Guns 'n Moses, it's not black or white by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

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“There is a growing sense that Israel is becoming an isolated ghetto, which is exactly what the founding fathers and mothers hoped to leave behind them forever when they created the state of Israel.”

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the British assumed ontrol of Palestine. In November 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, announcing its intention to facilitate the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate over Palestine which included, among other things, provisions calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, facilitating Jewish immigration and encouraging Jewish settlement on the land.

The Arabs were opposed to Jewish immigration to Palestine and stepped up their attacks against the Jews. Following an increase in Arab attacks, the British appointed a royal commission in 1936 to investigate the Palestine situation. The Peel Commission recommended the partition of the country between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs rejected the idea while the Jews accepted the principle of partition.

At the end of World War II, the British persisted in their immigration restrictions and Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were violently turned away from the shores of Palestine. The Jewish Agency and the Haganah continued to smuggle Jews into Palestine. Underground cells of Jews, most notably the Irgun and Lehi, engaged in open warfare against the British and their installations.

The British concluded that they could no longer manage Palestine and handed the issue over to the United Nations. On November 29, 1947, after much debate and discussion, the UN recommended the partition of Palestine into two states ­ one Jewish and one Arab. The Jews accepted the UN resolution while the Arabs rejected it.

Meanwhile, since the time of the British Mandate, the Jewish community in Palestine had been forming political, social and economic institutions that governed daily life in Palestine and served as a pre-state infrastructure. Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) served as head of the pre-state government.

The British mandate over Palestine officially terminated at midnight, May 14, 1948. Earlier in the day, at 4:00 p.m., David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the creation of the State of Israel and became its first prime minister. Longtime advocate of Zionism in Britain Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) became Israel's first president. On May 15, the United States recognized the State of Israel and the Soviet Union soon followed suit.

The fledgling State of Israel was faced with many challenges. While fighting a war of survival with the Arab states who immediately invaded the new nation, Israel had to also absorb the shiploads of immigrants coming in daily to the Jewish homeland. Many were penniless refugees from Europe broken in body and in spirit. They needed immediate health and social services in addition to acculturation to their new home.

The Israeli army occupies Palestina since 1967 and in 2002 began to build a wall separating Israel from the occupied territories. Most part of the wall is illegal under international rights and law. The wall is controlled by a series of check points and watch towers. It's 3 times higher than Berlin's Wall and when its construction will be terminated, its length will be about 700 km and separate about 10% of he West Bank and 25.000 Palestinians from the bulk of that territory. Palestine has become the largest open air prison in the world.

A child of 9 in Gaza has memories of three wars in six years. The child may stand in the remains of the Shejaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, gazing at tangles of iron rods, mountains of stone, jagged outcrops of masonry, and air thick with dust. The child may wonder what force it is that wrought such destruction, so repetitively, and why. It is safe to say that the adult this Palestinian child will one day become does not bode well for Israel. The child has no need for indoctrination in hatred.

No solution that allows the existence of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in any form can possibly end the conflict. The only thing that will end the conflict is a change of mind by the Arabs, such that they will tolerate the existence of a non-Muslim state, and non-Muslims in general.

To manage situations it’s always easy to build a wall. Building a wall we hope to put all things we don’t want to see on the other side. To manage… the unmanageable that we created ourselves. I don't know who is wright and who is wrong, I left Israel and Palestine with more question marks than when I arrived. Till the moment we will keep on asking ourselves "who was right, who was wrong" there will be no change in this complex situation. Sometimes to have the right answer, it's good starting with the right questions, like "Do we understand the situation fully before to take decisions which implies the life of other people?".

“There's nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place.” - Banksy
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Stop by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

There are moments when the time stops.

It happens when you are amazed and it happens in hearth beat. You freeze but your body is synced with your soul. The brain at that point recall a memory, something you really liked or dreamed, and you were wondering how this could be if you were there. If one day I will be there.

And then you are there! and for a moment your breath stops, you get a sparkle in your chest, and then you release your shoulder and raise the big toes in your shoes. 

And then you read your thoughts, slowly slowly, tasting the silent pause in your head. You recall poets, actors, faces, colours, songs and you mix those elements as a perfect movie, where you are the director. 

But how to frame this moment, how to burn it in my mind. I want this frame and I want to stop all those elements, simultaneously, trying to give the same feelings to who is gonna watch it, or to me, one day I will be old.

This "stop" time happened to me when I was in Petra, getting in front of El Khasneh. Those words came to my mind, spelled by a warm, old voice:

"Nobody knows how old Petra is, but it was a thriving city when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, and for a full five thousand years it has had but that one entrance, through a gorge that narrows finally until only one loaded camel at a time can pass. Army after army down the centuries have tried to storm the place, and failed, so that even the invincible Alexander and the Romans had to fall back on the arts of friendship to obtain the key. We, the last invaders, came as friends, if only Grim could persuade the tyrant to believe it.

The sun rose over the city just as we reached the narrowest part of the gut, Grim leading, and its first rays showed that we were using the bed of a watercourse for a road. Exactly in front of us, glimpsed through a twelve-foot gap between cliffs six hundred feet high, was a sight worth going twice that distance, running twice that risk, to see—a rose-red temple front, carved out of the solid valley wall and glistening in the opalescent hues of morning.

Not even Burkhardt, who was the first civilized man to see the place in a thousand years, described that temple properly; because you can’t. It is huge—majestic—silent—empty—aglow with all the prism colors in the morning sun. And it seems to think."

And at the dot, I shot.


 El Khasneh, Petra. 

El Khasneh, Petra. 

mingalabar myanmar! by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano


I've been thinking a lot on how to open this post on my days in Myanmar. I don't know how to introduce you a world that doesn't exist anymore, and his changing rapidly at the same time. But nobody knows in which direction is remaining the same of hundreds of year ago, and how it's evolving in the new world.

We would say: embrace the change! change is progress. You can keep the values, and if are not ok you can find others. Difficult invite them to open to the world, a world that is changing rapidly in huge confusion. But coming here, you are amazed by the authenticity of the old Asia, quite different from the Asia that is giving away her soul, to get the nicest venue with shopping centers and powerful airco. Myanmar is still what I've been reading in books of Terzani: 

"Anyone who goes in Myanmar, leave with the impression to have seen a country still untouched by the influence of the rest of the world, a beautiful peace of the old Asia; a country where men dress still the Longyi - a kind of skirt woven locally - and not trousers, where also the women smoke cheerot - strong green cigars hand rolled - and not Marlboro; a country where buddhism is still a living faith, and pagodas, ancient beauties, are still places where local people goes, and not museums for tourists visits." 

Didn't change too much the "Burma" of Terzani., or not? A friend of mine told me to don't forget the price that those people had to pay to keep on smoking cheroot instead of Marlboro. The words of Terzani might appear words of some western people, like me, fascinated by the differences, not taking into consideration the cruelty experienced during the year. True, that's why I trust my feelings, and I kept the open question, how this is changing.

Landing in Mandalay I could see flooded areas due to the typhoon coming from Bangladesh 3 days before my arrival. Entires villages laying in brown water. The moonson season doesn't help neither but life is moving on, and smiles is what I get walking in the crowded, noisy, hot Mandalay.

The average daily salary here in Myanmar is 2 dollars, but on the road you can see group of people gathering money for the poor fellows living in the flooded areas. A lot of people I met were planning to go there in the weekend and give the best help possible. It will cost them 1 week of work, but they were happy to tell me "we've to help our brothers, we've to help also the animals that are working for us".

 Unfortunately flooding will be an issue in Myanmar even without typhoons. Apparently the "military government" has sold 60% of the Teak Forest to China. China is starting deforesting heavily. No trees means higher risk of landslides, higher water level of rivers, and finally flooded areas.

During Monsoon there are entire villages moving from areas where water level is too high, to the shores, in temporary houses, waiting the right moment to go back. But when water is flushing all your stuff away, then there's no place to come back anymore.

I've been talking a lot with people in Mandalay, in a cozy bar playing domino and smoking cheerot, sometime with the nice sound of the rain crashing the metal benches outside. The curiosity and happiness coming from what they were learning from me, and what I was learning from them, is priceless. It's curious how beautiful is to shut up (I talk a lot in my official job) and start listening, and when you listen, you learn. 

First of all I bought a Longyi and I dressed almost everyday. Burmese people were amazed to see me dressing like that. The most courageous ones were telling me "awesome, fits you well!" but my favourite ones were the thumbs up and the smile of the old ladies. Dressing the Longyi and smoking cheerot gave me one of the best moments in Myanmar.

I was enjoying the last smoke of the day, under the moonlight in a small village during my trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake. I enjoyed the dinner prepared by the family, but I didn't want to smoke in the house made by bamboo. So after have played with the small iperactive son, teaching him origami, pretending to fight shaolin, I walked out in a curtain of silence, broken only by the breathing of the buffalo sleeping in the shed under the room where I was supposed to sleep.

Puffing my cheerot, I see a man coming out of the opposite house, one of the few in bricks. He warmly invited me to follow him in his place, and without saying one word in english, I followed him on the stairs. All the family (and few friends) where sitting on the floor, in front of a LCD TV. He smiled and proudly shown me first the TV and then he presented me the full audience.`Then he placed an ashtray in front of me and we started smoking together, meanwhile, now and then, the man was winking me about the quality of the TV (or the action chinese movie playing). Smoking shorts your life, but enhances moments, I thought.

It's nice to imagine the routines of those people. Wake up early, women heading to the rice fields, men plow up the red soil with their loyal buffalo friend, from sunrise to sunset. They bring their lunch, since sometimes the workplace is distant, sometimes the family is too little and the day is too short. The nice thing is that they never forget to bring a huge smile with them, and a pocket of betel nut to chew and spit everyday. I asked, you know that this stuff will destroy your teeth? I don't care, I like and is for strong men; also the greatest king of Myanmar was chewing. This will never change.

But other things are changing also here. In the Shan State, close the border with China, people are replacing rice fields and tea trees with corn. The close chinese are selling them seeds and fertilizer. Corn is easier to grow but also more difficult to defend. The point is that there are monkeys in that area. Monkeys are not eating rice or drinking tea, but they appreciate quite a lot corn. One of the principle of buddhism is to not kill, but farmers have to preserve their crop. Things are changing.

Quite in contrast with what I've been discussing few days before the trekking. People do care about animals. I was in Kalaw, and after dinner I was enjoying the calm of the end of the market, where few stalls were still opened. I was hitting the road to the guest house, when started raining in the heavy "monsoon style". I'm optimist so no umbrella. I decided to step in a small bar with two tables, where one was occupied by a guy that immediately asked me to join him. 

We started talking about the rain, where I am from, what about tomorrow. After a while was my turn of questions, I've to learn. What do you do? The magic door opens. I am working in an elephant camp. Nothing surprising to me, there are a lot of elephant camps in Asia, but this was different, the guy told me. This is were elephants go in retirement, after have worked in heavy construction, or similar stuff. 

One of the Mahout, the men who ride the elephant, thought that using animals from 18 years old till 70 years old and then kill them was a shame. Yes, kill them by letting them die, because one elephant eats 200 kg every single day. So the repented Mahout decided to open this center of old/sick elephants giving them not only food, but let them free in the jungle. The early morning, the crew, including the guy I was talking to, will go in the jungle and collect them all. Then they will clean the elephant, then breakfast. Then the hard work to pay the pension, playing with kids of school or tourists, that in any case will feed them again. And then again, free in the jungle. This for the rest of their life. Great retirement after hard work. 

The crew is also teaching and using visitors, to plant trees to fight deforestation. And recently they opened also a school to improve health and education in the local villages. My new friend was keep on telling me how happy he is about his job, on taking care of animals. "if they're happy, I'm happy. I'm feeding them, and they're feeding me back". And I can see it, I wanted to say. I've never met anyone showing me enthusiasm about his job in that way. I know what are you thinking, the guy didn't have a job. Wrong. He was working in construction, he just liked the idea. The place is called Green Hill Valley. They're changing, keeping good values.

Once on the shore of Inle Lake, after have crossed rice fields, green jungle, getting some fresh monsoon showers, you are overwhelmed by the peace of this big piece of mirror reflecting green mountains and shapes of fishermen paddling with their leg, handling a big net. You think you could stay here forever, biking in the country side, drinking some whine, playing pool, watching sunrise and sunsets reflected in the water drops floating on the waterlilies. 

Tourists are getting here more and more, but the early hours and the sunsets belong to the fishermen and their silent art to paddle, their singing going back to their spiling after sunset. The monastery are full of young boys that are spending here two weeks, where after praying they play football of flip flop war. If they want they stay, otherwise they go back to their parents. You cannot be monk if you don't have the blessing of your parents, your wife (if you are married), if you have debts, if you have disease. Basically cannot be an escape from your duties, duties with people or with yourself.

One of the best way to observe society is to using public transportation. Can you imagine that? Trying to think the feeling you get if I tell you, let's grab a bus, in your city. Stress. So I took the local train in Yangon, with no destiny at all. The bumpy slowly train is full of life. In every stop a new character steps in, trying to sell you from fresh fruit, to quail eggs, news paper, and off course betel nut to chew and spit out of the window. 

It's nice to observe people reading news paper, titled Messenger, like the app we use everyday to chat with someone that probably is 2 meters distant from us. I decide to step out in the station of Insein, where one of the passenger is feeding pigeons, which are flying in and out of the train windows. I keep on walking with no direction, I'm thirsty, so I accept the invite of someone calling me to join him, attracted from my magic longyi.

Immediately an old lady join us, not able to speak one word of english. I talk a lot with the men, he would love to stay more, but he has to pick up his son, today is his day off, so they're doing something together. The lady stays at the table, just smiling without saying a word. Suddenly she animates, a group of people is joining, her daughters and the husband of one of them. They were surprised that their mom is sitting with a foreigner, so her doughter's husband stop at table with me. The lady ask him to tell me that she has also one son. He left for Australia after the student revolution in 1988, and since then, he didn't come back. They met twice, at the border with Thailand, few hours, then again split.

He presents me his indian friend, who adjust cars in 30 minutes, if you need. His indian friend presented me the full family, including the picture of his son who lives and study in UK. It's time to go, but my new friend wants to offer me the coke I was drinking. Why? I've told him no, if you were drinking with me than yes, but now I've to go. And then let me bring you where you should go. Let's go, he brings me to the Insein Pagoda, and, after have wished me the best, and counting on his indian friend if I've issue with car, leaves. I would love this things will never change.

What have we become? Imagine if we could have a day like this.

One thing I would change, and I hope it will be a natural change. I hope that the wishes of Burmese will happen, The Lady, leading this beautiful country, beautiful people, authentic, clean, beaming smiles. Mingalabar Myanmar!


Flip the coin by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

Today I woke up and I had an ultimate question: go left or go right. Doesn't matter where I am and which was the choice to be made, I had 50% of possibilities to be right, and 50% to be wrong , or left.

Bob Marley stated that if you don't know what to decide between two elements, better that you flip the coin, in the moment the coin will fall, you will know what you desire in the end.

The point is that this morning I didn't know what I wanted, I flipped the coin, but every turn in the air, I was changing my mind. 

I asked to all the people I met, what do you think? Left or right? All of them suggested me to go right, but once in the car I drove left. While driving I continuously stared at the back mirror: I am still on time to make a U turn. Keep on driving.

Miles after miles my genuine optimism and positivity was overwhelmed by a sense of loneliness and unfaithfulness.

I don't know what was happening but I didn't want to fight this blues, I wanted to make it mine.

The road was empty and sunny, my car was empty and silent. I was alone and going in a direction where nobody suggested me to go, neither myself, but I kept my direction. Let's see what will happen. 

I was driving towards the Death Valley. I remembered the Antonioni's movie, Zabriskie Point and I laught. This movie has been a huge flop in the 70's although I liked it a lot when I saw it. Flip the coin for a flop, flip flop!

This morning I bumped into a tv news, commenting what happened in Paris, Charlie shot, policeman shot, I decided to shut down the tv avoiding my personal judgement.  

Probably that was the starting point of my sadness, I didn't care about the news, moreover when the speculation starts (it's another 9/11). People killed because what they think is offending someone else. It's a matter of choise, left or right. For who knows the story of Zabriskie Point, as Mark said "willing to die, but not of boredom" I say, willing to choose but not for boredom.

Freedom and decisions, have always some consequence, sometimes irreversible. Sometimes people are aware of those consequences and they keep on driving left, because right is boring.  

Karl in Zabrieskie Poing, Charlie in Paris, and myself in the car. But probably I drove left just because someone pushed me to the left, or my unconscious thinking connected the dots, or just because I respect people that believes; or God knows what.

I am dyslexic, atheist and insomniac. I stay up all night wondering if there really is a Dog.  And I love to go left.


How are you? Never Give Up. by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

In June 2012 I went to Nepal. Well, actually I planned a trip in Tibet, but one month before to fly  there I received an email from China stating that the border was closed and I couldn't access.

I was in the middle of a turnaround in my life. I was changing job, moving to another country, changing a lot of things, a lot. Probably was a sign: just don't go, think, prepare yourself for this new phase in your life. But I couldn't accept to give up to my trip. So, since my flight was booked in Kathmandu, I decided to go in Nepal.

One day I was walking in the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, fantastic atmosphere incensed by lemon tea, pilgrims, and monks. I was feeling this power of calm and compassion. Totally the opposite of my state of mind: busy, lost, worried and excited for my new life, but still "busy".

I was trying to shoot a pic of a monk that was turning around the Stupa, praying and smiling at me that I couldn't find the right "click". He came to me, smiling, and he asked: "how are you?".

I answered a polite "I'm fine, thank you. and how are you?". He didn't answer my question, instead, he asked again "how are you?". "I'm fine, thanks, I'm really happy to be here, is a fantastic place. am I disturbing you, or those people?".

The monk asked again "H-O-W A-R-E Y-O-U?". I understood...he caught me; I had to confess. "Well, I'm "busy"; I'm in a middle of a storm of feelings, fears, excitement. I feel to say sorry, I feel to run away, I feel that I don't belong to any places; why do you ask? what do you think?".

He didn't answer my question. He told me "Do you know how we catch monkeys? We put peanuts in a jar. They know that peanuts are in the jar, they smell it. They cannot catch the peanuts from outside, their arms are not long enough. They know that once in the jar will be quite difficult to go out. Well, some of them know the value of freedom, never give up".

He embraced my wrist, smiled again and then he left. I was frozen. I was thinking about those words. the same morning I read in a cafe "never give up" and I liked that statement, without knowing why. I was frozen, thinking, thinking and thinking.

Suddenly I saw again the monk turning the stupa. I took my camera and I shot the picture. I got it, he's smiling, I'm smiling. "thank you, I will never give up".

Never give up, I will never give up. I repeat that story to myself every day that I wake up. I am still "busy", but I will never give up, never.

“NEVER GIVE UP" - Dalai Lama
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up”


Writing with light by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

Photography means "writing with light". Writing with light opens two worlds, one about reproducing the reality (what we see, what all of us see); one is about writing our own reality, something that not everybody captures, something that we have in our heart and in our inner sight.

This means that combining several elements, light off course, aperture, time (the time needed for the light to pass through the objective and imprinting the picture on the film), white balance (meaning that particular white - thanks Ansel); combining all those elements, we get what we want.

This is not a course, but simply mentioning the fact that photography is a metaphor of life. Combining all the elements that we've at our disposal we try to get what we want. Not always we've enough time, not always we've the right aperture (or attitude), not always we've the right "light", not always we've the right topic or subject, being real or imaginative. Sometimes, even combining those elements with perfection, the picture is blurred, or not exactly what we wanted to get; that's why, more than combining the elements and know exactly what we want, there's another element, that we cannot control, fate or fortune.

Pictures, all the pictures, are the portrait of a world, but also of people, like that thoughtful faces, melancholic and happy. Those are not the result of what we look for, but of what we find, what we discover.

This is the beauty of the pictures. Pictures are not abstract ideas or inventions. They have something concrete. The world has been exactly like that, at least for that bit.



Niceland by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

Iceland was not in my plans and now in my heart. There are no words to describe this land. Iceland gave me energy and serenity, gave me all the answers to move forward and don't look behind.

"Come on, I'm from Iceland; I don't do hip-hop" - Bjork


Jordan by Leonardo Antonio Avezzano

Desert is my natural dimension. You find a lot of compassion in the desert because is not like people, desert doesn't tell you nothing and leave you the last word. When you walk on this sand, it remind you that is always up to you, stop by your fears or walk and leave a treace.