The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-12-11

Posted on March 20th, 2011 at 8:52 pm by


Heard on the Road

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor at Bethlehem University, gave an excellent presentation this week on non-violent resistance in Palestine, and documented a full history of non-violent actions from 1939 onward. He noted that after the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 (al-Nakba), that orders were given to shoot Palestinians attempting to return to their homes. Indeed, 3,000 were shot, but he pointed out that 20-30,000 did successfully return. He reported on the non-violent, ongoing protests in the town of al-Walaja, which is being split by Israel’s apartheid wall, and reported that due to that wall and Israeli-created “Concentration Areas”, Jewish-only roads and the presence of vast, illegal settlements, only 8.3% of Mandate Palestine remains.

Asked to comment on Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state, Mr. Qumsiyeh responded, “Nonsense!” He pointed out that white South Africa demanded the same thing of the majority black population, and that “99.999%” of Palestinians reject Netanyahu’s demand.

What struck this writer, however, was a comment from a white male, who disagreed with Mazin’s call for non-violent resistance. After describing the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, and the impact of the Jewish-dominated American media, he claimed that all Jews should be killed. One of the event’s organizers quickly and correctly pointed out that this man’s comment was personal, and did not reflect the feelings of the community. But the comment was made. We can ignore it as the ravings of an angry racist, or we can try to understand the underlying anger that caused such a comment.

Because certainly, there exists the possibility that he exemplifies a number of people who agree with him but never vocalize their feelings. The question: “Do Jews have too much power in America?” is a question that almost never gets asked, and maybe it should. In protesting at the synagogue, the message of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends is one of reform, not vilification. Our original goal was to convince congregants that supporting the Jewish state was counter to Jewish interests, and had deadly effects on our Palestinian brothers and sisters. If Jews are seen as intransigent supporters of apartheid, if they are seen as manipulating US foreign policy (ref: authors Mearsheimer and Walt), if they are seen as too influential in the media, Hollywood (ref: writers Neal Gabler, Joel Stein), Wall Street and other avenues of influence in American life, then maybe we need to listen to those who are critical of this influence and intransigence, and allow true dialogue to happen.

Resistance in Palestine

Mazin also commented on the weekly protest in the village of Bi’lin, now in its seventh year. Protest leader Iyad Burnat reports that the Israeli Occupation Forces were firing tear gas canisters directly “at the protesters’ heads, rather than up in the air” at this Friday’s protest. He reports that five non-violent protesters were injured, as the crowd was attacked with tear gas canisters, rubber coated bullets, sound bombs and chemical spray.

Support for Bahrain

This writer attended a demonstration for the people of Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and others demanding democratic reforms in the Middle East. The demonstration was held Friday at a public park in downtown Detroit. See photo below.


“Seven Years of Synagogue Vigils: Why We Still Do It”

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Time: 7:00 – 8:30PM
Place: Mallets Creek Branch, Ann Arbor District Library
3090 E. Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Event flyer here

Double Digit Vigil (10)
Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
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One Response to “Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-12-11”

  1. The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog » Blog Archive » Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-21-11

    […] right to exist as a Jewish state in Palestine? We asked that question of Mazin Qumsiyeh in March (Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-12-11) and noted his firm response was “nonsense!”. Will, for instance, Jewish Voice for […]
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