The Birds That Are Your Hands, Broom Street Theater

the birds that are your hands:
how to start a fire under siege

By Sol Kelley-Jones
Directed by Sol Kelley-Jones

Against the backdrop of occupied borderlands torn asunder, the multi-media performance, the birds that are your hands: how to start a fire under siege, explores disparate yet overlapping tales of tyranny and resistance from Israel/Palestine to the U.S/Mexico border. From stony hills laden with olive trees to the blurry haze of a line in the sand among saguaros; from the bullet-riddled corridors of an ancient holy city to a chain gang of a modern metropolis, a tangled collage of stories unfurl and draw attention to the hands of those enclosed by borders, those making the crossing, and those who capitalize on the construction of walls: wielders of stones, bakers of bread, upholders of state. Shepherds emerge alongside Goliaths’ patrol, lovers find themselves to be terrorists, and Ingrid thinks we should all just lay down our arms and play violins.

Broom Street Theater proudly presents Sol Thea Kelley-Jones’ new work the birds that are your hands: how to start a fire under siege — a multi-media work from the theater’s newest playwright. Kelley-Jones, an activist and artist, has been re-imagining justice-making through the performing arts since her youngest years. In 1999, out of a desire to create theater and give platform to marginalized voices, she co-founded Proud Theater with Callen Harty, now Broom Street Artistic Director. Through the years, her art has reflected her belief in the interconnection between struggles for justice. She has continued to employ the theatrical arts in ever-widening circles. After teaching theater in refugee camps in the Palestinian Territories and working on behalf of immigrant rights at Coalicion Derechos de Humanos on the U.S. Mexico border, she embarked on her most recent theatrical work, which explores the peoples and militarized landscapes of these two border places.

the birds that are your hands: how to start a fire under siege boasts the talents of both veteran Broom Street actors and newcomers. Make sure to mark your calendars to see the provocative world premiere.

Produced by Broom Street Theater at Broom Street Theater
1119 Williamson Street, Madison
Performances: March 13 – April 19, 2009
Performance Times: Friday and Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
There will be talkbacks after the March 22, 29, April 5, and 12 performances
Ticket Prices: $9 on Friday and Saturday, $6 on Sunday

Call 608-244-8338 for reservations or more information.

April 5-7, 2009
Israel-Palestine from Bush to Obama: Health, Human Rights and Foreign Policy

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Middle East Studies Program April Lecture Series
Prof. Noam Chomsky; Dr. Rita Giacaman; Dr. Graham Watt

Sunday, 5 April 2009
Rita Giacaman; Bir Zeit University, Ramallah, West Bank

“Health Conditions & Medical Services under Siege, 2006-2009”
First Unitarian Society of Madison; 900 University Bay Drive; 1:30-3:30pm

Monday, 6 April 2009
Graham Watt; University of Glasgow, Scotland

“Human Rights, Dignity & Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP)”
Room 206, Ingraham Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1155 Observatory Drive; 3:30-5:30pm

Monday, 6 April 2009
Panel Discussion Sponsored by Edgewood College
Graham Watt, Rita Giacaman & Noam Chomsky

“‘Balance’ and Intimidation: Silencing Debate on Palestine – the Lancet, March 2009 & other case studies”
Anderson Auditorium, Edgewood College; 1000 Edgewood College Drive
Madison, WI 53711; 7:30pm

Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Assessing the role of US Foreign Policy, Israeli Security, & Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”
Orpheum Theater, 216 State Stree,; 7:30pm Tickets Required*

    *Tickets for Chomsky lecture: $10.00 per person; limit 4 per person. Tickets are available at:
    1. Orpheum Theater, 216 State Street; (608) 255-8755;
    2. Lakeside Printing Coop; 1334 Williamson St. (608) 255-1800;
    3. Rainbow Bookstore, 426 W. Gilman Street;
    4. Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice; 122 State Street, #402; (608) 250-9240;

Co-Sponsors & Supporters

American Jews for a Just Peace
Association of Hispanic, Asian & Native American pre-med students
Campus Anti-War Network
Colombia Support Network
Dane County United Nations Association
Edgewood College Student Peace Group
Edgewood College
Geoff and Reihana Robinson
Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of Contemporary History
Haymarket Books
International Socialist Organization
Israeli Committee against House Demolitions-USA
Joe Deane
Madison Area Peace Coalition
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Multicultural Students Organization
Persian Students Organization
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Playgrounds for Palestine
Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative
Students for Justice for Palestine
The Madison Institute
The Progressive Magazine
UW Center for East Asian Studies
UW Center for Global Health
UW Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association
UW Department of Comparative Literature
UW Distinguished Lecture Series
UW Havens Center
UW Middle East Studies Program
UW Population Health Studies
Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice
WORT 89.9FM Community Radio

February 8, 2009
Kathy Kelly Talk on Gaza

Sunday, February 8
Dardanelles Restaurant
1851 Monroe Street, Madison (Directions)

6:30 pm: Snack bar reception, $5 per person. Please RSVP by Friday, Feb. 6 to Joy First at jsfirst (at) or phone 222-7581.

7:15 pm: Talk, free and open to the public, no RSVP needed. Co-sponsored by MRSCP, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Madison Pledge of Resistance, Madison Chapter of American Jews for a Just Peace, and United Nations Association-USA Dane County.

Kathy’s presentation will cover her recent visit to Rafah and Gaza.

She is active with the Catholic Worker movement and since becoming a pacifist has refused payment of all federal income tax for 25 years. She helped coordinate the Voices in the Wilderness campaign on Iraq. She is currently co-coordinator of Voices For Creative Nonviolence. You can read more about the breadth of Kathy’s activism in Wikipedia and Yes! magazine.

Kathy appeared on Democracy Now! on January 27 to discuss the destruction in Gaza.

January 26, 2009
Live from Bethlehem Lecture and Film

Monday, January 26, 7:30 pm
Wisconsin Union Theater
Reception to follow

Amira Hanania is a lead journalist for the Ma’an News Agency, the only independent news network in the Palestinian territories. She is the subject of the recent documentary film Live from Bethlehem, which will be screened before her lecture. Ms. Hanania advocates for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, challenges Western stereotypes of Palestinian political opinion, and confronts propagandistic journalism in all its forms. Come see Live from Bethlehem and then hear a true heroine of independent journalism.

This is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at UW-Madison. Click here for ticketing policy.

For a recent article about Bethlehem, see “Israel to annex lands from Bethlehem villages in order to expand Gush Etzion settlement bloc”

    Khalid Al Azza stated that this land grab order is part of the “greater Jerusalem” Israeli plan which aims at illegally annexing more Palestinian lands, expand settlements on them and expand the Jerusalem boundaries in order to void any furture peace talks on Jerusalem. So far, the Greater Jerusalem Plan has annexed 72.000 Dunams, most of them agricultural lands, while Israel is still attempting to annex more lands while the international community remains idle.

January 24, 2009
Emergency Fundraiser for Gaza

Saturday, January 24, 4-7 pm
Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center
953 Jenifer Street, Madison

MRSCP will mark its sixth anniversary with a fundraising event for Gaza emergency relief.

The program includes a “Gaza Banquet” with pita bread, water, herbs and oil and lentil soup — what would be a feast in Gaza today. There will also free trade coffee, donated by Equal Exchange, and we’ll be selling home-made baklava to raise additional funds.

There will be an update on the situation in Gaza, a slideshow of pictures from Gaza, and a discussion of our plans for the coming year. These include continuing crafts and oil sales, support for an injured Gaza boy who will be coming to Madison for treatment very soon, our pen-pals program, and expanding our public policy advocacy and media work. Kids will be able to make cards and drawings to send to our pen-pals at the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children.

After the formal end of the program, interested people will be able to sign up for these projects and to meet briefly with others about them.

This event is free and open to the public. Donations will be requested and we ask you to come prepared to give whatever you can. Funds raised will be sent to the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) for emergency medical relief to Gaza. For more information visit, call 238-1227, or e-mail rafahsistercity (at)

Hope to see you there. If you can’t make it but would like to donate, you can send a check to MRSCP, P.O. Box 55371, Madison WI 53705 marked “Gaza Relief”.


Cap Times, Jan 14, 2009

Dear Editor: As Congress began its 111th session on Jan. 6, activists in Madison participated in the March of the Dead in solidarity with similar marches in Washington, New Orleans, and other places around the country.

As we watch the carnage unfolding in Gaza, as we continue to hear about innocent people dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are painfully reminded of the necessity of citizen action, of the need to speak out against our government’s policies.

Participants, wearing black clothing and white masks, solemnly and mournfully marched around the Capitol with the names of victims of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza. We stopped at the offices of Sen. Herb Kohl and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, then drove to Sen. Russ Feingold’s office in Middleton.

At each stop, we delivered a letter asking our representatives to follow the will of the people. This letter was signed by citizens from all over the state.

As the suffering of war continues throughout the world, we must not be silent. As Congress begins a new session we must demand an end to the terror of war. We must condemn the brutal destruction of Palestine. We must demand that we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that we stay out of Iran, Pakistan, Syria and Colombia.

This action was organized by Madison Pledge of Resistance and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Madison Pledge of Resistance is a member group of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, following the principles and practices of Gandhi and Martin Luther King in the struggle for peace and justice.

As we hope for change with a new administration, we must continue our cry for peace and justice in the world.

Joy First, Monona

Where is outrage over attack on Gaza?

Dear Editor: This is not an intellectualized, statistics-filled, name-dropping, honed-for-affect attempt to get my name in lights. This letter has been written with the sole intent of conveying my outrage at your total failure to cover and offer poignant commentary and reportage on Israel’s war on Gaza.

For this reader, every lousy article calling for ethical change in government, all of the posturing and pretense of your purported progressivism is now revealed as a sham. For some reason this paper was opposed to the Iraq war. Why? You seem to have no problem whatsoever with our 51st state’s campaign to rid itself of its little problem, no matter – oh, what’s the use.

John Costello, Madison

Local Protesters Criticize U.S. Lawmakers For Silence On Military Aggression

Steve Elbow, The Capital Times, January 6, 2009

Violence in Gaza prompted local activists Tuesday to don white masks and march on the Madison offices of U.S. legislators to deliver letters demanding an end to U.S. support of Israel.

“We’re very concerned about U.S. policies all over the world,” organizer Joy First told a staffer at the office of U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin — where another local activist, Allen Ruff, condemned Baldwin’s failure to speak out against U.S. military aggression as “contemptible and out of character.”

Ruff left behind a pair of shoes, a symbol of contempt in the Arab world and reminiscent of the incident last month when an Iraqi journalist hurled shoes at the head of President George Bush during a Baghdad news conference.

Local activist Sol Kelley-Jones, who along with about two dozen protesters crowded into a small conference room, told Baldwin’s district director Curt Finkelmeyer that Baldwin needs to speak out against Israeli aggression.

“We aren’t just requesting this of her, we are demanding this of her as her constituents in the progressive city of Madison,” Kelley-Jones said.

Finkelmeyer said the protesters were welcome in Baldwin’s office. “We’re happy to have constituents come in and give their point of view,” he said.

Israel continued its 11th day of its military assault in Gaza on Tuesday. The Israeli government has said it is responding to missile attacks from Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, but critics say Israel’s use of force has been excessive. Palestinian medical officials, according to The New York Times, said more than 560 people have been killed, many of whom are civilians.

The “March of the Dead,” which drew about 150 protesters in Madison, was conducted in concert with similar protests in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and other U.S. cities.

About 20 of the participants wore eerie white masks, and many bore the names of those killed in military actions in Gaza, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The letter the group took to lawmakers said: “We are here in your office in Madison to remind you that many innocent people are suffering and dying as a result of the policies of the U.S. government. With the war and the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, with the military aid to Israel, with threats of aggression to other counties around the world, we cannot remain silent. It is our right and our responsibility to speak out, to come to your offices today and remind you of the work your constituents want you to do.”

First — fresh from a municipal trial where she and two other activists were contesting obstruction charges for drawing chalk outlines of war dead on the sidewalk in front of the downtown post office — organized the protest in the name of the Madison Pledge of Resistance and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. But several groups, including the International Socialist Organization, Veterans for Peace, the Madison-area Peace Coalition and the Madison Network for Peace and Justice were represented in the march, as were several members of local Muslim and Israeli communities.

The protesters began their trek in a stiff winter wind at the City-County Building, then grimly marched to the beat of a single drum to the Capitol Square office of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, where several of them cornered staffer Joylynn Gilles.

Gilles handed out comment forms and invited the protesters to send them back with their complaints.

The protesters then rounded the Square and headed to the downtown office of Baldwin, where scores of them were herded into her district conference room to air their complaints to Finkelmeyer.

The group then left to deliver their letter to the Middleton office of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

Copyright © Capital Newspapers

Kathy Kelly on Gaza

Voices for Creative Nonviolence, January 6, 2009

Rafah — Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza’s coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models.

Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel’s ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground. Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.

“Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake,” said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in Gaza. “We feel very frustrated,” he continued. “The West, Europe and the U.S., watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die. There was no safe place in Gaza.”

He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. “Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms,” said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in Chicago. “And really we don’t know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza.”

In 15 years of practice, Dr. Abuhassan says he never saw burns like those he saw here. The burns, blackish in color, reached deep into the muscles and bones. Even after treatment was begun, the blackish color returned.

Two of the patients were sent to Egypt because they were in such critical condition. They died in Egypt. But when autopsies were done, reports showed that the cause of death was poisoning from elements of white phosphorous that had entered their systems, causing cardiac arrests.

In Gaza City, The Burn Unit’s harried director, a plastic surgeon and an expert in treating burns, told us that after encountering cases they’d never seen before, doctors at the center performed a biopsy on a patient they believed may have suffered chemical burns and sent the sample to a lab in Egypt. The results showed elements of white phosphorous in the tissue.

The doctor was interrupted by a phone call from a farmer who wanted to know whether it was safe to eat the oranges he was collecting from groves that had been uprooted and bombed during the Israeli invasion. The caller said the oranges had an offensive odor and that when the workers picked them up their hands became itchy.

Audrey Stewart had just spent the morning with Gazan farmers in Tufaa, a village near the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli soldiers had first evacuated people, then dynamited the houses, then used bulldozers to clear the land, uprooting the orange tree groves. Many people, including children, were picking through the rubble, salvaging belongings and trying to collect oranges. At one point, people began shouting at Audrey, warning her that she was standing next to an unexploded rocket.

The doctor put his head in his hands, after listening to Audrey’s report. “I told them to wash everything very carefully. But these are new situations. Really, I don’t know how to respond,” he said.

Yet he spoke passionately about what he knew regarding families that had been burned or crushed to death when their homes were bombed. “Were their babies a danger to anyone?” he asked us.

“They are lying to us about democracy and Western values,” he continued, his voice shaking. “If we were sheep and goats, they would be more willing to help us.”

Dr. Saeed Abuhassan was bidding farewell to the doctors he’d worked with in Gaza. He was returning to his work in the United Arab Emirates. But before leaving, he paused to give us a word of advice.

“You know, the most important thing you can tell people in your country is that U.S. people paid for many of the weapons used to kill people in Gaza,” said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan. “And this, also, is why it’s worse than an earthquake.”

Kathy Kelly ( is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( She and Audrey Stewart have been in Gaza for the past six days.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence
1249 W Argyle Street #2, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 878-3815

January 24, 2009
Emergency Fund-Raising Event


Here is video of the March of the Dead protest in Madison on January 6, 2009:

March of the Dead protest in Madison

The catastrophic collective punishment of 1.5 million people continues unabated in Gaza, as Israel threatens to further escalate its assault in spite of world condemnation. In an incident reminiscent of the two Qana Massacres in Lebanon, Israel has hit three UN schools where the people it warned to “get out or else” were sheltering and killed over 40 people, mostly children. Some had earlier speculated that just such an incident would inflame world opinion (which it certainly has) and thus help bring a halt to Israel’s attacks, but such has not been the case.

Today we heard that 80 (multi-family) houses in Rafah were destroyed on Wednesday; no word yet on casualties.

AIPAC, meanwhile, has launched a massive campaign to pressure the new congress to continue to live up to its motto:
  RULE #1 Israel is always right.
  RULE #2 When Israel is wrong, see Rule No. 1.

Two things to pass on: A very excellent bulletin from Jewish Voice for Peace that asks you to call your Representatives and Senators NOW (keep calling!) with links and information to do just that; and an appeal from the Middle East Children’s Alliance for emergency relief funds.

Be sure to follow the link to this Huffington Post article to see evidence that “Yes We Can” stop this bloodshed; a few in Congress are beginning, however timidly, to speak out against it. TAMMY BALDWIN IS NOT YET ONE OF THEM. (Neither is Russ Feingold, who recently demanded a ceasefire….in the Congo.) In fact, according to Steve Burns of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, not a single member of Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation has issued a statement.

Here is an interview with the Norwegian doctor at Shifa Hospital who has been getting a limited amount of western press … Fox News is smearing him as a “Hamas Supporter”.

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert report from Gaza

And here are two links to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) website. This one gives links and suggestions for how to talk to Congressional offices, and this one has info on getting your views to the media. This site also has a link to watch Al Jazeera English news live.

Thanks for your support as always, but especially in these terrible times for the people of Rafah and Palestine.

Local Radio on Gaza and Palestine

Forward Forum, WTDY 1070 AM, 7-9 pm
A taped interview with a young Madison activist about her recent experiences in the West Bank and the “other wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Third World View, WORT 89.9 FM, 5-6 pm
The oldest news show at WORT, Third World View covers issues relating to the “Third World” from a critical perspective. Third World View newscasts include a half-hour round-up of the week’s international news, followed by a 20-30 minute feature. Third World View airs every Sunday.

Salamat, WORT 89.9 FM, 6-6:30 pm
WORT’s Arab-American show, Salamat seeks to create bridges of communication and understanding of Arabs in general and Arab-Americans in particular. Salamat airs every Sunday.