Conclusions and New Beginnings

#lap13 has just about wound down. The first-ever delegation of librarians and archivists to Palestine has come and…well, not gone. Among the items on our agenda now are reporting back to our various communities at home, building a network founded on solidarity and skillsharing, and conducting tangible campaigns (for example, around equal rights to access of information).

This evening we held a public forum in Ramallah to present some of our findings and ideas and have a discussion with local librarians, archivists, and other interested people. Here is the handout we gave to attendees, which includes a full (unless we inadvertently missed one – there are a lot!) list of the people and organizations we visited and/or met with. Stay tuned for a full report and lots more from us.

Independent Project work begins! & a link to some photos.

Apologies for not posting more until now. It has been a jam-packed week and there we have had very little free time. Today is the first day of the 3 days we’ve devoted to “independent” work– several delegation members are spending the day at Adammer (a prisoner rights organization); others are meeting again with librarians at Birzeit Unversity; others are off doing a range of other kinds of networking and documentation. I’m taking the morning to organize my photos and videos so that we can possibly use them in our report-back in Ramallah on July 4. I haven’t been taking many photos; I’ve been focusing on using video to document our meetings. But i do have a few photos and have posted them, finally, on our flickr site. Hopefully other delegation members will post their (far more copious amounts of) photos soon. Our flickr group is at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/2216306@N20/). And I will post some video as soon as possible!

Mohammad Al-Azzeh of The Lajee Center Arrested

During my visit to Bethlehem on Monday the 1st, I heard some sad and disturbing news. Mohammad Al-Azzeh, the young man our group met briefly at Lajee Center who leads the film department there AND was shot in the face in April of this year, was arrested late Sunday night. The only weapon he held is his camera.

The Israeli forces stormed his family’s home and made the arrest:
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/politics/5076-israeli-forces-brutally-assault,-arrest-palestinian-photographer-mohammed-al-azzeh

All the folks I spoke with on Monday in Aida Camp were distressed about this news, especially because they were told the soldiers hit Mohammad repeatedly in his bad eye during the arrest process. Mohammad still requires two surgeries on his cheek and eye to make a good recovery from the injury. Members of his family were also injured in the raid.

For more about the shooting of Mohammad in April, check out this article:
http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/features/up-close/6244-photos-palestinian-photographer-shot-in-face-by-israeli-forces.html

The man, while bleeding, took his own photos, and when he could not do it anymore, he made sure his friend had the camera on the right settings to get the best possible photos.

To learn more about the Lajee Center, and to see some of Mohammad’s work, visit: http://www.lajee.org/; or find him on YouTube.

Ramallah Graffiti

NoSelfControl.jpg

Ramallah is the geographical seat of the Palestinian Authority, but it is becoming increasingly clear that there is far from a consensus amongst Palestinians regarding them. The PA has gone two years over their mandate without an election, yet have been pushing ahead with state-building activities without any clear direction or input from the vast majority of Palestinians (within the West Bank, never mind Gaza, within Israel, or the wider diaspora). This graffiti was on a wall across from one of Ramallah’s cultural centers. It’s in English, and who knows who wrote it, but it does seem to speak to a vibe here which is lying just below the surface.

-Josh

(Jenna/LowerEastSideLibrarian) posting for Josh)

Lyd Railroad Crossing

Lyd_wrongsidetracks.jpg

This is an 8 track railroad crossing in Lyd, a historically Palestinian city within pre-67 borders Israel (called simply “48” by most Palestinians) which is very poor and is undergoing a heavy process of Judaization (the structural and ideological process of converting more and more parts of Palestine into Jewish-only areas). This crossing is the ONLY entry into “the Station”—the name of the largest Arab neighborhood. Over 300 trains pass by in a day from all directions, so Palestinians have to wait for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or more EVERY time they want to cross in and out of their neighborhood. This is the most dense train crossing in all of Israel, conveniently structured to block off the Palestinian neighborhood.

-Josh

(Jenna posting for Josh)

Handala

Handala03.jpg

One of the most universally popular symbols I’ve seen here (possible second only to the Palestinian flag) is the cartoon image of Handala. He is a young Palestinian refugee, tattered and back-turned, refusing to grow-up until he can return to his homeland. He is seen as a symbol of popular defiance here, and is seen in graffiti, on t-shirts, key chains, car decals, and in shop windows. Handala was created Naji al-Ali, a Palestinian cartoonist who was exiled in 1948 (at the age of 10), and eventually murdered by Israel in the 1980s, when they went on an assassination spree of the Palestinian Left.

The Handala above is from a bulletin board at Birzeit University, below on the left is a stencil from Ramallah, and on the right is freehand graffiti from the walls of the old city in Nazareth. I’ve got photos of dozens more I’ve seen over the past week, but no time to prep them, so I’ll post those all in one blog later when I get back to NYC.

-Josh

Handala02.jpgHandala01.jpg

Jenna, posting for Josh M