Friday, December 22, 2006

Beth Israel Attackers Identified; One Charged

In August, I wrote a post entitled "Assault at Beth Israel Congregation" concerning an incident at a special, non-Sabbath protest outside Beth Israel Congregation (BIC) to protest the group's open support for Israel during its murderous assault on Lebanon last summer. I was present at this protest and witnessed some of the events described below. Just weeks later there was another assault leading to police involvement. The fruits of a Freedom of Information Act request I drafted last October have now been harvested and shared.

The first perpetrator is Eli Avny (pictured at right; this photo was taken moments after the assault), a member of BIC. On the day of the assault, Avny was driving a silver Mercury Milan with Michigan license plate ABE7727. After a thorough and professional investigation, the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) recommended that Avny be charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon but Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Susan Junck of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office refused to authorize the charge. So much for the Criminal Division's "emphasis on ... the aggressive prosecution of violent crimes."

As the AAPD's "Incident Report Narrative" notes, "The suspect [Avny] used his vehicle to swerve at a group of protesters." The group included two young children and, although physically unhurt, the victims were very shaken by Avny's actions. In his first contact with police, Avny complained about being harassed and said, "he made a sharp turn onto Austin because he was late for church services." In a subsequent interview, Avny "stated that he had 'cut the corner' " and " 'I think I may be getting a ticket here,' referring to how he explained he cut the corner." Avny denied he had committed assault but through his attorney Avny later refused a police request to take a polygraph "unless there was a guarantee that there would be no charges if he passed." No such guarantee was given and Avny never took the polygraph and he has, apparently, walked away scot-free without even getting a ticket.

Less than a month after the Avny incident, another assault was committed against a member of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends (JWPF). At right is the scanned image (click to enlarge) of the criminal complaint against Abraham Seligman of South Euclid , OH, for assault and battery. Seligman was in town to attend a bat mitzvah. Seligman had just returned from Israel--where they know how to take care of protesters--and, according to the "Incident Report Narrative," Seligman told police, "he could not believe people were allowed to stand around and behave as 'these folks are.' "

When the officers failed to behave like Israeli storm troopers Seligman, apparently, decided to take matters into his own hands and walked across the street to assault, in full view of police, a JWPF member who was videotaping him (I've seen the videotape of this incident and I hope to get it uploaded to the internet soon). Contrary to the claims of Helen Aminoff in her letter to the Ann Arbor News (11/16/2006), Seligman was not "entering a house of worship" when he committed his assault and battery against a nonviolent protester.

The video camera was present to deter BIC members and guests from cursing, assaulting, and spitting on JWPF protesters. Two witnesses told police that, before striking him, Seligman told his victim that he "was lucky the police are here because if they were not ..." According to the police report, officers heard Seligman tell his victim that "his mother is a mother of Hitler." Another witness said that before the incident Seligman told her "she needed to get her coffin ready ..."

When he was arrested, Seligman was miffed, "Officer, I don't understand what you need my name for" and then told officers they hadn't just seen what they had just seen: "I didn't hit the guy ... I didn't do anything." This, friends, is the arrogance of power and privilege speaking. The Jewish state and its supporters have gotten away with murder--literally--for so long that they sometimes think they can act with impunity in this country, too. Unfortunately, the Avny case suggests they may have some reason for believing this.

The assaults described above and the police crackdown at the Tanter event and subsequent events seem like part of a creeping escalation of violence against the more assertive wing of the Palestine solidarity movement in Ann Arbor. I've tried but failed to get the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice or Michigan Peaceworks to take a stand against this and I'm afraid that eventually someone will be seriously hurt. I've never protested in front of a synagogue on the Sabbath but I'm a friend of several people who have and I've protested at Beth Israel and elsewhere at times other than the Sabbath. Over and over again, I've seen or heard about the insults, threats, spitting, and minor assaults. One protester has been battered several times in various places but I've never known any of my colleagues to initiate violence or respond violently. In any case, it looks like the cowardly, Zionized 'peace' community will continue stand idly and silently by.

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I agree with your boycott of Israeli goods but protesting outside American synagogues is creepy. Why don't gangs of white Americans assemble outside mosques hassling Arab Muslims for their silence over the bottomless pit of human rights abuses in the Arab Muslim world? Or for supporting the Palestinian Authority for decades when it was stealing foreign aid money destined for the poverty stricken Palestinians? Or for failing to condone Shia on Sunni and Sunni on Shia terrorism in Iraq?

Why don't Muslims, like the one behind this site, be a bit more honest? Criticising Israel is their one distraction from staring into the abyss that is the wretched poverty striken (despite oil wealth) human rights abusing failed Muslim caliphate (Check Amnesty International, they agree!)
Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for taking a stand against violence towards nonviolent protesters. What's that you say? You totally ignored that? Oh, so you did, just like many hypocritical, liberal peaceniks in Ann Arbor. Freedom of expression and peace are fine as long as one finds it agreeable.

Any way, Anonymous, you say you agree with boycotting Israeli goods but think protesting outside synagogues is "creepy." What is creepy is the support of Zionism and the "Jewish state" by virtually every American Jewish religious institution. Beth Israel Congregation is formally affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). The "centrality of modern Israel heads [Conservative Judaism's] list of core values."

"For Conservative Jews, as for their ancestors, Israel is not only the birthplace of the Jewish people, but also its final destiny. Sacred texts, historical experience and liturgical memory have conspired to make it for them, in the words of Ezekiel, 'the most desirable of all lands (20:6).' Its welfare is never out of mind. Conservative Jews are the backbone of [Jewish] Federation leadership in North America and the major source of its annual campaign. They visit Israel, send their children over a summer or for a year and support financially every one of its worthy institutions.(1) Israeli accomplishments on the battlefield and in the laboratory, in literature and politics, fill them with pride."

Rabbi Dobrusin and Beth Israel make no bones about their support for Israel and Dobrusin preaches about it from the bima.

That said, if you and your "gangs of white Americans" can find Muslim congregations that openly support the US government's backing of repressive regimes like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. or that merely support the repression of those regimes then, by all means, start a protest. The fact is that plenty of Muslims have opposed repression and corruption here and in their homelands, such as Palestine, and more than a few have died for that work. For better or worse, many an American Muslim cheered when Saddam Hussein was removed from power. So, I don't buy your analogy.

By the way, there is no Muslim "behind this site." I cannot claim the privilege of being a Muslim. Likewise, there is no Muslim caliphate; the last one having ended in 1924. I'm familiar with Amnesty International and I'm happy to say they do not agree with your assessment.
Can't claim the"PRIVILEGE" of being a Moslem??? Instead of attention grabbing on Washtenaw Ave, and harassing people, why don't you start attending a mosque and study the Koran, then the privilege will be all yours. And best of all, there won't be any reprocussions for being an infidel (as would be if those already so privileged decided to convert). But that't not nearly as rewarding and attention-getting as hand-waiving in front of the sinagogue, so i don't expect you would do that.
You support Rev. Jone's right to protest Muslim crimes against the infidel by protesting in front of the mosque in Dearborn, right? RIGHT???

By the way, it's people like you, who lie and distort history and contemporary events who have turned me into a huge non-Jewish supporter of Israel and her people.
I support Terry Jones' right to nonviolently protest and, based upon my current understanding of the facts, I believe that what Wayne County and City of Dearborn officials did was unconstitutional. I hope Terry Jones brings a civil rights law suit against both entities. Fortunately, I don't have to agree with your or his idiocy to support freedom of speech.

Ignorance and/or moral impairment are what turned you into "a huge non-Jewish supporter of Israel and her people". Feel free to point out any lies and distortions you think you see but be preared to prove your case or be ignored.
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