Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Last revised: 8/27/06
Monday, August 21, 2006
A friend replies:
From "Stand alongside Hizbullah, Lebanon's army tells troops" by Clancy Chassay in the August 19, 2006, issue of The Guardian (UK):
Ordinary Americans are now enemies of Hizbullah, a Shia cleric said yesterday at the funerals of the 29 victims of the July 29 Qana bombing, above.See update here
"American people, you are partners in these massacres, you are partners in this war," said Nabil Kaouk, the leading Hizbullah official in southern Lebanon. "After this no Lebanese can trust an American. You are all murderers and criminals."
Last revised: 8/27/06
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Last Friday the Muslim Community Association held a rally to call for a ceasefire in the war in Lebanon. ...Earlier this year, Chuck and the ICPJ Steering Committee suspended the Middle East Task Force and drove its chairperson--the only Arab and the only Muslim on the Steering Committee--to resign from the organization. Now, Chuck is all but announcing that ICPJ will no longer work with the Muslim community--as if they ever really did--when it "targets Israel for its military actions" because, well, um, that's a "message different from ICPJ's." Yes indeedy it is.
ICPJ co-sponsored the rally because we agreed with the message on the publicity, "Violence does not create lasting peace! It only creates future enemies." ...
As you may have read in the paper, some at the rally had a much more targeted message. (online at: http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1155377435197340.xml&coll=2 ) [The link refers to the August 12, 2006, Ann Arbor News article, "Marchers protest war: Multiple speakers at rally highly critical of Israel" by Art Aisner] Many people there have friends or family in Lebanon who have been displaced or even killed, and their message targeted Israel for its military actions, which is a message different from ICPJ's.
I think it was helpful to have ICPJ's message of universal compassion and deep commitment to all human life at the rally, but I think in the future we will be much more careful in choosing what events we co-sponsor. As an interfaith group, we have a responsibility to help bring communities together for peace and justice, and that commitment to interfaith bridge building needs to be reflected in every action we take. ... [italics added]
Since Chuck specifically mentions a particular newspaper article let's just see what could be so offensive. Here are some suspect quotes:
... "This is a colonial war and it's been in the U.S./Israel designs for decades,'' said Ann Arbor resident Nadine Naber, who also openly called for a boycott of Israel and said that true peace hinges on ending occupation.That's all folks. Pretty offensive stuff, huh? The article notes that, sadly, "members of the [Muslim Community Association] tried to drown-out the anti-Israel chants with their own cadence of peace mantras, shouting that anti-Israel slogans were not part of the event's theme."
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Michigan (CAIR), also said the root cause of the conflict was Israeli occupation of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian territory, not Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as the Bush Administration would prefer people to believe. He also told the cheering crowd that the interests of Israel are not the same as and should never supersede America's. ...
Along with neutral signs calling for ceasefire, pro-Palestinian activists carried messages such as "Israel commits atrocities,'' and "Israeli atrocities put blood on U.S. hands." ...
However, the real offense is more likely that ICPJ's involvement offended the local cadre of the Zionist state terrorist infrastructure. You know the domestic fundraising, religious, propaganda, and political arms of apartheid Israel. From the same article quoted above:
... But Jeff Levin, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County, said there were several aspects of the rally he found disturbing, such as no stated condemnations of Hezbollah and no mention of local or international efforts for Israeli relief organizations to coincide with appeals for to help Lebanese refugees.Yes, I'm sure Chuck got the message loud and clear. A July 31, 2006, Ann Arbor News article that was featured in this blog, mentioned an ICPJ intern:
Levin, who watched the rally from afar with about a dozen other onlookers and pedestrians, said the event would have had more legitimacy as a gathering promoting peace if there were equal mention to the suffering of Israelis who are withstanding waves of deadly rocket attacks and the need for humanitarian aid. Without such, it's hard to call it anything but an "anti-Israel hate fest."
"If you want to have an anti-Israel, pro Hezbollah rally, fine. Just call it what it is," Levin said. "To my sorrow, the well-meaning people of Michigan Peaceworks and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice are being used and taken advantage of by people who do not share their values."
He also took exception to claims of Israeli-occupied land and propaganda signs that he said thwarted the stated goal of an even-handed appeal for peace. ... [italics added]
But a complete cease-fire could be very dangerous to Israel, said Saline resident Becca Kurshenbaum, 22, who works for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and held a banner in support of peace Sunday evening.No word from Chuck on whether ICPJ will be distancing itself from Kurshenbaum over her misgivings about a ceasefire and her support of the Israeli military.
"If some people here had their way, all military aid to Israel would stop and leave them defenseless against Hezbollah; I don't agree with that," said Kurshenbaum.
Last revision: 8/18/06
Friday, August 11, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Interfaith Council has its own calling
[My comments appear in bold below]
I have read with respect Michelle Kinnucan's letter of July 19. I know her urgency to salvage the human and economic lifeline of Palestine, as I respect the unceasing effort of single-minded advocates such as Blaine Coleman and Henry Herskovitz.
As a former member of the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice steering committee and Mideast task force, I have heard determined presentations on these issues. Michelle states that the ICPJ sacrifices justice for interfaith unity. The ICPJ has its own calling: to lead nonviolent action which unites people of faith and others who subscribe to the peaceful resolution of conflict. Its guiding principles include freedom of worship and respect for persons holding opposing viewpoints.
In the last two years, Pat Schock has attended only one to three of the monthly meetings of the Middle East Task Force (METF). Actually, what Michelle said was: "... the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice sacrifices justice, peace, and its purported core value of 'Advocacy for the oppressed' on the altar of an expedient but immoral interfaith unity with supporters of Israel and 'suspends' its own Middle East Task Force."Picketing, even after sincere attempts at dialogue, aims to activate guilt and blame as tools. It disrupts the right of a person and a congregation to examine their soul and digest legitimate challenges, and so is incongruent with ICPJ principles.
The dissidents within the METF have no quarrel with the ICPJ's "calling," as Schock describes it, but just because you respect a person holding an opposing viewpoint doesn't mean that person belongs in the organization. For instance, would proponents of Christian Identity be welcome in ICPJ? Why are proponents of Zionism welcome? Is it because of misguided Christian guilt? Fear? If the "Interfaith" part of the ICPJ's name and mission trumps all else then for the sake of honesty "Peace and Justice" should be dropped from the group's name.
This is an obvious reference to the Saturday morning protests of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends (JWPF) although it is unclear why Schock brings it up here as the matter and letter in question had little or nothing to do with JWPF or the synagogue protests. One implication is that Schock is asserting that the METF was suspended because of the actions of JWPF but what sense does it make to punish a separate body for the actions of another group; unless, of course, you're into collective punishment and guilt-by-association, as Schock and the leaders of the ICPJ apparently are.I also encouraged the dissolution of the Mideast task force because I observed that over the years this task force changed, recently accepting only statements representing Palestine's side.
In any case, just how does JWPF's once-per-week protest outside the Beth Israel Congregation disrupt "the right of a person and a congregation to examine their soul and digest legitimate challenges." It is ludicrous to suggest BIC are somehow deprived of this "right" on Saturday morning or that they cannot engage in the described activities at any other time of the week. In fact, BIC has a Sabbath evening service every Friday.
Furthermore, I challenge Schock to show why "guilt" and "blame" should not be part of the ICPJ's tool box; those who are incapable of feeling guilt are known as psychopaths. Why is guilt verboten in the ICPJ? Merriam-Webster defines the word as follows:Main Entry: guiltSupporters of Israel have every reason to feel guilty and those who are guilty should make amends and cease the actions or omissions from which their guilt stems. It seems likely that Schock is an exemplar of what William Sloane Coffin was referring to when he said, "I think the bright flames of Christianity are now down to smoldering embers, if not ashes, of feeling comfortable. The church is pretty much down to therapy and management." Doggone it, guilt and blame just don't make people feel good.
Etymology: Middle English, delinquency, guilt, from Old English gylt delinquency
1 : the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; broadly : guilty conduct
2 a : the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously b : feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : SELF-REPROACH
3 : a feeling of culpability for offenses
Secular activists can work with the U.S. Committee to End the Occupation and groups advocating divestment of institutional cash from military investments. The ICPJ is not a secular group. Our limitations are like self-imposed gauze handcuffs. We believe that God sees our opponent as a person of value, and we hope to treat the opponent as God does. Our methods intend to reach to the hearts of those who now withhold justice.
Pat H. Schock, Ann Arbor
Who ever suggested ICPJ was "a secular group" and what has that to do with anything? Schock knows or should know that this is red herring. Some of the METF's opponents have tried to bludgeon the group with the assertion that its members are not "people of faith." This has never been a formal requirement of working with the ICPJ and, in fact, a majority of METF members are "people of faith." As the METF indicated in April:See also:In fact, at the April 4th meeting, nine of fifteen members indicated that they are "affiliated with a local faith community, i.e. a church, mosque, or synagogue" or other place of worship. In answer to a follow-up question, three of the unaffiliated Jews indicated that support for Israel is a key impediment to their joining a synagogue or temple.At the July meeting, two-thirds of the members in attendance were part of some faith community and the remaining third consisted of Jews who had indicated in April "that support for Israel is a key impediment to their joining a synagogue or temple."
So, Schock is willing to tell "secular activists" to take a hike but proponents of the violence and injustice that is Zionism are welcome as long as they are "people of faith." Oy gevalt!
- First Statement of the METF to the ICPJ Steering Committee
- Second Statement of the METF to the ICPJ Steering Committee
- Reconciliation Resolution of the METF
- Fourth Statement of the METF to the ICPJ Steering Committee
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Recounted below is an incident that occurred at BIC and was witnessed, in part, by this writer. The report and photo come from Henry Herskovitz of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends. In true Zionist style--where the perpetrators always pose as victims--it was BIC people who first called the police to complain about trespassing after a couple of protestors went into the BIC parking lot to photograph the man pictured below.
Vehicular AssaultSee also:
Beth Israel Congregation calls for an extra prayer for the people of Israel Friday evening (8/4/06) and 14 protestors show up to once again remind these congregants that their support for State Terrorism will not be tolerated. Caught in his rage that his racism is being exposed, the man pictured below drove his car [MI Lic. ABE7727] across the centerline on westbound Washtenaw Avenue to take a assaultive run at peaceful protesters on the lawn extension. A small boy and an infant in arms were in attendance. A formal complaint has been filed with the Ann Arbor Police Department (Complaint No. 06-12607), but no action has been taken by the detective bureau at this time. Anyone reading this report and knows this perpetrator's name, please advise the writer [firstname.lastname@example.org].
- More Violence Against anti-Zionist Dissidents
- Beth Israel Attackers Identified; One Charged
- Whatever Happened to Abraham Seligman?
- Eli Avny Update
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
If you feel, that in addition to protecting the people of Germany, and fighting all forms of anti-Teutonism,Yes, this is satire and I know the analogy is not perfect but I find it outrageous that peace activists would be promoting the call of a Zionist outfit like Jewish Voice for Peace. Their first loyalty is to Jews and Jewish ethno-religiocentrism/supremacism is what started the mess in Palestine in the first place and continues to feed the conflict there and beyond. People who really care about peace for Israelis and Arabs should stop pandering to Jewish chauvanists--put justice first and then we'll, eventually, have a lasting peace. Send the Michigan Peace Team a message (email@example.com) and tell them to stop making common cause with "progressive" apologists for violent Jewish supremacism.
That the occupation of Jewish land in Poland must be ended,
That the 'right to return' issue should follow the guidelines of international law,
That Nazism or anti-Nazism does not need to be the focus,
That German and Jewish people are equal as human beings,
That terrorism is destructive to both sides,
That the current actions of Germany are jeopardizing the lives of everyone in the region, including the people of Germany, and
that we have to find a PEACEFUL way to resolve the decades old struggle for the rights of the people in that region,
Then you need to make your voice heard ... through this new chapter of German Voice for Peace
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND AND SPREAD THIS INVITATION TO ALL PROGRESSIVE GERMAN ACTIVISTS!
Below is the matching text from the original message from Jewish Voice for Peace:
If you feel, that in addition to protecting the people of Israel, and fighting all forms of anti-Semitism,Jeff Blankfort has exposed the repulsive reality behind Jewish Voice for Peace in "The Debate that never Happened: Blankfort vs. Plitnick on the Israel Lobby" (below the Qumsiyeh article) , which is his scathing intertextual commentary on "Myth and Reality: Jewish Influence on US Middle East Policy" by Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Policy and Education, Jewish Voice for Peace. Here are the opening and closing paragraphs (Plitnick's words are italicized):
That the occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza must be ended,
That the 'right to return' issue should follow the guidelines of international law,
That Zionism or anti-Zionism does not need to be the focus,
That Jewish and Palestinian people are equal as human beings,
That terrorism is destructive to both sides,
That the current actions of Israel are jeopardizing the lives of everyone in the region, including the people of Israel, and
that we have to find a PEACEFUL way to resolve the decades old struggle for the rights of the people in that region,
Then you need to make your voice heard....through this new chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND AND SPREAD THIS INVITATION TO ALL PROGRESSIVE JEWISH ACTIVISTS!
Plitnick: In working for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, we constantly bump into the fact that the powerful party is the state of one of history’s most oppressed groups. Some get frustrated by always having to address anti-Semitism while working toward a just resolution to the plight of the Palestinians. But we’re kidding ourselves if we believe for a moment that anti-Semitism is not an integral part of the problem.Addendum
Blankfort: That seems to be the role that Jewish Voice for Peace has assigned for itself, to make sure that the issue of anti-Semitism is never far from the minds of those engaged in fighting for justice for the Palestinians and where it can inhibit activists from targeting Jewish organizations and institutions that support Israeli policies, such as AIPAC, the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish National Fund, and the Jewish Community Relations Councils, locally.
It is significant that the only publication issued by JVP to date was entitled, "Reframing Anti-Semitism," which sets the parameters it deems acceptable for criticizing Israel, e.g., only specific policies may be opposed and not Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and no link can be made connecting actions of the Israel lobby or the interests of Israel to the current war in Iraq. Regarding the former, what JVP is implying is that "anti-Zionism" equals "anti-Semitism," which is identical to the position of the Anti-Defamation League and the organized Jewish establishment.
It is that history which creates the fear and anger that drive many Israeli policies. And if we fail to recognize the legitimate fear that history has instilled in the Jewish people, we fail before we start.
Apparently, we must forget the issue of settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians Arabs that predated the Holocaust, forget the issue of house demolitions, torture of prisoners, administrative detentions and collective punishment. It has all been done out of fear and so, it seems, we must make allowances for Israel's crimes. For those who have not directly experienced oppression, the Zionist propaganda machine is around to make sure every Jews sees her or himself as a "victim," enabling them to eat their cake and have it, too....I have seen much of this movement over the years. It is clear to me that we can mount the case we need to mount, one where Israelis and Palestinians are treated as equals, as people with much tragedy in their historical consciousness. But we haven’t done it yet. Now is the time to start.
What Jews have in their consciousness is one thing and subject to debate. What the Palestinians have as their reality is quite another. With friends like Plitnick that reality does not promise to get any better.
And I fully understand why he was not willing to debate me, as I predicted beforehand.
From the Jewish Voice for Peace FAQ page with my comments in bold:
Q: Are you Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist or something else?
A: JVP is an organization with a wide spectrum of ideological diversity. Our members hold a wide variety of views on many issues involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This diversity has been a great source of strength for JVP. The organization welcomes people from many different political points of view, asking only that they hold to our core principles. Those political points of connection include the following:
JVP dodges the question and the points they outline below are consistent with Zionist thinking that suggests the maintenance of the Jewish supremacist state occupying the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948 (a.k.a. Israel) is at risk due to the continuing occupation of the 22% of Palestine seized in 1967.
- We are committed to an end to the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. We see ending the Occupation as the beginning, not the end, of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
- The root of ending the Occupation is here in the United States, not in Israel, and we work for an end to US military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends.
- Interest groups within the United States, such as the Christian Zionist lobby, the arms and aerospace industry lobbies, and right-leaning Jewish organizations, have a vested interest in maintaining the Occupation. But since the Occupation threatens the peace and security of the Middle East, the true interests of the United States, as well as those of Palestinians and Israelis, lie in ending the Occupation.
No explicit mention here of the Israel lobby or the Jewish Zionist lobby.
- We support a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis that will also preserve the right of the Israeli people to self-determination. International law calls for the rights of nations to self-determination and a right of return for all refugees. We believe these two important principles of international law must be balanced to find a workable and just resolution to this long-time crisis.
It is outrageous for JVP to invoke the right of self-determination in order to sustain Israel--a nation-state created by immigrants and as a result of clear violations of the Palestinian right of self-determination in the forms of the British mandate, the UN Partition resolution, and the Zionist war of 1947-1949. The Zionists at JVP have turned the right of self-determination on its head in order to justify keeping millions of Palestinian refugees in exile so that Jewish supremacy can be maintained in the 78% of Palestine violently seized in 1948.
- We firmly state that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US. But we also believe that actual anti-Semitism is alive and well and is mostly misunderstood both on the left and in the mainstream.
If as JVP admits "it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of the State of Israel or the policies of the Jewish establishment in the US" then just what is it that is "misunderstood"?
- We stand against all violence against civilians. We believe that the Occupation is the root cause of the violence, and that the Occupation itself, with its checkpoints, harassment, and dispossession of Palestinians is itself an act of violence. We believe that all attacks on civilians, whether by the Israeli army or Palestinian militias, are war crimes.
Zionism is at the root of the "Occupation" and all of the atrocities committed to maintain it but JVP has conveniently taken Zionism off the table.
- We believe that when the Occupation ends, it will then become possible to consider all the different ideas for a permanent and sustainable peace in the Middle East. We believe that an open dialogue that includes all different formulations of such a permanent solution are legitimate, as long as they each respect the individual and collective rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.
This is clearly Zionist doubletalk, JVP welcomes "an open dialogue that includes all different formulations" but not any that would question Jewish supremacy in the 78% of Palestine seized in 1948.JVP's "core principles" follow a long line of deliberate Zionist use of language for the purposes of deception. Zionists use ambiguous language to trick the lazy and the careless into supporting them or at least dropping their guard. The 1917 Balfour Declaration provides another prominent example:
The term Heimstatte ("national home") was coined by Max Nordau, with a view to disarming suspicion about any larger intentions for statehood. Writing to fellow Zionist who needed persuading, he described it as "a circumlocution that would express all we meant, but would say it in a way that would avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land. ... I suggested it," he went on, "as a synonym for 'State.' This is the history of the much commented expression. It was equivocal, but we all understood what it meant. To us it signified Judenstaat then and it signifies the same now."**Source: Kenneth Cragg. The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East. (Lousiville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Pr., 1991) p. 255, n. 2 citing Christopher Sykes. Two Studies in Virtues. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), p. 100. Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State") was the title of Theodor Herzl's pivotal 1896 book articulating the Zionist dream which became a Palestinian nightmare.
The News reporter interviewed Jeff Levin before the vigil and printed his remarks even though they knew he wasn't going to attend. Fair enough. But they did they contact anyone from the local Muslim or Arab community? There's no evidence they did. Emphasis added in text below.
Ann Arbor News
Local peace vigil draws hundreds (Google cache here)
Demonstrators call for Mideast cease-fire
Monday, July 31, 2006
BY TINA REED
News Staff Reporter
Tim and Shirley Hogan of Ann Arbor say they wouldn't call themselves politically active.
But they found themselves holding candles on Main Street in Ann Arbor on Sunday evening, calling for the United States to demand a cease-fire in the 21/2-week conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia.
"We're just ordinary citizens,'' said Shirley Hogan, who said she's been following all news about the conflict since it began. "I thought, finally, we have to make known our commitment to peace.''
They were among about 300 people who lined the streets in front of popular restaurants and stores along South Main Street, mostly between Liberty and Washington streets. People held candles and signs during the vigil for peace sponsored by Michigan Peaceworks and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.
The vigil occurred the same day that an Israeli bomb hit a house in Qana, Lebanon, killing nearly 60 civilians, including at least 34 children. Since the conflict first began, more than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon and dozens have died in Israel.
Jeff Levin, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County, said that despite their noble goals, the demonstrators don't understand the complex reasons that forced Israel into the conflict. He said he would not attend the vigil.
"It seems to me that true peace activists would promote the destruction of terrorist organizations, rather than advocating policies that assure their preservation,'' Levin said.
The dispute is not a battle over territory, but one over Israel's right to exist, he said.
While the official goal of the vigil was to call for complete cease-fire, there was political disagreement among many at the vigil about how what needed to be done to achieve peace. At least one counterprotester stood with a handwritten sign during the event backing U.S. support of Israel and its right to attack in response to Hezbollah.
One demonstrator, Barbara Stahler-Sholk, said she has family living in Israel and friends who live in Lebanon. Although she believes Hezbollah provoked Israel into the conflict, she denounced Israel's response, which she says is killing innocent Lebanese civilians, and criticized the support given by the United States.
"They are using my tax dollars against my will,'' Stahler-Sholk said. "Israel is not upholding its promise to follow the Ten Commandments. Being Jewish, I am ashamed, outraged and feel betrayed.''
But a complete cease-fire could be very dangerous to Israel, said Saline resident Becca Kurshenbaum, 22, who works for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and held a banner in support of peace Sunday evening.
"If some people here had their way, all military aid to Israel would stop and leave them defenseless against Hezbollah; I don't agree with that,'' said Kurshenbaum.
She said she supports a cease-fire that removes military aid from all sides in the conflict.
"I spoke with my aunt on the phone tonight and she said, 'You can't do anything, even if you go to 50 vigils.' It is going to take more than a vigil for peace, but its a good start.''
Despite varying views at the event, the shared idea was that the only long-term solution for peace is a cease-fire, said organizer and Michigan Peaceworks Executive Director Phillis Engelbert.
"There are stories on the news, more reports of carnage. It's madness,'' Engelbert said. The U.S. government needs to help negotiate every option toward a peaceful resolution, she said. "There's no excuse for the killing of innocents,'' she said.
But it's not that easy, Levin said.
"Any solution that does not add the root cause of this, which is the unprovoked aggression of Hezbollah against Israel, is a temporary solution at best,'' he said.
Tina Reed can be reached at 734-994-6828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.