About Talking Tachlis

Monday, February 20, 2012

Billboard Wars II

There is NO valid reason that the (dis)organized Jewish community cannot respond effectively to the digital billboard exhorting motorists on westbound I-96  to lobby Congress to end aid to Israel. Money is no object.  It is backbone and conviction that are the lacking resources in our community.
 The billboard, which according to the Arab American News, will change location every three months, appears to be the brainchild of a few groups united by their seething racism against the Jewish state, including Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, whose nine years of harassing Jewish worshipers at Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor is documented in photos at the website FEH.
Another of the backers of this project said his organization, Deir Yassin Remembered “helped to initiate this billboard in the hope that others will continue to speak to Zionist power that drains American treasure and blood for the benefit of an apartheid state.  This billboard is a symbol that blind support of racist Israel is antithetical to basic American values.”
Hateful words.  Dangerous words.  Lies.  And lies left unchallenged become accepted as truth.
So what is the Jewish communal response? From all the organizations and synagogues and rabbis who hold themselves out to be champions of Israel and the Jewish people? From our Federation and its JCRC? From the ZOA and all those groups who recently hosted “Judeophobia” to warn us of the alarming acceleration of the scourge of anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism?  Easy to talk the talk in the confines of a Jewish community theater; true leadership requires walking the walk to confront challenges and defend against danger.
Thirty-nine rabbis recently wrote a letter to the Jewish News flaunting their Zionist bonafides as a defense against harmful outreach to radical Islamists in our midst.  Where are those proudly Zionist rabbis now?  Where is the collective outrage?  Where are the op-eds in our metro Detroit dailies? Doing nothing does something very menacing.  It sends a signal of weakness, of apathy.  Of a people that has not learned that “sha – be still” does not avert evil. 
Our community had better quickly come to the realization that we are placing our trust and protection in a Wizard of Oz delusion – pull back the curtain and there is nothing there.
Shame on our community that we don’t have the strength or moral fortitude of Rita Tilley of Bay City, a Christian lover of Israel and freedom and justice, who spent her nest egg to publicly proclaim solidarity with the Jewish State. 
Tilley, a Christian who has never been to Israel, said she started contacting billboard companies, and was undeterred even after one told her they didn’t want to be involved in a “political” message, saying they only did strict advertising…Finally, she found another company that gave her an affordable price.”
Tilley put up the $2,500 for the two-month display of a billboard on southbound I-75 near Saginaw and Bay City this past fall.  The billboard she helped design featured two crossed American and Israeli flags and read: “Stand with Israel our friend and ally.”  We the People of Mid-Michigan, the local tea party with which she is active, provided organizational sponsorship.  Tilley said she was inspired to show her support for Israel by Glenn Beck’s Restoring Courage extravaganza in Israel and his appeals to Americans to stand with Israel.
What a heartwarming gesture of friendship and support for Israel from a woman of such modest means, yet rich in what means the most.
Surely, our Federation alone, could easily underwrite such an effort.  And so could any one of the myriad organizations who fundraise in our community to ostensibly support Israel.
Talking Tachlis hopes they put their mouths where our money is!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rise to the BDS Challenge

Found this announcement in my inbox yesterday.
“Teach-in” on the
Israel/Palestine Conflict and the global, nonviolent Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) response to it

GUEST SPEAKER: Phyllis Bennis
Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington D.C.; director of the IPS New Internationalism Project; fellow, Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands; writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and UN issues; board of directors, U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, Washington D.C.

The Palestinian BDS movement — inspired by the boycott and divestment activism of both the civil rights movement in the United States and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa — offers a real path to a just peace.

Event #1:
Thursday afternoon
February 23, 2012, 12:15 - 1:15 pm
Law School’s Partrich Auditorium
471 W. Palmer, Detroit, MI 48202

Light refreshments will be served.

WSU Student Organization Co-Sponsors:
Arab Student Union
Arab-American Law Student Association
Muslim Law Student Association
Muslim Student Association
National Lawyers Guild – Student Chapter
Students for Justice in Palestine – WSU Chapter

Event #2:
Thursday evening
February 23, 2012, 6-7:30 pm
HOST: Detroit Renaissance District Peace Center of the United Methodist Church
Hope United Methodist Church
26275 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48076

Rep. John Conyers will introduce Phyllis Bennis

Please join the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights; Jewish Voice for Peace-Detroit; Friends of Sabeel-North America, Detroit and Ann Arbor Chapters; the Palestine Cultural Office, and the National Lawyers Guild-Michigan & Detroit chapter for a Teach-in on the Israel/Palestine conflict and the global, nonviolent, and grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in response to it.

A pivotal moment approaches for the U.S. religious communities’ engagement in the BDS movement, with the United Methodist Church, at its April 2012 General Conference, and Presbyterian Church USA, at its July 2012 General Assembly, both to decide whether to divest from the Israeli Occupation. We invite you to seize this wonderful opportunity to learn about the issues and active U.S. campaigns.

There will be ample time for questions and group discussion of the challenges and opportunities for local BDS organizing.
Light refreshments will be served.

Community supporting organizations:
Sponsors: Michigan Coalition for Human Rights • Jewish Voice for Peace-Detroit chapter
Co-Sponsors: Friends of Sabeel-North America – Ann Arbor and Detroit chapters • Palestine Cultural Office
What to do?

Well, if you're like me, and you don't have the money to sponsor a billboard, you can attend these two events. We know, those of us who have attended these kinds of events in the past, that we don't interrupt or put on obnoxious displays during the presentation, no matter how odious we find its hatred and mendacity. We ask questions in order to expose the lies.

Most of those in attendance are true believers (some to the point of lunacy) in the Nazi-inspired, Jew-hating BDS cause, but as I've discovered from past events, some attendees really don't know the facts and are there trying to get information. Sometimes you can reach these people. Plus we need to let the BDSers know that we are there as the light to pierce their dark hatred.

I've been to the Hope United Methodist Church for one of their "peace in the Middle East" conferences. They are very polite and seemingly open to opposing ideas. Last summer they even allowed Alan Gale to set up a table amidst all of the Israel-haters, that was blatantly and unapologetically pro-Israel. I was there with other Israel supporters. We spoke up. We challenged the hatred and misinformation. Alan Gale (as far as I know) wasn't invited to this occasion and will most likely not be invited back at all. He obviously attracts the wrong crowd.

I don't think these people like their cherished anti-Zionist (but never anti-Jewish, oh no, they love the Jews, see? they invited Jewish Voice for Peace) views challenged by facts.

The important thing is that we be there.


Billboard Wars

While our "leaders" engage in futile and self-destructive attempts at dialogue and outreach to people who look upon us as infidels and worse, here is what our neighbors who hate us are engaged in:
DETROIT — The latest episode in the Israel/Palestine public advertisement feud has unfolded in Michigan, but this time around, the pro-Palestinian side has had a fair chance to make its voice heard.

A new billboard protesting American aid to Israel to the tune of millions per day went up on Monday, Feb. 6, with the message “$8 Million/Day to Israel? Our Money is Needed in America!” along with a link to the website IfAmericansKnew.org, which was founded by researcher Alison Weir and includes facts about Palestine and the Israeli occupation that aren't shown in the mainstream media.

The digital billboard is shown at the Greenfield exit on westbound I-96 and will likely rotate for three months at various locations in metro Detroit, changing each month.

Daniel McGowan, executive director of Dier Yassin Remembered and a contributor to the Detroit project, said that the billboard will help spread much needed awareness.
Henry Herskovitz of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, which has staged peaceful, silent vigils in front of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor for over 8 years in order to persuade them to remove their Israeli flag because of the horrors of the occupation, said that the billboard is a project of various donors and the website. Herskovitz first noticed a pro-Israel billboard on I-75 at milepost last summer, which prompted him to spearhead the project and connect with the popular website.

The original billboard shows the message “Stand with Israel,” and is sponsored by We the People of Mid-Michigan and includes the U.S. and Israeli flags side by side.

The pro-Israel billboard was purchased by Rita Tilley of Bay City, a supporter of conservative pundit Glenn Beck who spent $2,500 of her savings. Tilley reportedly also bought a TV, which she did not own, just to watch Beck and called the lower price she received on the billboard a “miracle.”

The billboard against American aid to Israel is accepting donations at IfAmericansKnew.org in the upper right hand corner of the site, called the 'Detroit Billboard Project.'

Daniel McGowan, the executive director of the organization Dier Yassin Remembered (http://deiryassin.org, which focuses on recognition of a 1948 massacre of Palestinians) and a contributor to the project, said the billboard will help spread much-needed awareness.

This is a small attempt to counter the overwhelming mainstream media propaganda,” he said.

“Dier Yassin Remembered helped to initiate this billboard in the hope that others will contribute to speak truth to Zionist power that drains American treasure and blood for the benefit of an apartheid state.

This billboard is a symbol that blind support of racist Israel is antithetical to basic American values.”

According to IfAmericansKnew.org, the U.S. Gives Israel through taxpayer dollars over $8 million per day, and taxes on the borrowed money from the private, non-governmental Federal Reserve Bank means that taxpayers pay interest on it, costing over $15 million per day.

The website said that an economist who conducted an audit for the Army War College found that as of 2003 Israel had cost Americans $3 trillion dollars because of the many associated and hidden costs of the support that is pledged each year.

Herskovitz said that he once traveled from Hebron in Palestine to Jerusalem and saw soldiers throw a young woman with three kids off the bus.

“A friend of the mother's told me she was sick of what they were doing and asked me to tell their story in America,” he said. “I think that getting this message out is very important.”

Notice they're big fans of "If Americans Knew", a group so far gone in their hatred of Israel, even NPR (could they be a participant in that "overwhelming mainstream media propaganda"?) ignores them.

Can we in the pro-Israel community counter this? All we need is money.


NOTE: Thanks to "banjopop" from FEH for alerting us to this.