The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 06-10-17

Posted on June 12th, 2017 at 10:37 am by

Witness for Peace in the News

Just when you thought that journalism was totally comatose, up pops a reporter of the local on-line and print edition of The Ann Arbor News and places a call to this writer. Her interest was – after reading other accounts of the SPLC smearing us as a “hate” group – to get OUR side of the story. This led to a 45-minute telephone interview and resulting article. News sources like The Michigan Daily, WUOM and WEMU radio, and (of course) The Washtenaw Jewish News rejected our efforts to set the record straight, so it was like a breath of fresh air to see that, in some quarters, a few basic journalistic standards are still respected and the “other side” gets a hearing.

Commentary Revealing

“Ann Arbor group that questions Holocaust says ‘hate group’ label unfair” appeared in the Wednesday on-line edition, and Thursday’s print edition (print editions available only on Thursdays and Sundays) of The Ann Arbor News. Readers can view the on-line edition here, complete with a half-dozen photos, and view text of the article after signature.

There are about 125 comments to the article as of this writing, and we found it interesting that, although the “Keyboard Warriors” initially overwhelmed the dialogue with ad hominem responses, after a while some more thoughtful and lengthy comments appear. An old adage holds that for every ten people who hold a similar opinion, one writes about it.

Worth Repeating: Why Challenging the Holocaust Narrative Matters

Although Witness for Peace has decided (via consensus) that our street protest focus on Israeli crimes, its “right” to exist as a Jewish state, and the corrosive effects of Jewish Power on America, and NOT on the Holocaust, it’s worth reflecting on the reasons for doing so in our vigil report of April 23, 2016.

In addition, the Zionist professor Norman Finkelstein provides us with his own take:

As already noted, Jewish elites in the United States have enjoyed enormous prosperity. From this combination of economic and political power has sprung, unsurprisingly, a mindset of Jewish superiority. Wrapping themselves in the mantle of The Holocaust, these Jewish elites pretend—and, in their own solipsistic universe, perhaps imagine themselves—to be victims, dismissing any and all criticism as manifestations of “anti-Semitism.” And, from this lethal brew of formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness on the part of American Jewish elites. Alongside Israel, they are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today.

[Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History]

Readers are invited to read the response of the Executive Director of Deir Yassin Remembered on the SPLC’s smear see:  “Castigated the Southern Poverty Law Center” .

Comments?

Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Remember the USS Liberty
June 3: Five vigilers
June 10: Four vigilers
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June 07, 2017 at 3:02 PM, updated June 07, 2017 at 3:03 PM

ANN ARBOR, MI – Does Ann Arbor have a “hate group” that denies what happened during the Holocaust?

Yes, says The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit based in Alabama dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. The center says the Ann Arbor group called Deir Yassin Remembered is one of 10 “Holocaust deniers” in the U.S. and has included it on center’s annual hate group list.

A member of Deir Yassin Remembered says labeling the group a hate group is unfair and an effort to silence them.

Henry Herskovitz, a member of the board of advisers for Deir Yassin Remembered, describes his organization as “Holocaust revisionists.” He said questioning widely accepted facts about the Holocaust and voicing concerns about the amount of power wielded by Jewish people is not inherently anti-Semitic.

“If people are labeled hater or anti-Semitic, doesn’t the truth exonerate them?” asks Herskovitz, who said he formerly identified as Jewish. “The truth should be able to defend us against the claim of hate.”

Deir Yassin Remembered says its mission is to educate the public about a 1948 massacre in the Israeli village of Deir Yassin that killed more than 100 Palestinians. The group thinks the historical suffering of Palestinians has been minimized while the historical suffering of Jews has been unduly amplified.

Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said Deir Yassin Remembered was added to the center’s lists of hate groups for 2017 due to the group’s support of Holocaust deniers and its questioning of historically accurate facts about the Holocaust – the mass murder of European Jews and other groups by the Nazis before and during World War II.

The main purpose of denying the Holocaust is to “rehabilitate the German Nazis’ image as part of a bid to make the ideology of national socialism more acceptable,” according to the SPLC website.

Deir Yassin Remembered is included on the SPLC’s annual hate group list that identified 917 hate groups across the country this year. Michigan is home to 28 hate groups on the SPLC’s list.

In February, Deir Yassin Remembered paid for a billboard on U.S. 23 near Whitmore Lake that read, “America First Not Israel.” The billboard sparked complaints and was taken down within a week.

Herskovitz considered the phrase on the billboard put up in February to be an extension of President Donald Trump’s “America first” stance mentioned in his inauguration speech.

The phrase “America First” also has ties to World War II, when the America First Committee voiced opposition to U.S. involvement in the war. Some people who spoke publicly on behalf of the America First Committee expressed views that were considered anti-Semitic.

In addition to his involvement in Deir Yassin Remembered, Herskovitz started an anti-Israel group called “Witness for Peace.” For more than 13 years, members of Witness for Peace have protested outside the Beth Israel Congregation, a Jewish synagogue in Ann Arbor, every Saturday. Herskovitz said he used to attend services at Beth Israel.

Beth Israel congregants reflect on 10 years of protests at synagogue

While Witness for Peace and Deir Yassin Remembered are separate entities, Herskovitz said, members of each organization have supported each other’s causes over the years. Witness for Peace is not included in the SPLC’s 2017 list of hate groups.

In the past, the protesters outside Beth Israel have been denounced by the Ann Arbor City Council and other elected officials, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and 31 other local religious leaders.

Victor Lieberman, a member of the Beth Israel Congregation and a history professor at the University of Michigan, said he doesn’t question the right to free speech of members of Deir Yassin Remembered. But he finds their message hateful.

“The issue is not free speech, but the purposes to which speech is directed. The SPLC … decries efforts by DYR and its friends to instill hatred, to malign entire categories of people on the basis of religious, sexual, or racial identity,” Lieberman wrote in an email to The Ann Arbor News.

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