Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Democrats and Republicans Unite!

The College Republicrats have written an article about the Campus Antiwar Network. My response follows.

I applaud Burton and Traicoff for knowing so much about the Campus Antiwar Network. Especially given the lack of conversations they have had directly with that organization. The number, specifically, is zero (0).

If Burton or Traicoff had ever had a conversation with me or anyone involved in CAN they would find that it is not our intention to demonize Israelis. Half of the articles I've written on the subject are about Israeli human rights organizations and activists. It is necessary to have a perspective broad enough to separate a government from its people. For example, the United States is involved in several illegal occupations worldwide and upholds racism, sexism and homophobia on institutional levels. That doesn't mean that Americans are monsters.

I acknowledge that the tone I started out with was mocking, so I'd like to end on a sincere note:

Stubbornness is the only way rights have ever been won. The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted over a year. Think about that. Folks walking to and from work, school and homes for over a year. I intend to continue being stubborn about fighting for human rights and equality worldwide.

I genuinely thank the writers of this article for demonstrating something I've been working to convince folks of for a while: the Democrats and the Republicans are two sides of the same coin.

If either of these gentlemen is interested in having a CONVERSATION with the Campus Antiwar Network and/or reaching out to us supposed sectarians, I can be reached at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

august 2009, bil'in, palestine

August 2009 I found myself in Bil'in, Palestine. Ok, so I didn't find myself there, especially not in the post-college-tour-of-the-world sense. I worked super hard all summer rolling burritos and organizing fundraisers and then, in August of 2009, I was broke in Bil'in.

I wasn't there by myself either. That insinuation makes me sounds so much cooler than I am or ever have felt. No, I was with an organization called the Interfaith Peace Builders, and there were about twenty of us from all over the world.

So, I was broke and surrounded by friends in Bil'in in 2009 in August. And it was hot.

We were at the home of Eyad and Tesaheel Burnat. Eyad is the head of the Public Committee there, spokesperson for their weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the wall. He is dark and slight and tired. As he invited us into his home, he explained that their house was raided at 4am. It was 2pm.

They showed us videos of the demonstrations, of the tear gas, pass around the real bullets coated in rubber fired weekly at the villagers and internationals. But I, due to local customs, my own socialization, or whatever, have turned into the babysitter. There are four children. I can't remember one of their names. He was 9. The other are Mohammed (4), Mayar (5), Abdul Khalil (11).

That is all background.

Dusk is seeping in through light-osmosis and the cool air was settling, welcoming the heat like old friends. We are in the garden in the back, Abdul Khalil and me. I've been assigned to stay overnight at another house and he is begging me not to go. I don't speak Arabic and he doesn't speak English, but it is clear. He pulls on my arms, I hug him, smooth his forehead with my thumb, which only makes him more insistent. "Oh, Nancy, Nancy!" he sighs. He is in love.

I ask my group leaders if I can switch out, stay here. They acquiesce.

Back in the garden, thick now with dusk on dusty ground. The gradient smells relieved. He says "Anana?" And I think he has, in his wild devotion, given me a new name. But when I go over to him, he is gentle. He lowers lavender from his mother's garden into my cupped hands. And then thyme.

And it is too much and I tell him to stop, that his mother will be so mad. But still I take my hands up to my face and inhale fragrant gifts from the most romantic man I've known. Abdul Khalil is beaming.

That night, after we've played at grown-up all day, we are children again, both of us. On the roof, after smoking a hookah and seeing who can draw the longest (and then getting busted by his parents), the black is pitch. What are we doing then? Just sitting talking? Singing and laughing? No, we get hushed by the parents when we make noise. We hear but do not see the helicopters. WOOSHWOOSHWOOSHWOOSHWOOSH We feel but do not hear the helicopters. And then the children stand up and sing a new song, they drone and march "the soldiers are coming the soldiers are coming."

Abdul Khalil goes downstairs and back up to the roof. From his clenched fist, he drops a pendant into my open hand. Red hello kitty with a little red bell. I look into his eyes and put it on my necklace. He can't believe it. He is overcome. I am in love.

And when he goes to sleep, I am so frightened that he will not be there to protect me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Activism Alive in Cincinnati

I was nominated for Best Local Activist in CityBeat's "Best of 2010!"

If you'd like to vote, click right here.

Thanks Rebecca and the Racial Awareness Program for the shoutout!

Thank you to whoever nominated me (even though you misspelled Paraskevopoulos.)

You're probably asking yourself, "Self, why the heck should I vote for her?" Good question. I'll list some of the things I'm working on, and then let you decide for yourself.

projects i'm working on right now:

- planning for national CANference
- book drive for Dheishe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem
- non-political get-together between Zionist and Palestinian-solidarity students, so that when we get together to talk politics, we can see each other as people and not ideologues.


-peer facilitating the racial awareness program
-writing a zine to sell as a fundraiser for the interfaith peace-builders
-bringing evan greer to campus to teach us how to work with various student groups

as with all things, there are a bunch of people working on all of this, too. it is in no way just me doing this stuff, but it is nice to be recognized.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Howard Zinn is dead at 87.

Let's all pay our respects by learning something about ourselves and our world today:

History Is A Weapon

Monday, January 18, 2010

Speaking event coming up! Campus Antiwar Network Conference at Urbana-Champaign.

Leave me a msg for more info!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Apology

I've always thought of myself as dedicated to equal rights, fighting racism and as very particular with my words. But my self-identity took a blow today.

When I read your article, I forwarded it to the CAN's listserv. The sentence I wrote above it read, “whoever used the phrase 'zionist breeders?' ”

Sarah Jaine responded:

“ 'you did'

" 'Settlements pepper the Muslim Quarter. We saw armed guards escorting
Jewish children to their settlement homes withing the quarter. They
were not smiling. I don't blame the parents for wanting to protect
their children with arms here. After all, they are occupiers. Most of
the Muslim inhabitants, however, seemed unfazed. They were used to it.

'I have to wonder at the dedication of these Zionist breeders. What
would it take for you to move your children into an area in which you
feel you must send armed guards with them?' “

It was from my blog this summer when I was in the Old City in Jerusalem. You should know, you quoted me.

What can you say to your own words, staring you in the face?

There is no way that I can understand how those words have made people feel, and there is no apology that could fix it.

I take full responsibility for my statements, and wish I hadn't said it. But it is there.

I sound like a pundit. That was never my intention. But intentions are just what you meant to do.

How do you apologize for that?

I want to say “I didn't mean it like that.” But that doesn't fix anything. I want to say I'm sorry but that doesn't do a bit of good, because it doesn't solve the problem. There's no way we can have a conversation if it gets reduced to that kind of inflammatory language. There's no way I will have any of your respect if I do not act respectful. And I don't know how to apologize in a way where I can gain your respect back.

And because an apology doesn't do any good, I will instead make a promise to learn from this loss I've created. Instead, I'd like to thank you for using my own words against me, because I deserved to have them thrown back in my face.

What am I doing talking about people in Gaza and Sderot being pissed that they can't talk to their neighbors, and here I am alienating mine and actually choosing not to speak with them? I don't know anything about you besides your politics, your religion, and more recently, your major. We're not exactly close, and yet I've managed to wound you in a way I can't pretend to feel.

And I don't know what to do about it. First, I have to thank you for not using my name. I appreciate it. You perceive me as hateful and full of lies and you didn't use my name. That is big.

So - I could delete that post from my blog, but I don't want to pretend like I didn't say it, because I did. I could publicly apologize, or not. I think I should, but part of me feels like doing that undermines this apology to you. You, who are someone that I know. You, who are someone that is real and tangible. Apologizing to a mass of people through newsprint feels a little hollow.

Do you know anything about my religion? My dad's Greek Orthodox, but my mom's Episcopalian. I wanted to be a priest for a long time, but lost the faith when none of the bishops or anyone could answer the question "How does Jesus dying on the cross save me from my sins?" But, even though I don't much subscribe to Christian mythology, I still like what the Episcopal church taught me. Generally, it amounts to: be good to people no matter what. There are times when it is appropriate to refrain from kindness, but there is never a time to reduce people to flippant rhetoric.

In addition to the pain I've inflicted, I feel I've done an injustice to myself. In my passion for one person's humanity, I dehumanized you, something I never want to do. That makes me someone I never want to be.

We may never agree on anything again, but that doesn't mean I have the right to remove your humanity from you.

I believe that Israel is a colonizing state. I also believe in nonviolence, and that any amount of dehumanization is going to take us back a long way in this process. Though I'm not nearly as brave as him, I believe in what Ghandi said (I'm paraphrasing), "we want the English to leave, but we want them to leave as friends."

I want to thank you for pointing out my mistakes. Without criticism, I would never grow. We barely know each other, but you provide me the opportunity to better know myself.

This was really long, and I hope you don't feel like I wasted your time. Thank you for reading this. I'll post an apology on my blog. I'm gong to leave what I wrote instead of pretending I never wrote it, because I don't want to hide from myself. I'll link it to the apology that I write.

So, all of that is what I'll mean when I next see you and say "I'm sorry." If I said all of this to your face, I would probably cry, and we'd both be really uncomfortable. Not that making one another feel comfortable has really been the goal of our relationship.

I don't know. I'm really sorry. I hope you have a nice day.