The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 02-09-13

Posted on February 16th, 2013 at 6:08 pm by

Two Simple Questions

Three members of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends attended a presentation by the Social Transformation Committee of St. Clare’s Episcopal Church and held at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor this week. Two groups were represented: Three Wishes and

Three Wishes is an effort to produce stories of daily life from young Jewish Israeli children and Palestinian children. An Israeli Jew named Chen read Elisheva’s story and a local Palestinian woman read Wafa’s story. Both were stories filled with sadness, death, and hope.

Then Shaina Low from OneVoice explained the “grassroots” nature of the organization, without telling the audience that Zionist neo-cons Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk are members of the Board of Advisors of this group, which is peddling the two-state “solution” to the “conflict”. Ahmed, a 25-year-old Palestinian man from Hebron spoke about life under “occupation” and 27-year-old Chen, spoke of her life in the settlements. Both expressed a desire for change.

Moderator Mark Wenzel of St. Clare’s then opened the floor for questions. I asked Ahmed if Israel had a right to exist as a Jewish state and if so, by what right? One woman in the small audience (of about 40 people) tried to interrupt before the short question was even completed. Ahmed’s rather long response was coupled with uncomfortable pauses, but it seemed he never really answered the question. When I tried to clarify if he was saying no, the shouting started. “That’s not what he was saying” said a red-faced man.

Then Chen offered her emotion-laden voice to the conversation: she expressed her disappointment that everywhere she went in this country she was confronted by people talking about boycotts and divestment against Israel.

A Backfired Strategy

Chen asked for a show of hands of who in the audience considered themselves Americans; all the hands went up. Then she pressed her luck and asked how many of us were “proud” Americans? Maybe two hands meekly went up and Chen’s strategy was thwarted. It seemed to this writer that she wanted to ask these “proud” Americans what it would feel like if they went abroad and people criticized the US culture or government policies, much like she – a “proud” Israeli – feels when people speak to her about boycotts and now this question about Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state. Well, it was all too much for this Israeli Jew, and she left the room visibly upset; a few other folks left the room as well.

The Second Question

Mr. Wenzel tried to breathe some life into the deflating meeting, and championed difficult discussion, claiming that some good always comes out of heated conversation. He then went on to extol the virtues of dialogue: how important it was for people representing different national interests to get together and discuss those differences.

This prompted my second question: Would Jews find it valuable and effective to sit down with Nazi Germans to dialogue during the time Jews were being persecuted by the Nazis? Well, that got the good Rev. Sue Sprowls of the Lord of Light Lutheran Church to her feet to chastise this writer for asking such a question. Apparently the Lord of Light could use a few replacement bulbs, because the lights of justice and prophetic anger (see e.g. Isaiah 5 and Amos 1) must shine very dimly there.

Rev. Sprowls was a panel member of a January, 2011, discussion held at the Ann Arbor downtown library, and along with Rabbi Rob Dobrusin of Beth Israel Congregation used her bully pulpit to criticize JWPF. Readers are referred to PeaceMonger’s “Rabbi Dobrusin Highjacks Religious Freedom Day Panel” coverage of this event.

Thanks to the gatekeeping of the Rev. Sprowls, my dialogue question went unanswered as well. Speaking for the street members of JWPF, the correct answers are “no” and “no” to these two questions.

Quote of the Week

“The bad blood between Jews and Palestinian Arabs did NOT begin with ideologically-driven Palestinians invading Poland and forcibly evicting the Jews living there to create a Muslim state based on some misinterpretation of the Qu’ran. It was the other way around.”

What do Rhodesia and “Israel” have in common?
Eight vigilers
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

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