Friday, December 6, 2013

Jeff Cohen speaking at the UU in Kingston

Jeff Cohen on “My Inspiring Trip to the Occupied West Bank”

Date: Friday, December 6       From: 7:00pm  To  8:30pm

Jeff Cohen, acclaimed media critic and founder of FAIR, will speak in person about his recent trip to Palestine. Highlighted will be personal visits with the El Kurd family in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah, featured in the evening's screening of "My Neighbourhood." The 25 minute film is seen from the perspective of the Palestinian teenager, Mohammed El Kurd, whose home in the neighborhood is taken over by Israeli settlers. Event is part of the Films of Palestine Series and there is no admissions charge.
The bad weather kept many people from coming to Jeff's talk. We had about 25 in all. He agreed to come back at another time to give his full talk. But we had an interesting at at times emotional discussion with him about Israel, Zionist extremists, and the role of the US in covering up the appalling human rights abuses that Palestinians suffer on a daily basis. We also watched a short movie that Jane had made about her visit with the El Kurd family. Finally, Tarak and Ellen talked about their recent trip to the West Bank with Vets For Peace (they will cover their trip in more detail at a special event that MECR will host on Friday, January 3). All in all, a great night despite the weather.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My first trip to Palestine

L > R: Lorna Vander Zanden, Ken Mayers, Tarak Kauff, Mike Hastie, Elik Elhanan, Itamar Shapira, Eran Torbiner, Ellen Barfield 
Photo by Ellen Davidson
 This happen on our last day. We didn't expect the result we got, but after around 40 minutes, a young fellow with a yarmuke on, came over to us with a big smile and said, "I don't know if you realize it, but the embassy is shut down because of you. I think they're afraid of you or something. See that big crowd over there? They're all waiting to get in." He thought it was great.  We felt at that point, our mission was more than complete and so told him to go tell them that we were leaving and they could open now, which he was delighted to go and convey. He asked what our "message" was and that he would give any message we asked and take it inside. Ellen Davidson said, "We want the occupation to end and equal rights for everybody," and that good enough for us. We also had a great time. Our friends Elik, who will receive his PhD from Columbia soon, Itamar, Yonatan Shapira's younger brother and a terrific activist in his own right and Eran, who makes documentary films are all former IDF and original members of Combatants for Peace, just the greatest people. 
 This was my first trip to Palestine and far exceeded my expectations. We'll be returning.