Saturday, October 13, 2012

Song is hope


I am honored to be on a delegation of civil rights veterans, Jews and Fellowship of Reconciliation members to meet with those who are opposing nonviolently the oppression of the Israeli government in Palestine. Our gatherings are marked by song.

Woke up this morning with my mind

Dorothy Cotton, a companion of Martin Luther King Jr, begins every meeting

set on freedom

with song

woke up this morning

We all talked about why we came. There are many reasons, many stories for each of us. Part of mine is being friends in first grade at Walden School in Manhattan with Andy Goodman.

with my mind

Vincent Harding told a story about Andy I had not heard. When Andy and Michael Schwerner and James Cheney disappeared in Philadelphia, Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964, everyone in SNCC [the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] knew they had been murdered. The leadership suggested everyone take a day to meditate and call people about whether to go home.

Vincent has composed a new verse to Jacob’s ladder, the coded song of Denmark Vesey’s sermons.

We are building up a new world

The Freedom Summer volunteers sang.

Today we met with people who are fighting the housing demolitions.

We are building

My student Jamie Siers was thrown down the stairs

up a new world

trying to protect an 80 year old widow here in East Jerusalem

We are building up a new world

from being evicted from her apartment

Builders must be strong.

Telling the story of the songs that the volunteers sang in the daylong meditation on whether they would go back into Mississippi, Vincent said, he could not agree with those who sneer at Kumbaya. The songs are of hope and determination. They are the internal conversation with and staring down of fear.

Each stayed…

On the plane coming across the Atlantic, we were accompanied by a large number of Hasidic jews. Some of the men were (and were allowed by Delta Airlines to be) in the women’s faces about demanding they move.

One woman told another (a Hasidic woman) in Hebrew that she had recently converted to Judaism. The other woman turned her back on her and wouldn’t speak to her.

Some are Jews, the gesture indicated, most Jews are non-Jews. When one starts making non-people, the abuse extends far.

This is not the State of the kibbutzes (no mention of socialism or democracy at the airport in Tel Aviv).

Women take care of children. Men move others out…

This is the State of dispossessing people.

There were 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Those who leave are not permitted to go back.

A tram now connects West Jerusalem to the settlements (there were protests against the construction), one of the delegation said on the ride in to the hotel.

There are now 200,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

The tram is owned by Veolia, the French company that preys on the territories and is protested in Atlanta and by the Quakers who just divested from it.

We are meeting with those, Arab and Jewish, who day after day and against the odds, build nonviolent resistance.

Boycott Veolia.

Song is hope.

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