Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ADL Supports Censorship. Crayonophobia?

ADL Joins Local Jewish Agencies in Successfully Urging Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art to Cancel Controversial Exhibit of Art by Gaza Children
Along with the East Bay Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, ADL persuaded Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) to reconsider an exhibit of war-themed art from Gazan children. The exhibit was sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance which has a long history of strident anti-Israel activism. It contained numerous violent images depicting a politically biased view squarely and exclusively against Israel.

That was an excerpt from a recent email sent to supporters of the ADL, once a group that opposed prejudice and now a group that foments hate and political repression. You can see the whole email here.

I don't think i am alone in wondering what it is that the ADL fears from kids crayons. Is it ...crayonophobia? Look that up in your DSM IV

Maybe it is the idea that people might see the suffering of Palestinian children, and might respond in a human way.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Israel Lobby takes Credit for Nixing Kids Art Exhibit

The Tweet above is from the Jewish Federation of the East Bay organization and its success in censoring a children's art exhibit that was scheduled to be shown at the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland, California later this month. They would like to represent themselves as being "the" voice of the Jewish community of the East Bay, but in fact they are often the voice of anti-Palestinian extremism that is not representative of the whole Jewish community. This is yet another example of the efforts of that anti-Palestinian lobby censoring Palestinian cultural expression.

Here is a press release from Middle East Children's Alliance, that was working to bring this art to the people of the Bay Area.

Oakland Museum of Children's Art Shuts Down Palestinian Children’s Exhibit

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Berkeley, CA— The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) has decided to cancel an exhibit of art by Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip. The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), which was partnering with MOCHA to present the exhibit, was informed of the decision by the Museum’s board president on Thursday, September 8, 2011. For several months, MECA and the museum had been working together on the exhibit, which is titled “A Child’s View From Gaza.”

MECA has learned that there was a concerted effort by pro-Israel organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area to pressure the museum to reverse its decision to display Palestinian children’s art.

Barbara Lubin, the Executive Director of MECA, expressed her dismay that the museum decided to censor this exhibit in contradiction of its mission “to ensure that the arts are a fundamental part of the lives of all children.”

“We understand all too well the enormous pressure that the museum came under. But who wins? The museum doesn’t win. MECA doesn’t win. The people of the Bay Area don’t win. Our basic constitutional freedom of speech loses. The children in Gaza lose,” she said.

“The only winners here are those who spend millions of dollars censoring any criticism of Israel and silencing the voices of children who live every day under military siege and occupation.”

Unfortunately, this disturbing incident is just one example of many across the nation in which certain groups have successfully silenced the Palestinian perspective, which includes artistic expression. In fact, some organizations have even earmarked funds for precisely these efforts. Last year, regrettably the Jewish Federation of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs launched a $6 million initiative to effectively silence Palestinian voices even in “cultural institutions.”

The free exhibit, co-sponsored by nearly twenty local organizations, was scheduled to open on September 24, and featured special activities for children and families, including a cartooning workshop and poetry readings.

The Gaza Strip, which has a population of 1.6 million, has been under siege since Israel imposed a blockade against it in 2006. The United Nations and many human rights organizations across the world have condemned the blockade as an inhumane and cruel form of collective punishment.

“Even while the children in Gaza are living under Israeli policies that deprive them of every basic necessity, they managed through art, to express their realities and hopes. It’s really very sad that there are people in the U.S. silencing them and shredding their dreams,” said Ziad Abbas, MECA’s Associate Director.

MECA is disappointed in the museum’s decision to deny Bay Area residents the opportunity to view Palestinian children’s art, and is committed to seeking an alternative venue.

“We made a promise to the children that their art will be shown and we are going to keep that promise,” said Lubin.

For media requests, please contact:
Leena Al-Arian
Communications Coordinator, MECA


This is Not Over.
First, this art will be exhibited. MECA says it will be either inside or, if need be, OUTSIDE the museum. Even if the anti-Palestinian fearmongers see the kids art as an "existential threat to Israel" or whatever it is they are claiming, they will ultimately fail to prevent an exhibition of this art, and to an audience much, much larger than was originally envisioned. Stop AIPAC will work hard to expose the heavy-handed tactics of the groups that oppose any expression of dissent against Israel. We are already gearing up for protests of aipac in December, during their "membership meetings" in the Bay Area. This would be a good time to make a donation to make this bigger than ever.

UPDATE. Take to the Streets.

The board of directors of Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art cancelled “A Child’s View from Gaza,” a long-planned exhibit of Palestinian children’s drawings. The Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay openly claim credit for forcing the MOCHA board to cancel the exhibit.

Protest MOCHA’s Cave-In

Friday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m.

Outside MOCHA, 538 Ninth St. near Clay, Oakland

(a few blocks from the 12th St.-City Center BART)

The Bay Area and Oakland in particular are known for our diversity and commitment to free expression and social justice. We will not be censored. The show must go on!

Family-Friendly Grand Opening: “A Child’s View from Gaza”

Saturday, Sept. 24, 1-3 p.m.

Join us for art, music, poetry, and food to celebrate the

the opening of the exhibit outside MOCHA at 538 Ninth St.

near Clay, Oakland.

For more information, go to or call (510) 548-0542

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Role of AIPAC in Supporting Islamophobia

The Center for American Progress has come out with a very important report that should be required reading for Americans working for a peaceful and just future. It's called Fear Inc, and it is about the well-funded and well-organized campaign to spread fear and hatred against Muslims in America and around the world. A small number of donors and "charitable" groups do much of the heavy-lifting in making possible this campaign, supporting key groups and pseudo-intellectuals that in turn create hate and division in the US, promoting myths and ignorance.

We believe that the report should have given significant credit to AIPAC in its efforts to spread Islamophobia in the US. We also believe that we need to look to the motivations of those that are supporting this campaign of hate.

Here is a summary of the report from one of the authors:

The Center for American Progress is a large organization that has the ear of at least a segment of the US establishment, especially within the Democratic Party. So we are happy that the well-funded anti-Muslim disinformation campaign is exposed in this venue. The Center is getting attention and in return they are getting flak from the Extreme-Right, which means must be doing something right.

We do believe that this report did leave something important out, namely the support AIPAC has given to the anti-Muslim movement in America. The report lists the key "scholars" who create the myths and those media and religious leaders who promote the myths. Not mentioned is the support they have received from aipac, an organization that helps these players gain credibility they would otherwise lack. For example, it lists Rev. Hagee and his Christians United for Israel organization and its responsibility for promoting anti-Muslim hate themes, but it does not mention the symbiotic relationship of this organization and aipac over the years, starting especially with providing Hagee with an opportunity of being a keynote speaker at the 2007 AIPAC policy conference and continuing even now, as several AIPAC leaders were present at the CUFI conference (that featured Glenn Beck, a key media backer of Islamophobia listed in Fear Inc report). Several other major players identified in the Fear Inc report were prominent in the CUFI event. (I wrote about it here, and you can see a chilling account of the event right here) Not only did aipac leaders featured prominently at the event, but so did the Israeli government, with the presence of Michael B. Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States and Prime Minister Netanyahu via satellite.

The "scholars" listed in the report have also found support from aipac. For example, Steve Emerson was one of those whose extremism was part of the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference. As a final example of many, just this year the aipac policy conference featured Douglas Murray, a British supporter of the "English Defence League", a fascist group of anti-Muslim street thugs.

Lacking in the Fear Inc report is any real analysis of the motivations of the players in creating fear and hatred of Muslims and Arabs. We know the consequences of this campaign will result in random acts of violence against Muslims or those that are perceived to be Muslim. We know it may even lead to great acts of violence, such as what transpired in Norway. But that is probably not the actual goal of the institutional funders of the campaign. We believe that many of the institutional backers of Islamophobia have a clear goal: Making War and Oppression of Muslims, and Arab people in general easier for the American public to accept. A prerequisite for making war possible has always been to create fear and hysteria among the general populace. Support (or at least general indifference) for Israeli oppression of Palestinians among US public is only possible because of the relative success of the propaganda campaign in dehumanizing Muslims and Arabs.

Another report well worth reading on Islamophobia is Max Blumenthal's "The Great Islamophobic Crusade". He talks about the Israel Lobby and its central role in funding this crusade.

An excerpt:
Besides providing the initial energy for the Islamophobic crusade, conservative elements from within the pro-Israel lobby bankrolled the network's apparatus, enabling it to influence the national debate. One philanthropist in particular has provided the beneficence to propel the campaign ahead. He is a little-known Los Angeles-area software security entrepreneur named Aubrey Chernick, who operates out of a security consulting firm blandly named the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has served as a think tank for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a frontline lobbying group for Israel, Chernick is said to be worth $750 million.

Our work is vital then in exposing the relatively small number of key players involved in anti-Muslim organizing and exposing their extremism and dangerous agenda, including groups like aipac, that has the facade of being a "moderate" mainstream organization. We can then delegitimize and marginalize these individuals/organizations that wish to foment hate and work instead to create a future that values all people of all religious and non-religious traditions as equal and valued members of society. Part of that work will be to Stop AIPAC. (Do you really think your congressperson should be supporting an organization that supports organized hate in America?) This report from the Center for American Progress is an important step, despite its shortcomings, so it should be widely promoted. What is clear is that we need to see many more on the streets as we protest at AIPAC and other such events around the country.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Israel is in Import/Export Business of Organized Hate

Muhammad Barakei, Palestinian-Israeli Knesset Member from Hadash, regarding the upcoming event in Occupied Jerusalem this next Wednesday featuring racist leader Glenn Beck:

There are enough racists in Israel without importing them from the US.

(h/t to Mondoweiss for the quote)

The reverse is also true. The US has way too much internal support for its racist kooks to need any additional support for such from Israel. Tragically, Israel works through its US subsidiary, AIPAC, and effectively supports racism in the US. Witness, for example, AIPAC's strong support for Christians United For Israel (CUFI) event in Washington DC on July 19th, featuring Beck and John Hagee.

The event featured at least two executives from aipac, standing side by side by racist extremists. One was Jonathan Kessler, aipac's Leadership Development Director, responsible for the strategic development and oversight of AIPAC's campus efforts (for fascinating video on those efforts, see this!) Jeff Mendelsohn, who serves as AIPAC's National Outreach Director was also in attendance cheering on this wanton display of extremist jingoistic nationalism. Joining AIPAC leaders were Israeli leaders such as Netanyahu and Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US. Having seen this event via the web, my first impression was that if Upton Sinclair were alive today, he might modify his famous prediction to something like:

“When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in US and Israeli flags and waving a cross.”

CUFI is based on the premise that a vengeful deity is solidly supporting Israel as an ethnic-based state. Individuals and even nations that have other ideas, such as supporting human rights for all that live there and opposing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland, will be punished by this deity, and more importantly, opposed politically (or even militarily) by adherents to this cult. Absent in this organization are Jewish/Christian traditional beliefs in universal justice, support for the oppressed, treating the neighbor as you yourself would be treated.

What we have here is the worst of traditional American xenophobia, imperialist ideology and exceptionalism mixed with Zionist extremism. It is a lethal brew that aipac and Israel are supporting in the US.

While Glenn Beck, a far-right conspiracy theorist who was fired from Fox News after his advertisers dropped him in droves, he has won the ardent support of the Israeli establishment and AIPAC. In early July, Glenn Beck was invited to address members of the Knesset, and he was supported not only by the far-right parties, but the traditional parties.
MK Danny Danon (Likud), the committe chairman, warned the audience not to clap in the Knesset. Yet to no avail. Dannon went on to introduce Beck as “a friend of Israel. If there wasn’t a Glenn Beck, Israel would have had to invent one.” +972
It may not be surprising that Beck with his virulent anti-Muslim/anti-Arab messaging would be welcomed by the Israeli establishment. You'd think that Beck's anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and ties to the far, lunatic right in the US would give them pause.
Political and religious leaders from “around the world” will be enjoying U.S. taxpayer subsidized — through non-taxable charitable contributions — travel to the rally. The travel will be paid for by WallBuilders, an organization founded by David Barton, a pseudo-historian and frequent Glenn Beck guest. Barton has a history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric, has spoken at events sponsored by anti-Semitic organizations, and promotes a revisionist history of the U.S. claiming that the “Church-state separation is a liberal myth.” Think Progress
Nothing that Glenn Beck has said, or does say, seems to spark even the slightest protest among mainstream Jewish political parties in Israel. When Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik killed dozens of young people in Norway, Beck responded that the young victims, who were mostly supportive of peace and justice for all, were "Hitler Youth". Yet Beck will still be welcomed in Israel. Even more recently, Beck has condemned hundreds of thousands of mostly Jewish Israelis who are protesting economic injustice as "Communists" and suspects they have ties to Islamist groups. Israel, a state that recently did everything in its power from denying people even the right to visit Palestinians, is importing with unrestrained enthusiasm this racist Beck for the supposed good of the Israeli state, and with support from aipac.

Truly a sign of desperation from a dying system of oppression.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

20% of House members in Israel last week, courtesy of AIPAC

In apparent violation of House Ethic rules, 81 members of the House of Representatives are flying First Class and enjoying lavish dinners as their constituents are told they have to cut back. They get this lavish vacation given to them by AIPAC, or to be more precise, an entity created (and sustained) by aipac to skirt around House ethic rules. One of the perks of being a member of Congress.

Among the congressional members subjecting themselves to aipac indoctrination is John Garamendi of California. Garamendi's district includes many areas that are struggling as the US economy falters under the weight of supporting multiple wars in the Middle East. But none of those areas were visited, instead promises were made to Israel that it alone will escape any budget cuts in Washington (unlike any city in the US). This push for continued massive aid to Israel is very expensive for US taxpayers.

Here's a list of those known congresspeople supporting the aipac-orientation to Israel.

They will not learn about the real problem in the Middle East, they will not talk to average Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank who are subject to Israeli oppression. They will not see Israel bulldozers, sponsored by the US taxpayers, destroy home after home of Palestinian civilians.

Yali Amit, an Israeli-American constituent of Rep. Jackson, Jr. (another vacationer) called his office to oppose his participation in the trip to Israel. He was told that Rep. Jackson, Jr. wants to learn what is happening there because of his position on the appropriations subcommittee that approves military aid to Israel. Amit retorted that “you can't learn what goes on there on a paid trip of a propaganda arm of the Israeli government.” And you certainly can’t learn about the devastating impact that these U.S. weapons have on unarmed Palestinian civilians, nearly 3,000 of whom were killed by the Israeli military over the last decade.

Is this even legal under rules adopted by the House of Representatives? Probably not...

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen who helped draft the new post-Abramoff federal lobbying and ethics reform legislation signed into law in 2007, agrees that something is rotten in state of AIPAC. According to Holman, “The House ethics rules do not provide an exemption for 501(c)(3)s that are controlled and directed by a lobbying entity to pay for travel junkets for members of Congress.

See much more in this article by Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Obama Gets AIPAC Cash, Okays attack on US Boats

It seems so sad at times, Obama sometimes is like a boy with unrequited love with the most desirable girl in high school, but with a few misinterpreted words he doesn’t get anything but scorn from her and her friends.

We know well the famous “misunderstandings” that have hurt this relationship. AIPAC pushed back hard on settlement freeze talk and won in Congress. It wasn’t like Obama was going to do anything to confront Israeli intransigence anyway. Same with the overblown flap with the ’67 borders.

Obama loves AIPAC. He had already done so much to prove his love. He made it clear that he would oppose any Palestinian effort to gain recognition as an independent state in the United Nations, and is working hard to get allies to go along (or else!), even threatening to withdraw its share of funding for the United Nations. Obama has even gone beyond what the W. Bush administration promised in aid for the next ten years, and added to that additional military aid that is sure to cost taxpayers dearly.

Still Obama gets no love? Well, that’s not true, actually.

President Obama is a stalwart friend of Israel.

That’s the message some top Democratic Jewish figures are promoting to push back against the notion that Obama is out of step with the pro-Israel and Jewish communities.

Within the next two weeks, two figures associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- past AIPAC president Amy Friedkin and board member Howard Green -- will be among the hosts for a major fundraising event for the president, charging $25,000 per couple. The target of 40 couples -- bringing in $1 million -- is close to being met, insiders say. Notably, the organizers have received a nod from the AIPAC board's inner circle to solicit donations. JTA

On the night of June 20th, AIPAC, metaphorically-speaking, (AIPAC by law as a non-profit cannot actually give donations to any political candidate but wink-wink, they do help arrange events like this) opened up its blouse and shared with President Obama the mother’s milk of US politics to the tune of $1.5 million in campaign donations. He was truly grateful. So much so that he cuddled afterwards. “After the speech, the president stayed for a closed-door session in which he answered questions about his policy on Israel for another hour.” Forward tell us. He knows he will be able to come for more, too.

Ain’t love grand?

Left gaping at this spectacle are thousands of human rights and peace activists, unable to organize $25,000 plate dinners (and with the economy in tatters from wars that AIPAC promoted, many are barely able to afford any dinner), who mistakenly thought that Obama’s flirtations and flattering comments he sent their way were to be taken seriously. There will be no pronouncement from the White House that Obama is a stalwart friend of human rights.

AIPAC still plays hard to get. Later this month several of AIPAC’s head honchos (including Jonathan Kessler) will be standing alongside Rev. Hagee and Glenn Beck at the Christians United for Israel event. It is likely to be a weekend of demonizing Obama for his imagined lack of support for Israel. But Obama still will not give up, and will try to outdo his rivals in supporting the most extreme Israeli policies to win back AIPAC’s love (even if it’s just another one night stand). This Obama will do no matter the cost to US taxpayers, to Palestinian families, to even the slightest bit of common sense.

*cross-posted at Fire Dog Lake*

Gaggle of RightWingers at AIPAC Policy Conference

While hundreds of progressives set to gather to support a new US foreign policy based on peace and justice at the historic “Move Over AIPAC” summit on May 21st, let’s take a look at who and what is being promoted at the AIPAC Policy conference itself.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Need we say more? He’s the big speaker and his right-wing credentials are well-known. He has boasted in the past that he stopped the Oslo Accords even while pretending to support them. When he has said that “America is something that can easily be moved”; he was referring no doubt to US politicians that routinely pander to AIPAC. Despite Obama’s early insistence that Israel stop building settlements that prevent any chance for any kind of peace, the Netanyahu regime has pressed ahead with massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank. President Obama, who wishes to raise a billion dollars for his re-election campaign, has said that Netanyahu is a “man of peace”. Netanyahu is expected to continue his deception at the AIPAC conference and a speech before the US Congress that same week.

Dan Senor, extreme neo-conservative is also a headliner. A White House advisor during the George W. Bush administration and served as Chief Spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq under Paul Bremer. The CPA was so disastrously mismanaged and caused so much suffering for the people of Iraq the end result was a massive insurgency that resulted in thousands of US military deaths, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties. Senor’s reputation is so bad, that when AIPAC had him headlining an event in Louisville, Kentucky at Jewish Hospital in 2007, it was forced to move that event due to strong protests of the doctors.

Ralph Reed, another headliner who will speak to the full gathering, is the “Christian Coalition” founder that worked to promote extreme-right politicians. He now heads “Faith and Freedom Coalition”. FFC has a big event coming up in June, with headliner Donald Trump. Reed is known as someone who follows the money, being a former close associate of convicted felon Jack Abramoff, (Abramoff was also a paid promoter of the now-defunct South Africa apartheid regime).

“Breakout sessions” during the conference include three different leaders from an outfit called “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”, a neo-conservative “Think Tank” that has been at the forefront of efforts to pressure the United States into aggressive military intervention in the Middle East. Iran, in particular, has long been a key focus of such efforts. Another such outfit well-represented at the conference is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, or WINEP as it is popularly known. WINEP is actually a spin-off of AIPAC itself, and was founded by AIPAC staffer Martin Indyk in 1985. It is also known for its support of military action against Iran, and in 2008 distributed a paper called “The Last Resort”, supporting “preventative war” with Iran as a feasible option. More recently, a WINEP board member, Martin Kramer, got in a little hot water when he seemed to be advocating genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

AIPAC’s role in promoting anti-Muslim activism is seen in its welcoming of several key figures in the movement to target Muslims, both in America and abroad, as “threats to Civilization”. One that stands out is British author Douglas Murray known for his far-right anti-Muslim views, and heads the misnamed Centre for Social Cohesion. He will be co-leading a panel “Confronting Radical Islam” at the AIPAC event. It is Murray’s support for English Defence League, (EDL), an organization that is known for violent street protests and affinity for the fascist British National Party that is most disturbing. Murray welcomes the EDL as a “grassroots response from non-Muslims to Islamism ”.

That’s a brief survey of some of the people AIPAC will be working with to promote US support for the Israeli apartheid regime. It’s not surprising that an organization that is dedicated to promoting a system of racism and oppression by military force would by necessity be a haven of reactionary individuals and groups. What else could we expect?

It is up to us then to expose AIPAC for what it is, it is not merely supporting “good relations with Israel”, but it is supporting a deeply unjust system that makes peace impossible, and the only way to preserve such a system is by military force and brutal repression. That is why the “Move Over AIPAC” Summit and protests of the AIPAC Policy Conference is such an important development. This is our opportunity to demand an end to politicians pandering to this extremist group and instead support a US foreign policy where people and human rights matter. The organizers and endorsers Move Over AIPAC dare to believe it is possible for the US to have a foreign policy that is not the end result of a cold calculus of potential political contributions from the few, but to believe that someday it will be the fruit of rooting our policies that values a peaceful and just world for all of us.

Also at Mondoweiss.