The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-10-16

Posted on September 17th, 2016 at 8:24 am by

When Propaganda Masquerades as News


In July of this year Newsweek came out with a 98-page glossy special edition with the words “Hitler: Can his evil legacy ever be defeated?” printed on the cover. The contents page is titled: “An Enduring Evil.” Three subsections are “Origins of Evil”, “Reign of Terror” and “Fighting his Legacy”.

We thought words like “evil” and “terror” were arrived at as personal conclusions by the readers of news magazines, rendered from the facts presented by the source. “Evil” is not a fact; neither is “terror”. For a news source to draw these conclusions, rather than to leave that to the readers, seems to be a violation of basic news reporting. What’s going on? Are the proponents of the standard narrative of the events of World War II running scared? Even as the Michigan Legislature passes into law the mandatory teaching of the Holocaust to high school students, this historical event morphs ever so slowly into religious dogma. Ditto the timely release of the Hollywood movie “Denial.” Again, what’s going on?

Additionally, we wonder to whom is the last chapter dedicated: “The United States of Extremism; How the world’s oldest and strongest democracy is ripe for the rise of a homegrown autocrat”. Can you say “Donald Trump”? We knew you could …

We leave this critique with some good news for our readers, especially our Jewish ones. Nowhere in these 98 glossy pages is the term “gas chamber” used. Those friends brought up with the stories of their relatives being led into homicidal gas chambers built by National Socialists in an effort to exterminate (also a word not used in this propaganda piece) Europe’s Jews can now breathe a sigh of release; apparently even the propagators of Nazi “evil” and “terror” have dropped this claim into the same bucket as bars of soap and lampshades. What, we wonder, will be next?

Christopher Bollyn Speaks in Dearborn, Michigan

Four members of Witness for Peace attended a 90-minute presentation by author Christopher Bollyn, who addressed a small audience as a preview for a revisit later in the month. Christopher implicates Israel and its many supporters in the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11 in his 2012 book, Solving 9-11; the deception that changed the world. Well received in Michigan, Christopher was labeled “Jew-Hater” (he overnighted at this writer’s home) by Daily Beast writer Jacob Siegel and Daniel Sieradski, publisher of Jewschool in Brooklyn, New York, “the most Jewish borough in America’s most Jewish city”. Both writers must know, from reading their Hasbara Handbook, how to utilize Name Calling (p. 22) when you cannot defeat your opponent using fact and reason.


Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace
Sept 3: six vigilers
Sept. 10: five vigilers

Report on Beth Israel vigil 08-27-16

Posted on August 30th, 2016 at 2:08 pm by

Jewish Power claims another victim

Patricia Garcia, publisher of the Ann Arbor Observer, felt the ire of the Jewish community and capitulated to their demand that the Observer refuse to re-run our 2015 advertisement urging attendance at our vigils. Last May we reported that we were going to test the range of Jewish Power by attempting to run the ad, in spite of sidewalk taunting by synagogue congregant Victor Lieberman.

Well, the votes are in and Jewish Power is ahead 1-0. In a brief conversation with this writer, Ms. Garcia admitted (a) she wasn’t Jewish and (b) she’s not politically active. She apologized for her decision, but piqued my curiosity when she said “It’s clear your demonstrations are more closely aligned with hate than with peace”

Me: What makes you say we’re hateful?
Garcia: You stand in front of a house of worship
Me: If it’s a house of worship, why do they fly a foreign flag in their sanctuary?
Garcia: I don’t want to debate with you. I’ve made my decision and it’s final

Certainly the AAO didn’t characterize our vigils as hateful when they published James Militzer’s “Sacred Ground: The Israel-Palestine conflict in Ann Arbor” in the Observer in May, 2006. In any event, Garcia alluded to a group who approached her after our ad ran last year, but could not say whether Victor Lieberman was part of that group or not. Since we’re in possession of a letter he sent to John Hilton, editor of the Observer, we hold a strong suspicion that Lieberman played a defining role in her decision to cave to Jewish demands.

In newspaper parlance the “firewall” is commonly defined as “the once inviolate barrier between newspapers’ editorial and advertising missions.”  Since Lieberman wrote his communication to editor John Hilton, we contacted him, too, but he invoked the firewall to prevent his possible overriding of the decision of Advertising. OK, we get it, and Mr. Hilton – although he didn’t want to meet in person – was kind enough to allow me to explain in writing the falsehoods contained in Lieberman’s words. Everybody’s kind when they hold the keys. But how the publisher of an otherwise fine publication can claim to be politically neutral, yet makes a political decision is a question that troubles us.

We present to readers Lieberman’s letter to Hilton and my response after signature. As always, it’s yours to judge.

Blogger highlights our Rudy

Internationally known blogger Linh Dinh (Postcards from the End of America) was scheduled to stand vigil with us last month, but a delayed flight prevented his appearance. He was, however, able to spend considerable time with our stalwart vigiler, and was impressed enough in Rudy’s history to blog about him.


Henry Herskovitz
Four vigilers
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
America First … Trump!


Letter from Lieberman to AAO Editor John Hilton:

Dear John Hilton,

It has been reported that the group which has picketed worshipers at Beth Israel synagogue every sabbath for the past 13 years has purchased an ad in the Ann Arbor Observer inviting others to join their picket.

This group is composed of hard-core anti-Semites. One leader explained his motivation to me in these precise words on June 9, 2012: “Yes, I’m an anti-Semite. I hate Jews. Whatever happened to them in World War Two they brought on themselves. They deserved everything they got.” Two others explained more recently that the Holocaust never happened, and that Jews themselves built the gas ovens after the war ended.  These sophisticates have also told me straight-faced that Jews planned and directed the attacks of 9/11. These sorts of venomous insults are hurled weekly at worshipers about whose personal political opinions the picketers know absolutely nothing and whose only offense is that they are religious Jews.

I see no principled difference between this group and the Ku Klux Klan. Would you allow the KKK to recruit members in The Observer? This picket of a house of worship has been condemned by virtually every Christian and Muslim pastor in Ann Arbor, by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, by the mayor, the City Council, and every agency of goodwill. Group hatred is not what Ann Arbor stands for. And it should have no place in your pages. I urge you to cancel the ad.


(Prof.) Victor Lieberman

member, Beth Israel Congregation


Our Response to Lieberman’s letter:

August 26, 2016


Thanks for allowing me this opportunity to address some issues. This is a response to the allegations Victor Lieberman has leveled against our vigil (protest) group which has appeared on the sidewalks next to Beth Israel Congregation every Saturday morning for 13 years. I have attached the memo addressed to you and signed by him as reference.

He calls members of our group (currently Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, JWPF) “hard-core anti-Semites.” And buttresses his claim from the sarcastic words I said to him, in a successful attempt to get him to stop his taunting: “admit it, the only reason you’re out here is because you hate Jews.”

Did I say those words he claims I did? Technically, yes, but as the boss says to a late-arriving employee “Aren’t we getting to work early today?” he means just the opposite, and so did I. When I read those words which Lieberman took out of the true context in an article written by him in the September, 2015 issue of the Washtenaw Jewish News, I penned a short reply to Editor Susan Ayer. My response was neither acknowledged nor printed by her:

September 26, 2015

Dear Ms. Ayer,

To clear up any misunderstanding between our group and the local Jewish community, neither I nor anyone in our group believes that Jews “deserved” the suffering they experienced during World War II in Europe.

Thank you,

Henry Herskovitz

Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends


In March of this year I penned a similar clarification to my attorney, John Shea, and copied Lieberman. As with Susan Ayer, I’ve received no acknowledgment by him.

Returning to his claim that some of us are anti-Semites … My response: Absolutely not. I love my sister, her children, my cousins and their children and grandchildren. Three Jewish members of JWPF have died in the last 13 years: Sol Metz, Larry Hochman, Rachel Persico, two of whom I was extremely close with. Marcia Federbush lies in the Glacier Hills rehab unit as we speak; members of our group visit her regularly. We remain friends with Alan Haber and Barbara Stohler-Schalk, Jews who vigiled only once with us. To paint us as anti-Semites is just ludicrous.

Lieberman twists the words of my colleagues as well in regards to their views on the historical narrative of the Holocaust and to the attacks of 9/11. Lieberman typically conflates gas chamber with cremation ovens which were built and used by the Nazis. All historians now regard the gas chambers exhibited at Dachau concentration camp to be post-war reconstructions. And books, like Solving 9-11 by Christopher Bollyn, do in fact suggest Israeli involvement in those attacks. Personally, I have read many Holocaust revisionist texts, and plan to continue to do so. I don’t think we should be criticized in our attempts to educate ourselves about the past.

We do not hurl venomous insults at Beth Israel congregants. This is simply not true and Observer readers know this from reading the article on our group by James Militzer in May, 2006. Ryan Stanton of the Ann Arbor News also featured our group in an article three years ago; hurling insults of any kind were absent from both articles. When challenged, especially by name-callers like Lieberman (I’ve made videos), we do respond, but we never initiate contentious dialogue. Lieberman knows better than to make this false claim; he does it anyway.

Lieberman is wrong again when he writes that we know absolutely nothing about congregants’ political views. Rabbi Rob Dobrusin wrote an Op-ed in the Ann Arbor News on Jan. 14, 2007, in which he said: “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…” On the most important issue – Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state – we know exactly what views the congregants hold.

Lieberman is correct to state that many groups have stood against us, and in some cases we know why. For instance, we have the letter penned by BIC congregant Barry Gross to our City Council in 2004, where he tells Mayor Hieftje: “The time when your silence was acceptable is long past. The 470 family units in our congregation virtually all live in Ann Arbor. We are avid voters. We are watching closely for your response.” Unfortunately, the Mayor and Council abdicated their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States and passed a resolution condemning the exercise of our First Amendment rights; simply put, they yielded to pressure from the Jewish community.

Perhaps Lieberman projects some self-contained guilt when he likens our peaceful vigils to the KKK. It is his country Israel who, like the white supremacists in the KKK, represent a Jewish supremacist state in Palestine.

John, two things in closing. One, I learned my lesson: Never use irony with an opponent; they’ll use your literal word against you. Two, I recognize that this may appear to you as some he-said, she-said internal strife, but my point is that outside organizations should not play a role in whose voice gets to be heard. As we talked about on the phone, I’m not looking for you to override Patricia’s decision not to run our ad. What’s done is done. But I do hope that you and I, the Observer and JWPF, can work together in the future.


Henry Herskovitz



Report on Beth Israel vigil 07-30-16

Posted on July 31st, 2016 at 10:22 pm by

Are You anti-Israel? Why not?

“You can’t be neutral on a moving train” wrote Howard Zinn in 1994. Did anybody bother to ask him if that slogan applied to his personal feelings about the Jewish state? Seems doubtful he was put to the test, and since he has passed away, it would be unfair to hold him accountable to a question seemingly never asked.

But there are Jewish leaders – historians, authors and peace activists – who are still with us, and who can be asked the question. And certainly this applies to all historians, authors and peace activists: Are you anti-Israel? Why not? How can you be neutral on an issue that has influenced so much of the world’s misery? Didn’t even the late Elie Wiesel say: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends are anti-Israel. We have followed Elie’s lead and have taken sides. We see no right for Jews to invade and occupy Palestine so that Jews can have their own state. Our signs and flags echo our anti-Israel political position every Saturday.

So here’s your task, Mr. and Mrs. Peace Activist:

The next time you attend a speech from Alice Rothschild, Josh Ruebner, Phil Weiss, Omar Barghouti, Ali Abunimah, Andrew Dalack, or anyone else claiming to represent the Palestine liberation movement. raise your hand during the inevitable Q&A and ask loudly:

Are you anti-Israel? Why not?

Let them supply an answer. If they claim neutrality, remind them of the quotes from the two Jews quoted above. If they say yes, ask them to join JWPF next Saturday or start their own Zionist synagogue protest. If they say no, put it to ‘em: demand to know why they have not taken sides. Ask them to state their reasons – for the record – why they feel they are PRO-Israel. Then ask them to leave the movement.

You can’t be neutral on a moving train.

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust

This writer responded to a request from my friend Germar Rudolf, representing the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust for a video response to the question, “Why do I support open debate on the Holocaust?” The four-minute video is available here.


July 16: 4 vigilers
July 23: 5 vigilers
July 30: 5 vigilers
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
America First Not Israel

Henry, A Former Jew, supports open debate on the Holocaust

Posted on July 27th, 2016 at 7:21 pm by

Investigate Possible Israeli War Crimes

Posted on July 27th, 2016 at 5:14 pm by

The text below is from an online petition co-sponsored by Deir Yassin Remembered. By the end of 2009 it had garnered more than 500 signatures. It was removed without notice or explanation by the host,, sometime in 2014-2015. The text has been lightly edited for this post and hyperlinks added or updated.

Investigate Possible Israeli War Crimes

September 1, 2009

BACKGROUND: In late July 2009, FBI Agent Robert J. Cooke filed a criminal complaint in US District Court against Levy Itzhak Rosenbaum alleging that he unlawfully conspired “to acquire, receive, and otherwise transfer human organs.” Rosenbaum is quoted as indicating he had been procuring human organs for “[t]en years” and there are “people over there [in Israel] hunting” for organs.

On August 17, 2009, a Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, published “Our sons plundered for their organs,” by veteran Middle East photojournalist Donald Boström. Boström indicates the Rosenbaum story, which garnered international attention, inspired him to revisit his experiences in Palestine in the 1990s. He writes: “I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza—meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. … ‘Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,’ relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.” Boström opines that these charges raise “enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation …”

Boström’s article echoes a report by Mary Barrett; “Autopsies and Executions,” which was published in April 1990 in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In it, Barrett concludes, “The question of organ theft is of compelling concern to Palestinians.” In June 2001, Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of California-Berkeley and Organs Watch testified to the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. She described a “multi-million dollar business” that the Israeli Ministry of Health refused “to intervene and crack down on.” She stated:

“… hundreds of kidney patients from Israel … travel in privately brokered ‘transplant tourist’ junkets to Turkey, Moldova, Romania …. to Russia … and to South Africa …

“While in Israel for Organs Watch in the summer of [2000] and, again in March 2001, … I interviewed more than 50 transplants professionals, transplant patients, and organs buyers and sellers involved in commercialized transplants … none were willing to condemn a practice which they saw as ‘saving lives’. …

“Meanwhile, human rights groups in the West Bank complained to me of tissue and organs stealing of slain Palestinains [sic] by Israeli pathologists at the national Israeli legal medical institute in Tel Aviv. …

“A more troubling phenomenon is the support and direct involvement of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in the illicit national ‘program’ of transplant tourism. Some patients who traveled with the outlaw Israeli transplant surgeon to other countries noted that in each of the organized transplant groups were members of the Ministry of Defense or those closely related to them.”

It’s worth recalling that millions of Palestinians live under brutal military occupation by troops of the very same Israeli Ministry of Defense. Just a little more than a year after Scheper-Hughes’ testimony, Israel’s Chief Pathologist and Director of the national Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv was investigated. Arutz Sheva, reports in 2005, that Dr. Yehuda Hiss agreed to a plea bargain with Israeli prosecutors. It says: “In all of the 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones and tissue without the permission of, and in many cases, against the expressed wishes of the families of the deceased.”

Veteran, award-winning Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam wrote recently: “The issue of stealing the Palestinian organs is known to everybody in Palestine. I reported several times about this crime.” She concluded: “If the Israelis go forward and cause troubles for Donald Boström in court, I will volunteer to testify in his favor …”

Israelis have gone forward to cause trouble. The Yedioth Ahronoth reports, “Thousands of Israelis on Sunday signed an internet petition calling for a consumers’ boycott on Swedish home products retailer IKEA, as well as other companies from the Scandinavian country …” Meanwhile, the Israeli government is pressuring Sweden’s government to “condemn the ‘anti-Semitic’ article” and “Swedish Chancellor of Justice Goeran Lambertz received two written requests on Tuesday asking to investigate whether the report amounted to racial agitation …” Ha’aretz reports the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) is delaying the issuance of press credentials to Swedish journalists trying to get into Gaza. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports Israeli lawyer Guy Ophir filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the Aftonbladet and Boström in a New York court.

Despite the vociferous Israeli response, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has called for “an immediate, serious investigation into reports alleging that Zionist occupation forces stole organs from young Palestinians they killed in the West Bank and Gaza.” The younger brother of Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, whose mutilated body was pictured in Boström’s article, is quoted in the Jerusalem Post as follows: “But in light of the investigative report in the Swedish newspaper, we are demanding an international commission of inquiry into the case.” American Muslims for Palestine has also stated it “believes the questions the article raises must be investigated.”

PETITION TEXT: As people deeply concerned with human rights, we believe it is essential to listen respectfully when occupied people speak about war crimes committed against them. Therefore, we support Donald Boström and Aftonbladet in their decision to publish “Our sons plundered for their organs.” We salute the Swedish government’s refusal to submit to Israeli pressure and undermine the freedom of the press. We support calls for an investigation and urge the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other competent tribunals to undertake a thorough, impartial investigation of allegations that Israelis have unlawfully removed organs from Palestinians.



How I became a “self-hating Jew”

Posted on July 27th, 2016 at 4:30 pm by

Report on Beth Israel vigil 07-09-16

Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 3:56 pm by

Request Denied

Why do Jewish community newspapers, like the local Washtenaw Jewish News, exist? Well, one reason is to promote activities and events of Ann Arbor’s Jewish community; certainly no harm in that. But another reason is to promote Israel. Take the October 2015 issue of the WJN for example. Ten of the 34 articles contained in this issue promote the Jewish state. They are political in nature and encourage travel to Israel, especially for young people on “Birthright Israel” trips.

The Washtenaw Jewish News appears to be self-funding, i.e. sustained by the financial support of its 39 advertisers (Oct. 2015). This conclusion was based on the fact that Guidestar’s basic report on The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor (WJN’s parent org) does not list WJN in its main programs or operations. Readers should feel free to correct us with additional information.

Based on this funding narrative, JWPF selected one of these advertisers – The Ark (“a nationally known acoustic and folk music venue”) – and appealed to them to refrain from financially contributing to an organization which supports Israel. As we wrote in our letter:

Many performers at The Ark promote peace through their music and lyrics: Jay Stielstra, Chris Buhalis, Cheryl Wheeler, and Gideon Luke are but a few. The Ark hosted a fund raiser for Veterans for Peace Chapter 93 in October. It is in this spirit of peace, spoken and sung by many performers, that I ask The Ark to reconsider its policy of promoting a state which – throughout its history – has been antithetical towards peace.

Here is the answer we received from The Ark’s attorney:

Dear Mr. Herskovitz,

Thank you for your recent letter to The Ark’s Board of Directors requesting that The Ark discontinue advertising in the Washtenaw Jewish News. Your letter was shared with The Ark’s Board at their last meeting. The Ark uses a variety of media to encourage support of the venue and the music. The Ark also has a diverse membership which shares a love of the folk, roots and ethnic music that The Ark presents. The Ark’s membership and audiences include a wide spectrum of political affiliations which are not part of The Ark’s mission. It is The Ark’s policy not to take a position on any issue that doesn’t related directly to its mission or business operations. As such, The Ark will continue to reach out widely in order to share the benefits of music.

Ian James Reach

A Fight Worth Fighting?

In our view, the Ark chose not to respond to any of the seven points raised in the request letter, and merely stated that they were going to continue to conduct their business as usual. We suspect that since they don’t receive many requests of this nature, that it was easy for them to swat away this fly. Perhaps it is business as usual for them; on the other hand, perhaps they wouldn’t dare raise the ire of such formidable a power as that of the local Jewish community were they to take a principled stand and terminate their support for a newspaper openly promoting a racist state.

We can only speculate. However, we are reminded that the original 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS exhorts “…people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts …similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

Do “broad boycotts” include asking advertisers in newspapers dedicated in part to maintaining an apartheid state to reconsider their financial investments? This report indicates that one lone voice doesn’t win the day. If other concerned individuals and groups dedicated to justice for Palestinians, however, could step up and formally request all the advertisers in the Washtenaw Jewish News to reconsider their financial support, might we not expect a more successful outcome?


5 vigilers
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
America First Not Israel
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