Saturday, December 10, 2011


Luck brought me to Casablanca but with only enough time to take a fewphotos in the early morning or evening. The old downtown area, near the port is graced with lovely old buildings, standing cheek to jowl with some badly neglected neighbours.
The sun setting on the paved area surrounding the King Hassan II mosque.

Spray coming off the Atlantic covers the Corniche (promenade).

The mosque itself is the 7th biggest in the world and has the tallest minaret. It was built on the water because, according to the Koran, "the throne of Allah was built on water."

Children playing in one of the magnificent but waterless fountains.

Setting up shop in the old vegetable market. The logs the man is facing seemed to have petrified into stone.

Breakfast before school.

Too many buildings look like this.

Not everyone's idea of cool...

Early morning shoe shine.

In the market.

Pancakes are cheap and popular.

The spaces onte walls are reserved for political campaign posters, according to party, a practice bequeathed by the French.

Here they are again. This time in the Medina (old city)
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deja Vu on Liberty Square

A visit to Zuccotti Park, the epicentre of the Occupy Wall Street movement, triggered a sharp sense of deja vu. We'd flown in from Israel where the last vestiges of the protest tent encampments were being removed, only to find that they had been reincarnated a spit away from Wall Street. And what was fuelling the protestors here among the sleeping bags and placards  was the same middle class anger with big business, with bad government, with the disproportionate distribution of wealth, in short: with the system.

There was also the same infuriating/intriguing refusal to be tied down to fixed set of demands.

References to the fundamentals of American democracy were a major motif. One man stood reading the Constitution out loud.

I copied the following passage from the New York Times Review (but forgot to jot down the name of the author): Sounds familiar? It would be hard to beat this as a description of the Daphni Leef school  of the Israeli social protest movement, down to Daphni's Facebook invitation to join her and pitch a tent on Habima Square.

"This new protest style is more Rousseau than Marx. What the Zuccotti Park encampment calls horizontal democracy is spunky, polymorphic, energetic, theatrical, scattered and droll.An early poster showed a ballerina poised gingerly on the back of Wall Street's bull sculpture, bearing the words:" Occupy Wall Street" September 17. Bring Tent.". It likes government more than corporations but its own style is hardly governmental. It tends to care about process more than results."

But while the simlarities were clear, some of the the differences also emerged. For one, unlike Rothschild Boulevard, Zuccoti Park (aka 'Liberty Park') is named after one of the excutives of the private company that actually owns the park (!?) but is bound to keep it open to the public. The company was threatening to use force to evict the squatters. Moreover, and again unlike the remarkably peaceful protests in Israel, there was a very heavy security presence surrounding the protestors on Liberty Park with hundreds already arrested amidst allegations of police brutality.

Here's an excerpt from from Occupy Wall Steet's website containing flash reports on some of the events occurring on October 15 :

•12:09 a.m. Police have sealed the North and South side of Washington Square Park.
•11:54 p.m. Police in riot gear are advancing on peaceful occupiers in Washington Square Park.
•11:34 p.m. Police are massing at Washington Square Park. Police are moving on #occupychicago
•9:48 p.m. 3,000 at Washington Square now, about to have a General Assembly, 70 arrests total for today.
•9:02 p.m. 42 arrests on 47th.
•8:50 p.m. 700 reported in Washington Square Park. Music and food there.
•8:30 p.m. Scanner says riot cops in full gear, nets out, headed to the crowd, 47th and 6th.
•8:11 p.m. White shirt just ordered #NYPD line AWAY from barricades. Crowd ROARS
•8:08 p.m. Tension escalating, police ordering protesters to step away from barricades.
•8:02 p.m. Mario: 4 paddy wagons and arrests at 46 and 6th ave.
•8:00 p.m. Police are arresting occupiers at 46th and 6th.
•7:30 p.m. Unconfirmed estimates ranging as high as 50,000 people in Times Square.
•6:45 p.m. Police have trapped people in times square with barricades.

And while the media was focussing on the mushrooming protests, it was not embracing the protestors as wholeheartedly as the Israeli media had. Someone on Fox was quoted as characterizing the Zuccoti Park protesors as "filthy, dirty hippies".

None of which prevented the encampment from attracting a host of one person protestors glad of a rare stage from which to publicly proclaim their own agendas.

From the spirit of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land..."

to people who just came to help out...

You can see more photos from New York here

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Making Art Loving Art in Yaffo

This weekend the annual Tel Aviv art festival took to the streets. We took a walk along Yehuda Hayamit in Yaffo, a normally nondescript commercial street in a mixed Jewish-Arab area  that turned up some suprises. Outside the Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) building two dancers performed in front of a small crowd .

This trio of Arab girls had a strategic view next to spotlights and seemed entranced.
From the outside, the studio/salon at number 20 looked pretty dilapidated but the interior revealed this cosy area.

Further up the road, an explosion of primitivist colour.

Not often that you see a cellist playing at the entrance of a carpentry shop, so  we were drawn in.

To find that the cellist had friends making electronic sounds at the back.
On the way we met Ahmad who was taking advantage ofthe crowds to display his bicycle technique. He agreed to have his picture taken on condition that it would appear on the internet. So this is for you Ahmad.

Watching video art projected onto a sheet in a trendy textiles shop.

This man, performing outside a health food store, was reciting passages from the Bible backwards. He then ran the recording through a computer programme that played it backwards, resulting in the syllables appearing in the right order (I guess you had to be there but it was impressive)

Recordings of the chant of this summer's mass demonstrations - "The people want social justice!" emanated from this artistic protest tent placed on top of a skip.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 3 - the final demo?

We were out on the streets last night, together with another 400-450,000 people, in what was optimistically dubbed The 'March of the Million'. The million didn't materialize but it was still the biggest protest ever held in Israel. All these photos were taken on the upmarket Kikar Hamedina (State Square), an ironic venue for a social protest

Encompassed by boutiques selling Tshirts for hundreds of shekels, hundreds of thousands of Israel's long suffering middle class came to chant, perhaps for the last time this summer "ha am doresh tzedek chevrati!" (the people demand social justice!).

An English speaking protestor turned the familiar graphic slogan "I (heart) Tel Aviv " into, "I can't afford to (heart) Tel Aviv "

The (religious) Reform movement touts a banner quoting a Biblical commandment to pursue righteousness

Like all the previous demonstrations, this one too, though noisy, was completely peaceful. On the outskirts it looked more like family outing than an angry protest.

Two dads? A dad and an uncle?

"If I were a Rothschild" ( Hebrew version of If "I Were A Rich Man" )

Yadayim lema'ala (hands in the air)

1 F-35 (new war plane) = 57 new schools

Israel is "dear" to us

Wake Up !

These two little fellows were captivated by the fiery speeches emanating from the invisible stage. The impressive students leader Itzik Shmuli talked of a generation of "new Israelis" that demanded a new social agenda.  (Ms) Dafni Leef, the iconic, trilby-hatted film student, and the instigator and emotional  "heart" of this summer's social protest movement, said that they had succeeded in changing the language. Instead of tzdaka (charity) people were now saying tzedek (justice).
The people on the swish balconies around the square (which is acually a circle) had a grandstand view. The rich have all the luck!

Young beneficiaries (hopefully) of the change in national priorities but meanwhile, just crushed against the cash dispensers.
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Three Philippines Scenes

A trip downtown We are staying with our gracious Filipino hosts in Santa Rita, a suburb of Olongapo, a city of about 240,000 si...