The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 12-15-12

Posted on December 22nd, 2012 at 8:12 am by

Jewish Power in Ann Arbor Council Election

In the June-Aug 2012 edition of the Washtenaw Jewish News appears a letter by Henry Brysk entitled “A ‘nuanced’ anti-Zionist runs for the Ann Arbor City Council”. Brysk reveals his Jewish tribal loyalties as he excoriates candidate Chuck Warpehoski, director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, for among other things, being not sensitive enough to the feelings of local Jews: “That [Warpehoski] took such pains to avoid condemning anti-Semitism is troubling”. Brysk also scolds the ICPJ for “refus[ing] to condemn the Herskovite [sic] harassment of Beth Israel Congregation”.

What happened not long afterwards is revealing – ICPJ publicly condemned our weekly nonviolent vigils for justice and peace in Palestine. The December 2012 issue of the News ran a page two story, “Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice condemns synagogue protests”. As Laugh-In’s Marte Johnson would remark, “Very interesting.” And it would be laughable, were it not so serious. Apparently, the Jewish Lobby’s hold on the US Congress starts at the grass roots level and remains just as threatening and successful. Mr. Warphehoski won election to City Council and we surmise that his public denunciation of our vigils assisted him to the post.

We are reminded of another letter to City Council of August 23, 2004 written by Dr. Barry Gross who threatened our Mayor and Council members with the votes of 470 families of Beth Israel who all live in Ann Arbor, and “are watching closely for your response.” Readers will remember that the response included Council abdicating its First Amendment responsibilities and writing a Resolution condemning our free speech activities. This writer spoke to City Council on December 17 about the power the Jewish community brandishes and advised both Council and ICPJ to stand up to the bullying tactics of local Jews. See full comments below signature, and view the talk to council here. Please advance to 20:28.

Some Kind Words for JWPF

The work of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends was referenced by Vigil Supporter B, who also addressed City Council in a speech at 23:52 in the link above. He says:

Every Saturday peaceful vigilers for Palestinian rights can be seen silently holding signs against Israeli atrocities on Washtenaw Avenue. They’re entering their tenth year of standing up for Palestine. When age and infirmity prevent them from standing, they lean on canes or sit in the rain and snow. When they are physically attacked or robbed of their signs they do not resist; they file police reports. Their attackers are never punished. When winter wind freezes their lungs they go to the hospital, then return to the vigil.

(Almost) Free Bumper Stickers

What’s the catch? You gotta promise to put these babies on your car, or some permanent public place. Just contact this writer and include snail-mail address.

Liberate Palestine

AIPAC Coming to Michigan

The Israel Public Affairs Committee* will hold its meeting in support of Apartheid Israel on January 28th at Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Southfield, Michigan, about a fifteen minute ride from Dearborn. This event will feature the former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp. This guy has great credentials in invasion and usurpation of another’s rights and properties: the obit lists his 14 active duty tours as a military commander in Northern Ireland. See Kemp’s bio here.

PeaceMonger informs us that Shaarey Zedek is no stranger to invasion and usurpation, either.

Rabbi Abraham M. Hershman, of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Detroit was: [A]n ardent Zionist … In 1908 he organized the Kadimah Zionist Society, whose membership included business and professional men, and shortly thereafter founded the enduring Zionist Organization of Detroit. Through social activities, lectures, classes, and general publicity, the members under Hershman’s leadership actively spread the ideas of Zionism in the Detroit community. Hershman, who also was a pioneer in establishing the Conservative movement in 1913, continued his strong and dedicated leadership as a Zionist until his death in 1959.

*- Why kid ourselves? No member of AIPAC actually gives a rip about the interests of the United States. “American” has been omitted on purpose.


December 15, Eleven vigilers
December 8, Five vigilers
Liberate Palestine, End “Israel”
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Presentation to Ann Arbor City Council
December 17, 2012 (392 words)

Good Evening,

I read in this month’s Washtenaw Jewish News an article entitled “Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice condemns synagogue protests”, and it caused me recall an article that appeared this summer. In that issue of the Jewish News Henry Brysk laid into then Council candidate Chuck Warpehoski with some pretty nasty accusations. Brysk called him a “‘nuanced’ anti-Zionist”, as if that’s a bad term. He continued his personal attack by writing “The ICPJ has refused to condemn the Herskovite harassment of Beth Israel Congregation” and claimed Mr. Warpehoski “out-maneuvered the [Human Rights] Commission to push through his one-sided version”.

What we have here is a now familiar case of cause and effect. Mr. Brysk is a member of a minority community here in Ann Arbor, the Jewish community. And regrettably it wields much more power than their 12% would indicate. Flexing that power, Mr. Brysk complains about the largest peace group in town, and like magic, that peace group goes public with their request that our synagogue protest group cease our support for Palestine at Beth Israel. Their director is then elected to Council.

What makes this cause and effect familiar is to recall a similar incident involving City Council which happened eight years ago. Then, our Mayor and City Council representatives received a letter from Dr. Barry Gross complaining about council’s inaction concerning our vigils. Dr. Gross wrote: “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.”

What followed 50 days later was a resolution passed by Council condemning our peaceful vigils.

How could this be? Just last month the Mayor and five councilpersons stood where I’m standing and swore to uphold the US Constitution, which guarantees our right to free speech. How could Council abdicate its responsibility to uphold our Constitution based on the bullying tactics of a small, but powerful group?

And how can the largest peace group in Ann Arbor similarly kowtow to these tactics? How can a minority population intimidate and manipulate the majority population to obey its will again and again without notice? The answer is: As long as you let it; as long as you allow yourselves to be bullied. I ask Council to remember its oath to our Constitution.

Thank you

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