Saturday, September 30, 2006

ICPJ Snubs Muslims Again and, Then, Again

Under the leadership of its President, Joe Summers, and its Director, Chuck Warpehoski, Ann Arbor's Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) has racked up a stunning record of disrespect to the local Muslim community this year. In May, despite repeated pleas for dialogue and mediation the ICPJ Steering Committee (SC) suspended the ICPJ's Middle East Task Force (METF), an action which resulted in the resignation of Farouq Shafie, the SC's only Muslim and only Arab member--he was also the chairperson of the METF.

On August 16th, Warpehoski sent a mass e-mail message concerning the "Stop the War in Lebanon Rally" that the ICPJ co-sponsored with the Muslim Community Association. He complained that many people at a rally "... 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." Heaven (and the local Israel Lobby) forbid the ICPJ should criticize Israel for its military actions! Warpehoski then mused "... in the future we will be much more careful in choosing what events we co-sponsor." (See "ICPJ Shuns Muslims for 'target[ting] Israel for its military actions' " and "Juxtaposition").

Earlier this month, according to Warpehoski's September 25th blog entry (screenshot here), the ICPJ "convened a group of Jews, Palestinians, and others to 'imagine' how we could organize an effective, interfaith program for Middle East Peace." The plural "Jews" was right but there was only one Palestinian, Wadad Abed--a Christian--who took part in the "Imagine Process" and when Joe Summers discussed the process at a special meeting Thursday night he incorrectly said there was a Muslim member of the group. In fact, there weren't any! The ICPJ failed to find even one Muslim to participate.

While the Jewish community was very well--disproportionately so--represented, no Muslims and only one Arab attended Thursday's meeting, which ICPJ scheduled to begin about half-an-hour before sundown, thus, making it untimely for Muslims who had been fasting since sunrise in observance of Ramadan. So much for interfaith respect and sensitivity.

Muslims traditionally break their day-long Ramadan fast together with family and friends. And this writer knows of at least one local Muslim who did not attend the meeting because it conflicted with Ramadan. Although the ICPJ's long track record of kowtowing to local Zionists is undoubtedly an even greater impediment to Muslim and Arab participation in ICPJ.

In 1975-6, under the leadership of Barbara Fuller, the ICPJ joined the campaign against UN General Assembly Resolution 3379--"Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination" wherein the UN "Determines that zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." According to a statement prepared by Robert Hauert, eschewing any substantive analysis, the ICPJ found "this resolution to be offensive" and "condemn[ed] the General Assembly action."

They declared: "The U.N. resolution ... is hypocritical because all peoples are not free from that attitude." By such bankrupt logic, it would be hypocritical to identify the ideologies of South African apartheid and Adolf Hitler as racist. Indeed, after a concerted, if not exhaustive, search of the 11-linear feet of ICPJ archives in the Bentley Historical Library, this writer could find no evidence that the group ever took a public stand against apartheid.

The current dispute between the SC and the METF stems in large part from the SC's refusal to engage in any substantive discourse about Zionism, let alone stand for justice and peace. More than a year ago by a vote of 13-0-0, the METF endorsed the July 2005 Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel and the objectives of that call:
1. Ending [Israel's] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The METF also recommended the SC's endorsement of the call and the preparation of an action plan to support the call. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that these objectives are incompatible with a Jewish majority or Jewish supremacy anywhere in Palestine and, consequently, certain SC members worked to block endorsement and fomented a bitter split within the METF over the issue.

Continued Jewish supremacy in the 78% of Palestine (Cisjordan) violently seized in 1948 is a sacrosanct principle for some ICPJ leaders and the more than four million Palestinian refugees (according to the UN) from the 1948 Nakba alone are of significantly less concern. Perhaps, this is one reason why Wadad Abed was hand-picked to participate in the "Imagine Process."

Abed is part of an Arab and Jewish women's dialogue group called Zeitouna. According to a July 2003 article ("Refusing To Be Enemies;" links at bottom) in the Detroit Jewish News, Zeitouna's "ground rules to allow them to tackle tough topics like Israel's defensive actions in the West Bank, anti-Semitism and Israel's right to exist" and their "hard work yielded impressive results." For instance, Wadad Abed has embraced the Zionist narrative of Jewish "fear and concerns" and, consequently, "She now accepts Israel's right to exist, she says." Meanwhile:
The Jewish women, in turn, learned about Abed's emotional pain when they talked about going to Israel.

"American women talk about moving or living in Israel for a while and that upsets me," Abed says. "All Jews -- from the United States, Russia and Europe -- can have automatic citizenship in Israel, and I can't. Yet my family goes back for several generations there."
One of Abed's partners in the ICPJ's "Imagine Process" was Benita Kaimowitz, also a Zeitouna member. Another was Aaron Ahuvia and as one "Imagine Process" participant told this writer, Ahuvia declared to the group that he is a proud Zionist. In fact, Ahuvia is the national secretary of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, which is affiliated with the Zionist, Israeli Meretz Party. As Jonathan Tilove writes, "Hadar Susskind, Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents many of the nation's largest Jewish organizations, ... counts Brit Tzedek members as good Zionists" ("Some Liberal Jews Break Ranks on Israel." Newhouse News Service. Aug. 3, 2006).

Brit Tzedek's task is to convince people that justice is served and peace will be achieved by maintaining a Jewish supremacist state in the 78% of Palestine violently seized by Jews in 1948 while creating a "viable" Palestinian state in some portion of the 22% of Palestine violently seized by Israel in 1967--just 19 years later. They don't want democracy and equality for everyone from the Jordan to the Mediterranean and they surely don't want millions of Palestinian refugees returning to what is now called Israel. They believe that in order to preserve the current Jewish supremacist state, Israel must jettison most of the territories occupied in 1967 and the Palestinians living in them.

Finally, as of this writing, of nineteen "approved international hunger-fighting agencies" eligible to receive funds from the ICPJ's upcoming annual Washtenaw County CROP Hunger Walk, two are Jewish (MAZON and the unabashedly Zionist American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and none are Islamic. I'll let you know when the ICPJ changes its name to the Judeo-Christian Council for Peace and Just Us.

Ramadan mubarak to all of my Muslim sisters and brothers!

See also Detroit Jewish News, "Refusing To Be Enemies" here or here.

Last revised: 10/4/06

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Word to Chuck W.

Several people who attended yesterday's Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) Steering Committee (SC) meeting have reported that ICPJ Director Chuck Warpehoski was upset that I identified SC member Ruth Kraut as a racist and one "who shills for apartheid Israel" in an August post to this blog. Here's a bit of doggerel for Chuck:

Stick and stones
may break your bones
But vehicular assault
can kill you.
I have seen what Chuck sent to SC members in their agenda packet in advance of the meeting. Chuck conveniently left out any reference to the main subject of the post--the vehicular assault by a member of the Beth Israel Congregation.

This is typical and ICPJ has consistently been silent about physical assaults against local anti-Zionist dissidents by Zionists and so-called peace activists. This writer witnessed some of these assaults. So far, none of them have resulted in serious injury but if things continue as they have then it may eventually come to that and without ICPJ or Michigan Peaceworks ever having uttered a peep against it.

For instance, in 2005, then-President of Peaceworks Eric Van De Vort physically assaulted a fellow peace activist at the September 24th Peaceworks march because he didn't like the sign the man was holding.1 According to the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, Van De Vort repeatedly shoved him, "slammed his body" into him, and physically impeded his attempts to evade Van De Vort. The victim said he repeatedly asked Van De Vort to stop but he continued his attack until Peaceworks Board member Nazih Hassan intervened. An eyewitness to the assault, Dr. Thomas Kaeding, has confirmed details of the incident. Responding to a September 28th e-mail message sent to Van De Vort, Peaceworks staff, and the rest of the Board members, Hassan confirmed his knowledge of the incident and of the victim's identity. His only other response was: "If he has a complaint he can send it directly to the Board." Van De Vort and other Board members did not respond to another inquiry sent on October 8th. Neither Van De Vort nor Peaceworks has ever publicly acknowledged, nor apologized to the victim for, the incident. This writer spoke directly with the victim, Dr. Kaeding, and authored the above-mentioned e-mails to the Peaceworks Board of Directors; ICPJ has also been silent about this incident.

Hint to self-styled peace activists: You don't have to wait for direct, personal knowledge of the facts to speak out against violence. Here, I'll even give you an example of what you could say if you cared to:
I don't know if the allegations are true but I am concerned that a pattern of actual, physical violence may be emerging from the division in our community concerning Israel and Zionism. As an advocate of peace and nonviolence I urge all responsible parties to take this issue of violence seriously and to take steps to stop it now, before anyone is seriously injured.
But no, Chuck and others seem far more concerned about "verbal violence" than they are about actual physical violence. It has even been communicated to me that entries on this blog are considered a hindrance to the ongoing mediation between the ICPJ SC and the ICPJ's Middle East Task Force (METF). This is absurd.

This blog will be a hindrance only if SC members choose to make it a hindrance. The SC has suspended the METF and Chuck has used the ICPJ newsletter and blog to present a one-sided view of the dispute. Yet, the METF has not let any of that be a hindrance to mediation--two METF members attended a mediation meeting just last night with three ICPJ SC/staff members. Furthermore, this blog is completely independent of the METF and does not purport to represent the views of that organization.

The frequent tut-tutting over strong language and "verbal violence" is, in part, a "strategem of power" (see "On Propriety, Power, and Social Protest"). And I doubt that Isaiah could pass muster with the ICPJ SC. Here's part of what the prophet said--his words still ring true today:
The prophecies of Isaiah son of Amoz, who prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem ...

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth,
For the LORD has spoken:
"I reared children and brought them up--
And they have rebelled against Me!
An ox knows its owner,
An ass its master's crib:
Israel does not know,
My people takes no thought."

Ah, sinful nation!
People laden with iniquity!
Brood of evildoers!
Depraved children!
They have forsaken the LORD,
Spurned the Holy One of Israel,
Turned their backs [on Him].

... Trample My courts no more;
Bringing oblations is futile,
Incense is offensive to Me.
New moon and sabbath,
Proclaiming of solemnities,
Assemblies with iniquity,
I cannot abide.
Your new moons and fixed seasons
Fill Me with loathing;
They are become a burden to Me,
I cannot endure them.
And when you lift up your hands,
I will turn My eyes from you;
Though you pray at length,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood
Source: Isaiah 1:1a, 1:2-4, 1:12b-15.2

Finally, in the text that Chuck lifted from this blog and sent to SC members the word "racists" was underlined. However, Chuck, I'm told, did not explain to anyone that this underline was not for emphasis but indicated the presence of a hyperlink in the original blog post. The hyperlink takes one to the text of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379--"Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination" wherein the UN "Determines that zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

I called Ruth Kraut and others racists because they are Zionists--supporters of the Jewish supremacist state of Israel--and Zionism is racism. Nevertheless, if Kraut can demonstrate to me that she is not a Zionist or that Zionism--in its real world manifestation, not some ethereal, pie-in-the-sky Zionism--is not racism then I will give Kraut a full apology here on this blog.


1. Information on this incident comes from the Huron Valley Greens' May 8, 2006, "Resolution on Michigan Peaceworks."

2. The last phrase in the last verse (verse 15) is from the 1917 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Tanakh translation. The rest of text is from the 1985 JPS translation. Bizarrely, the 1985 JPS translation changes "your hands are full of blood" to "Your hands are stained with crime"--a mixed metaphor, to say the least. The 1917 translation accords better with most other English language translations of the phrase (see table below). For example, the 1917 JPS translation is identical to the King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version renderings (the JPS, KJV, and NRSV all rely upon the Masoretic text of Isaiah).

The Hebrew word ךָּמִים (transliterated "dâm") is translated as "blood" in verse 11 in both the 1917 and 1985 translations but the 1985 translators change it to "crime" in verse 15. The 1985 translation of the Hebrew מָלָא (transliterated "mâlê'") as "stained" instead of "full," as in the 1917 translation, also seems contrived.

Perhaps, the 1985 translators felt uncomfortable with the contemporary resonance of this biblical excoriation of Israel. After killing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, including its role in the infamous Sabra and Shatilla massacres, in the 1982 Lebanon War, Israeli troops completed their withdrawal to a self-proclaimed "security zone" in southern Lebanon in 1985. There, they settled in for a brutal 15-year-long illegal occupation until they were driven out by Hizbullah in 2000.

Comparison of Four Translations of Isaiah 1:15
King James VersionNew Revised Standard VersionDouay-RheimsApostle's Bible
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.And when you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear: for your hands are full of blood.When you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away My eyes from you; and though you make many supplications, I will not hearken to you; for your hands are full of blood.
Sources: KJV, NRSV, and Douay-Rheims--The Unbound Bible; AB--The Sword Project

The Douay-Rheims version relies upon the Latin Vulgate version of Isaiah. The Hebrew dâm is rendered there in Latin as "sanguine." The Apostle's Bible relies upon the Septuagint. The Hebrew dâm is there rendered in Greek as αἵματος (transliterated "haimatos").

Last revised: 04/25/07

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