The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 09-18-10

Posted on September 25th, 2010 at 7:01 pm by

High Holiday Draws Large Attendance

Saturday was the Day of Atonement (aka Yom Kippur, the Sabbath of Sabbaths) and attendance at Beth Israel Congregation was high. A little rain kept some vigillers at home, but we still managed to put seven Witnesses out there. As reported earlier, our new sign, created expressly for this event, suggested to congregants “Atone for the sin of supporting genocide”. It was placed strategically on the windshield of one of our cars.

A young woman rode up to us on her bicycle, and initiated a conversation. We always welcome sincere conversation on the public property we stand upon, and we believe this woman was at least sincere. She wanted to know if we knew the importance of this particular day, and we said we did. She asked if we didn’t feel our presence disrespectful, and we replied that we didn’t, given the disrespect the Congregation shows when they support Israeli attacks on children with banned weapons like white phosphorus.

We also described to her that we have stood on this public property every week for over seven years, and suggested that her comment was not the first one of its type we’d ever heard. She agreed, saying something like “I’m sure it isn’t”. She then was asked to work towards ending the vigils, if she found them so “disgusting”, by suggesting to Rabbi Dobrusin that he remove the foreign flag from the pulpit. That just might do the trick.

But there wasn’t a visible reaction from her indicating she would pursue that route. When I offered my hand as a belated introduction, she said: “I’d rather not”, and bicycled away. The good news is that our ace researcher informs us that next year Yom Kippur falls out on – you guessed it – Saturday. Maybe then we’ll all bicycle to the synagogue in solidarity with this lone spokesperson.

Ann Arbor City Council Misses an Opportunity

The usual suspects of Ann Arbor’s peace community trundled up to the podium at City Council to voice approval of a “Resolution reaffirming religious freedom in response to recent activities and encouraging participation in Religious Freedom Day”, drawn up by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, with support from the Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County, Michigan Peaceworks, and others.

JWPF members noted that included in the resolution was reference to our vigils. Casual readers might have glossed over the “whereas” which references an October 18, 2004 Council resolution “recognizing the importance of religious freedom”. This referenced resolution was actually titled: “Resolution affirming freedom to worship without interference and condemning [sic] the picketing of houses of worship”, and is available here. So this seemingly pro-Muslim resolution contained an anti-vigil component we feel worthwhile to identify. Some of the resulting comments on the news article covering passage of this resolution indicated other readers recognized this light slap towards the vigils as well.

But more importantly, we noted that only one speaker raised a concern that no other spokesperson dared mount: that if council were truly interested in speaking out for Muslims, they should craft a meaningful resolution that would attack the funding of trillions of dollars spent here and in Apartheid Israel, to kill Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We recognize the hypocrisy of Council passing such a resolution while criticizing our group, which might be the only group that week in and week out stands up for Muslims and the minority Christian population in Palestine. Passing feel-good resolutions is no substitute for the more difficult work of identifying the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and holding the responsible parties accountable.

With “Allies” like Israel, who needs enemies?
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

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