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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"We refuse to be enemies"... of course that's the oppressor talking, in this case the Jewish women. Would Jewish women "refuse to be enemies" with German women who suffered, i.e. lost husbands, fathers, brothers, etc. during WWII?

Asked "Where are the German women?", Nazi Naqba survivor Irene Butter explained that including Germans was (conveniently) beyond the scope of Zeitouna.
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