Thursday, February 1, 2007


This is the second, revised, printing of This is the Life. The first was all my own work. In this volume I include a poem by Rachel Corrie, an ISM report, and writings by Lora Gordon, who arrived in Rafah shortly before I returned to America, and who, over eight months later, is still living and working there. All the artwork I drew; all writings not attributed to someone else I wrote.

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While traveling in Palestine/Israel from January 22 through April 1 2003 I lived over 1 month in Rafah, a city of 160,000 located at the South end of the Gaza strip, as well as a couple weeks in both Tel Aviv and Jenin. A wealth of writing exists about Palestine and Israel; in the back pages I include a short resource and reading list, including information about organizations you can volunteer with in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

This is a work of creative nonfiction. It is not a political treatise or a comprehensive history of the region. This is an attempt to tell truth, celebrate the people, and do justice to humanity. All quotes are the words of the real people they are attributed to, reproduced as accurately as possible. All drawings except ‘Gas Mask Shopping,’ ‘Sha’hiid—Sacrifice?” and “Hero: This is the Real Work” are portraits of people I actually met. All facts and statistics cited are accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Central to these writings is the project of seeking to understand and act in solidarity with people in the occupied Palestinian territories; most of it was literally written from the perspective of someone on the ground in Palestine.

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A hopelessly inadequate sketch of regional history: Palestinian Arabs, Jews, Bedouin, and Druze are all, if you trace history back two thousand years, native to Palestine/Israel. Jews lived there for centuries and centuries, then several hundred years ago scattered around Eurasia and North Africa, then accompanied European colonial conquest into the rest of the world. This was the Diaspora. Some remained in Palestine. The Zionist movement, which originally hinged on the idea that Jews in the Diaspora should return to Palestine and create a Jewish state there, began in the late 1800s. Jewish immigration to Palestine with Zionist intention began around the turn of the century. After the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews in Europe, Zionism became much more popular because it offered a homeland free of such atrocities.

However, Palestinian Arabs lived for centuries and centuries in Palestine, then in 1948 over 750,000 Arabs were displaced by the violent birth of the nation of Israel. They fled to surrounding Arab nations, especially Egypt and Jordan. The corrupt governments of those nations manipulated and used the refugees for their own political ends. In 1967 a war was fought between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Israel took over parts of Egypt and Jordan—the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively. The West Bank and Gaza were where Palestinian refugees fled to in ’48. Since ’67 Israel has maintained a military occupation of these territories. Israel has never granted Palestinians in the occupied territories citizenship and the rights which accompany it. Palestinian human rights have been routinely violated by the Israeli Occupation Forces. The first intifada, during the 1980s, was largely a popular uprising which included transformation of Palestinian society as well as resistance to Israeli occupation. It also included creative nonviolent resistance, property destruction, street demonstrations, and low-level guerilla fighting. It was

repressed with intense military violence. The second intifada, which began in 2000, is much bloodier. New settlements, which are Zionist outposts built in the occupied territories on land stolen from local Palestinians, have been built gradually and constantly since the 1970s.

History is a tangled web; for details you must do your own research. My primary concerns herein are spiritual learning, human rights, direct action, and the present day reality on the ground, in people’s daily lives. This is the Life.

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