Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BNC Calls for Boycott of Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra US Tour

The call below comes from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and this post is a follow-up to my post on Sunday. In coming days, the Israeli government-sponsored Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform in Los Angeles, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Tucson, AZ; Mesa, AZ; Lawrence, KS; Manhattan, KS; Kansas City, MO; Ames, IA; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Bowling Green, OH; and Ann Arbor, MI. See my earlier post for more details about the concert schedule.

Don't give the stage to Israeli Apartheid!
Boycott the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra!

Palestine, October 2008 - The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on the hosts in the fourteen American cities where the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform between October 26, 2008 and November 16, 2008 to rescind their invitations to the Orchestra. We urge the hosts to support the Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, including the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions.

This year, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is performing a special program in the US honouring the 60th anniversary of the Orchestra and of the establishment of the state of Israel. Such celebrations of Israeli statehood are a means to cover up the Nakba, or catastrophe, that was inflicted upon the indigenous Palestinian population by Zionist forces in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their lands in a systematic ethnic cleansing program that continues to this day. In a statement published in the International Herald Tribune in May 2008, more than fifty prominent international writers, musicians, and other artists led by Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish commemorated this wholesale dispossession under the slogan "No Reason to Celebrate Israel at 60!," urging fellow cultural figures not to take part in such a deceptive celebration.

The Orchestra's program is also particularly focused on the American Jewish community, as it is intended to create a connection between them and Israel. At the same time, some six million Palestinian refugees live in the Diaspora, and most of them are prohibited from returning to their homeland due to discriminatory Israeli laws and policies.

Since the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is one of the primary promoters and exporters of Israeli cultural life, one of its functions is to boost Israel's image on the world stage. In this way, the truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestine becomes suppressed, and its institutionalized attacks on Palestinian cultural heritage are ignored. Any attempt by the US hosts of the tour to develop ties with this Orchestra, therefore, amounts to condoning Israeli apartheid.

As such, we call upon the Orchestra's scheduled hosts to be mindful of the appeal issued in 2006 by Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers calling on filmmakers and artists worldwide to cancel art exhibitions planned in Israel, to boycott Israeli film festivals, Israeli cultural venues, and to end all cooperation with Israeli art, film and cultural organizations and institutions sponsored by the Israeli government.

We urge the hosts to condemn Israel for its racist and discriminatory practices, rather than condoning them. Finally, we call upon all American citizens of conscience to support the Palestinian BDS Call, and to boycott all cultural institutions supported by the apartheid Israeli state.

Steering Committee of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

Download the BNC call in PDF format here: BNC letter re tour of Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra - 27-10-08.pdf

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Call to Boycott & Protest Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra US Concert Tour


26 October 2008

Between now and November 16, 2008, the Israeli government-sponsored Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra will perform in fourteen American cities in California, Nevada, Arizona, Kansan, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan.

This would seem to be a good opportunity to nonviolently protest and raise awareness of the Palestinian calls for economic, cultural, and academic boycotts of Israel. A specific statement from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee regarding the JSO concert tour is expected soon. Because the next concert is tomorrow night this notice is being issued as a stop-gap measure in the interest of time. Below is the concert schedule.

*Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
*2005 Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel

Concert Times - US Tour - October 24th-November 17th 2008

Monday, October 27
Jackson Hall / Mondavi Center
University of California, Davis, CA

Tuesday, October 28
Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, October 29
Granada Theatre,
Santa Barbara, CA

Thursday, October 30
Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall
Las Vegas, NV

Saturday, November 1
Centennial Hall
Tucson, AZ

Sunday, November 2
Ikeda Theatre/Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, AZ

Wednesday, November 5
Lied Center Of Kansas, University Of Kansas, West Campus
Lawrence, KS

Thursday, November 6
McCain Auditorium, Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS

Saturday, November 8
Folly Theater
Kansas City, MO

Sunday, November 9
Stephens Auditorium, Iowa State Center, IA State University
Ames, IA

Tuesday, November 11
Harris Theater for Music & Dance at Millenium Park
Chicago IL

Wednesday, November 12
Milwaukee Theatre
Milwaukee, WI

Saturday, November 15
Kobacker Hall, Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH

Sunday, November 16
Hill Auditorium
Ann Arbor, MI

Update:Boycott the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

California Synagogue Supports JWPF

Last weekend Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends celebrated five years of faithfulness in the struggle for justice and peace in Palestine. I was surfing the web yesterday and looking for articles about JWPF when I found this on the web site of Beth Sholom synagogue in Sacramento, California:

Okay, yes, this is a fake but so is Israeli democracy and admit it, I had you going for a second there, didn't I?

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Long Decline of Wadad Abed

According to Dante, the first and second rings of the ninth and worst circle of hell are reserved for those who have betrayed their kin and country, respectively. I was reminded of this last Friday when I heard Wadad Abed on Michigan Radio talking about an upcoming oud performance. In the course of the story, Abed identifies herself on-air not as a Palestinian, nor as a refugee but merely as "an immigrant [who] came here forty years ago."

I have a friend who's known Abed for many years and has excused her saying Abed used to be a strong Palestinian woman but she was just worn down by the relentless Zionist onslaught of lies and demonization. That's understandable, I always say, but it in no way excuses her for parroting the Zionist line and becoming, literally, the voice of Zionist propagandist Laurie White at the Ann Arbor premiere of the Zeitouna movie, a slick Hasbara operation which featured Abed prominently.

Abed, could just not speak on the subject of Palestine-Israel but instead she has embraced the Zionist narrative. Here, for instance, is a bit from a 2003 article in the Detroit Jewish News:
Abed says, at first, she would not hear about the Holocaust because her belief was that the Holocaust was the reason used to justify taking away her homeland. Then, as part of her personal growth, she realized the Holocaust was something she had to deal with. Because of her experience with Butter, she says, she is reading other personal Holocaust accounts.

“I love this human being who has this horrendous experience and comes out the other end with so much love and wisdom,” Abed says. “She represents a person who has dealt with ugliness and turned it into beauty and hope.”

Still, it has taken the group almost a year to begin to hear each other’s stories, and the discussion that follows.

Says Abed, “I’m beginning to understand the fear and concerns Jews have. It’s a legitimate feeling of being subjected to one atrocity after another throughout the world.”

She now accepts Israel’s right to exist, she says.
In 2006, Abed also played a role in the purging of the Middle East Task Force from the misnamed Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. Her role as the sole Palestinian in the "Imagine Process" gave the thugs in the organization's leadership some cover to make permanent the "suspension" of the METF and the ouster of a fellow Palestinian, who unlike Abed is also a Muslim. So, all in all, maybe it's a step forward if Wadad Abed no longer identifies herself as a Palestinian. I'm not sure it will keep her out of that ninth circle, though.

See also:

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Sabeel Founder Ateek Speaks in Detroit, Calls for Justice, Action On Palestine

by Michelle J. Kinnucan

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian and founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in al-Quds/Jerusalem, gave the keynote address on Friday, September 26, 2008, at the Friends of Sabeel conference in the Detroit suburb of Troy. Ateek, the former Anglican Canon of St. George's Cathedral in al-Quds/Jerusalem spoke on the topic of "confronting the church's apathy."

He began with a discussion of the problem of Christians who talk about peace in the Middle East but will not talk about the issues of injustice, particularly in Palestine, that drive the conflicts in the region. Ateek wondered aloud if these Christians have Bibles that are missing the numerous passages where God demands justice.

During the course of his introductory remarks, Ateek also noted that Hamas and Sabeel came into being in Palestine at roughly the same time in response to the First Intifada. While taking pains to distance himself from Hamas on the issue of violence, the Rev. Dr. Ateek characterized Hamas as an Islamic "liberation theology movement," drawing applause from some in the crowd of about 250.

Ateek then shifted to a discussion of three obstacles to peace in Palestine. He identified them as Israel's inability to control Jewish settlers in the West Bank, the weakness of the Palestinian political leadership, and the US government's unwillingness to exert pressure on Israel or to allow other countries, such as the EU countries, to do so.

Following this, Ateek spoke about reasons why the Christian church had historically largely failed to fulfill the Biblical mandates of justice regarding Palestine. He noted that non-Palestinians occupied many of the denominational religious leadership positions in Palestine in 1948, and for decades thereafter. These leaders were mostly Europeans with little knowledge or appreciation of the historic Christian presence in the Holy Land or the situation of the Palestinian people.

Ateek spoke about later denominational statements in support of justice and Palestinians but lamented that these ideas had largely failed to filter down to local churches or translate into action. He attributed this, in part, to shortcomings on the part of clergy whom, he said, are not preaching the way they should and not teaching what is going on in Palestine. Another part of the problem, according to Ateek, is concern about offending Jews or being accused of 'anti-Semitism.' He urged Christians to overcome these issues and to "challenge and confront" Jewish supporters of Israel.

After this, he quoted from the 2007 Amman Call, issued at the World Council of Churches "Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East" conference. The Call reads, in part: "The Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem and to Nazareth, have called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea: 'Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.' "

Following on this, Ateek stressed the importance of having the courage to "name evil" and called upon the mostly Christian lay people and clergy present to "stand in solidarity with us." He also declared that "all" of the 4-7 million Palestinian refugees "have the right to return" to Palestine.

In his closing remarks he told that crowd that it was "time [for North American Christians] to take a stand" against Israeli injustice. Elaborating upon his remarks earlier in the evening in support of "morally responsible investment as it happened in South Africa," Ateek said he supported "divestments, boycotts, anything that is nonviolent" as means to exert pressure on Israel to end the injustice and bring about peace.

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METF Responds to Imad Hamad of the ADC

Reposted from Next Year in al-Quds

In May of this year, the Middle East Task Force, a small group of folks based in Ann Arbor, MI began organizing a protest against the Zionist "Fair to Remember" at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on August 21, 2008. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit had started advertising their celebration of Israel's creation a few weeks earlier.

At any given time, about half of our group were Arab Americans and we called the event the "Fair of Shame" because Israel's creation was a Nakba or "catastrophe" for Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslim people. In 1947-48, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed by Jewish forces, more than 350 Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed and later destroyed, driving some 726,000 Palestinians from their homes into exile. The fallout from the Nakba still reverberates in Palestine, the region, and, not least of all, in the hearts of the three Palestinian Americans--all born in Palestine before 1948--who helped us organize the protest.

Concerning the protest, the Detroit News (8/21/08) reported, "Some leaders in the Arab American community of Metro Detroit said there is little support for the protests ... 'There was an attempt to adopt a joint statement between the Arab-American and Jewish communities,' said Imad Hamad, Michigan director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. 'It did not happen, but the demonstration was announced without much input from the community and I would not expect many people from the Dearborn community to participate.' "

From the very beginning reaching out to the metro Detroit Arab and Muslim community and its leaders was a priority for us. We even delayed announcing a time and place until late June in order to give others an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the planning. And nothing would have pleased us more than having the more established leaders of metro Detroit's Muslim and Arab communities take charge of the protest planning.

Local representatives of Friends of Sabeel-North America were contacted in May and that organization declined to formally support the protest due to concerns about being accused of "anti-Semitism." The Palestine Office was contacted in May or early June and declined to participate citing unspecified legal liability concerns. Several Muslim and Christian religious leaders were approached and most expressed some support but, apparently, did little or nothing, to turnout members of their community at the protest.

For example, in June, one prominent imam wrote that the planned protest was a "Great idea" but as far as we can tell no one from his mosque attended it. Beginning in July, Mr. Hamad himself was contacted by e-mail, phone, and fax. One of our Palestinian members also met with him personally. I, personally, left two phones messages at Mr. Hamad's office but got no response.

Some of us have personally seen thousands of members of the Muslim and Arab community turn out in Dearborn on November 29th, the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine. We can only speculate why so many people stayed away from the Fair of Shame protest. In any case, it is not for us to say whether it was wrong for any given person or group to fail to support or attend the Fair of Shame protest. But Mr. Hamad's complaint about lack of input into the protest planning is without merit. We went to great lengths to reach out and if community leaders did not want to work with us then they could have easily worked around us and organized a protest of their own.

The same holds true, of course, for Metro Detroit's non-Arab, non-Muslim majority community leaders, who, if they haven't actually colluded in supporting Zionism, have generally done precious little to oppose the Zionist-driven, US taxpayer-funded killing and injustice in Palestine and surrounding countries. The words of Kathim Al-Sahir should speak to all of us. Here are a few lines from his song, "Ah Ya Arab" (Oh, Arabs):

My Arab brother
I am bewildered
What changed the revolutionaries' sword into a cane?
What changed the Arabic tongue into a wooden tongue?
Oh, my people ...
We didn't sell Arabs out, not even during the worst of calamities ...

Michelle J. Kinnucan
On behalf of the Middle East Task Force

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Yom Kippur!

Reposted from KABOBfest

Today, 18 years ago, Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers carried out a coordinated attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque while it was packed with thousands of worshippers. The mosque was raided so as to prevent Palestinians from resisting Israelis wishing to lay the "foundation stone" for the "Third Temple" and claim sovereignty over the ground beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque. While spraying the crowded area with machine-gun fire from all directions, 23 Palestinians were killed and 850 others were wounded. Palestinians recognize the attack as the Al-Aqsa Mosque Massacre. Happy Yom Kippur! Your "Day of Atonement" means nothing until you rectify your sins...

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