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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

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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… Read more »

Fantastic.

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

It’s an amazing work of art.