On the streets:
Nora Barrows-Friedman, a KPFA radio producer, follows Rawan, 14,
(with microphone) and Haneen, 16, in a field recording class in the Dheisheh refugee camp

Ansam and Rawan get a lesson on digital editing from Nora Barrows-Friedman
at Ibdaa Radio 194 in the Dheisheh refugee camp.

It's a great job because
you can access
so many people all over the world,
ask them what they think,
and spread it far and wide in the
hopes of actually forming changes in consciousness.

Barrows-Friedman stands amid the rubble of
demolished homes in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

THE New American
Dream Interview

NORA BARROWS-FRIEDMAN, 30, lives in Oakland, California.

She is the producer and co-host of Flashpoints, a daily investigative news magazine on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Several times a year, Nora travels to occupied Palestine as a reporter, writer and educator.

She is based at the Ibdaa Cultural Center, located inside the sixty-year-old Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.

She also works with a group of students and Ibdaa doing radio production and media arts.

In addition to hosting and producing the show and trying to cross numerous illegal checkpoints, on her off time, Nora likes to play her cello, bake cookies and, most importantly, hang out with the coolest eight-year-old on the planet.

More about Nora Barrows-Friedman:


The New American Dream Trivia Question

To win a copy of one of Palecek's books, or leftover Christmas candy, or maybe a "Deception Dollar," be the first one to correctly answer the following.

Nora Barrows-Friedman would rather be ....

a. Covering the craft show at the Plymouth Iowa County Fair
b. Covering the New England maple syrup beat for NPR
c. On three hours every afternoon in every little town in the U.S.A., just like Rush ... and change the world
d. Staying home, for a while
e. Curled up, with my Northern Exposure collection
f. Headed to a Natalie Merchant concert

g. in complete isolation for three months, writing a novel, living in a little house on a farm in Umbria, Italy.


NAD: Nora, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.

Where are you from? Hometown, school, first job, like that.


I was born and raised in Berkeley, California.

I graduated from Albany High in 1996, and then went on to New College of California years later, graduating with a degree in Humanities With a Focus on the Illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestine (really, it's written in calligraphy on my diploma) in 2004.

My first job was stockroom clerk at a bookstore in berkeley.

NAD: What was the mascot for your high school?

The Albany High Cougars!

NAD: Why this job?

This job encompasses many of my passions — speaking truth to power, asking questions and figuring out what makes people tick — I guess I'm a bit of a social-anthropological voyeur.

It's a great job because you can access so many people all over the world, ask them what they think, and spread it far and wide in the hopes of actually forming changes in consciousness.

Plus, I get to go to palestine (even though I raise my own funds and have $30,000 in credit card debt, but I digress) whenever I want and really dig in to the story here.

It's my passion.

NAD: Why do you do it?

I think we all have the responsibility to speak out and enact change when we see how impossibly wretched the world is for so many silenced people.

This forum allows me, personally, to communicate to the outside world the reality on the ground in Palestine without self-censorship and with total focus on the human impact of political decisions and official lines.

It's a lot to carry in terms of personal responsibility but it's also really empowering to know that something you put on the air could actually change people's opinions and spark a flame.

NAD: The name, Flashpoints, what does it mean to you?

Flashpoints means a collective chorus from places around the world where people are facing oppression and injustice, and from where grassroots resistance comes forth.

It is the most densely-populated place on earth,
and many consider it to be the world's largest open-air prison.

NAD: Where is Palestine? Where is Gaza?

Palestine is on the Mediterranean sea, south of Lebanon and north of Egypt. Some people call it Israel, but I like to call it all Palestine — Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and what is considered to be "Israel."

Gaza is a tiny little strip on the very south-west of Palestine-Israel, five miles wide by 22 miles long right on the border of Egypt.

It's home to 1.5 million Palestinians, 80 percent of whom are refugees from the original 1948 expulsion and dispossession as Israel came into being.

It is the most densely-populated place on earth, and many consider it to be the world's largest open-air prison.

NAD: Why don't I already know?

The world would rather you not talk about Palestine or the Palestinians.

Or what happened to them in 1948.

Or the fact that 530 villages were ethnically cleansed and "depopulated" as Israel shoved foreigners into the place and called it Israel.


NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

We don't ask this to make fun. We ask because we really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?
Did we land on the moon in 1968?
Did Bush knock down the towers?
Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
Is Bigfoot real?
Is there a God?

I'm going to answer the God question.

Because I'm writing from occupied Palestine, God is on the tongues of a lot of people around here.

More so than UFOs and Bigfoot and Paul Wellstone (RIP).

Personally, I think there is no God.

I think there are bigger questions than we have answers for, and I believe there are purposes to people's lives that are somewhat dictated by fate and the cycle of the universe, but I don't think there is some bearded white guy in the clouds counting the times I've ripped toilet paper on the sabbath or prayed a certain number of hours a day or the amount of rosaries I chant.

I think human obsessive-compulsive disorder, packed with shame and guilt and neuroticism and paranoia, along with religious dogma is a wretched and destructive combination.

And he's certainly not a real-estate agent by any means (that one is a slam to my Jewish brothers and sisters who believe that "god" "gave them" this land and therefore the Palestinian indigenous must vacate, cuz it's in the book that they (the Jews) wrote).

Give me a break.

NAD: On your website, the photos, there is one of a former prison called al-Faraa, with blood stains all over the wall, very noticeable, with bullet holes.

Also, it seems that from the other photos, bullet holes are the motif, the decorating design of most buildings in the area.

Is that true? Why?

You could say that bullet holes are the motif in occupied Palestine.

That's why sometimes I snarkely call this place the "holey land."

I think israelis are very much amused by punching holes in things. buildings, bodies, with guns, with bulldozers, with missiles.

Also, Israel enjoys the distinction for being the country with the highest level of domestic violence.

I think in a militarized culture, built on the back of the trauma of the nazi holocaust (a trauma that really hasn't even been dealt with on a collective psychological level — my mom's a therapist, can you tell?) and then pushed into this ultra-violent culture of death and siege and extreme offense masked as defense, domestic violence — as well as other forms of physical violence enacted every second onto the Palestinians — is inevitable. And growing.

NAD: You have probably been to Bethlehem? Is it awesome? Does it make you believe in God?

Want to believe?

I live in Bethlehem or at least in the immediate Bethlehem area when I am here.

I have for five years.

It makes me believe in good fairytales, the sunset over the Jordanian desert, hot, sweet tea, and felafel.

And I will believe him about social security,
health care for my daughter, better education
and services for the poor when I see them.

NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?

Not much. In terms of foreign policy, he's basically towing the Bush doctrine (sorry, folks).

And I will believe him about social security, health care for my daughter, better education and services for the poor when I see them.

NAD: Why?

It's the system. the capitalist system is the problem.

Changing the face of the leader of the same system doesn't really do much to save the world when the system itself is the thing that is destroying us.

NAD: Or ... perhaps ... there is a world out there and maybe we should not think so much about ourselves? Just wondering.


There are our non-human relatives who also give a shit about their lives (or stasis, if you're a rock), and would rather we just shut up about ourselves for a minute and think about those who have no voices.

Sorry, do I sound like a hippie?

It's my Berkeley upbringing coming out.

I can't suppress it.

NAD: Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What are they?


It's my A-lJazeera cup that I bought in Doha, Qatar, at the Al-Jazeera media conference in April 2007.

It's white, dark blue inside, and has the flashy Al-Jazeera logo on it in gold on the side.

Al-Jazeera means "the island."

NAD: What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today?

I have to pick up stock footage of the zionist militia's destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948 and 1949 from Zochrot, an anti-zionist Israeli organization that documents and archives the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), what Palestinians call the expulsion.

I'm helping to produce a music video about the Nakba and zionism with a friend of mine from Detroit, Invincible (aka Ilana Weaver), an amazing MC.

NAD: How about by Christmas 2009?

I have to complete my book proposal — sample chapters and a structure/outline.

NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?

I think you hit every nail on the head! this was fun!!

NAD: Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:

www.norabf.com (my website which i haven't updated in a long time, pls forgive me)
www.flashpoints.net (my work)

other links i likey:
www.kabobfest.com (great Palestine-Iraq-Middle East news and information analysis with a side of snark)
www.electronicintifada.net (amazing and serious analysis)
www.ibdaa194.org (website to the Ibdaa cultural center in Dheisheh refugee camp where i'm based)

and you can tell i'm a dork cuz i also check out:
www.boingboing.net (info-tainment - news/views on tech gadgets, arts and culture and a little bit o' politics and rage)
cakewrecks.blogspot.com (just plain ol' fun)

[Originally published January 2009]


The NAD feature interviews are archived below here.

Richard Flamer, Catholic Worker in Chiapas

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, activist

Elena Siff Erenburg, political artist from Los Angeles

Allen Ruff, of Rainbow Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin

Len Osanic, Black Op Radio

Levi Asher, a writer and literary critic in New York City

Geov Parrish, Seattle journalist, activist

Bill Polonsky, Yukon 9/11 Truth

Daphne Webb, Denver writer, activist, green wedding planner

Michael Boldin, a populist blooms in L.A.

Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher magazine

Will Braun, editor of Geez Magazine,

Ben Heine, political artist in Belgium

Matt Sullivan, editor of The Rock Creek Free Press

Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review

Jarek Kupsc, 9/11 Truth filmmaker, "The Reflecting Pool"

Bill O'Driscoll, arts editor, Pittsburgh City Paper

Gerry McCarthy, editor of The Social Edge

Jim Cullen, editor of The Progressive Populist magazine

Bartcop, old-school blogger from Tulsa

Lee Rayburn, radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin

Aimee England, bookseller in Michigan

Al Markowitz, poet for the working woman & man

Timbre Wolf, a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii

Steven Stothard, a radical grows in Indiana

Dale Clark, an artist in the desert

Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine

Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer

Stewart Bradley, independent film producer

Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host

William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist

Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth

Lynn Berg, New York City actor

Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network

Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

Blog Archive