The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 05-18-19

Posted on May 24th, 2019 at 1:11 pm by

Doing the Right Thing

Seven members of our group have passed away during the fifteen years of our peaceful vigils. As numbers declined, Witness for Peace maintained our messages and presence by leaning signs against trees, posts, fire hydrants, etc. To prevent the wind from knocking them down, we tied the signs to these objects, and all was good.

Until the Jewish congregants of Beth Israel complained to the City, that is. Seems like the congregants convinced members of the City Attorney’s Office that the City was promoting our messages by having signs affixed to City property. My goodness! Our practice was quickly banned, and a City Ordinance was cited.

Fortunately, the solution was simple: bring privately owned chairs and affix the signs to private, not city property. Easy peasy. Concurrent with this action was our adoption of “America First Not Israel”, and we hoisted the US flag on a nearby utility pole to highlight our loyalty to only one country.

A Slight Wrinkle

Congregant Victor Lieberman called the cops on us on April 27, and again May 11 to complain about attachments to City Property, claiming flags were part of our protest (They are!). Now, we can understand that the City of Ann Arbor might not support a message like “Stop US Aid to Israel”, but why would they object – being an American City – to the American flag being flown on their property?

The ordinance in question is vague in regards the flag. You can witness here an Ann Arbor police officer verbally struggling with protesters as to the meaning of the ordinance on May 11.

Eye on the Prize

During WfP’s debriefing session, we agreed that arguing with the police was not in our best interests; nor did it advance our goal of bringing awareness of Israel’s crimes and Jewish influence over US foreign policy to the general public. So we penned a letter to the officers involved [reprinted below signature] and they wrote back indicating appreciation for our efforts and willingness to compromise. We are happy to report there was no police presence this Saturday.

Comments?

Henry Herskovitz
Five vigilers
Thumbs: 31, Fingers: 6
Witness for Peace

#Letter to Ann Arbor Police Department officers:

Dear Officers …,

This email is to inform you that our Saturday morning protest group (Witness for Peace) will NOT be affixing American flags to either trees nor utility poles this week (May 18); instead we will hold the flags and create stands from which to fly them as part of our protest. We plan to continue this practice in the future.

Although we are not in unanimity about this decision, we recognize foremost that the relationship between our group and the AAPD has been mutually respectful and we plan to do our part to keep it that way. There are many ways to interpret the ordinance in question, and we recognize that the many calls the AAPD has received from congregants of Beth Israel places the AAPD in an awkward position of trying to enforce a vague ordinance.

And since our vigils protest the Congregation’s support for the state of Israel, we see no need to create an unnecessary rift with the AAPD, with whom we’ve always enjoyed good relations.

Please feel free to communicate our decision to anyone in the Department, and contact us with any questions you may have. Our doors are always open.

Respectfully,
Henry Herskovitz
Witness for Peace

One Response to “Report on Beth Israel vigil 05-18-19”

  1. ARNY

    AE – you are magnificent!

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