The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-23-13

Posted on December 1st, 2013 at 1:04 pm by

Dodging the Question

A handful of JWPF members joined about 150 others at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus last Monday to listen to speakers Josh Ruebner, Ben White, and Susan Abulhawa avoid the topics we listed in last week’s report:

1. The legitimacy of the Jewish state
2. Jewish Identity Politics
3. Influence of Jewish Power on US policy
4. Whether or not each speaker recognizes Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state

To report that we were disappointed would be an understatement. Our disappointment began when the student leader of the conference started passing out note cards upon which members of the audience could write their questions – a clear indicator that the ensuing Q&A was rigged. This prompted me to blurt out “I have a question for Mr. Ruebner” and received an unexpected nod from the student leader.

“Does Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state, and if so, by what right?”

And rather than answering the question directly, Josh took the same dodge other Jewish activists have used in addressing this meddlesome question: He expounded upon state’s “rights” to exist at all, which he suggested is merely a matter of recognition by other states. Perhaps it exists as a collective “right” such as the mutual recognition in overarching bodies like the United Nations. In short, Ruebner refused to address the most fundamental of questions, one that Benjamin Netanyahu continuously demands of Palestinians and isn’t himself afraid of addressing.

PeaceMonger wonders whether Ruebner’s response to the following would be the same as his answer to me:

Josh, the group calling itself the Aryan Nation – Knights of the Ku Klux Klan wish to establish an all-White state in Idaho. Would the KKK have a right to exist as a White state and, if so, by what right?

We don’t think the answer from this Jewish leader in the peace movement would be the same. We dare say that his answer, in the case of confronting White Supremacy, would be unequivocal: Hell no, the KKK doesn’t have the right to establish a White state in Idaho, or anywhere else. Ditto the “right” of the former apartheid regime in South Africa to constitute the state as a White supremacist state.

So what’s keeping Josh from saying hell no, Israel doesn’t have a right to exist as a Jewish state? Well, we think that Gilad Atzmon’s study of Jewish identity politics has a lot to say that answers that question, but Ben White doesn’t want us to go there.

Five Minutes with Ben White

Encouraged by Vigil Supporter D, I asked Ben White why he signed the document attempting to silence Gilad Atzmon. Ben answered that Mr. Atzmon engages in anti-Semitic writing, and when we pressed for an example, he stated that the arguments for such are contained in the document itself. When asked whether he read The Wandering Who; A study of Jewish Identity Politics, he said no, he hadn’t. This prompted D – a professor in philosophy at UMD – to comment on the lack of professionalism by an author and academic such as Mr. White, that he would condemn a fellow activist and intellectual without even reading what the man wrote.

At that point Mr. White said that he’d now already spent five minutes discussing Mr. Atzmon, and that that was five minutes more than he had planned, nor wished for. Vigil Supporter L then approached Ben and suggested to him the possibility of growth that Gilad promotes: a self examination of the group, i.e. that Jews need to look in the mirror to examine their collective behavior, that this process will allow other groups to do the same and “as you grow, we grow”. Perhaps Mr. White listened to her. Time will tell, but we’re not holding our breath.

Vigiler M. wonders if White’s reticence to confront Jewish identity politics is related to his inversion of the title of Uri Davis’ classic study, Israel: An Apartheid State (1987) and his more recent Apartheid Israel (2004). She says one shouldn’t judge a book by its title, but where Davis designates the Jewish state enterprise en toto as an apartheid project, Ben White’s book title, Israeli Apartheid suggests a more limited scope of apartheid as practiced by Israelis or Israel, i.e. a non-essential feature of Israel.


Eight vigilers
Exposing Left Zionists in the Peace Movement
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-16-13

Posted on November 24th, 2013 at 11:31 am by

Dynamic Silence Redux

With a touch of irony, this writer was “Dynamically Silenced” by an Ann Arbor City Council rule even as I was about to speak to that body [bold]about dynamic silence. Prior to about 2004, citizens wishing to address Council on any topic were allotted four minutes provided they signed up in advance. That was the only restriction. Then came along Second Ward Councilperson Joan Lowenstein, representing the ward in which her Beth Israel Congregation resides. Offended by criticism leveled against her Jewish state at Council meetings she took action, and persuaded Council to pass a new rule: a new 3-minute time limit and 10-speaker maximum masked the real purpose, which was to limit public exposure to evidence of Israel’s criminality. Speakers still needed to sign up in advance, but those speaking on “agenda items” received preference and could “bump” people who wished to address Council on any topic. She might have considered it unlikely that Israeli crimes would ever become an agenda item, and might even have expended energy to keep the topic off the table herself.

And so it was this week that this writer reserved himself a speaker’s slot only to be bumped to a “first alternate” location two hours later. All other ten speakers on agenda items showed up and Ann Arbor City Council members plus cable-TV viewers of these meetings were denied the opportunity to hear how powerful Jewish groups and individuals silenced people they did not like. Read speech below signature.

Josh Ruebner Promotes New Book

About five JWPF members plan to attend an upcoming panel discussion at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus to hear Susan Abulhawa, Ben White and Josh Ruebner address the audience on “Justice Too Long Delayed; Israeli Apartheid, Obama’s Policy and the Palestinian Right of Return”.

Our small contingent is interested in observing whether this group of leaders in the Palestinian liberation struggle will address the following topics:

1. The legitimacy of the Jewish state
2. Jewish Identity Politics
3. Influence of Jewish Power in determining US policy
4. Whether or not each speaker recognizes Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state

The new book that Josh is promoting is titled: [ital]Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama’s Middle East Peace Process which raises a few questions of its own. For instance, does Ruebner blame Obama for failure to achieve peace as a diversion from explaining clearly that Jews were and are responsible for the creation and maintenance of a Jewish state? We played the five minute video of his book talk and counted the times he mentioned anything pointing to the pivotal Jewish role in this problem, and found him lacking. The closest he comes is to list David Ross, Aaron David Miller, Elliott Abrams and Martin Indyk as “people with transparently pro-Israel baggage”.

Hello, Josh, these people – as well as yourself, many other leaders in the movement, and even the owner of the website broadcasting your talks – are all Jewish, and may be letting their tribal loyalties override other loyalties they purport to hold. Why not mention that?

And Mr. White … we would like to know why you signed the document attempting to silence the voice of Gilad Atzmon? Why are Jewish identity politics off limits to discussions of the behavior of the Jewish state?

Readers of this report are invited to join us and formulate some questions of your own:

Monday, Nov. 25
6:30 PM
CASL Building
UM Dearborn Campus
Dearborn, Michigan


Five vigilers
Do Jews a favor: Challenge their power
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
[note: talk will be postponed to a future date] November 18, 2013

Good Evening,

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind is a powerful Jewish political figure from Brooklyn and he has just used his power in a manner that author Benjamin Ginsberg describes as “Dynamic Silence”. Ginsberg describes how Jewish groups would silence people like Gerald LK Smith in the 1940s and 1950s. He writes that groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League would threaten local newspapers and radio stations with a boycott by Jewish advertisers if they permitted Smith and other anti-Semites to utilize the airwaves and print media to speak their minds.

In other words, rather than confronting people holding anti-Jewish attitudes and trying to persuade them and their listeners that the positions they held were logically unsupportable, Jews merely silenced the voices they didn’t like by exerting financial pressure.

And that brings us to 2013 and the recent activities of Assemblyman Hikind. He approached Richard Santoro, MasterCard Worldwide’s VP of Government Affairs, and convinced him to refuse their credit card services to a group called the Institute for Historical Review, which sells historical literature that challenges the dominant narrative of the treatment of Jews in German hands, aka “The Holocaust”. And rather than factually dispute the charges in these books, or challenging the directors of the IHR on the merits of their scholarship, Mr. Hikind took the back door to the issue by pressuring MasterCard to revoke its credit card services to the IHR.

I am bringing this event to the attention of Council because the effects of this form of control are very corrosive to a free society and we should all be concerned. If powerful Jewish groups like the ADL and AJC, and powerful Jewish politicians like Dov Hikind can censor public opinion, all supporters of free speech should be alarmed. I have personally felt this form of censorship when radio station WEMU refused me access to their airwaves after pressure they received from Jewish Federation Executive Director David Shtulman.

When a minority population can manipulate the majority into positions that are detrimental to that majority, it should be a concern for all of us. There was a reason why Sir Arthur Brant wrote “Beggars on horseback are seldom popular, least of all with those whom they have just thrown out of the saddle.”

Thank you

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-09-13

Posted on November 17th, 2013 at 1:53 pm by

Will Rasmea Odeh follow Rabih Haddad?

Three members of JWPF traveled to Detroit for a rally to have apparently-politically-inspired criminal charges dropped against Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, who spent ten years in an Israeli prison. This writer was reminded of similar protests in 2002 “demanding” – whatever that means – the release of Rabih Haddad, former Ann Arbor Imam, and personal acquaintance. The federal government didn’t blink in Rabih’s case and he was sadly deported after months of incarceration both in Michigan and Illinois.

A busload of activists from Chicago organized this protest, and only true “anti-Semites” like me would observe that none of the signs mentioned “Israel”, except for the ones I was holding. When JWPF member “L” shouted to the Homeland Security folks that they were working for the Jews and that they could end up in the same boat as Rasmea, she was cautioned by a Chicago activist that “that wasn’t our message”. Identifying Jewish power rarely is.

Ali Abunimah was also in attendance but the two of us failed to even make eye contact. This lack of personal recognition and respect is probably best explained by my critical comments of him in the vigil reports of 03-10-12 and 11-03-12. And this lack of recognition, though understandable, saddens me: Mr. Abunimah was held in the highest esteem by this writer, but much like the esteem held for Norman Finkelstein, it has eroded. Readers will remember that Ali initiated a call for “Granting No Quarter” against Gilad Atzmon, and cautioned my use of the “J-word” at the Al-Awda convention in April, 2011. He apparently does not like Jewish political identity being the subject matter of any discourse relating to the theft of his homeland. Some of his traveling companions on the bus were members of the Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace and that is troubling. He did however, write a fairly accurate report of the day’s proceedings and you can read it here.

US District Judge Paul D. Borman will hear Rasmea’s case, and outside the courtroom this writer asked a Chicago supporter whether Borman was Jewish. It really didn’t matter, I was told, she knew many Jews who were anti-Zionists, and that Borman was reputed to be open and smart.

PeaceMonger wonders about the case of a Black South African anti-apartheid activist facing similar charges. Would people glibly say it doesn’t matter if someone asked whether the judge was an Afrikaner?


Seven vigilers
Does Israel have a “right” to exist as a Jewish state, and, if so, by what right?
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-02-13

Posted on November 11th, 2013 at 5:57 pm by

Dynamic Silence (again)

Benjamin Ginsberg, in his book The Fatal Embrace, identifies the term “Dynamic Silence” for us. From page 124 we read:

Together with their allies, Jews also organized efforts to deprive anti-Semites of access to the media. This effort began during the late 1940s and continued into the 1950s. For example, during this period, the American Jewish Committee developed a strategy it called “dynamic silence” to combat the activities of Gerald L.K. Smith. Working together, officials of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] would approach the publishers of major newspapers and owners of radio stations in cities where Smith had scheduled appearances to ask that Smith be given no coverage whatsoever. If newspapers and radio stations failed to cooperate on a voluntary basis, Jewish organizations were usually able to secure their compliance by threatening boycotts by Jewish advertisers. This strategy of dynamic silence was extremely effective in suppressing Smith and other right-wing anti-Semites.

In other words, rather than confronting people allegedly holding anti-Jewish attitudes and trying to persuade them and their listeners that the positions they held were logically unsupportable, Jews merely silenced the voices they didn’t like by exerting financial pressure.

Now fast-forward to 2013 and observe the continued practice of dynamic silence applied by a powerful New York Jewish Assemblyman by the name of Dov Hikind. Mr. Hikind took offense that the Institute for Historical Review was distributing books casting doubt on the dominant narrative of the treatment of Jews in German hands, aka “The Holocaust”. And rather than factually dispute the charges in these books, or challenging the directors of the IHR on the merits of their scholarship, Mr. Hikind took the back door to the issue by pressuring MasterCard to revoke its credit card services to the IHR.

He then bragged about this personal coup by publishing a photo of himself and a smiling Richard Santoro, MasterCard Worldwide’s VP of Government Affairs. Dov is smiling probably because he got the dynamic silence he craved, and Mr. Santoro is also smiling, probably because he got to keep his job.
Putting his money where his mouth is, this writer is now waiting for a response from MasterCard to a letter I penned after reading about this successful Jewish effort to stifle historical discourse (letter follows signature). If Jews are powerful enough to bend the will of major credit card companies, who knows the limits of their ability to silence critics of Israel, Jewish identity politics, or political speech disguised as religious worship?


Note: There was no Report for 10-26-13 (10 vigilers)
On 11-03-13 there were 4 vigilers
Illegitimate Israel
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

October 28, 2013

To; Richard Santoro
Lobbyist, Vice President, Government Affairs
MasterCard Worldwide
2000 Purchase St
Purchase, NY 10577

Dear Mr. Santoro,

I’m writing in the hope that we can “dig in and do good” together regarding the recent blacklisting of the Institute for Historical Review by MasterCard, the credit card company you represent. The hope I have is that you will reverse your recently initiated policy of not allowing me to charge books in on-line transactions with IHR. Censorship is the realm of dictators.

I currently belong to a local credit union that uses MasterCard as its debit card offering to union members. I have now located another local credit union that does not utilize MasterCard as its debit card offering. I have come to be quite dependent on this small form of private banking.

I would like to remain at my present credit union, and will do so upon MasterCard dropping the policy of blacklisting companies that have come to find disfavor with influential men like Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

I should not have to remind you how Americans as myself cherish freedom of speech, which includes purchasing and reading books of my choosing.

Thank you for taking time to read this, and thanking you in advance for your quick and principled response.

Best wishes,

Henry Herskovitz
404 Mark Hannah Pl.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Posted via email and snail mail

Report on Beth Israel vigil 10-19-13

Posted on October 28th, 2013 at 11:10 am by

Protesting the Fed in Ann Arbor

Last Sunday saw nine peace and justice activists at an entrance to the Washtenaw Community College, where the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor was holding its annual “Main Event” – a fund raiser that supports the apartheid Jewish state. We were joined by Michael Rabb, organizer of the only other synagogue protest group in the world (to our knowledge) in Boulder, Colorado.

Protesting the Fed October 2013-sm

Citizens, Taxpayers, and the First Amendment

Last Sunday also witnessed a protest-within-a-protest when Michael Rabb and this writer decided to bring our message onto the campus of Washtenaw Community College, and closer to the Morris Lawrence Building where the Main Event was being held. There are many vehicle entrances to this campus, and we wanted our message to be viewed by as many Federation donors as possible.

We were informed by private security – hired by the Fed themselves – and WCC Campus Security that the rules created by the Board of Trustees prohibited the expression of our First Amendment rights on the campus of this publicly funded institution. According to their “Policy on Student Speech and Expressive Conduct”:

In promoting freedom of expression among its students, the Board reaffirms its commitment to preserving College property as a nonpublic forum as to non-students. Unlike the public streets, sidewalks, and parks, the property, buildings, or facilities owned or controlled by the College are not open for assembly, speech, or other activities.

[Editor's note: Inquiring minds want to know how freedom of speech is promoted by shielding students from the views of non-students]. Michael commented to WCC Security personnel that as a citizen of the United States, he had every right to engage in political free speech on any publicly funded campus. And this writer produced his “[Property] Tax Bill Breakdown for 2013 Summer” and showed WCC Security the line item where it states “COMM COLLEGE … $355.67″

It was explained to Michael and me that neither the private security company nor Campus Security could cite or arrest us “trespassers”, and the Washtenaw County Sheriff was called. After one half hour of protesting on the campus itself, our protest time limit expired and we departed campus property before the deputies arrived, turning the political issue into a moot point.

Next year, however, we are putting Washtenaw Community College on notice: When we protest the Federation (or any other Zionist organization renting space on your campus) you may have us cited or arrested for violating Policy 8018 and we will challenge the legal status of your policy in court.

Remembering Sol Metz

A light rain fell upon the vigilers this Saturday, prompting this writer to remember long time compatriot, vigiler, and breakfast companion Sol Metz. Often on cool, cloudy days, when Sol would mention the threat of rain, I would – in false braggadocios style – proclaim that “God never rains on the vigils”. And almost always, as clouds passed and we were packing up signs after the vigil, Sol would remark “You really dodged a bullet today, Henry”. Well, the bullet struck last Saturday, and one could not help but believe that somewhere, Sol was chuckling.

Sol 2011



Six vigilers
Save America; Dump Israel
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 10-12-13

Posted on October 19th, 2013 at 4:02 pm by

Fast Times in Ann Arbor

This writer hosted author Pamela Olson, who gave readings from her first book, Fast Times in Palestine, at the Literati Book Store in Ann Arbor this week. Attendance was about twenty people and Ms. Olson seemed professional and comfortable in her delivery. Of the points she raised, these seemed notable:

She divides her reading material into “chocolate” – those mostly fiction books that you just devour – and “spinach” – books that teach and enlighten but are more difficult to get through. Fast Times, in her opinion, is a combination of these two extremes, a book that gets across the humiliation, frustration and anger felt by the Palestinian people in a manner that has a “difficult to put down” quality to the reading.

Many of the people attending her readings are quite knowledgeable about Israel’s crimes and legitimacy, a familiarity she describes as traveling 60 miles per hour on the freeway. For the many people who know next to nothing about the “conflict”, Fast Times is, in her opinion, the “on-ramp” to the freeway.

When reading from the book, Pamela reproduced the Palestinian accent in an almost perfect fashion when quoting the people she met there. And during the Q&A, when asked about addressing difficult crowds, she imitated a complaining Jewish woman in New York in such a fashion as to bring tears of hilarity to this writer.

“Protest the Fed” is ON!

Michael Rabb of Boulder, Colorado, read last week’s report about protesting Sunday’s annual fund raiser by the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor, and jumped aboard a United Airlines jet in preparation to stand with JWPF as we protest this display of wealth and power of the local Jewish community. So we are asking all justice and peace activists to join us Sunday (10/20) on the campus of Washtenaw Community College to protest the Fed entering Morris Lawrence Hall.

We will commence the protest at 3:45 PM at the southeast entrance to WCC’s campus, on Huron River Drive, just opposite Emergency Drive leading to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. The protest will last until approx. 5:15 PM.


Seven vigilers
“International Law” conveys no legitimacy
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 10-05-13

Posted on October 15th, 2013 at 9:05 am by

What’s Good for the Goose

… isn’t necessarily good for the Gander, according to a recently denied request of Pastor James Rhodenhiser of the local St. Clare’s Episcopal Church. You see, last fall Rev. Rhodenhiser requested of this writer a sit-down with Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Pastor Ken Wilson of the Vineyard Church. The purpose of the meeting was to request the Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends cease our weekly vigils at Beth Israel. We accepted the invitation.

With the planned arrival of Dan McGowan and Paul Eisen of Deir Yassin Remembered this fall, we initiated a request for a second meeting with the same crew plus the addition of these two men:

Dan and Paul have been involved in the struggle for Palestine longer than I, and may be able to better explain the political need for our vigils. They see a larger picture and the necessity for actions such as ours to highlight the injustices perpetrated by the forced creation of an ethnic state in Palestine. I think we could all benefit from their historical knowledge and expertise in communicating ideas that fall outside the scope of traditional thinking. Perhaps we could entertain suggestions as to how the vigils might be used to initiated much-needed conversation within the Ann Arbor Jewish community. We would certainly be willing to listen to what you and other invitees have to say.

Miscommunication prevented a timely exchange and meeting agreement, but Pastor Rhodenhiser could not resist the opportunity for rebuke and unsolicited free advice (UFA) in his explanation:

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

We turned the matter over to PeaceMonger for consideration and here’s part of what resulted. To get the complete response, click here.

Reading this [email exchange …HH], 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.


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”.

Late Notice

JWPF has been made aware of a “kosher” fund raiser by the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor. National Public Radio personality Susan Stamberg will be the keynote speaker for this event. If any readers are willing to spend some time organizing a protest for this event, please contact this writer. JWPF notes that at least 25% of the funds raised in this event (often exceeding one million dollars in one evening) are used to support Israel’s illegitimate existence and pillorying of the Palestinian people. The Fed’s event will be held on Sunday, October 20 from 4:00 to 7:30 pm at Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 East Huron River Dr, Ann Arbor.


Five vigilers
Throw Israel off the Fiscal Cliff
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
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