Week 61 – “Are You Brothers?”

When I landed at Newark airport, plenty of uncertainty still hung in the air. I hadn’t yet met Norman Finkelstein, whose book tour I was supposed to be speaking on, and none of the universities hosting the events had actually booked me. As I was a last minute addition, no transport had been organised either. Nevertheless, I knew it was meant to happen. From New York to San Francisco, myself, Finkelstein and Lowkey were ready to tell the United States of America the truth about their closest ally.

I went to the bus station in the city to buy a monthly pass, with an exhausting and only just about possible schedule ahead of me. I would have gruelling, twenty and thirty hour bus rides, followed by a talk, a few hours sleep, and then onto the next location.

The University of Madison, in Wisconsin, was our first destination. A twenty-six hour bus ride, with three transfers along the way, but I was still undaunted. A girl called Maria took me out for lunch at the side of a huge lake, and we went to see Norman give a class to one of his friend’s classes. About half way through, he asked me a question about a phrase he had just said.

“I’m going to have to admit… I wasn’t listening!” I laughed.

“Well,” he replied, in the infamous Finkelstein “I-don’t-respect-those-crocodile-tears” drawl, “when you’re giving your speech later, remind me not to listen either!”

Unfortunately for Norman, I didn’t give him that option. When it came to my turn, I kept the packed room of over 200 people enthralled, trying my best to convey through words my passion for the Palestinian struggle, the strength of the Hannoun family, the strength of my brothers and sisters in Bil’in, and the strength of the besieged people of Gaza.

The organisers were suitably impressed, and immediately bought me a flight to the next event. The 26-hour bus to Wisconsin proved to be the last I would need to take.

The next evening, Purdue was the location. This time it was over 400 people, and the three of us had our presentations perfected. I felt slightly self-conscious when I got a standing ovation.

After a brief stop in Michigan, we reconvened with Lowkey in Chicago. I’ve never spoken in a church, and I’ve never spoken to a crowd of over 800 people, so Chi-town was a first for both. Plus, another standing ovation. We brought the roof of that church down.

It had been an intensive few days, and felt like a lifetime had passed. Nevertheless, only a week after I’d arrived, me and Lowkey were back in New York, walking through the streets of Brooklyn. Him pushing me in the wheelchair, we stepped into a deli on the corner of the block.

“Hey,” a guy standing outside called, “are you two brothers?”

“Yeah,” Lowkey replied, “of course we are.”

As we walked away, he expressed his disbelief. “People actually think, that people in wheelchairs are just stupid! As if I couldn’t just be your friend!” Even Subway station workers were trying to make problems. Different city, same bullshit.

The “brother” question happened three more times. One half-Iraqi, one half-Scottish… we must look so alike.


16 responses to “Week 61 – “Are You Brothers?”

  1. I am SO glad to hear things are going so well and you are getting a bigger and bigger audience every time. I’m also glad to hear that you don’t have to take any more bus rides!!!

    That’s interesting that the person in New York made the brother comment because if you remember when you were getting off the bus in Madison, someone asked the same thing of you and me– if I was your sister… I never thought about what he really meant by that.

  2. Its was great to read about the rest of the tour. Your lecture sure had an impact here in UW-Madison. I wish you the best of luck.

  3. hey! nice article! do you have a copy of the presentation available to read?

    we’ll start the revolution in Italy one day…

  4. Debbie Mageed

    We attended the lecture at your “brief stop in Michigan” and enjoyed it very much, even though the lecture hall was extremely difficult to find, which made us miss the beginning.

    Jody, there are so many ignorant people in the world! As an American Muslim, I have learned to have patience (as I know you have, as well) and take each opportunity as a teaching opportunity. On almost every occasion, the person I am dealing with is very appreciative of being corrected.

    I wish you much success and hope that you will be back often, spreading your important message.

  5. love traveling through you in my country !

    ( wake ’em up, will ya ! )

  6. Jody , So good to hear about your Tour , I still talk about your Talk to the people who missed out on it in Edinburgh .
    Haste ye back .

  7. Jody, I enjoyed seeing you speak at Alwan for the Arts in New York. Hey, next time someone asks if you and Lowkey are brothers, maybe you could say, “We are all brothers and sisters.”

  8. Salaam!
    I attended the lecture in Chicago, and i loved hearing all your stories! I could have sat there all night to listen to your interesting adventures. 🙂

    I have to admit though, you somewhat put me to shame for being a Palestinian myself and not devoting as much of myself to the cause as you do. It really is astounding all that you do and have been through. Keep up the greatness!

    Looking forward to seeing you in Chicago again!

  9. David Nelson

    I saw the speech at the UW. Thanks for coming to speak about the humanitarian problems in Palestine. I look forward to a more peaceful day, one followed by a continual series of peaceful days.

  10. thanks for your inspirational talks.

  11. “I kept the packed room of over 200 people enthralled, trying my best to convey through words my passion for the Palestinian struggle, the strength of the Hannoun family, the strength of my brothers and sisters in Bil’in, and the strength of the besieged people of Gaza.”
    And your strength gives the people of Gaza more strength. You are an inspiration 🙂

  12. سلام بالسلام و تسلم يا اخي

  13. Lori Salam LeChien

    Hello Salam Bonjour Que paso!!!

    Jodi it was such a pleasure meeting you on monday at the U of A–
    the energy has been really hott out here since they passed the racist bill and you guys came right in behind and kept that fire blazin’!
    i came up to you and shook your hand
    and told you i would send you healing vibrations
    i hope that you are feeling good

    again a thousands times thank you for sharing your wisdom and your experience and your truth with us

    like lennon said..just gimme some truth now

    i hope that we can remain in contact
    i teach youth freedom songs
    i would love to teach them or create some fulasteeny freedom songs

    we could use music like lowkey to spread the message
    with positive feelings of unity
    instead they want division so we can be controlled

    jody i cannot thank u enuf for all your wisdom you brought

    one love brotha keep on being a servant

    we are all servants to the community
    servants to the cause

  14. shamfrompalestine

    Deep appreciation and respect from a Palestinian.

  15. Much love and respect brother, still gutted i missed you on your tour through the UK, inshallah one day!

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