Thursday, August 17, 2006

ICPJ Shuns Muslims for "target[ting] Israel for its military actions"

Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice Director Chuck Warpehoski writes in his August 16, 2006, "ICPJ Update:"
Last Friday the Muslim Community Association held a rally to call for a ceasefire in the war in Lebanon. ...

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]
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.

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.

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." ...
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."

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.

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]
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:
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.
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.

Last revision: 8/18/06

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