JWPF in the News
The Ann Arbor Chronicle, an on-line newspaper, covers Ann Arbor City Council meetings. During these meetings, citizens are permitted to address council, with some restrictions. On February 4, this writer spoke to Council; The Chronicle covered these remarks (actual text after signature), and added an opinion. This opinion was subsequently addressed in a few comments following the article. Click here to view article. And click here to view the presentation (advance to 00:05:40).
Henry Herskovitz told the council that Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, a group he’s a part of, has been holding peaceful vigils for over nine years outside the Beth Israel congregation. The group is known for raising the issue of Palestinian sovereignty and what he described as Israeli war crimes. When a member of the city council lashes out with false accusations, he continued, he felt the need to “play a little defense.” He alluded to an Ann Arbor Chronicle article that reported comments from Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5). From that report of the city council’s Jan. 7, 2013 meeting:
In Ann Arbor, Warpehoski said, we like to assume we’ve got everything all worked out, but when a Muslim woman driving home from her job at the university hospital had a gun pulled on her and was told to “go home,” that indicates that there’s work yet to be done. Another example he gave was the idea of putting a swastika over the Star of David, or circulating literature saying that Jewish religious observances turn boys and girls into “monsters.”
Herskovitz said that a website dedicated to ending his group’s demonstrations did not show any photographs of a swastika over a Star of David, and that if such a photograph existed, he was sure that it would be posted on that website.
Herskovitz then characterized the claim about religious observances turning boys and girls into monsters was out of context. Herskovitz indicated that the context should include Ovadia Yosef’s remarks as quoted in the Jerusalem Post: “Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.” Herskovitz noted that Yosef is former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of the Shas political party in Israel.
Herskovitz pointed to another work by an Israeli rabbi, Yitzhak Shapira, who wrote “The Complete Guide to Killing Non-Jews.” Herskovitz quoted another former chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu: “It is important to make one thing clear – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.”
Herskovitz concluded that those quotations were “monstrous” and ventured that those who’d said those words were probably indoctrinated into an ideology that makes such statements possible – likely at an early age. Herskovitz contended that Beth Israel rabbi Robert Dobrusin takes Jewish children on tours of Israel and poses them with armed soldiers. Dobrusin indoctrinates children into a Zionist ideology, Herskovitz contended.
[Based on the Anti-Defamation League's frequent condemnation of various remarks by Yosef (including those cited by Herskovitz), Shapira's book and remarks by Eliyahu, the views expressed by the men could fairly be considered to be inconsistent with the mainstream.]
Comment: The rare encapsulated comment by author Askins actually confirms, rather than challenges, the point I was making. Imagine if a US Congressman, TV host or columnist said “Blacks were born only to serve us Whites; without that they have no place in the world”, coupled only with a lone admonishing voice by some white-supremacist organization in far away Greece. How long do you think they would hold onto their positions? Yet my examples show – and there are many more – that these comments are in fact mainstream Israeli discourse. These rabbis were not fired, they were not demoted, they were not even fined.
What are European Jews Doing in the Middle East?
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
February 4, 2013 [395 words]
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends have been holding peaceful vigils in front of Beth Israel Congregation for over nine years. We are known for raising the issue of Palestinian suffering and Israeli war crimes, and we rarely take a defensive position. But when a member of this body lashes out with false accusations and words taken out of context, we feel the need to play a little defense.
The Ann Arbor Chronicle quotes Councilman Warpehoski as claiming that our group puts a swastika over the Star of David, and circulates literature saying that Jewish religious observances turn boys and girls into “monsters”. I’d like to respond.
Even the ad hominem website dedicated to our “Eviction” does not display a photograph of a swastika over the Star of David, and believe me, if such a photo existed, these guys would have published it.
Secondly is this out-of-context claim about monsters. Let me offer to Council the words of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as quoted in the Jerusalem Post: “Goyim – that’s anybody who’s not Jewish – were born only to serve us Jews. Without that, they have no place in the world”. Now before you write this guy off as insignificant, let me remind you that Yosef is the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel – a government employee – and the current spiritual leader of the Shas political party. Shas is Israel’s fourth largest party and four of its members currently hold posts in Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.
Then there’s another government employee, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, who wrote “The complete guide to killing non-Jews”. And another former Sephardic Chief – Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu – said in 2008: “… it is important to make one thing clear – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.”
Now I would say that these are pretty monstrous quotes, and suggest that those who said them have been indoctrinated into an ideology that makes such statements possible.
And they were probably indoctrinated at an early age. To start this process, Rabbi Dobrusin takes innocent Jewish children on tours of Israel, and poses them with armed soldiers and in front of military vehicles. He indoctrinates them into the same Zionist ideology.
Here are two pictures taken from Beth Israel’s website in 2007. They have since been removed. To claim we call Jewish children monsters is to deny listeners the contextual point.