Eat a Peach For Palestine

In 1970, an interviewer named Ellen Mandel, working for Good Times Magazine, asked Duane Allman, “How are you helping the revolution?” Duane replied:

I’m hitting a lick for peace — and every time I’m in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace. But you can’t help the revolution, because there’s just evolution. I understand the need for a lot of changes in the country, but I believe that as soon as everybody can just see a little bit better, and get a little hipper to what’s going on, they’re going to change it. Everybody will — not just the young people. Everybody is going to say, ‘Man, this stinks. I cannot tolerate the smell of this thing anymore. Let’s eliminate it and get straight with ourselves.’ I believe if everybody does it for themselves, it’ll take care of itself.

A year later, Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. And one more year after that, some remaining recorded material he played on, studio and live tracks, would find their way onto an Allman Brothers Band album titled Eat a Peach.

Eat a Peach album cover art

Of all the songs on that album, Blue Sky is far and away my favorite. Usually it fills my heart with joy. Lately it’s been bringing me to tears.

A day ago, Jamila Hanan (@JamilaHanan on Twitter) posted a tweet saying, “This morning I woke up to sunshine and birds singing, then I remembered this nightmare,” which included a link to a prior tweet about a handicapped care facility in Gaza that was bombed by the Israeli air force. I replied to her with this:

Dickey Betts, one of the two Allman Bros. guitarists (along with Duane), wrote Blue Sky for his girlfriend of the time, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig. I strain to imagine how in love with Sandy Dickey must’ve been to write such sweet, simple words, and put them to such quietly powerful music.

Before sending that tweet to Jamila I was already of a mind to write this post because I saw this picture* in another tweet:

Palestinian Girl - Ramallah, 2012

A girl with the Palestinian flag painted on her face attends a rally supporting the Palestinian U.N. bid for observer state status, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state on Thursday but success could exact a high price: delaying an independent state of Palestine because of Israel’s vehement opposition. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Soon after seeing this image, finding it so arresting, my thoughts went to Blue Sky. I imagined a Palestine in which this girl, and every girl like her, grow into women who inspire those boys who will soon be men; that those young men will walk along the river, greet the birds singing under the morning sun, hear the church bells and the call of the muezzin, and pledge a love as heartfelt as that which made the song.

The peach harvest in Oregon will start soon, if it hasn’t started without me. Very soon I will eat a peach for peace. I hope you’ll join me.

* After encountering the image I tried to discover it’s provenance. This copy of the image and the caption text come from an article at the Washington Times, posted November 29, 2012.

Addendum, 15 July 2014: A photo gallery in PDF – Guardians of the Mosque: African Palestinians of Jerusalem

Addendum, 25 July 2014: This beautiful sentiment from Ayman Mohyeldin is more than a little bit relevant to the content of this post:

Addendum, 31 July 2014: A flickr album of Gaza photos by David Segarra.

Addendum, 17 September 2014: A recipe for peach galettes.

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