each painting for less than a minute it would still take me three years to see all the artworks in its 1057 rooms.  It's like Versailles but not as flashy.  That evening I attended the ballet Cinderella brought up to the 1920s, with incorporated modern dance.  It was stunning.  The costumer selected for the dresses the same color in different intensities.  The dancers, when in a line, shimmered like reflections on a lake.  I was captivated. The streets were abustle with activity, the citizens looked happy or focused, the shops were inviting and the architecture preserved.

What Exactly is the BDS Movement?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led, global movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

BDS is inspired and inspiring. It draws inspiration from decades of Palestinian popular resistance, from the South African anti-apartheid struggle, from the US Civil Rights movement, among other others. It inspires Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights worldwide to speak truth to power, to challenge  hegemonic, racist power structures and to assert that Palestinian rights must be respected and implemented.

Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. It is maintaining a regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people.

World governments fail to hold Israel to account. Companies and institutions help Israel to oppress Palestinians. In response, Palestinians are calling for nonviolent grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning against Israel.

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.   International law recognizes the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights as occupied by Israel.

2. Granting Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel their right to full equality

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194

Ten years since its launch, BDS is now widely supported by unions, academic associations, churches and movements across the world.

As a result of BDS pressure, major companies, such as Veolia, Orange and CRH are withdrawing from the Israeli market after following campaigns over their involvement in Israeli projects that violate international law. The UN and the World Bank say that BDS is starting to have a significant economic impact. Thousands of artists including major celebrities like Roger Waters and Lauryn Hill now refuse to play in Israel.

Israel is increasingly worried that the BDS movement is making it a pariah state in the way that South Africa once was.

To learn more see www.bdsmovement.com

Do You Know About Resolution 242?

By now you know that I authored COMMITTEE OF ONE, Making a Difference One Life at a Time, about my two years with Leila Wahbeh in Jordan's refugee camps.  It seems few people know what 242 set out for the Palestinians.   This portion of a recent article in The Nation magazine will tell you: In contrast to the days that passed before it acted in 1956, the United Nations took over five months to come up with a resolution to deal with the situation created by the 1967 war. When it did so, on November 22, 1967, Security Council Resolution 242 was inspired essentially by the desiderata of Israel, with the indispensable support of the United States. Resolution 242 was far from unconditional: Indeed, it made Israel’s withdrawals from the areas its forces had just conquered conditional on the achievement of “secure” boundaries, which has proven to be an infinitely flexible term in the Israeli lexicon. This flexibility has permitted 50 years of delay where occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories are concerned. Moreover, in its English version, 242 did not call from withdrawal from all the land taken in the June war, but only from “territories occupied” during the conflict. With ample American backing, Israel has driven a coach and horses through that seemingly minor gap. Other language in 242, such as the passage stressing the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” can be seen as balancing those major concessions to the Israeli position. However, which parts of 242 are really important is indicated by the planned joint session of Congress and the Knesset, on top of 50 years of American complaisance about an occupation that in practice is underwritten by American money, arms, and diplomatic support. This is an occupation, incidentally, that the Israeli government denies exists, and that President Trump did not see fit to mention once by name during his recent visit to Palestine and Israel. One additional crucial point about 242 is worth mentioning. The original conflict in Palestine was a colonial one between the indigenous Palestinian majority and the Zionist movement as the latter tried to achieve sovereignty over the country at the expense of, and ultimately in place of, that majority. The nature of this conflict had been recognized in part in the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 181 of 1947, which called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The former was to have been larger than the latter, although at that point Jewish land ownership was under 7 percent of the total, and Arabs constituted 65 percent of the country’s population, and in principle had the absolute right of self-determination in the entirety of what they reasonably still considered their country. Resolution 242 represented a regression even on this low-water mark for the Palestinians. The Palestinians are not mentioned in the text of the 1967 resolution, nor are their rights to statehood and to return to their homes and possessions, which had been confirmed by previous UN resolutions, all of them supported by the United States. Instead there is a bland reference to “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”

Young People Making a Difference

Reported by ANERA The Bekaa Valley was hit hard by the refugee crisis. It accommodates more than 400,00 Syrian refugees, according to recent vulnerability assessment. These Syrian refugees add to a population of poor Lebanese and Palestinians that were already living in the area. Poverty among refugees and the host community encouraged Ziad Araji to team up with fourteen of his friends and acquaintances to start the initiative, ‘Together we stay warm’ (maa baoud ma fi bared), to collect and distribute winter items for vulnerable families. “For one month, we placed boxes for in-kind donations of clothes and shoes in 30 local centers and schools in the village. We sorted, cleaned and repackaged what we received before distributing them to tented settlements for Syrian refugees and needy Lebanese families,” said Ziad. In total, more than 5,000 in-kind winter items were received, and they were then distributed to around 1,000 families from different communities in Bar Elias, Bekaa. The project was applauded in the village, and the mayor accompanied the youth to guide them to poorest tented settlements. “There are around 125,000 Syrian refugees in Bar Elias living in very critical conditions, and families from the host community are living in poor conditions too, given the scarcity of work opportunities,” said Ziad Abdul Ghani, the Mayor of Bar Elias. “Initiatives like these are a great support to families here.” Youth-led activities have encouraged youth to launch similar initiatives to serve their local communities. This is the case in Bar Elias, where Lama Sarout, one of the volunteers in the initiative, suggested a similar project to collect food for poor families