Monday, October 30, 2006

ICPJ Hands Local Zionists Another Win

I apologize, dear readers, for not reporting on this matter sooner. I have communicated now with several persons who attended the meeting and three weeks ago, a majority of the members of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) of Ann Arbor voted to disband the organization's Middle East Task Force (METF). Led as it was by Joe Summers and Chuck Warpehoski, this heinous betrayal of the very values for which ICPJ purports to stand was not unexpected. It seems that popularity and dollars (see comment of Ian Macgregor at bottom) figure more highly than interfaith, justice, or peace in the ICPJ. Healthy doses of ignorance, dishonesty, and cowardice on the part of other Board members also contributed to the decision. In any case, now that the 'liberal' Zionists have been assuaged the cash and cooperation can flow more freely.

In May, the ICPJ Board, then called the Steering Committee, decided "to suspend the work of our Middle East Task Force while we pursue mediation." No mediation ever occurred and after a couple of preliminary meetings all pretense of a 'pursuit' was abandoned and the METF terminated. With the apparent exception of ICPJ staff member Jason Crosby, all of the attendees (of which I was one) of the pre-mediation meetings found them to be positive and productive. Two mediators were selected and a mediation proposal put forward but despite solid member support for it, mediation was nixed before it ever got started.

Below are the meeting notes of Henry Herskovitz of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends.
Former METF'ers:

At approximately 1:05pm, Tuesday Oct. 10, 2006

Proposal: To disband the current Middle East Task Force and commit
ourselves to reconstitute a new group as soon as possible
By Lisa Dugdale
Second by Arlene Huff

Votes FOR:

1. Lynn Meadows
2. Joe Summers
3. Jan Wright
4. Lisa Dugdale
5. Tim Ziegler
6. Russ Fuller
7. Barbara Fuller
8. Irvin Green
9. Jason Crosby
10. Laura Spencer
11. Arlene Huff
12. Amy Rosenberg
13. Ruth Kraut
14. Chuck Warpehoski
15. Art Bublitz


1. Bob McMurray
2. Susan Jacobsen

Votes to ABSTAIN:

1. Odile Haber

These votes were recorded by Henry, and may not be the official tally. Irvin Green was asked his vote and confirmed his 'yea' vote.

Stream of consciousness note taking during the Go Around, prior to the vote:

Chuck: Describes Imagine group...lessons that didn't work before...Religious and ethnic diversity needed in new group. Quoted Wadad Abed: "Right people"... "don't fall into the same traps we've fallen into in the past"

Russ: We confess our failure... the time spent on this has been excessive ... there's no more time ... we should thank them and send them on their way [them = us - hh]

Irvin: If the new body is to be selected by the Board, then all Task Forces should be chosen like that ... groups should not be "hijacked"

Tim: new group needs to be truly interfaith... needs of the community - what are they? ... he "leans towards" Imagine

Laura: Way too much energy and time have been spent... likes Imagine ... should include other task forces in our decisions

Bob: favors mediation "very deeply"... ICPJ is a teaching organization ... tall order to be patient ... "faith" is what we can do together with God in the process ... METF is "OUR" name and ICPJ is identified with it

Arlene: Agrees with Russ' "failure" ... we should cut our losses ... Move on ... wants to terminate METF ... perhaps ICPJ is "not obligated" to deal with Israel/Palestine at this time

Amy: ...suspend (sic) METF

Ruth: End the METF ... to Russ: it's OK to fail ... if we mediate, who's on the 'other side'? ... people have "maligned me" ... "clean slate club" ... need breathing space

Odile: Reads from the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism [I had distributed that doc to all ...hh] ... I was maligned also, but still think we should mediate... the times now suggest that Divestment is an ok topic ... phyllis bennis says it is ... Gaza is desperate ... be practitioners of what we preach

Chuck: Mediation is driving people away ... it inhibits ICPJ ability to work on ME issues ... ad nauseum, let's refocus

Susan: My sister warned me to run away from ICPJ ... let's keep things clear

Jason: part of the mediation team "however"... practitioners of what we preach can also mean creating the space where people don't get hurt

Joe: Knew of the METF conflict before he joined ICPJ ... thought it would be an easy fix [laughter] ... I/P is core for me personally ... End METF and Reconstitute with "appointed members " on all task forces. I'm in favor of appointing members

Lynn: If we can't create peace here, how can we ever try to create peace in the world ... on the fence ... we need mediation ... but I like the Imagine Group

Lisa: need people to support each other ... METF can go out and do their own thing

Jan: "It's time to lay down the METF" ... don't have unlimited time and energy ... in favor of appointed members

Barbara: personal story of inital foray into Palestine issue way back when it wasn't on the burner

Art: We have a structure problem ... end mediation ... support appointing members

Henry: The issue has been framed thus: there's a problem dealing with ME issues, and people in the METF are the problem. The issue could have as easily been framed thus: Israel, the Jewish State, is supported by the local Jewish community. The Jewish community is part of the Interfaith community. I'm not arguing to throw them out - I identify strongly as a Jew - but instead use Bob's words to "own" the Jewish community, to recognize that they are acting badly in supporting Israel, and attempt to change that behavior. Shift the paradigm.

Bill: There has never been any communication between ICPJ and METF

Ian [Macgregor, the fund rasing expert]: The conflict with METF is affecting fundraising abilities. People are concerned about the conflict ... they ask what is the rift all about?

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Interesting Lisa Dugdale was the one who introduced it.

I had no idea she was on ICPJ, or that she was a Zionist or any other sort who would disband the METF.

I had only known her as the organizer for the Living Economy Network, of which many local businesses including mine are members.

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