Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The 13th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L, circa 1940
The 13th annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day begins at sunset on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, and ends at dusk on the 5th. This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

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Friday, September 16, 2022

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-10-22

Nineteen Years, But Who’s Counting?

Our group, Witness for Peace – fka Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends – completed 19 years of continuous, peaceful ,weekly protest at Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan this past Saturday. Zionist synagogues like Beth Israel are the appropriate – and even the only – place for effective protest against an ethno-religious country that practices racist doctrines which are born and nurtured in synagogues throughout the world. We warn Americans of the detrimental effects of an over-abused Jewish Power, and have been successful at stressing “America First Not Israel” as our approval counts continually show. See Scorecard below.

Eat-A-Cheeseburger Day Looms

PeaceMonger reminds us that the Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day – aka Yom Kippur – will be celebrated on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. This 13th annual celebration honors the memory of Bill Henry for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please click here.

Barnes Review Radio Interview

This writer was interviewed by John Friend, regular columnist for the American Free Press, on August 30 for The Barnes Review History Hour. John writes: “On this edition of TBR History Hour, we’re joined by Henry Herskovitz, an anti-Israel activist and supporter of historical revisionism. Henry and I discuss some recent developments in his legal struggles to protect his First Amendment rights, our Q&A article published in the July/August 2022 edition of The Barnes Review, historical revisionism, an article published by the Jewish Daily Forward highlighting Henry’s legal battles, and much more!”. Listen here.

A Prophet Speaks (to us)

At our vigil on August 27, a passerby informs us that we “… should do our research a little bit”, then proceeds to blame Iran for the Jewish state’s ongoing genocide against Christians and Muslims in Palestine. Claiming he is a prophet, he informs us that our sign: “Are Jews Above Criticism?” is anti-Semitic. He doesn’t want an argument, but later relents and I get a few words in. Please view this video and draw your own conclusions.

Out of Facebook Jail

Vigiler C has paid his Zuckerdues in full (another 30-day suspension) and is now allowed to post on our favorite social media. Welcome back, Homeslice!




27-Aug  33-10
 3-Sep   16-10
10-Sep   19-9

Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Outing Jewish Power for 19 years!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Report on Beth Israel vigil 08-20-22

Israel Behaving Badly? Gin up the Holocaust Industry!!

Who says the Holocaust has nothing to do with Palestine Liberation? Certainly not dedicated Jewish Zionists, that’s for sure. When the world starts to catch on that Jewish supremacism might be good for the Jewish state, but it’s not that beneficial to the rest of us, it’s time to fall back upon “The Trick”*: when Israel’s 75-year assault on the Palestinian population is noted, merely remind the world who the ETERNAL VICTIMS really are. 

Now Ken Burns is called to step up to the plate to shake down the US for what it allegedly failed to do to save the eternal victims in their hour of need. Produced by Jewish dominated Public Broadcasting Service, his new 6-hour series: “A history to be reckoned with; the U.S. and the Holocaust”, will re-train the American public beginning September 18. And while they’re at it, they plan to toss a 93-year-old Ursula Haverbeck into prison for violating someone’s sensibilities. 

No More Holocaust Movies, Mr. Burns! We’re tired of them.

* The Trick was exposed by former Israeli Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni: “… it’s a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are anti-Semitic.” Source here.

Stewart Ain and the Jewish Daily Forward

Lawyer Marc Susselman uses the death of his client, Miriam Brysk, to launch an attack on Judge Victoria Roberts, and this story was covered by award winning veteran Stewart Ain in the Forward. I contacted Stewart via email and asked if he wanted to hear the other side of the story. Clever fellow, and a pretty decent guy, Stewart managed to steer the conversation more towards a personal history of our vigils rather than examining Susselman’s behavior, but produces a worthwhile article anyway. See if you agree.

Vandal still unidentified

The vandal pictured above attempted to damage our property on June 11 as we reported here. Our attempt to determine her identity via filing a FOIA request was denied. We appealed to Ann Arbor City Administrator Milton Dohoney Jr, who also denied the information we seek. He writes, however: “If you believe that you were the victim of a crime you are free to submit a complaint to the police department”. Readers may remember it was she who contacted the police, which places her as the one who’s identity allegedly needs protection. 

Taking the advice by Mr. Dohoney, however, we filed a vandalism complaint with the AAPD on July 21. No results so far, so if anyone can identify this woman, there’s a handsome reward in store for you.

Three short vigil videos

Video 1 features an Israeli woman telling us “My heart is with you.”  Video 2 exposes a foul-mouthed jogger, and Video 3 is yet a third woman who remains silent, offering us the opportunity to ask a few questions.



23-July  35-8
30-July  35-11
06-Aug   26-13
13-Aug  29-8
20-Aug  25-14

Henry Herskovitz

Witness for Peace
Outing Jewish Power for 18 years



Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Report on Beth Israel vigil 07-16-22

Politically Correct Ann Arbor

Perhaps linked to our recent Supreme Court victory, or City Council’s resolution again condemning our exercise of America’s First Amendment rights, this writer’s donations to four local candidates for public office have been returned. Ali Ramlawi, current Ward 5 Councilman, is joined by his opponent Jenn Cornell and Mayoral candidates Anne Bannister and Christopher Taylor.  We think this is classic "guilt-by-association", combined with a lack of courage to tell the politically correct that political views of a constituent are not necessarily the views of the candidate. 

We note that City Councilwoman Jen Eyer of Ward 4 was accused of accepting money from Neal Elyakin, founder of Michigan Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces. Was that donation returned? As best as we can determine, it certainly was not. And that exposes the hypocrisy: support donations from those touting acceptable narratives (“Israel” defending itself) and reject donations from those who raise questions about the issue. Don’t want to be associated with an “anti-Semite”? That’s your choice, but as Vigiler C notes, Jews oppressing Palestinians is real anti-Semitism. 

Hate Speech not defined

Checking our 1967 unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language, we find that “hate speech” doesn’t even warrant an entry into this 10-pound tome. This provides the careful reader with a glimpse into Newspeak, the updated and politically correct Orwellian limits of acceptable speech. Currently, I am banned from using the term “Jewish Power” from a popular, local Facebook Group, which gives a loud hint as to the source of this verbal manipulation and mendacity (M&M’s). If it upsets Jews, it must be “hate speech”, despite the fact that the manufactured term holds no legal definition. 

Yet another Jewish woman attempts to vandalize our property

Our two videos clearly identify a congregant of Beth Israel throwing our sign to the ground. She might have been trying to steal it, but it was secured to the chair holding it upright. Vigiler C narrates his video here, and mine shows the perp clearly. A police report has been made, and we’re hopeful it will lead to a trial and conviction. With many private venues taken from us (billboards, newspaper ads, etc.) we must protect the last remaining right we have and will pursue legal action against future vandals.

A confused Jewish woman is set straight

On July 2, we were approached by a woman who was under the impression that the Courts overturned the First Amendment, and ruled our protests illegal. She was politely corrected, and the video of this conversation can be viewed here.

Observation begs a question

If a legislator claimed "The UNITED STATES is the national home of the WHITE people", we would consider that racist. But change the UNITED STATES to “State of Israel” and WHITE to “Jewish” … and that’s exactly the wording of Israel’s Nation State Law, passed in 2018. Why do we tolerate one and not the other?



18-Jun    18-8
25-Jun    27-7
  2-July   30-17
  9-July   25-9
 16-July  35-6

Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Outing Jewish Power for 18 years

Monday, June 13, 2022

Report on Beth Israel vigil 06-11-22

Our Opponents Reach the End of their Rope

The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected both writs of certiorari from the individual plaintiffs, the most recent coming May 16, 2022 against the writ filed by “superlawyer” Nathan Lewin.  See our “Exhibit A” below. What remains is whether Judge Victoria Roberts’ ruling that the plaintiffs and lawyer Marc Susselman must pay Defendants’ attorneys stands the appeals process. And again, it’s not looking too good for the bad guys – see the scolding they get here by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.


Jewish Power Corrupts (again)

Local Palestinian businessman/politician Ali Ramlawi was once again cowed into compliance by the specter that he would dare accept a donation from an “anti-Semite”. Some history: In 2017 Ali ran for City Council. A powerful Ann Arbor Jew named Neal Elyakin manipulated Ali into publicly denouncing myself and an elderly Palestinian activist. Ali actually went into Elyakin’s home (which flies an Israeli flag) and apologized for publicizing my name as a supporter on his website. In spite of that apology, Ali lost that election. Link to that story here

At a private meeting during the 2020 election, Ali sat down to discuss the issue with me, and offered his assurance that he would make things right. He accepted my small donation, was successful in his bid for a seat on City Council, and was quoted in the Ann Arbor News as saying that “… he doesn't necessarily agree with Herskovitz’s views or tactics, but Herskovitz is a 5th Ward resident and he has a right to participate in the democratic process." He stood his ground.

This election season (2022), however, I made another donation, and Ali returned it within an hour. So what happened this time that was different? A local Facebook commenter suggested that the $50 wasn’t worth Ali’s time that defending my contribution would demand. But then what does that say about Ali, or the “democratic process”? If I had Miriam Adelson’s money and could have afforded a $5,000 contribution, would that have stiffened Ali’s resolve? Or is my friend’s Long Island father’s contention that “All politicians are Hoo-ers” on the money? When Jews in a community can influence the democratic process – as they have done here – we make note of this corrupting influence of Jewish Power, and hold our sign higher


Privileged Vandal Gets a Lesson

Vigiler C notices a woman advancing to our “No Israel” flag on June 11 and starts tugging on it. He shouts out and scampers across the street to make clear that she should not touch our property. I follow over to this criminal, as do the paid armed guards “protecting” the synagogue from peaceful protesters. Her arrogance and privilege “allowed” her the “right” to damage property whose message she didn’t agree with. Vigiler C calmly, yet firmly sets the record straight, and this video is worth listening to. Oh, and after getting caught in the act, she played the “victim” card and called the cops on us! Now, where have we seen this act played out before?



A week before, we responded to a lecture by a black, female jewish convert. Click here for that video.



16-Apr   15-5
23-Apr   19-10
30-Apr   16-14
 7-May   23-7
14-May   24-15
21-May   8-4
28-May   24-17
 4-Jun     24-11
11-Jun    13-7

Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Outing Jewish Power for 18 years
# Comments?

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Report on Beth Israel vigil 04-09-22

Update on Court Case

Plaintiffs Marvin Gerber and Miriam Brysk have retained separate Counsel for their appeals to the Supreme Court. Brysk attorney Marc Susselman embarrasses himself (if that’s possible) in the racist rant he includes in his Writ of Certiorari, which was denied by the Supreme Court. His rant is so offensive we won’t include it here, but readers are invited to view the document for themselves, particularly pp 23-24.

The Writ from Gerber attorney, “Superlawyer” Nathan Lewin, might provide a horse of a different color. According to Alison Weir, “If anyone can bring another Supreme Court ruling favorable to Israel [and against us … hh], it’s Lewin.” She writes: “Lewin is an extremely heavy hitter. He has reportedly argued hundreds of cases in his 60-year law career, 28 of them before the U.S. Supreme Court. Chabad reports that Lewin was named by the DC Legal Times as one of ‘Washington’s Greatest Lawyers of the Past 30 Years’ and was ranked Number 2 of ‘Washington’s Best Lawyers’ by the Washingtonian.”

Dancing With Ketanji

Christopher Taylor is Mayor of Ann Arbor and also one of the defendants in our case. The Ann Arbor News reports that Taylor clerked with Justice Jackson and is pictured with her in 2017. And if that's not enough evidence for self-recusal should our case be heard by the USSC, how about her past professional relationship with Superlawyer Nathan?

Alison Weir documents that Ketanji's first clerkship was with Nathan Lewin's law firm in her article: "Will Ketanji Brown Jackson be able to transcend her pro-Israel influences?". After reading this informative and revealing article, we doubt it. The Jackson-Lewin nexus is exposed: After her ruling in favor of a pro-Israel group "Z-Street", "Nathan Lewin writes that Jackson’s ruling on the case provides 'grounds for optimism' on how she will rule on matters related to Israel and America’s Jews." Holding Ms. Jackson in the highest possible regard (we always do), we will watch to see how her possible involvement in our case unfolds.

Zionism: Political Judaism

Our latest sign:


Readers are once again referred to a 1942 document, signed by the most rabbis ever to have affixed their signatures on a single issue, which claims: "Zionism: An Affirmation of Judaism". In addition, our friend The Exiled Palestinian has compiled an extremely large PowerPoint file (440 MB) she calls "Supremacy in Jewish Ideology, and 'sacred' text, and its consequences on the world". Download the file here, or find it on her website: https://nahidaexiledpalestinian.com/. Fasten your seatbelts before viewing!

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming!

We remember meeting a man at the vigil who was walking the neighborhood a few years back. He introduced himself as Moshe Tzalel and said he used to live in "Israel". He spoke with an accent and nodded towards our "Remember the USS Liberty" sign, indicating his awareness of the attack.

Tzalel wrote a letter to the editor of the Washtenaw Jewish News (March, 2022), expressing his belief that the City Council and Mayor were "misguided" by condemning our vigils in their January resolution on "anti-Semitism". He also wrote: "Walking past these demonstrators and talking to them, I never saw or heard any antisemitic proclamations. They are opposed to Israel’s policy in the occupied West Bank. So am I."

Of course editor Clare Kinberg had to write an opposing view, telling her shocked-into-horror audience what a bunch of poopy-heads we really are, but the "damage" was done: a local Jew actually took the time to talk to us and didn't find our written or spoken words "anti-Semitic". A thank you letter was sent to Mr. Tzalel.



12-Feb   22-9
19-Feb   10-4
26-Feb   23-3
5-Mar    18-8
12-Mar     ??
19-Mar  20-10
26-Mar  14-6
2-Apr     18-6
9-Apr     19-6

Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Outing Jewish Power for 18 years


Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The 12th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Wednesday, September 15, 2021, is the 12th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 9/15 and ends at dusk on 9/16.

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

The 11th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Sunday, September 27, 2020, is the 11th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 9/27 and ends at dusk on 9/28.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The 10th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Tuesday, October 8, 2019, is the 10th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 10/8 and ends at dusk on 10/9.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Israel's Founders Were Not Secular

This post draws heavily on material published in some of my earlier posts.

In an otherwise well-written and informative article, "In Israel, religious extremism is pervasive, unchecked", Kathryn Shihadah repeats one of those deceptive, hoary myths about Israel that never seem to die. A little more than a third of the way into the article she asserts, "Israel's founders were secular".

It is true that many figures such as David Ben-Gurion, widely regarded as "the father of modern Israel", may not have been conventionally religious nevertheless Jewish identity is built upon a religious foundation. In Ben-Gurion's memoir, Recollections (London: Macdonald Unit 75, 1970), he acknowledged this: "Everything we are as Jews ... comes directly from the Bible. In size we are nothing as a people and never have been. Had we not been children of the Book, who would have heard of us?" (p. 16). Elsewhere in the book he asserts:
As to the Jews, I can only point to our Bible and to its sequence in the many Jewish initiatives to regain Israel stretching across the centuries since Masada and say: This is our Mandate. Come see for yourselves.

Since I invoke Torah so often, let me state that I don't personally believe in the God it postulates. I mean that I cannot 'turn to God', or pray to a super-human Almighty Being living up in the sky ...

Yet, though my philosophy is secular, I believe profoundly in the God of Jeremiah and Elijah. Indeed, I consider it part of the Jewish heritage and the Jewish obligation to hold to this concept of God ...

Certainly in Israel today we are Messianic. The Jews feel themselves to have a mission here; they have a sense of mission. Restoration of sovereignty is tied to a concept of redemption. This had determined Jewish survival and it is the core of Jewish religious, moral and national consciousness. It explains the immigration to Israel of hundreds of thousands of Jews who never heard of Zionist doctrine but who, nevertheless, were moved to leave the lands wherein they dwelt to contribute with their own effort to the revival of the Hebrew nation in its historic home. (pp. 120-122)
Ben-Gurion's remarks above echo his 1936 testimony to the British Peel Commission: "The Bible is our mandate.''

On a more personal note in Recollections he wrote: "for many of us, anti-Semitic feeling had little to do with our dedication [to Zionism]. I personally never suffered anti-Semitic persecution ... We emigrated not for negative reasons of escape but for the positive purpose of rebuilding a homeland ..." (p. 36). The idea of Palestine as the Jewish homeland to be rebuilt is, again, a foundational Judaic religious idea.

Ben-Gurion's position is no aberration. Theodor Herzl also successfully cultivated rabbinical support that continued to bear fruit decades later. In his Zionist manifesto, The Jewish State, he had a definite, positive role for rabbis—"on whom we especially call"—and synagogue in the movement. Herzl argued that Jews "feel our historic affinity only through the faith of our fathers" and the Jewish "Faith unites us."

The influential Moses Hess, in "Rome and Jerusalem," wrote of the Zionist movement: We will "draw our inspiration from the deep well of Judaism". A 2001 scholarly biography of Hess features a chapter on "Hess's 'Return' to Judaism and Narrative Identity". A recent article in Modern Judaism - A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience refers to Hess as "a Prophet of Spiritual Zionism" (see also the epigraph to this blog quoting Hess).

To turn to a more contemporary source, in Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, the late Israel Shahak writes:
The ideological defence of Israeli policies are usually based on Jewish religious beliefs or, in the case of secular Jews, on the "historical rights" of the Jews which derive from those beliefs and retain the dogmatic character of religious faith.

... close analysis of Israeli grand strategies and actual principles of foreign policy, as they are expressed in Hebrew, makes it clear that it is "Jewish ideology," more than any other factor, which determines actual Israeli policies. The disregard of Judaism as it really is and of "Jewish ideology" makes those policies incomprehensible to foreign observers who usually know nothing about Judaism except crude apologetics.

The existence of an important component of Israeli policy, which is based on "Jewish ideology," makes its analysis politically imperative. This ideology is, in turn based on the attitudes of historic Judaism to non-Jews, ... Those attitudes necessarily influence many Jews, consciously or unconsciously. Our task here is to discuss historic Judaism in real terms.

Although the struggle against antisemitism (and of all other forms of racism) should never cease, the struggle against Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism, which must include a critique of classical Judaism, is now of equal or greater importance.
To successfully challenge Zionism we must have an accurate understanding of it and part of that includes dispensing with the myths of Israel's secular founding and secular Zionism.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The 9th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Wednesday, September 19, 2018, is the 9th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 9/18 and ends at dusk on 9/19.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

The 8th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Saturday, September 30, 2017, is the 8th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 9/29 and ends at dusk on 9/30.

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

The 7th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Wednesday, October 12, 2016, is the 7th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 10/11 and ends at dusk on 10/12.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Pharisees

... with the destruction of the Temple the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees.

Henceforth Jewish life was regulated by the teachings of the Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older, priestly tradition (Abot i. 1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. True, it gave the Jewish religion a legalistic tendency and made "separatism" its chief characteristic; yet only thus were the pure monotheistic faith, the ethical ideal, and the intellectual and spiritual character of the Jew preserved in the midst of the downfall of the old world and the deluge of barbarism which swept over the medieval world.

Source: Kaufmann Kohler, "Pharisees," Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Star of David is not an Ancient Symbol of Judaism

The subject of the Star of David comes up from time to time in anti-Zionist discourse. It recently popped up here where it appears in two controversial images of flags bearing that symbol.

There are at least two things to know about this subject: First, the Israeli flag is the Zionist flag. According to the World Zionist Organization: "The form and colors of the Israeli flag as we know it today was officially established as the flag of the Zionist Movement in the 18th Zionist Congress in 1933 (though it was introduced into the movement in the late 1800's). Six months after the declaration of the State, this flag was adopted as the national flag."

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs concurs:
At the ceremony of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, the dais was decorated with a picture of Theodor Herzl, flanked on either side by the flag of the World Zionist Organization. This flag, adopted by the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, had become accepted by Jewish communities throughout the world as the emblem of Zionism ...

[The] decision to adopt the Zionist flag to be the flag of the State of Israel reflects its power as a symbol of the spirit of the Zionist movement.
The second thing to know is that the symbol at the center of the Zionist/Israeli flag—a hexagram referred to as the Star of David a.k.a. the Magen David/Shield of David—is not an ancient symbol of Judaism.

As noted in the "Magen David" entry in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, the hexagram was used "as early as the Bronze Age ... in many civilizations and in regions as far apart as Mesopotamia and Britain." The symbol also "appears in early Byzantine and many medieval European churches ... Probably in imitation of church usage – and certainly not as a specifically Jewish symbol – the hexagram is found on some synagogues from the later Middle Ages ..."

So, how did the hexagram become associated with Jews and Judaism? According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica: "The prime motive behind the wide diffusion of the sign in the 19th century was the desire to imitate Christianity."

Again, The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs concurs:
... the Star of David was never a uniquely Jewish symbol. The standard name for the geometric shape is a hexagram or six-pointed star, composed of two interlocking equilateral triangles. In a classic article, Gershom Sholem shed light on the history of the "Star of David" and its connection with Judaism ...

According to Sholem, the motive for the widespread use of the Star of David was a wish to imitate Christianity. During the Emancipation, Jews needed a symbol of Judaism parallel to the cross, the universal symbol of Christianity. In particular, they wanted something to adorn the walls of the modern Jewish house of worship that would be symbolic like the cross. This is why the Star of David became prominent in the nineteenth century and why it was later used on ritual objects and in synagogues and eventually reached Poland and Russia. The pursuit of imitation, in Sholem's opinion, led to the dissemination of an emblem that was not really Jewish and conveyed no Jewish message.
In The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions (Jewish Publication Society, 2004), author Ronald L. Eisenberg writes (pp. 575-576):
During the Middle Ages, hexagrams appeared frequently on seals and in churches but rarely in synagogues or on Jewish ritual objects. Indeed, from antiquity until after the Renaissance the menorah ... rather than the hexagram was the primary symbol of Judaism ...

In Vienna ... [in 1656] a marker was set up to demarcate the boundary between the city and the Jewish ghetto. A cross identified the Christian section and a six-pointed star indicated the Jewish area. This was the first time that the Magen David was used as a religious-cultural symbol of the Jewish community.
History cannot tell us what a symbol means to living people now but it can illuminate the path to that meaning. The connection between the Star of David and Judaism is relatively new. It emerges as a counterpoint to Christianity and is inextricably intertwined with and tainted by the rise of Zionism, the ideology of Jewish apartheid in Palestine.

See also: Moshe Ronen. "Magen David: From mystical talisman to Zionist symbol." Ynetnews.com. May 3, 2009.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The 6th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, is the 6th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day.* This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

*The holiday begins at sunset on 9/22 and ends at dusk on 9/23.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

BDS in Palestine

Palestinians walk past a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2015, calling to boycott Israel. The international BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign aims to exert political and economic pressure on Israel in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Finkelstein, BDS, & Whitney Houston

Today, I read a nearly three-year-old Tablet Magazine interview with Norman G. Finkelstein, a scholar who's been frequently and affirmatively quoted in this blog. The piece, taken as a whole, provided interesting insights into Finkelstein, not the least of which concerns his choice to live in the "most densely populated Jewish ZIP code in America" and his telling contempt for "critics like Alan Dershowitz, who ... claim to love Jews but 'live among the goyim.' " The interview underscores the extent to which gifted and otherwise principled intellectuals can be blinded by prejudice and arrogance.

Given the subject matter of Finkelstein's life's work and this blog, I will focus first on a revealing bit in the interview relating to his blinkered Left Zionism and misguided rejection of the Palestinian BDS movement. Finkelstein says:
My own view is, you can't claim as a foundation the principle of international law and what BDS calls a rights-based approach and deny the fundamental principle that under international law, Israel is a state. That's a fact. There are no "ifs," there are no "ands," there are no "buts."
When you look at the International Court of Justice opinion, the very last sentence of the opinion—just read the very last sentence. It says two states. I mean, you just can’t get around that. You can't say you support a rights-based position and then you're ignoring what the law says. This is the law! And this is what I find completely unacceptable.
The problem for Finkelstein here is that there is nothing in the Palestinian civil society's call for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel that is inconsistent or in conflict with international law. The BDS call says nothing about one or two states and the very first paragraph references "the state of Israel". The BDS call and the BDS movement do not deny that Israel is a state. It is an outlaw, apartheid state but a state nonetheless and the BDS movement does not assert otherwise or ignore "what the law says".

The deeper, barely hinted at issue for Finkelstein is Jews' ability to continue to call the shots in Palestine. Earlier in his critique of the BDS movement he says:
The problem is, there are conflicting sets of principles. There's the principle of equality before a single unitary secular state. Then there's the second principle, and that's the right of self-determination of peoples. And the right of self-determination of peoples is, "No, we don't want to live together, and we want to live separately."
However, international law has never recognized a right of self-determination for colonizers and their descendants or any other dominant group to maintain a subject population in a subservient status or to keep them in exile. Two analogues to Finkelstein's Zionist reading of the right of self-determination in Palestine would be the right of Whites to maintain apartheid in South Africa or the right of Whites to maintain Jim Crow in the American South but no authority has ever interpreted international law in this way. Israel was created in flat defiance of the Palestinian right of self-determination; yet, perversely, Finkelstein invokes the doctrine to justify Jews locking in the subjugation and exile of Palestinians and locking them out of the Jewish state.

In paragraph 162 of the ICJ opinion we find the sentence Finkelstein emphasizes above:
The Court considers that it has a duty to draw the attention of the General Assembly, to which the present Opinion is addressed, to the need for these efforts to be encouraged with a view to achieving as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a negotiated solution to the outstanding problems and the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours, with peace and security for all in the region.
The same paragraph, however, also says: "The Court would emphasize that both Israel and Palestine are under an obligation scrupulously to observe the rules of international humanitarian law ..."

The International Court of Justice advisory opinion which Finkelstein quotes in support of his criticism of the BDS movement is no more nor less part of international law than UN General Assembly Resolution 194 which states: "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

Resolution 194 begins by expressing "deep appreciation of the progress achieved through the good offices of the late United Nations Mediator" in reference to Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, who helped save thousands of Jews during WW II. No good deed, it is said, goes unpunished and for his efforts Bernadotte was murdered by Jewish assassins—"a criminal group of terrorists in Jerusalem"—in Sept. 1948 during a ceasefire. You see, Bernadotte had the unmitigated gall to report to the UN Secretary-General that:
It is ... undeniable that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged by the hazards and strategy of the armed conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The majority of these refugees have come from territory which, under the Assembly resolution of 29 November, was to be included in the Jewish State. ... It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.
Folke Bernadotte's mistake was to think Arabs haves rights when Jews think otherwise. On the matter of the Palestinian right of return under international law Finkelstein, apparently, sides with Zionist assassins.

Okay, so admittedly this next section is a little bizarre. Finkelstein professes admiration for the late Whitney Houston. Yet, he cannot resist engaging in psycho-babble at her expense. Concerning her abuse at the hands of Bobby Brown, Finkelstein offers up this pearl:
Her daughter came home and said, "Mommy, he [Bobby Brown] spit on you," and she said, "It's all right, it's all right." And she said her daughter said, "No, it's not all right." And I thought, how could anyone spit on Whitney Houston?

[Interviewer:] Maybe she had to find the man who would spit on her.

Because she had so much power, she wanted somebody in charge. She liked that.
In case any more evidence was needed that Finkelstein has no idea what he's talking about, the interview ends with him opining: "I wish she had done gospel." Whitney Houston produced the best-selling Gospel album of all time. The Preacher's Wife soundtrack went triple platinum in the US alone and she included Gospel music in her performance repertoire throughout her career (see, e.g. here and here and here and here). Perhaps Finkelstein never cared much for her music, he just secretly admires her for once performing in Israel and hobnobbing with Ariel Sharon.

See also:

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vultures, Argentina, and Israel

Argentina and the "vultures" are back in the news, which makes this a good time to resurrect the post below, which was banned from Firedoglake last summer. Una versión de este artículo está disponible en español.

News of the Argentinian government's debt default is a hot media item recently but there is more to this story than meets the eye. The major actor pushing Argentina into default is a "vulture fund" manager named Paul Singer. Mother Jones last year portrayed Singer as "the GOP's Go-To Guy on Wall Street" which, while true, does not tell the whole story.

Like the New York Times, Mother Jones has covered up the Israel angle on Singer, which is an important part of his campaign against Argentina. Furthermore, in portraying him as a Republican, MJ neglects to mention Singer's strong ties to the Democratic Party.

As reported by the Inter Press Service (IPS) last year:
When Argentina defaulted on its national debt in 2001, U.S. hedge funds swooped in to buy the nation’s bonds at pennies on the dollar, confident they would eventually prevail in the U.S. legal system and force the country to pay out in full.
That battle is set to reach the Supreme Court later this year, but the country’s creditors on Wall Street – labeled 'vulture capitalists' by their critics – are also making their case in Congress and the court of public opinion, with a current media campaign aimed at painting Argentina as an increasingly rogue nation in bed with Washington's enemies.
The public relations effort, which focuses on Argentina's increasingly friendly relations with Iran ...
The vehicle for that effort is called the American Task Force Argentina (ATFA) and "the people who head up" the ATFA, "the main lobbying organization behind Singer's current campaign ... sit on the high councils of the Democratic Party and would likely be part of any Hillary Clinton administration."

The ATFA is led by three people: Robert Raben, whose legislative career began with seven years on Barney Frank's staff and who eventually served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration; Robert J. Shapiro, who is a Senior Fellow of the Progressive Policy Institute and was appointed U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs under Bill Clinton, whom he advised during his first presidential campaign; and, Nancy Soderberg who served in the Clinton White House on the National Security Council and later as an Alternate Representative to the United Nations. Soderberg also helped the "tiny team [that] nailed down [the] Jewish vote for Obama" in 2012.

As IPS puts it: "The details of Argentina's relationship with Iran – which consists mostly of agricultural exports – are not terribly important to ATFA, however." Instead, the ATFA has chosen to portray Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner as having made "a pact with the devil" in reference to a 2013 "agreement establishing a joint 'truth commission' with Tehran" whose allegedly "only purpose ... is to whitewash Iran's responsibility for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires ..."

Singer's targeting of Iran via the ATFA dovetails nicely with his own support of the Jewish state as Iran has long been in Zionist crosshairs. According to the IPS:
In 2007, Singer described himself as a believer in American exceptionalism, noting that he has given "millions of dollars to Republican organizations that emphasize a strong military and support Israel." Speaking to the New York Times, Singer explained that he believes the West "finds itself at an early stage of a drawn-out existential struggle with radical strains of pan-national Islamists."
But to return to the financial stakes for Argentina for a moment let's go back to the article by Conn Hallinan on truthdig:
A recent decision by federal District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan may not only force Argentina to pay the vultures, it could unravel a 2006 debt deal between Buenos Aires and other creditors. Under the highly controversial principle of "pari passu" ("equal ranking among creditors"), if the vultures are compensated, so must all the other creditors, even those who settled back in 2006. That bill could reach $15 billion. Given that Argentina has only about $28 billion in foreign reserves, the tab could send Buenos Aires into a recession or force the country into bankruptcy.
The "sleight of hand" involves the fact that the countries the vultures prey on are not really in debt to creditors such as Singer and Eric Hermann of FH International Asset Management LLC. The hedge funds look for distressed countries, then buy their debt at bargain basement prices and sit on it. In the meantime, other creditors cut a deal to take a reduced payment on their bonds, which in turn helps improve the debtor's economy and allows it to emerge from default.
That's when the vultures sue, threatening to shut down outside aid programs, seize assets and freeze debtor nations out of international finance if they don't pay up. Recent examples involving Singer include the Republic of Congo being forced to pay him $90 million on a $10 million investment. Singer's investment of $48 million in Argentina's debt would net him a 1,608 percent profit if Buenos Aires pays in full. Peru was similarly plundered.
With the default announcement today Forbes was saying:
Things couldn't have come out worse. Everyone lost: Argentina defaulted on its sovereign debt for the second time in nearly 13 years, the holdout bond holders were left empty handed, and Federal Judge Thomas Griesa's strategy to force Argentine to negotiate a settlement with the so-called venture funds failed.
But, not so fast. The Jewish Business News predicted, also today: "Paul Singer Will Likely Collect Most of His $1.3 Billion Even as Argentina Defaults on Debt Payments". And that's a good thing because, according to Liel Leibovitz, writing in Tablet Magazine: "Jewish law, in its infinite wisdom" says "Sorry, Argentina, but a Debt Is a Debt" and "Pay Up, Argentina: It's the (Jewish) Law" even if the return on 'investment' is 1,608% and payment results in possibly years of hardship for millions of people. Of course, if Argentina had a sugar daddy bankrolling them as Israel does they wouldn't be in this mess now would they?

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The 5th Annual Bill Henry International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day

Bill Henry, Z"L,circa 1940
Saturday, October 4, 2014, is the 5th annual Bill Henry international Eat-a-Cheeseburger day. This day honors the memory of Bill Henry (né Herskovitz), Z"L, for a decision that quite possibly saved an eight-year-old boy from a life of "Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism". For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see the 2011 post about this momentous day.

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Buitres, Argentina, e Israel

El artículo que sigue fue traducido de una versión inglesa. Sin embargo, soy ni un locutor nativo del español. Me disculpo por cualquier error de la traducción. Las correcciones son agradables.

Las noticias del impago de la deuda del gobierno argentino es un elemento multimedia caliente recientemente, pero hay más en esta historia que parece a simple vista. El actor principal que empuja Argentina en default es un 'fondo buitre' gerente llamado Paul Singer. El año pasado la revista Mother Jones descrito Singer como "the GOP's Go-To Guy on Wall Street", que, aunque es verdad, no cuentan toda la historia.

Al igual que el New York Times, Mother Jones ha oculto la conexión de Israel detrás de los esfuerzos de Singer, que es una parte importante de su campaña contra Argentina. Además, en retratarlo como republicano la revista deja de mencionar los fuertes vínculos de Singer con el Partido Demócrata

Como ha informado la agencia Inter Press Service (IPS) el año pasado:
Cuando Argentina entró en suspensión de pagos (default) de su deuda en 2001, varios fondos especulativos estadounidenses se abalanzaron a comprar los deprimidos bonos por unos centavos, confiados en que a la postre vencerían en los estrados de su país y obligarían a Buenos Aires a pagar hasta el último dólar del precio nominal.

La batalla por esa deuda llegará a la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos este año, pero los acreedores de Wall Street –llamados "capitalistas buitres" por sus críticos—también llevaron el caso al Congreso legislativo y a la opinión pública con una campaña mediática que presenta a Argentina como una nación cada vez más "renegada" y asociada con los enemigos de Washington.

Este esfuerzo de relaciones públicas, que se centra en las relaciones crecientemente más amistosas de Buenos Aires con Teherán ...
El vehículo para que el esfuerzo se llama el Grupo de Tareas Estadounidense para Argentina (ATFA, por sus siglas en inglés). Las "personas que encabezan" la ATFA, "la principal organización de lobby detrás de la actual campaña de Singer ... se sientan en los altos consejos del Partido Demócrata y son probable que sea parte de cualquier administración Hillary Clinton".

El ATFA está liderado por tres personas: Robert Raben, cuya carrera legislativa comenzó con siete años en el personal de Barney Frank y que con el tiempo se desempeñó como Fiscal General Asistente del Director Adjunto en el gobierno de Clinton; Robert J. Shapiro, quien es un Senior Fellow del Instituto de Política Progresista y fue nombrado subsecretario de Comercio de EE.UU. para Asuntos Económicos del gobierno de Bill Clinton, a quien aconsejó durante su primera campaña presidencial; y, Nancy Soderberg que sirvió en la Casa Blanca de Clinton en el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional y luego como Representante Alterno ante las Naciones Unidas. Soderberg también ayudó al " pequeño equipo [que] clavado [el] voto judío de Obama "en 2012.

Como IPS lo expresa así: "Los detalles de las relaciones de Argentina con Irán –que consisten mayoritariamente en exportaciones agrícolas– no le interesan mucho a la ATFA." En cambio, el ATFA ha elegido para retratar el presidente argentino de Cristina Kirchner por haber hecho "un pacto con el diablo", en referencia a un 2013 "acuerdo que establezca un 'comisión de la verdad' conjunta con Teherán", cuyo supuestamente "único propósito ... es para encubrir la responsabilidad de Irán por el atentado contra el centro comunitario judío en Buenos Aires 1994 ..."

Focalización de Singer de Irán a través de la ATFA encaja muy bien con su propio apoyo del Estado judío como Irán ha sido durante mucho tiempo en el retículo en cruz sionistas. Según los IPS:
En 2007, Singer se describió a sí mismo como un creyente del excepcionalismo estadounidense y reveló haber aportado “millones de dólares a organizaciones republicanas que insisten en (la necesidad de) un ejército poderoso y en el apoyo a Israel”.

En entrevista con el periódico The New York Times, Singer dijo creer que Occidente “se encuentra en una etapa temprana de una prolongada lucha existencial con grupos radicales de islamistas pannacionales”.
Pero volvamos a las apuestas financieras de Argentina por un momento vamos a ir de nuevo a el artículo de Conn Hallinan en Truthdig:
Una reciente decisión del juez de distrito federal Thomas Griesa en Manhattan no sólo puede obligar a Argentina a pagar a los buitres, podría desentrañar un acuerdo sobre la deuda de 2006 entre Buenos Aires y otros acreedores. Bajo el principio muy controvertido de "pari passu" ("clasificación de igualdad entre los acreedores"), si se compensan los buitres, así que deben todos los demás acreedores, incluso los que se establecieron en 2006. Ese cuenta podría alcanzar los $15 mil millones. Teniendo en cuenta que Argentina tiene sólo alrededor de $28 mil millones en reservas en moneda extranjera, en la pestaña podría enviar a Buenos Aires en una recesión o forzar al país a la bancarrota.

El "juego de manos" implica el hecho de que los países que los buitres se aprovechan no están realmente en deuda a acreedores, tal como Singer y Eric Hermann de FH International Asset Management LLC. Los fondos de cobertura buscan los países en dificultades, y luego comprar su deuda a precios de ganga y lo manténgalo. Mientras tanto, los demás acreedores llegaron a un acuerdo para tomar un pago reducido de sus bonos, que a su vez ayuda a mejorar la economía del deudor y le permite salir de default financiero.

Fue entonces cuando los buitres demandar, amenazando con terminar los programas de ayuda exterior, confiscar los activos y excluir las naciones deudoras de las finanzas internacionales, si no pagan. Ejemplos recientes que involucran Singer incluyen la República de Congo está obligado a pagarle $90 millones en una inversión de $10 millones. El inversión de Singer de 48 millones de dólares en la deuda argentino se le ganaria 1.608 por ciento de beneficio si Buenos Aires paga en su totalidadsi Buenos Aires paga en su totalidad. Perú fue saqueado de manera similar.
Con el anuncio de del default financiero Forbes estaba diciendo:
Las cosas no podían haber salido peor. Todos perdieron: Argentina dejó de pagar su deuda soberana, por segunda vez en casi 13 años, los holdouts, o "no colaboradores" se quedaron con las manos vacías, y la estrategia de la jueza federal Thomas Griesa para forzar argentino para negociar un acuerdo con los así llamados fondos de capital riesgo fallaron.
Pero, no tan rápido. La Los Noticias de Negocios Judío predijo, también hoy: "Paul Singer Recogerá Probablemente la Mayoría de sus $1.3 mil millones a Pesar de que Argentina Los Impagos de Pagos de la Deuda". Y eso es una buena cosa porque, de acuerdo con Liel Leibovitz, la escritura en la Revista Tableta: "La ley judía, en su infinita sabiduría", dice "Lo siento, Argentina, pero una deuda es una deuda" y "¡A Pagar!, Argentina: Es la (judía ) Ley" incluso si el retorno de la "inversión" es 1.608% y el pago posiblemente cause años de dificultades para millones de personas. Por supuesto, si la Argentina tenía un viejo rico financiando ellos como hace Israel ellos no estarían en este lío ahora ¿verdad?

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Death rides forth flag high
His sign a six-pointed star
Dirt dries on mass graves

-by Jeanette D.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Mediocrity of James Rhodenhiser

Late last month, Henry Herskovitz of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends extended an invitation to the Rev. James C. Rhodenhiser of St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church to meet with him and other critics of JWPF's vigil. The specific occasion for the offer was the visit to Ann Arbor of Dan McGown and Paul Eisen of Deir Yassin Remembered. After the invite and an explanation Herskovitz wrote, "We would certainly be willing to listen to what you and other invitees have to say." Below, via Herskovitz, is Rhodenhiser's response in toto and unedited except for the addition of one hyperlink.

Henry, can't get the mayor or Ken early Saturday a.m. To hear why scapegoating is a good idea. apologizing would be the way to get Jewish community attention and door to actual dialogue, not posters advocating overthrow of Israel or blaming Zionism for Nazism. Peace is always the result of mutuality not hostility. Ken and I are willing to put up an Israeli flag at our places if you wanted to give Beth Israel a break those weekends, we could make up a schedule together. God bless, james
Reading this, one wonders if Rhodenhiser is really so ill-informed or ill-educated that he actually believes there is any scapegoating going on. Merriam-Webster defines a scapegoat as "a person who is unfairly blamed for something that others have done". However, Beth Israel Congregation (BIC) has never been blamed "unfairly" nor for what "others have done".

BIC is fairly subject to protest for their own public support for the Jewish state that was created by force by a minority population in someone else's homeland. BIC is fairly subject to protest for indoctrinating children into militant Zionism. BIC is fairly subject to protest for its cheer-leading when Israel goes to war. BIC is fairly subject to protest for its toleration of its senior rabbi's apologetics of torture.

Rhodenhiser writes about opening (?) the "door to actual dialogue". He would do well to read read "When Dialogue is NOT our Hope" by Joseph Phelps in the Mennonite journal, Conciliation Quarterly. Here's part of what Phelps writes:
We cannot dialogue when: ...

When an issue of justice is involved.

This is the most complex reason for halting dialogue. Some conflicts are more than a difference of perspectives. As Martin Luther King reminded us, sometimes there are reasons "why we can't wait." People of God cannot be content to engage in dialogue with perpetrators of evil and injustice. We must be hesitant and cautious to place such strong labels on an individual or group, but sometimes we must.

There are times when action must take precedence over talk, when conflict should be pursued in place of a false peace. This is what Jeremiah (6:14) accused the prophets of Jerusalem of doing: "They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, 'Peace, Peace,' when there is no peace." A dialogue between Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus company which tried to force her to give up her seat in the 1950s was not in order ... Clearly, the time for talking had passed. An act of resistance, a shifting of sentiment, and a redefinition of power was necessary before honest dialogue could resume.

Jesus reminded us that there would be issues worth (non-violently) fighting over: "Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather dissension" (Luke 12:51). His stance for justice and true holiness put Him in constant conflict with those who preferred the status quo. The conflict exposed the need for radical change. To have quelled the conflict through dialogue would have been to neglect the work for which He was sent ...
Yes, a talking shop would be much easier and more comfortable than actually taking a decade-long public, prophetic stand but JWPF is not a dialogue group; it is a peace and justice action group. Here is its position:
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends will end the vigils if Beth Israel satisfies our three previously stated requests or if equivalent goals are achieved through negotiations with Beth Israel: committing to work for the equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel; committing to work for the end of the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; and committing to work for the right of Palestinians to return to the homes from which they were forcibly removed in what was to become Israel.
The above words were written by a JWPF founder, the late Sol Metz (they are erroneously and mysteriously attributed to someone else on the MLive web site). No dialogue with BIC is necessary or warranted. Just as the Montgomery bus company ended its support for segregation, BIC can ends its support for Jewish supremacism in Palestine. However, I suspect the folks at BIC are far more devoted to their racist cause than the owners of the bus company ever were.

I've never met the Rev. Rhodenhiser. I know of him only through the little that I've read by him and about him. Based on that small sample though he strikes me as the kind of cleric the Rev. William Sloane Coffin had in mind when he said: "I think the bright flames of Christianity are now down to smoldering embers, if not ashes, of feeling comfortable. The church is pretty much down to therapy and management. There's really little prophetic fire ... we have mediocre politicians, and the clergy is pretty mediocre also."

I can easily imagine a long ago version of Rhodenhiser scolding the prophet Jeremiah as he stood "in the gate of the LORD'S house" and rebuked Israel (Jeremiah 7). I can see him chastising Amos for telling Beth Israel in the Lord's name: "I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies" because the Israelites had turned "justice to wormwood" and brought "righteousness to the ground." Look, there's James Rhodenhiser denouncing Isaiah to the city officials for telling Israel they are a "sinful nation, [a] people laden with iniquity" whose "hands are full of blood".

And, hey, isn't that the Rev. Rhodenhiser admonishing Jesus of Nazareth, wagging his finger and telling him "Peace is always the result of mutuality not hostility" after, all in one episode, Jesus: Drove the money-changers from the Temple; provoked the elders and chief priests to anger with his defiance and teachings; called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, blind fools, snakes, and vipers; and condemned the Holy City saying "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!"? Jesus wasn't much for Rhodenhiser-style dialogue, it would seem, and Rhodenhiser isn't much for Jesus or Coffin-style prophetic fire.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beth Sholom Salutes JWPF on Ten Years

Earlier this month Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends celebrated ten years of faithfulness in the struggle for justice and peace in Palestine. Once again, Temple Beth Sholom has marked the occasion.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

1,443 Words of (Mostly) Balderdash

There is no such thing, it is said, as bad publicity. However, a recent article in Tablet Magazine would have been better publicity for Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends (JWPF) if author Steve Friess had been committed to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Friess would also benefit by learning a thing or two about professional journalism from Ryan Stanton. Below are several excerpts, preceded by "SF", from Friess' September 12 article, "500 Days of Protest in Ann Arbor", my comments follow each excerpt.

SF: "protesters ... wave doctored Israeli flags, with red lines crossing out the Star of David in the middle, and solicit honks from passing motorists."

Only one "doctored" Israeli flag has appeared at the protest outside the Beth Israel Congregation (BIC). On that flag, the red slash of the international no/prohibition symbol does indeed cross the "star of David", aka the "magen David", but solely because it is the central emblem adorning the flag of the State of Israel. That emblem, a hexagram, is not an ancient Judaic symbol.

As noted in the "Magen David" entry in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, the hexagram was used "as early as the Bronze Age ... in many civilizations and in regions as far apart as Mesopotamia and Britain." The symbol also "appears in early Byzantine and many medieval European churches ... Probably in imitation of church usage – and certainly not as a specifically Jewish symbol – the hexagram is found on some synagogues from the later Middle Ages ..."

So, how did the hexagram become associated with Jews and Judaism? According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica: "The prime motive behind the wide diffusion of the sign in the 19th century was the desire to imitate Christianity. ... From such general use it was taken over by the Zionist movement. The very first issue of Die Welt, Herzl's Zionist journal, bore it as its emblem."

Judaism 101 adds: "The Magen David gained popularity as a symbol of Judaism when it was adopted as the emblem of the Zionist movement in 1897, but the symbol continued to be controversial for many years afterward. When the modern state of Israel was founded, there was much debate over whether this symbol should be used on the flag."

SF: "the group—known as Jewish Witnesses For Peace and Friends even though Herskovitz is its only regular Jewish participant ..."

This false and misleading. Marcia Federbush, who is Jewish, also attends the vigil regularly. While it is true that a majority of current participants are not Jewish, this was not always the case. When the vigil started, Jews comprised a majority. Several Jews quit because they were not able to stand up to the pressure and smears meted out by Zionist Jews. Further, other Jews who were there from the beginning, such as Rachel Persico, Larry Hochman, and Sol Metz, have since died. It is, perhaps, a sign of the moral decrepitude of the larger Jewish community that no younger Jews have come forward to take their places.

SF: "Almost every Shabbat since Sept. 13, 2003, they have appeared at this corner on Washtenaw Avenue decrying the synagogue as an agent of Palestinian oppression."

This is also misleading. No one in JWPF asserts that BIC is "an agent of Palestinian oppression". As AnnArbor.com reported nearly a month ago: "Herskovitz said his group isn't blaming the synagogue for the actions of a foreign government — just holding the congregation accountable for supporting the state of Israel."

What is at issue is the synagogue's active and willful complicity in the oppression of Palestinians. This takes the form of its public expressions for the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine, the silencing of all but the most tepid of Jewish critics of the Jewish State, its trips to Israel to indoctrinate BIC youth into militant Zionism, and its cheer-leading when Israel goes to war. Not surprisingly, BIC leaders and members want to support Israel without experiencing the moral opprobrium that is their due.

SF: "But [Henry] Herskovitz's efforts are rooted in an old-fashioned intra-faith grudge: In 2003, the synagogue refused to let him present a slideshow of photographs he'd taken at a Palestinian refugee camp that he felt documented human rights abuses. Incensed, he turned to local pro-Palestinian groups for support."

To reduce Herskovitz's objections to being silenced by his synagogue, which had no problem hosting yoga classes on the sabbath, to an "old-fashioned intra-faith grudge" is a way of trivializing the issue. One can imagine a 17th century Steve Friess similarly characterizing Spinoza's expulsion from Amsterdam's Jewish community as an "old-fashioned intra-faith grudge".

Curious readers are invited to view the photos Herskovitz collected on his 2002 visit to the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank. His photos document the experience that began the transformation of a nominally Zionist Jew into a stalwart enemy of Jewish hypocrisy and chauvinism. Also, Herskovitz first turned to fellow Jews and the peace community from which he came when his efforts were rejected by Rabbi Dobrusin.

SF: "Beth Israel's rabbi, Robert Dobrusin, said he rejected the original request because he didn't know what context Herskovitz planned to use for his presentation. 'If what's happened since then is any indication, I was right,' Dobrusin said this week."

This is a rather strange assertion. Why didn't Dobrusin ask Herskovitz about the "context" and content? And why didn't Friess ask Dobrusin about that? In fact, I've spoken to Henry Herskovitz and he says Dobrusin knew exactly what he wanted to do.

SF: "Herskovitz, for his part, first called on Beth Israel to denounce Israel's existence, and now promises they'll stand down if Dobrusin removes the Israeli flag from the sanctuary."

Here is Herskovitz's comment on the Tablet Magazine web site:
Friess' claim that "Herskovitz, for his part, first called on Beth Israel to denounce Israel’s existence" is simply not true. Though I personally believe that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish supremacist state, I have never called upon Beth Israel to do the same, whether it was when the vigils started, nor now.

Rather, as our deceased friend and vigiler Sol Metz reiterated in the Ann Arbor News (July 17, 2009): "Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends will end the vigils if Beth Israel satisfies our three previously stated requests or if equivalent goals are achieved through negotiations with Beth Israel: Committing to work for the equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, committing to work for the end of the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, and committing to work for the right of Palestinians to return to the homes from which they were forcibly removed in what was to become Israel."
It is also inaccurate to report that removing the flag will end the vigils. That is Herskovitz's personal issue, JWPF has never adopted that position collectively.

SF:"[Herskovitz] says he attended High Holiday services at Beth Israel before Dobrusin's 1988 hire, but now he spends Yom Kippur each year taunting fasting worshippers by dubbing it International Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day."

Herskovitz never dubbed Yom Kippur anything and he certainly doesn't taunt anyone, no one brings burgers to the vigil. The only way "worshippers" would even know about the Bill Henry, Z"L, international Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day is if they chose to read about it here, in Herskovitz's weekly vigil reports, or, now, from Friess' article. Not much of a taunt.

SF: "[Herskovitz] and his group are scrupulous about staying off synagogue property and not obstructing anyone's ability to come and go—just as the synagogue has been scrupulous about respecting Herskovitz's First Amendment right to carry on protesting."

There is some truth to this. JWPF has been scrupulous about not obstructing people, the only people ever investigated or arrested by police in connection with the protests were a Beth Israel congregant, Eli Avny (Assault with a Deadly Weapon), and a BIC guest, Abraham Seligman (Assault and Battery). But there is a false equivalence suggested here. For, while JWPF has never sought any means, legal or extra-legal, to prevent people from attending services, the congregation has not been similarly respectful of the rights of JWPF members.

In 2007, it came to light that BIC was handing out a leaflet entitled,"Frequently Asked Questions About the Synagogue Protesters". It included these words:
Since what they are doing is legal, we cannot force them to leave, and we do not want to hand them the publicity a legal fight would entail. Our instincts in this area have been affirmed by the current and former Ann Arbor police chiefs, and by numerous other attorneys and community leaders we gave consulted. We continue to investigate legal options, albeit without much optimism.
It is clear that the leaders of BIC acknowledge the free speech rights of JWPF only grudgingly and, at least at that time, they continued look for the means to silence them.

SF: "But even many who are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians regard Herskovitz's group as an embarrassment. Imam Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, denounced the protest to The Arab American News, noting: "We'd be hypocrites to say it's not civil in front of mosques yet to endorse it taking place at other houses of worship ... There's a time and place for everything, and it would not be fitting for us as Muslims to protest in front of Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath day."

Interesting. Friess writes about "many" but, quoting a two-year-old article, he only cites a one person, Dawud Walid, a self-described "Black American Muslim" and a "revert to Islam" (read Walid's contribution in All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim). Here's something else attributed to him: "Dawud Walid ... said the root cause of the conflict [in Lebanon] was Israeli occupation of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian territory, not Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as the Bush Administration would prefer people to believe. He also told the cheering crowd that the interests of Israel are not the same as and should never supersede America's." (Source: Art Aisner, "Marchers protest war: Multiple speakers at rally highly critical of Israel", Ann Arbor News, August 12, 2006).

So, yes, if he still believe as he did seven years ago then Walid can probably fairly be said to be sympathetic to Palestinians so why does he object to the vigils?  Not for Walid is the reasoning of Rabbi Abraham Heschel: "Worship preceded or followed by evil acts becomes an absurdity. The holy place is doomed when people indulge in unholy deeds." He is uninterested in what goes on in the synagogue or what it stands for.

It's simple, Walid doesn't want people protesting outside mosques. Here's what Herskovitz said about this in the same article Friess cites: "I would say that if a mosque was a Zionist mosque, as strange as that may sound, I would certainly not attack a group for protesting in front of such a mosque; we have protested in front of Zionist churches and synagogues before."

Perhaps, Walid's head-in-the-sand approach helps explain why he and an Episcopal bishop collaborated with Rabbi Dobrusin on an op-ed about torture. You see, a year before that op-ed was published Rabbi Dobrusin explained at a sabbath service how torture could be "justified" under Judaic law. Here's the key paragraph in Dobrusin's sermon:
Some might ask: Doesn't making torture illegal tie the hands of our military in the event that an act of torture might possibly save thousands of Americans? Think about how we would respond if, God forbid, our family members were in danger. We would do what we thought we had to do, and then would seek to defend ourselves as having committed a justified act of self-defense. But we don't go into situations saying that morals don't matter in how we live our lives.
Yes, opposition to torture matters--all the way up to the point that it doesn't. When the situation gets challenging then "We would do what we thought we had to do ..."

SF: "Others point out that Dobrusin is a poor target, because the rabbi has been outspoken in his support for a two-state peace settlement. 'The rabbi is one of the most outspoken for addressing full equality for Arab citizens,' said Ann Arbor City Councilman Chuck Warpehoski, director of the local Interfaith Council, which has condemned Herskovitz and his followers. 'That's his dream for what Israel should be. We're talking about one of the people most willing to be critical of Israeli policy and he's the one who's targeted for this kind of abuse. It boggles the mind.' "

What truly "boggles the mind" is that any supposedly rational, ethical person could think that "support for a two-state peace settlement" is in any way about peace, justice, or "full equality." The South African apartheid regime, too, wanted separate states for Whites and Blacks but no decent, thinking person ever fell for that. By talking about "Arab citizens" Warpehoski also conveniently leaves 4.9 million Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 out in the cold. Perhaps dollar signs are obscuring his moral vision, earlier this year the editor of A2Politico.com described Warpehoski as "a walking conflict of interest".

SF: "Herskovitz was happy to elaborate ... 'I said it's incumbent upon Jews to understand why they were hated and why they were treated so badly not only in Germany but other places,' he said. 'For one thing, the Bolsheviks from Russia were coming into Germany and Hitler feared the Bolsheviks, which were dominated by Jewish leadership. So he looked around and said, "Well, I have all these Jews in Germany." It's like the Japanese-Americans in World War Two, we didn't trust them so we rounded them up. That's what Hitler did.' Such commentary, while historically suspect and abhorrent to most Jews, has made Herskovitz a celebrity of the anti-Israel fringe."

Certainly, it is the burden of Jewish mainstream discourse to defend and propagate the notion of Jews as eternal innocents and their 'enemies' as irrational people who hate them only because of Jews' innate goodness, material success, godliness, or ________ (fill in the blank with a positive attribute of your choice). However, there are Jews (no one else can be trusted with such matters, right?) who lend credence to the idea that the rise of Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich were influenced by the behavior of Jews.

As Theodor Herzl explained in The Jewish State (1896):
... Governments will never take action against all Jews. The equal rights of the Jew before the law cannot be withdrawn where they have once been conceded; for the first attempt at withdrawal would immediately drive all Jews, rich and poor alike, into the ranks of revolutionary parties. The beginning of any official acts of injustice against the Jews invariably brings about economic crises. Therefore, no weapons can be effectively used against us, because these injure the hands that wield them. Meantime hatred grows apace.
Although Herzl was clearly mistaken in failing to anticipate the Third Reich his main point is well-taken and Nazi Germany is an exception that proves the rule. Jews did use their power to create an economic crisis in Germany and their efforts to topple Hitler may well have succeeded if they hadn't been halted by Jews

Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, writing in Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism (2007), develop the idea that Jewish radicalism helps explain animosity toward Jews. In fact, they have a whole chapter on the subject where they state flatly: "During the last century some of these Jews have contributed to intense Jew-hatred. These are radical and revolutionary Jews" (p. 42). They assert, "The association of Jews with revolutionary doctrines and social upheaval has not, unfortunately, been the product of antisemites' imaginations" (p. 43). They take note of "the highly disproportionate role played by Jews in radical causes ..." (p. 43) explaining that "radical alienated Jews have been active in societies as diverse as despotic and antisemitic czarist Russia, the democratic Weimar Germany, and the United States" (pp. 44-45).

They remind readers, for example, that "Béla Kun, a Jew, established the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic in March of [1919]. Of the 48 people's commissars in his government, 30 were Jews as were 161 of its 202 highest officials" (p. 46)."In Germany," they write, "until 1933 when Hitler came to power, the predominance of Jews on the radical left was as pronounced as in Russia. ... These Jewish radicals wielded a major influence over the cultural and intellectual life of Weimar Germany, an influence utterly disproportionate to their numbers ... " and "to many Germans ... they stood out as destroyers of everything German" ( p. 46).

In The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (1993), Benjamin Ginsberg argues "Jews played key roles in constructing a number of the most important states to emerge ... over the past 700 years. ... For many of these states, Jews were crucial in building and staffing institutions of extraction, coercion, administration, and mobilization ... these relationships have been the chief catalysts for organized anti-Semitism" (p. 11). Of Soviet Russia and the USSR, he says: "the special contribution of the Jews to the Bolshevik state involved the organization of coercion. From the beginning, the Soviet state relied heavily upon military, police, and security services to sustain itself, and Jews were active in these agencies. ... Jews had traditionally been at the margins of Russian society and, hence, prepared to staff and direct the coercive instruments upon which the state relied to control its citizens" (pp. 30-31).

Ginsberg also goes into some detail about how Jews were central to the creation of the Weimar Republic and dominated German economic, political, and cultural life during the inter-war period. And Ginsberg cites Rosa Luxemburg, a Jewish communist, as "one of the most prominent leaders" of the failed German Revolution of 1918–19, and mentions three other Jews prominent in the communist coup d'etat in Bavaria that resulted in the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919: Eugen Leviné, Gustav Landauer, and Ernst Toller (p. 29).

From Samuel Landman, in Great Britain, the Jews and Palestine (1936) and echoing British PM Lloyd George, we learn that American Zionist Jews were mobilized on a "quid pro quo contract basis" to bring the US into World War I on the side of Britain and France (p. 4). The payoff was the Balfour Declaration. Landman was a British Jewish Zionist insider and he claims: "The fact that it was Jewish help that brought U.S.A. into the War on the side of the Allies has rankled ever since in German—especially Nazi—minds, and has contributed in no small measure to the prominence which anti-Semitism occupies in the Nazi programme" (p. 6).

Regarding Bolshevik Russia, Winston Churchill averred in 1920: "There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution, by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews, it is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin [in fact, Lenin, too, had Jewish ancestry] the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders." Of course, since Churchill is not Jewish he cannot be regarded as a reliable source in this matter.

Now, let's sum up what we have learned in this final section. Contra Friess, there is nothing "suspect" about Herskovitz's "commentary" about attempting to understand the rational basis for German antipathy to Jews. This is not to excuse the irrational imputation of collective guilt to all Jews qua Jews but to point out that there is evidence that Jews, a tiny minority, exercised disproportionate power in Russia, Germany, and elsewhere. Jews used power in their perceived self-interest and in a manner which alienated and angered members of the majority populations of these countries. Jews may find this truth "abhorrent" but they do no one, least of all themselves, any favors by refusing to wrestle with it.

Finally, Friess claims that Herskovitz's "commentary" has made him "a celebrity of the anti-Israel fringe." My last question to Friess is what fringe? There is reason to believe that the pro-Israel crowd may be the true fringe. According to an international scientific poll commissioned by the BBC this year, only 21% of respondents thought Israel had a "mainly positive" influence in the world. 52% thought Israel had a "mainly negative" influence, putting the country in the same class with North Korea.

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