Thursday, December 10, 2009

[wvns] Report on Beth Israel vigil

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-28-09þ
From: Henry Herskovitz
To: "Synagogue Vigil Group":
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Reticent Recognition or Yellow Journalism?

In this month's Washtenaw Jewish News, the lead article called " False Witnesses" features mug shots of four vigillers, and attempts to use personal attacks to divert attention from the issues we bring to the streets, newspapers, and cyberspace via these reports. A few members of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends think this is the Jewish community's way of recognizing our group; others are amazed at this backlash from desperate Zionists on their sinking ship; still other members are hurt by the false accusations written by Art Aisner. In any case, the gauntlet has been thrown, and our own PeaceMonger de-constructs the article for us in clear terms.

But before we look at PM's blogpost, we remind readers that we have not lost our sense of humor throughout the week. We note in this Jewish News article, that David Shtulman, the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, undermines the dignity of his own office by saying: "They [vigillers] are annoying, they are distasteful and they sometimes can be painful ... in medical terms, they'd be hemorrhoids".

Well, David, if you want to dip into the Name Calling bucket (see p. 22 of the Hasbara Handbook), then consider that if we're hemorrhoids, guess what that makes the congregants at Beth Israel? ;-)

PeaceMonger's post is "Bloody-handed Prophets of the Royal Court Disparage JWPF ", found here. We recommend a full read, but will extract some pertinent paragraphs ...

Just less than a year after Israel launched its deadly Hanukkah Massacre against the densely populated open-air prison that is Gaza, leading lights of Ann Arbor's Jewish community once again felt compelled to show themselves as bloody-handed prophets of the "royal courts" by mounting another effort to disparage truly prophetic voices in their midst.

I'm referring here to Art Aisner's front-page story in this month's issue of the Washtenaw Jewish News: "False witnesses." You may find evidence in Aisner's story that members of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends (JWPF) are flawed and frail human beings -- as are we all -- but you will search in vain in Aisner's 3400-word piece to find any conclusive evidence that JWPF's witness is false.

As part of his effort to call into question Herskovitz's "true motives," Aisner also quotes BIC member Dan Cutler: " 'I've heard a pretty wide range of opinions about the Middle East [in the congregation] including no lack of people very critical of the Israeli government' ... But the picketers don't care about actual opinions among real people in the congregation, he contends." This reminded me of the bit from the first Blues Brothers movie when Elwood asks the proprietress of an establishment he hopes will book his band, "What kind of music do you usually have here?" The woman proudly replies: "Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western." BIC is just as diverse: They have Zionists who are critical of Israel and Zionists who are not-so-much critical of Israel. Vive la différence!

If Rabbi Rob Dobrusin is to be believed, it is precisely because of the "actual opinions among real people in the congregation" that BIC is a fitting site for a protest. As Dobrusin writes in the Ann Arbor News in 2007: "there is one general statement which I can make on behalf of the Congregation - Beth Israel Congregation affirms without any hesitation or equivocation the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish State ... No matter how long the protests continue, this will never change." Anyone else hear echoes of George Wallace: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever"?

I have by no means addressed every omission, distortion, factual error, or hare-brained notion expressed by JWPF opponents in Aisner's piece but before I end I want to take on one of David Shtulman's inanities. Herr Shtulman whines: "There's a sense of entitlement they have that everything they want to do is okay, and I don't think the Jewish community needs to accept it."

As the article makes clear, the relevant "everything they want to do" is to speak out against the organized Jewish community's support for Israel. And it must aggravate poor Shtulman and his ilk that there is an "entitlement" to that, it's called the First Amendment and Zionists haven't succeeded in killing it off yet. Until they do, the bloody-handed prophets of the "royal courts" will undoubtedly continue to wail and gnash their teeth as long as someone has the courage and integrity to criticize Israel's evil acts and unholy deeds and those who are complicit in them.

Thanks, PeaceMonger ... a lively discussion can be found on this topic at and readers are encouraged to chime in!

Can we no longer say Merry Christmas?

From our " Holy Mudhead, Mackeral !" department comes an observation of the shopping windows at the local Kilwin's Chocolate store. One shows a white tree, with presents all around. But no Christmas Tree, nor creche, nor Wise Men; no "Merry Christmas". The other proudly proclaims "Happy Hanukkah" on at least a festive plate and bag, with menorahs and stars of Solomon (but no "Cast Lead" dredels). So if you happen to be a member of clearly more than half the country who celebrates the birth of Christ, you might wonder what happened to "Merry Christmas"? Well as these photos attest, you won't find it at Kilwin's. Merry Christmas? - Don't even speak it... Try "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" instead. Then wonder who's the Grinch that stole Christmas...

Save the Date: December 13th

Local peace activist and not-so-active-activists have an opportunity to hear Jamal continue his lecture series on Palestine, this presentation entitled: "Jerusalem is Ours: The Capital of Palestine". Jamal produces an authentic, detailed history of the Zionist movement, as seen through the eyes of the oppressed. Truly a worthwhile experience, and no blaming "US Imperialism" as the source of Palestinian dispossession . Download flyer here, and see you there.
Where: Community Room, Ypsilanti Public Library, 5577 Whitaker Road
When: Sunday, December 13th at 1:30 PM

Seven Vigillers on 11/21; six on 11/28
Holding the Jewish Community Accountable since 2003
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends



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