Donna Schatz

Barry and Lydia

Richmond, Virginia (Facebook uncredited)

They’re a dime a dozen and unfortunately I know a few. Yet to set foot in the Middle East, the existence of Israel pisses them off, anything it does a reason to rage. Two good examples are Barry and Lydia.

In Richmond Virginia, number 56 in size in the TV market, Barry a musician is proud. He’s just marched alongside hundreds of Palestine supporters, from the downtown university to the state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson. It’s a desolate route on a Sunday, Richmond dead. On Facebook Barry tells us American Muslims for Palestine called for the protest. Much older, Barry is honored to vent alongside the college kids, a jumbo Free Palestine banner leading the troops.

Handmade signs tout the usual theme: end the genocide as well as the occupation (one is inclusive, demanding both on the same cardboard). There’s Hold the IDF Accountable, Antizionism is not Antisemitism, We are All Palestinians, Zionism Can’t Hide from the Truth and There’s No Two Sides to Genocide, a scary one.

They’re in a zone, chanting Palestine will be free. Many look bored. Some wear keffiyeh scarves. I can’t spot a hijab. Maybe it’s a secular crowd. Barry the excited oldster marching in step assures us the crowd is “racially diverse”.

I’ve casually known Barry for years. He’s a friend of friends, always pleasant, a local accordion player now in green rimmed glasses and a white beard tapering to a point chest level. His specialty is a jazz inspired mix of Arab, Jewish and Latin sounds as he puts it. One night in an Irish type bar I saw him perform just Jewish music, a genre he’s proud to play.

I couldn’t resist his Facebook page. Although I’d hoped he’d mellowed after Oct 7, and with age, the BDS supporter and intermittent basher of Israel only found more fuel for his fire.

Seven days after the massacres he’s rallying for Palestine. The following post by a friend praises brother and comrade Roger Waters, hanging out in Chile. Further down, Norman Finkelstein and John Mearsheimer pose arm in arm, smiling and relaxed. It’s their first night off since Oct. 7. This post gets a lot of likes including May Allah bless you.

Barry is an active Facebooker and at the end of November we get to see a close-up of that traditional Southern staple and soul food, collard greens, cooked in a pot and captioned This is what Thanksgiving is all about. Other postings show his love for peasants and Cubans.

Having gotten the picture, I move on to Lydia who on another coast is doubling down. In Vancouver, Washington, across the Columbia River from Portland, she sports two identities — Native American, the stronger one, and Black. Lydia (Soaring Owl in parenthesis) wears long gray braids, decorated, lots of beads and an occasional blanket. Her ancestors are the Wampanoag, the tribe that greeted and fed the Pilgrims.

I knew Lydia only one day, an important one. She’d been one of the first women in Portland if not the first to drive a city bus, now a common sight. I was an aspiring filmmaker and she was a great find for our woman’s film collective as we sought women in non-traditional jobs for a children’s film à la The Little Rascals. I filmed Lydia and her bus all day and two years ago tracked her down after digitizing the super 8 footage. We chatted a lot, elated to find each other.

I should have left her on the bus. Her busy Facebook feed filled with indigenous people, events and wisdom, has Israel, once a blip, now running a close second. She’s gotten a Holocaust survivor to compare Israel to Nazis and a Haredi saying Zionism is the opposite of Judaism. A 15-year-old Gazan rapper sings about Palestine and a pretty Jewish girl tells us the truth about Zionism. Sphinx and pyramid prominent, Senator Chuck Schumer, now Pharaoh, is being urged to let the people of Gaza go.

But not to get too down in the dumps reading this, we’re given a message with flowers floating, on how important friends are, and are let into celebrations of Native American culture.  A shirtless indigenous man, very attractive, exhorts the “great spirit who made all races to look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us from our brothers”.

Then Lydia digs in. A new video from Only Facts Palestine explains with cold certitude Oct. 7 is a lie. Israel, so confused by the heroic resistance invasion, wildly bombed its own people, and humiliated by its deterrence failure and routed army, concocts the massacre story. Lydia has lost it.

Barry, Lydia, etc. rant, remotely, but the Arabic adage gets it right: the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

About the Author
Donna Schatz is an Israeli-American photographer, documentary producer and former TV camerawoman who worked in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon as well as Bosnia and the US.
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