The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 12-14-13

Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 12:37 pm by

A Story of Chris

A few weeks back my friend Chris spoke excitedly to me about a New Yorker article he’d just read and he wanted my opinion. So I read “Lydda, 1948″ and though we’ve spoken since, I feel an opportunity was missed during our brief follow-up discussion last night. Chris “gets it”, that is, he no longer thinks the destruction of Lydda was just a military necessity. He thinks that the choice the Jewish Zionists had: a Jewish state, or a standing village, was reprehensible, given the violent actions which followed.

Sensing this slight change in Chris’ attitude, from understanding to revulsion, I let the conversation pass. But, as I play back last night’s conversation a question keeps recurring, and with it, the obvious answer. Chris did NOT say: “Those effing Jews, someone has to put a stop to their egregious behavior.” He remained puzzled as to what the proper conclusion is, what his next course of action should be.

And here I think is the reason: Author Ari Shavit weaves such a Judeo-centric story that it becomes impossible to indict Jews for the massacre of Lydda, or the earlier massacre of Deir Yassin for that matter. I believe this is the reason he wrote the article in the first place.

He begins by tugging at his readers’ heartstrings, introducing Siegfried Lehmann, who moves his school for Jewish orphans to Palestine. How can you blame this good doctor for Lydda’s destruction? He mentions Martin Buber and Albert Einstein in a positive light. How can the reader blame them? He sprinkles in just enough of a whiff about “anti-Semitic pogroms” – without any attempt at deconstructing them – to produce this paralysis in his readers: How can you hold a people who have suffered so much culpable for the crimes they committed (and commit)?

Palestinians hardly exist as real characters in his story of Lydda. Shavit names a dozen Jews, but only one Palestinian gets a mention. In relaying a story about discussions held just prior to Lydda’s massacre, he names one speaker as military governor Shmarya Gutman, but the other speaker is merely one of the village “dignitaries”. No need to humanize the other, when you’re propping up the goodness of Jews.

Shavit must also lie to his readers to get his point across. He claims that for Jews in 1925 Europe there was “no place to go but Palestine”, ignoring for instance the United States, Canada, Britain, etc. He writes that Zionism “must plant the Jews in their ancient homeland”, but must know the fact that no adherent to Judaism ever lived in the ancient Levant. He plays the five armies “determined to crush the young Jewish state” card, when he must know that the Jewish militias possessed superior arms, training, dedication and unity of purpose compared to these “armies”. He plays the Benny Morris card as well — after describing the massacre he “stands by the damned, because I know that if not for them the State of Israel would not have been born. If not for them I would not have been born”. What rot! He writes “Israel has a right to live”, but offers nothing to support this “right”.

Shavit’s article has created a mini-storm in the Jewish community, with Thomas Friedman and Phil Weiss putting in their two cents, but our opinion is that the damage has been done. Shavit is successful at creating a literary piece that forbids Chris, and the many others like him, from holding Jews accountable for the crimes of the Jewish state.


Nine vigilers
The World is Catching On
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 12-07-13

Posted on December 16th, 2013 at 9:02 am by

Five Broken Cameras – a Look Inside

About eight JWPF members and supporters attended a showing of “Five Broken Cameras” at the Ann Arbor District Library this week. The film, which has won a couple of awards and was nominated for an Oscar, depicts the non-violent protests originating in the West Bank village of Bi’lin. It had a special resonance for two of us, because we attended one of these protests in April of 2005, and we remembered our friend Basem abu Rahme (Phil) prior to his 2009 assassination by Zionist agents of the Jewish state.



The question this writer had going into the film was how could Jewish-dominated Hollywood support an Oscar nomination for a film depicting the illegal and violent Zionist takeover of Palestine, and the ethnic cleansing of its non-Jewish population? The answer was found in the lies of omission: neither the “J” word, nor even the “Z” word was mentioned, neither in the film itself, nor in the 4,400-word review published by PBS. Check it out for yourself.

Maybe that’s just picking nits on our part, but take a minute and wonder if the film presented the viewer with an explanation for these Israeli soldiers to shoot at and kill Palestinian civilians. Good documentaries, as with good news stories, should always include the “Why?” in the Five “W’s” of reporting. We assume that the “Why” was omitted because it would have pointed to the Jewish Zionist conquest and colonization of a land, by Jewish soldiers, with Jewish religious symbols on their weapons, and with the support of almost all major Jewish organizations world-wide, but, as Paul Eisen says: “…to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do.”

Why does the PBS reviewer refer to the Apartheid Wall as a “security barrier”? What, in the view of Vigil Supporter M, is “settling” about “settlements”? Why does the world tolerate the use of such pabulum as “…a conflict that adults can barely comprehend.” Hello, what’s not to comprehend? Zionist Jews decided to inhabit a land that wasn’t ever theirs, and forcibly displace the native population to achieve their ethnic-supremacist goals.

Also, if your goal is to get your documentary the Hollywood stamp of approval, make sure you get a Jewish Israeli co-director, mention all the Jewish Israelis who take part in your protests, and include sophisticated Jews explaining Israeli court decisions in your movie. Easy, peasy.


Six vigilers
Holding the Jewish community accountable for ten years
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-30-13

Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 7:59 am by

Bending the Rules at City Council

Slightly frustrated by being sidelined by Ann Arbor City Council rules, this writer used a tenuous connection to play by the rules, yet get a point across. Readers remember the vigil report of Nov. 16 when my talk exposing the blacklisting of companies by MasterCard was delayed. This week’s talk presented Council members with a short stroll down memory lane, capped by a request to allow more speech during Public Commentary. For a video of the talk, click here and advance to 00:19:40. Comments to Council appear after signature.

Kevin Barrett – Truth Jihad Radio

A tip of the hat to Vigiler L, whose contact with Dr. Kevin Barrett – editor of Veterans Today – produced a one-hour phone interview about our weekly vigils and other related topics. Kevin shares our exchange he calls: “Zionism & Jewishness: Henry Herskovitz asks the hard questions _ on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio” with us.

Password: zionism


Nine vigilers
Tell us why Israel has a “right” to exist
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Ann Arbor City Council meeting, Public Commentary
December 2, 2013 [399 words]

Good Evening,

I’m here tonight to speak to Council about an actual agenda item, number DC-1, “Resolution to Establish 2014 Council Calendar”. And I would hope that Council, as it adopts its calendar for next year, will consider reversing a decision it made approximately ten years ago.

That decision was to not only reduce public commentary time from four to three minutes in length, but to preference speakers addressing agenda items, and “bump” speakers who wished to address Council on a matter of public concern, but not on the agenda.

This change in rules came about due to pressure exerted by then 2nd Ward Representative Joan Lowenstein, around 2004. It was very clear that Ms. Lowenstein, a member of Beth Israel Congregation –also located in the 2nd Ward – did not like topics relating to Israel being discussed. She frequently turned her back on speakers, and once left the room entirely while I was addressing Council.

So it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that Council passed this rule in reaction to pressure from Lowenstein, and that perhaps she even worked to make sure topics involving Israel never appeared on the agenda.

Last month I wanted to address Council on a matter of public concern: the blacklisting of companies by MasterCard, and though I was placed on the speakers’ list at 8 AM, by noon I was bumped to the eleventh spot, and was not called to speak. This is not the first time this has happened.

So I appeal to this body … paid members serving the public, to allow all topics equal footing during Public Commentary time. You are all sworn to uphold the Constitution, and with it, citizens’ rights to address their governing body on issues of concern. Trying to legislate which topic items are allowable and which are not flies in the face of a free society.

Council is considering a resolution which will ask the Rules Committee to draft appropriate professional standards of conduct for Council members. And I hope that this draft will align itself closely to our most precious Constitutional right, that of free speech.

Now, I can manipulate the existing guidelines to say what I want, but I would rather take the front door to address Council on items of public concern. Respect is a two-way street; allowing citizens to address this body on any topic is a reflection of that respect.

Thank you

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

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