W E  A L L  L I V E  I N  G A Z A


We All Live in Gaza
Year End Assessment and Production Update
December 29, 2016
Warsaw, Poland

Our production journey has been, and continues to be, a long and perilous odyssey.  It began in 2009 as Operation Cast Lead unfolded. 
As the bombardment and ground assault into Gaza rolled on I watched safely in the U.S. while recovering from cancer surgery.  At that moment a self-imposed commitment was made.  if my health allowed I would travel to Gaza.....to begin to understand the why of Gaza and to share what was learned with an International audience.  
The mission, using video, photography and the Internet was (and is) designed to document and chronicle the lives of people living in Gaza and how the siege has affected their  lives.   And critically, on a parallel path, to explore the reasons behind this unabated siege; all in an attempt to raise awareness of Gaza and Palestine from the Palestinian perspective.
This, needless to say, runs counter to the established narrative, especially when  being pulled together by a Midwestern American with a Jewish background.  
Beginning in mid 2010, a 14 month stay in Gaza became possible.   A return was again possible in 2013.  in both cases access to Gaza was through Egypt.  80 hours of video was recorded.
In April of 2016, an invitation was received from the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme to attend their yearly conference, "Mental Health and Human Rights in Gaza". Credentials and passport information were submitted to the Israeli authorities.  A week before the conference opening, with much surprise, an email was received that Gaza access had been granted.  
With barely enough available funds, the journey was made, flying directly to Tel Aviv and then onward to Erez, the crossing point from Israel into the territory.  At Erez, access to Gaza was denied by the Israeli authorities.  There is a reason for this.   
As someone with a Jewish heritage, I had previously used the option of right of return and I was able to obtain Israeli citizenship.  I felt that this was the only way I could continue to remain in Israel to continue the story.  This is a double edged sword, however, as Israeli citizens are denied the right to travel to Gaza.  I naively thought that I could circumvent this road block with my American passport....not so.  
Having been turned back from Gaza, I traveled to Israel/Palestine to regroup, spending time in both Ramallah and Jerusalem.  I knew it was time to pull all the media pieces of the puzzle together and finish the edit of the documentary.  But there were still key interviews to conduct.  These I was able to do, but funds are still much needed to do the technical work of sound mixing, video enhancement, colour matching, et all.   Fundraising is an on-going issue.
And then I made an unexpected discovery, that viscerally shook me to the core.....

Each May in Israel there is a day of remembrance for victims of the Nazi Holocaust.  On this day I made a visit to Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.  At the Museum there is a gallery dedicated to the art work created in the Nazi Terezin Ghetto outside Prague, where hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews were locked  inside during the early 1940's. And there at Yad Vashem I realized the striking similarities between the art work created in the Nazi Ghettos and that being created today inside Gaza. 
For me this art work were historical dots that called out to be connected.  

This realization, however, raises huge and controversial questions.  Can there be any comparisons made between the Nazi period Ghettos and Gaza today?  Dare there be any comparisons made?
The last two months have been spent in an effort to sort this out.....a need to visually document and experience first hand the realities of the Eastern European Ghettos and concentration camps in Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland. 
In the course of these past two months I have been able to have conversations with a number of the curators  of this Nazi era art work....to a person there has been strong negative push back...."you absolutely cannot make such a comparison..."  
And yes, they are correct....there is no comparison to the horrors of Auschwitz or the death camps.  
At the same time there is a comparison; the artistic reaction to the stripping away of human rights,  loss of personal freedoms and fear of an unknown future.  
The art work created in the Nazi Ghettos was created to document horrific conditions, to share with the world the realities of a draconian confinement, and to allow artists a moment to experience emotional escape.....the exact same thing can be said of artists working today inside Gaza.......
As I write this, with ice cold conditions outside here in Krakow, with frighteningly little cash resources, and with the creative challenge to find a way to convey this artistic connection, it is time to double down.....to challenge myself even harder to get the project completed and distributed as far and wide as possible.  
To this end, immediately after the first of the year travel will take place back to Israel/Palestine. 
All the footage needed for the documentary is in hand.  A draft edit is complete.  The final steps are to refine this edit, incorporate new material, and get the project technically ready for submission to film festivals.  
Parallel to this editing the task at hand is to promote and organize an International tour to screen the documentary beginning in March 2017; with visits to schools, community centers and God willing to Synagogue congregations.
Then to follow this tour with the assembly of all the components needed to put the travelling arts installation on the road.......bringing it to major world capitols.
I must confess to being scared......like the audience of a Peter Pan performance rooting to keep Tinker Bell alive,  please clap if you believe.  
Shukran, Thank You.....

Inside the walls of the former Warsaw Ghetto today