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Palestine mural is unveiled in Oakland, and activists gear up to ‘Block the Boat’

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Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural unveiled Aug. 10, 2014 (photo: Henry Norr)

Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural unveiled Aug. 10, 2014 (photo: Henry Norr)

URGENT UPDATE – Friday, Aug. 15, 8:30 PDT: The Israeli ship due in Oakland is delayed, possibly in an effort to avoid the  community picket scheduled for Saturday morning. The organizers have postponed the action until afternoon – please meet at West Oakland BART at 3 p.m., not 5 a.m. For further updates, check the Block the Boat for Gaza event page on Facebook.

UPDATE: Block the Boat for Gaza has set up a text alert system. If you are planning on going to the action in Oakland on Saturday 08/16, please text the word ‘Join’ to 510-346-5951 for important updates. Please share this status far and wide.

A huge, brightly colored mural expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine was dedicated Sunday in Oakland with a ceremony that included poetry, music, traditional Palestinian and native-American dance, and the opening of an art exhibit from and about Palestine.

Located in the East Bay city’s trendy Uptown district (on 26th Street between Telegraph and Broadway), the public-art project was sponsored by Art Forces (formerly the Break the Silence Media and Arts Project), the Estria Foundation and NorCal Friends of Sabeel. Excerpts from their announcement:

The Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural adopts the image of the tree as a central motif and global visual signifier to link seemingly disparate issues and distant locations. Spanning 157 feet and reaching 22 feet high, the mural is comprised of nine separate panels, where each artist or team of artists has painted his or her own interpretation of a tree to address social and political issues.

These issues include the shared histories of colonization, environmental exploitation, internal exile of indigenous peoples, resilience and resistance to these injustices….

The twelve participating artists come from a wide array of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. They include Dina Matar, who is participating virtually (Gaza); IROT (Native American); VYAL (Chicano-Native American); Deadeyes (African American); Erin Yoshi (Japanese American); Susan Greene (Jewish American); Emory Douglas (African American); Nidal El Khairy (Palestinian); Chris Gazaleh (Palestinian American); SPIE (Asian American); Fred Alvarado (Latino American); Miguel Bounce Perez (Chicano-Pacific Islander American).

Emory Douglas, renowned former illustrator for The Black Panther newspaper, in front of the panel he contributed to the mural. (Photo: Henry Norr)

Emory Douglas, renowned former illustrator for The Black Panther newspaper, in front of the panel he contributed to the mural. (Photo: Henry Norr)

Each artist was given a broad design parameter to use within the tree motif, which is a common metaphor for life and a symbol of global commonality. From this simple directive, the artists have created imagery true to each one’s individual aesthetic. The result is a public tribute to the human spirit and its unassailable right to thrive in spite of political oppression and injustice–wherever it is taking place in the world.
An audiovisual program is being developed to amplify the mural’s themes and provide easy access to historical and narrative information for visitors who want to hear from the artists about each work and the project as a whole. When completed, visitors to the mural will be able to ‘call the wall’ as well as access and engage with a website that will provide contextual and historical information.

The mural in progress prior to Sunday's dedication. (Photo: Art Force)

The mural in progress prior to Sunday’s dedication. (Photo: Art Force)

The art exhibition, mounted in the Uptown Body and Fender gallery across the street from the mural site, features work from Gaza artists and photo journalists responding to the recent assault; historical photos of the expulsion of Palestinians from what is now called Israel; print portfolios from Middle East Children’s Alliance; and work by muralists and friends of Oakland Palestine Solidarity Mural. The art works are for sale, with part of the proceeds going to Gaza. The exhibit will run through September 30, 2014.

Block the Boat-brownMeanwhile, Bay Area activists continue to organize for the Block the Boat action next Saturday, Aug. 16, when thousands are expected to join in a community picket line at the Port of Oakland to prevent the loading and unloading of an Israeli freighter. Meet at 5 a.m. at the West Oakland BART station (451 7th Street, near the intersection with Mandela Parkway, in Oakland); we’ll then march together to the port. It’s essential to be there early, so we can get to the port and set up our picket line before the first shift. (Note, though, that the BART doesn’t run that early on Saturdays – plan to walk, bike, drive, or carpool to the BART station.)

A related “education and outreach action” is scheduled for Aug. 13 at the Port of LA/Long Beach, and blockade actions are planned at the Port of Tacoma on Wednesday, Aug. 20 and the Port of Seattle on Thursday, Aug. 21 (dates subject to change, depending on ship’s schedule). A New York City rally in solidarity with the West Coast blockade will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, at the Israeli Mission to the United Nations at 42nd St and 2nd Ave.

Block the Boat-blue

Henry Norr

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10 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on August 11, 2014, 2:59 pm

    FLASH: ADL condemning the antisemtitic mural.

    – This is antisemtitic! Just look at it, 2014 and we have these murals, this mural is worse than Hitler!

    ADL now plan to airlift an israeli tank to destroy the mural. However, ADL said, that they needed 4 billion extra from the america people to be granted to Israel to be able to do this.

    ADL also plan to sue Oakland and hinted that pro-israel figure Alan Dershowitz have already been put on the case.

    ADL also said that they plan to put the mural on #1 most antisemtic act of 2014, puttin down Abu Khder to a second place.

    • Kay24 on August 11, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Crying antisemitic to silence criticism of an violent nation is getting lame now.

      This is the ONLY card the ADL has left to play. What these brave people are doing is very American – free speech and showing support for victims of violence, and a brutal occupation and it seems there is no hatred involved in any of the murals. If these same people had attacked Iran and called it every nasty word in the dictionary, the ADL would be fine with it, but we all know that the Israeli Defense League, oops sorry, Anti Defense League, led by that detestable Foxman, is more intent on defending the criminal acts of Israel against civilians, than defending other ethnic groups, here in the good ole USA.

      • Justpassingby on August 11, 2014, 5:16 pm


        You know I was ironic in my post, ADL didnt say that. Just to make sure everyone gets the irony post.

      • michelle on August 12, 2014, 6:19 am

        are you sure it wasn’t the ADL
        ‘voice’ sounds like theirs
        maybe they just thought it
        way cool exibit is there a web page with
        more of/all the pictures/art
        with the prices of the ones for sale
        and maybe a Gaza donation account in place
        for the people who can’t access the actual event
        G-d Bless

      • Kay24 on August 12, 2014, 7:57 am

        It won’t be long before ADL is sent to the dirty work and shoot down this project. It has happened too many times before.

  2. samlebon2306 on August 11, 2014, 3:51 pm


  3. BDSlist on August 11, 2014, 5:55 pm

    It was a great turnout and a great launch event. The murals make a huge impact… and they are huge. I’m sure they’ll become a landmark for Oakland.
    The launch was great… the art show showed lots of different angles on what the Palestinians have been going through… the children’s drawings expressed a heart-wrenching trauma and the historical photos presented good context. The information tables and the music and the food… created a very positive atmosphere.
    I’m going to keep my ears alert for more cultural events like this one…. and I hope to see lots of people on Saturday down at the port!

  4. stopaipac on August 11, 2014, 5:57 pm

    the Bay Area is showing its resistance to the Israeli slaughter in Gaza in large and small ways. On July 26th, at the same time a very large protest was taking place in San Francisco, some folks gathered in Alameda, CA as Cong. Barbara Lee had a fundraising dinner, to hold her accountable for her support military aid to Israel. Lee has expressed much “concern” about the “conflict” and is one of the few congresspeople to call for the blockade to be ended, but still supports “robust military aid” to Israel. and opposes any sanctions against Israel. So her answer amounts to rewarding Israel and expressing concerns. We will continue to hold Lee accountable.
    The video of Lee not talking about military aid is worth it. She really refuses to defend her position.

  5. John Douglas on August 11, 2014, 7:30 pm

    It’s an amazing work of art.

  6. gamal on August 12, 2014, 4:43 am

    Seth J Frantzman indulges in some timely recollection.

    “Does anyone recall today that it used to be illegal to fly the Palestinian flag in Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza? Just a thought experiment here: The people in charge of the West Bank and Gaza in the period after 1967 who banned the flag were men like Yitzhak Rabin and Shlomo Gazit; the latter has now re-defined himself as a “peace” supporter.”

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