Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 2006, page 64

Waging Peace

Activist Performance Artist Joe Carr Tours Midwest

Lora Gordon and Joe Carr perform in Des Moines (Photo M. Gillespie).

ANTI-OPPRESSION activist and performance artist Joe Carr brought his “Resistance to Empire” speaking and organizing tour to Des Moines, IA where he treated a crowd at Chet Guinn’s Old Fire Station Number 4 to a “Valentine Evening” on Feb. 14.

“I’m going around the Midwest doing speeches, music, and performances as well as offering workshops for activists in nonviolent direct action, puppet making, street theater, and networking coordination,” he explained.

Carr’s high-energy performances feature his own unique blend of hip-hop, rhythm and blues, poetry, stories, images, and information designed to educate audiences about conflict and crisis in the Middle East and inspire nonviolent resistance to oppression. The activist performer was in Iraq during May and June of 2005, before returning to Palestine.

In response to a question about an injury he suffered during a demonstration in Palestine, Carr said an Israeli soldier grabbed him and used him as a human shield. Hit by a rock—“kind of an unlucky shot”—that damaged his spleen, Carr spent a week in a Palestinian hospital, where the injury was surgically repaired.

The hospital stay provided time for reflection, Carr said, “as well as that kind of personal sacrifice and emotional connection to the struggle.”

Managing the tour to promote Carr’s “Resistance to Empire” CD and accompanying him in performing some songs was Lora Gordon, a 23-year-old Jewish activist and writer from Pittsburgh, PA. Gordon, a Palestinian rights activist and volunteer with Women’s Self-Reliance Program (WSRP), spent a year in Gaza in 2004-2005 as a coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement.

Asked about changes in attitudes here in the U.S., Gordon replied, “In the past year that I have been talking to the Jewish community there is more openness to the idea of talking about Palestinians and talking about the brutality of the occupation.”

Since 9/11 and the beginning of the war in Iraq, Carr added, more Americans seem to have a framework for understanding terrorism, occupation and imperialism, but in his opinion there is still a lot of resistance in the anti-war community to talking about Palestine. “There is definitely a generational divide in that regard,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, young people are much more inclined to understand U.S. imperialism....There’s been an embracing of the Palestinian struggle...you see keffiyehs on college campuses.”

For tour information visit: <http://www.lovinrevolution.org/speaking.htm>

—Michael Gillespie