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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