Sunday, May 24, 2009

Elliot Nestle, My Brother, 1935-2009

Last Friday, my brother of whom I have seldom written, died in a hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with his daughter, Robin, by his side. The last time I had seen Elliot, perhaps 7 or 8 years ago, was at Artie's Delicatessen on the Upper West Side where I took him and Robin for lunch. When we said good-bye, both Elliott and Robin clung to me, as if I was the tall mast above very rough waters. I will write more but for now, on this strange page which sends my words out to everyone and no-one, I just in the silent darkness of the letters say my brother, my 74 old brother, tormented from childhood and a tormentor of others from time to time, is no longer living.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our Home on Fitzgibbon Avenue, May, 2009

My favorite sitting place, under the wisteria leaves in the shade

Fitzgibbon Avenue only runs three blocks far different from the river of Broadway along which I lived for so many years.

La Professora's Night, University of Melburne, May 20, 2009

First, I want you to know that I and others have created a new website for Women in Black, here much of my writing documenting our activities, concerns and first hand reports of our version of "the facts on the ground" in Palestine/Israel will be reported. Much is happening in Melbourne, many people from the Palestinian and Jewish communities are working together to stop the suffering of the people of Gaza, to push for sanity and relief from unfettered national and military power.
Last night, La Professora delivered her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, "Pushing Feminism off the Map? International Law in Times of Crises," to a packed house at Melbourne University where old friends from her youth community worker days, from her women's refuges' days, from her mid life law student days, and her contemporary colleague and friends gathered to listen and celebrate. I had had the privilege of caring for my Professora as she worked on her talk--seen here occupying my artist's shed for the polishing of her ms--with Cello under her chair picking up bits of thought that might have fallen off her pages.
What I saw last night besides a beautiful woman mapping her public thinking for forty minutes was a turning point in a journey; in 1991, Di had entered law school as a 38 year old community worker who had walked the streets with the homeless youth of St Kilda, sat with and calmed women escaping domestic violence into shelters she and other feminists had created in the 1970s, Di having grown tired of fighting the government for more permanent change turned to the law looking for another way to push power into caring. What I saw was the culmination of both a personal journey, my dear one's, and the history of an Australian feminist community--supporting, creating, struggling, growing older and still trying to find strategies for change. In the first photograph, Di stands with two other women who entered law school when she did; they studied together, they pushed each other to continue when it all looked too hard--Munya and Fahna. Both are now solicitors--that's trial lawyers in American English. Patricia, my Pattie, who helps us set up our social action websites sits with Marg, a woman who has devoted much of her life to social change movements--both dear friends to me now and Di's long time comrades, others here as well--Peter, Di's brother, Michelle, a trades union leader, Joel, our dear friend and partner of Daniel, and Maureen, a teaching colleague. And a group of Di's students, past and present--never never forget the students.
I have never seen La Professora so happy, so at peace and when we returned home to Cello and our garden, we sat and shared the one glorious apple our tree had produced. At one moment in the evening, when all had gathered for celebratory drinks, Di thanked old friends and new for all they had made possible and then, she turned in my direction, looking where she thought I might be--I was sitting in the back of the room, my leg having given out, not able to see her but enjoying just being there, and as if the sea was parting, the room broke into two halves so nothing was between my love and me; she raised her glass and said, and most of all, I thank my partner, Joan--doing the PH.D brought me to New York and her, and that was my greatest gift. We had gifted each other, but we had needed help along the way so thank you all who made the flourshing of this transcontinental love possible.

From the flyer: The lecture grew from discussions at an international workshop held in Onati, Spain in 2008. A larger version will be published in 2010 in a collection entitled Between Resistance and Compliance? Feminist Perspectives on International Law in an Era of Anxiety and Terror.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In Women's Hands

After our Women in Black Vigil, Melbourne, Australia, April, 2009. Hellen holding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

We are All New Profile--2

April 26, 2009. This morning the Israeli police descended upon the homes of political activists, members of the feminist movement New Profile, which acts for the civil-ization of society in Israel and against the undue influence of the military in the life of the country. (Jewish Peace News)
You see, there can be no linear line to these days, to the telling of these events, to the sadnesses, the wrong choices,--fire that Professor, banish that speaker, call them antiSemites, particularly the Jewish ones, put them on the S.H.I.T list so we can flush them and their ideas away, but little by little the wall is cracking, more and more are finding the strength to speak out, to find ways to travel to Gaza, to the West Bank, to see for themselves, to carry the images, the news out of the walled in places and many are women. And as the police rushed into the homes of the New Profile women in Israel, they were laying the basis for new coalitions, for others who had stayed on the sidelines to see how fragile a democracy can become right under your eyes, as you are looking the other way, as you are watching the parades and walking in the past, past familiar pains. Whatever it takes, you say, to keep Jews safe,but little by little more and more Jews will become endangered--first it is the peace activists, then the reporters who try to map the movements of the military, of the police, then the dissenters, then those who do not take oaths of allegiance and here I see Rosa, waiting through out this tumble of words, waiting her turn to tell how she is part of this all--her words--Freedom only for the supporters of government, only for the members of the party--however numerous these may be--is no freedom at all. Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter. Rosa writing from her prisons, from her "unfreedoms" as she calls them in a 1918 letter, her crime opposing the first world war, her disbelief in nationalisms--calling on German young men not to slaughter French young men, Rosa soon to be smashed in the face with the end of a rifle, and then shot in the heart, dumped in a canal, from which now her image emerges, dripping with urban waters, her little book, Letters from Prison, being republished in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, last month, two centers opening in her name in these cities, her Jewish voice once again in the air and all the histories looking on, at each other. "About six months after Israel's attorney general publicly announced an effort to criminalize dissent, state authorities have upped the ante in their "war"--as the daily Ha'aretz called it last September--against Israel's youth and against the broad grassroots movement of young Israelis who avoid serving their compulsory time in the military... On 26 April, a day before Israel's Memorial Day, Israeli police produced an absurd piece of political theatre...As if facing down dangerous organized criminals, they raided the homes of six activists in different parts of Israel, who were then detained for interrogation...computers confiscated, the arrested told they could not communicate with other members of the community for 30 days. Among those arrested: Analeen Kish, aged 70, ceramics artist, daughter of a family of the "Righteous Among Nations"; Miriam Hadar, age 51, editor and translator; Amir Givol, resident of Jerusalem; Sergei Sandler, resident of Beer Sheva and Roni Barkan, resident of Tel Aviv. The police edict, Do Not Speak of these events for 30 days, has been transformed into endless speaking about New Profile, about what these raids mean, about the police violence against subsequent protesters, (see youtube video, New Profile Demonstration in Israel, 30-4-09, 17:30, Tel Aviv, yisraelpnm), all over the Internet we are speaking, organizing, in Israel, in New York City, where ever peace activist feminists gather, Jewish and non-Jewish, the discussion will go on. In Rosa's month.
New Profile speaks: "The militarization of Israeli society harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of speech and political freedom. For people who thought that only Israeli-Arabs were being framed for criminal political activity, this morning was proof that none of us can be sure of the permission to express ourselves freely regarding the failings of Israel's society and regime." From Jewish Peace News, April 27, 2009, 4:55pm
(Read all of Rosa Luxemburg's "Letters from Prison" on the free Luxemburg Internet Archives)