May 05, 2016

Categories of Extermination (poster) in the Museum of the Liberation of Rome

Categories of Extermination (poster)
The poster shown in the photo is among documents and artifacts in the Museum of the Liberation of Rome, the former headquarters of the Gestapo terror apparatus during the German occupation of Rome during World War II. The building contained a prison in which Jews and political opponents — members of the Italian Resistance were incarcerated and tortured.

Half a day was not long enough for me to explore carefully documentation on the persecution of Rome’s Jews (with copies of newspaper reports and posters imposing bans and anti-Jewish orders), underground struggles (including resistance manifestos and handbills, and torture and murders of its members), and in some torture cells, messages on life and freedom etched in the plaster walls and other graffiti by prisoners often nearing death.

On this somber day in Israel, we are marking Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day when we remember approximately 6 million Jews, among them 1.5 million children who were annihilated during the Holocaust. As we pledge to never forget, may we remember also 5 million more who perished during this tragic episode in human history, among them Gypsies/Roma, Serbs, Polish intelligentsia, resistance fighters from all nations, German opponents of Nazism, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, people with disabilities, habitual criminals, and the "antisocial," such as beggars, vagrants, and hawkers.

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April 22, 2016

In Rome: A children's bookmobile

Read-aloud picture books for enthusiastic lilliputian-size
Italian-speaking or -babbling listeners and their minders

What could possibly top off a visit to MAXXI, Italy’s National Museum of XXI Century Arts, in Rome? As the country’s first institution devoted to contemporary creativity in art and architecture, it’s no wonder that in the museum courtyard, a public space, I came upon a public library bookmobile!

The MAXXI building is a major architectural work designed by Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, and features innovative and spectacular forms.

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March 19, 2016

Ukuleles for Peace perform in Tel Aviv, Hawaii, elsewhere locally and globally

"We participated in the 2015 Ukulele Festival in Hawaii,"
gushed this trilingual (Arabic, Hebrew, English) performer.

Radiating infectious warmth and joy, young Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens performed with Ukuleles for Peace (UFP) today at the Bereaved Families Forum Peace Tent for street dialogue set up along the Mediterranean Sea where Tel Aviv meets Jaffa. (Forum members are Israelis and Palestinians who lost a family member to the conflict.) 

Scottish singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Donovan, a huge draw during my own teen years, has invited Ukuleles for Peace to warm-up the huge audience this summer for his first appearance here.

With their families and teachers, they picnic, celebrate festivals,
and visit each other's (Jewish and Arab) schools and homes

Making music while building friendships
without any stereotypical prejudice

The goal of Ukuleles for Peace is to bring Jewish and Arab children together to play with ukuleles, kazoos, and other fun instruments. The hope is that one day they and their families will be the force driving the wheels of social change in Israel. — Founder Paul Moore

February 28, 2016

Leibowitz Prize winners 2016: Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan and Yaakov Manor

Street dialogue; Peace Tent banner signs
(Arabic, Hebrew):"It Won't End Till WeTalk"
The Leibowitz Prize award ceremony in Tel Aviv last month felt like two minutes and an eternity. The auditorium packed with honoree's families, supporters, and colleagues, and the messages (Hebrew, Arabic) powerful, significant, moving, heartbreaking, and uplifting. An antidote to the negativity and craziness.

The annual Leibowitz Prize, a Yesh Gvul initiative for public activism in the spirit of the political and philosophical teaching of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, was awarded to Yaakov Manor of the Alternative Information Center internationally oriented, progressive, joint Palestinian-Israeli activist organization, and to Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan, spokespersons for the Bereaved Families Forum (members are Israelis and Palestinians who lost a family member to the conflict).

Before the ceremony, the Forum organized a street dialogue among Forum members, friends, and guests, and passersby.

Forum members Robi Damelin, Rami, and Bassam

The next generation: sons of Bassam and Rami

Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903, Riga, Latvia – 1994, Jerusalem) was a religious thinker and biochemist with doctorates in philosophy and medicine who kept up a relentless critique of Israel's policies in the occupied territories and of its political and religious culture. He supported Israeli Army resisters who refused to serve in the territories, and warned that soldiers in the occupied areas risked becoming "Judeo-Nazis."

Yesh Gvul ("there is a limit", "there is a border", or "enough is enough") was founded in 1982 at the outbreak of the Lebanon War by Israeli combat veterans who refused to serve in Lebanon and has expanded its opposition to service in the occupied territories.

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February 14, 2016

In Tel Aviv: Along the shoreline to Yafo/Jaffa

The Mediterranean Sea peeking between me and Racheli (R)

Sunny Shabbat afternoon walking along the sea from TLV center to Yafo and back. 
  • Dogs chasing Frisbees all up and down the canine beach. 
  • Cats sunning. 
  • Toddler Belle in pink tights and giant grey headband. 
  • A one-man band. 
  • Riders on all kinds of wheels. 
  • Scents of the sea, Nargila (hookah) smoke, and Mangal (barbeque). 
  • Jews, Arabs, Tibetan monks, missionaries, tourists, African refugees, singles, couples, families, sandcastle builders, sunbathers, and fishermen speaking Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, French, and languages unidentified. 

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