UPDATE 11 am Israel time Sunday:
As you can see from the israelstreet breaking news ticker, citizens of southern Israel came under mortar attack yesterday afternoon, and Israeli security forces were attacked with Molotov cocktails last night. Read your local newspaper; watch your the TV news; listen to your favorite radio station: do you see or hear even one word about these events?
Regular readers of this blog know that last Tuesday night the Sacramento, California city council unanimously approved a proposal to make Sacramento a sister city of Ashkelon (which I can see out of the window of my study here in Ashdod–just 8 miles away).
This was a watershed moment in two important ways.
First, the extraordinary way in which the Jewish Federation in Sacramento combined the efforts of local Jewish leaders, local Christian leaders, international Israel support organizations, and especially Christians United for Israel (CUFI) should serve as a textbook case for all Israel supporters everywhere facing similar challenges. CUFI members alone sent councilmembers more than 22,000 emails in support of the proposal.
Second, whereas there have been many attempts around the world (mostly unsuccessful) to boycott goods and services emanating from Judea and Samaria on the basis of an an alleged “illegal occupation”, this was an overt attempt by the anti-Israel forces to boycott a city in Israel proper. As one Sacramento city council member noted before the “debate” began, the real purpose of those aligned against Ashkelon was to ensure that every city in Israel would be considered an “illegitimate” sister city.
Today, your humble servant wants to take a brief look at the comments of the 15 anti-Israel speakers who spoke against Ashkelon.
Speaker 1 (a Palestinian American):
The purpose of this speaker was to go down the standard fraudulent laundry list of Israeli “atrocities against Palestinians”, Israeli “apartheid”, and the “widespread genocide committed by the Israeli government.” Of course, no examples were given to support any of these unsupportable charges. He also set the theme for many of the following speakers when he spuriously alleged that Palestinian-Americans cannot travel to Bethlehem.
Speaker 2: (the head of the local chapter of so-called “Jewish Voice for Peace”):
The purpose of this speaker was to carefully identify himself as “an American Jew” and “an Israeli” who lived in Israel (decades ago)*. He remarked that even though Palestinian-Americans are not excluded from visiting Ashkelon– it is more difficult for them than for other visitors to Israel. Again no evidence was given to support this accusation. *It is important to note that every boycott effort against Israel always features token Jews and token Israelis.
Speaker 3 (a Palestinian American):
The purpose of this speaker was to continue the theme of the victimization of the Palestinians begun by speaker 1 with talk of “squalid refugee camps” and “human rights violations”. Suffering, victimization, and no responsibility for what has befallen them–this is the Palestinian myth. And never mind the fact that in many cases, the Palestinians themselves keep their fellow Palestinians penned up in refugee camps (especially in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria).
Speaker 4 (a national Board member of so-called “Jewish Voice for Peace”):
The main purpose of this speaker was to identify herself as a Jew, a “human rights activist”, and as “the child of Holocaust survivors”.* She picked up the theme of her cohort, speaket 2, in discussing alleged travel restrictions for Palestinian Americans. *Again, every anti-Israel action features a token person who is “the child of Holocaust survivors”.
Speaker 5 (another local member of so-called “Jewish Voice for Peace”):
The purpose of this speaker was to talk extensively about her days in the American civil rights movement as a freedom rider in the southern United States–her themes were “segregation” and “discrimination”–and the scurrilous accusation that Israel will not let “human rights” activists into the country (when in fact it is overrun with “human rights” activists). Obviously hers was a racist appeal to African Americans in the room to oppose Ashkelon.
Speaker 6 (a Palestinian American):
The purpose of this speaker was to to suggest that Ashkelon is guilty of religious discrimination against Muslims because the gravesite of the grandson of the prophet Mohammed had been demolished. What he neglected to mention was that the decomposed head of the grandson (the bones of the body were discarded) was taken to Egypt by Muslims in the late 11th century when the Crusaders conquered Ashkelon and placed in an Egyptian shrine where it remains today.
Speaker 7 (the person who led the failed boycott attempt at the Sacramento Food Coop):
The purpose of this speaker was emphasize the bravery of the poor Palestinians–whom she conspiratorially alleged were being filmed “at this very moment” by the Israeli government. Suffering, suffering , and more suffering (suffering which she said she can’t imagine because she is “white”).
Speaker 8 (the head of the local chapter of so-called “Veterans for Peace”)
The purpose of this speaker was to let us know that his organization supports “peace and justice” in the world–and, laughingly, that it is from Ashkelon that “shells rain down on Gaza.” So now, Israel is launching rockets and mortars into Gaza?
Speaker 9 (apparently a local Arab-American woman):
The purpose of this speaker’s rant was to shame the council by continuing to hammer home the theme of Palestinian suffering, between the Palestinian “David” and the “Israeli Goliath” whom she yelled breathlessly dropped “drones”, phosphorous bombs, and cluster bombs on the poor Palestinians. She finally ended by accusing the Council of racism and shouting angrily “Shame on you!”
Speaker 10 (a Palestinian-American born in Venezuela):
The purpose of this speaker was again to emphasize travel restrictions. He could not understand why Palestinians in Gaza cannot drive to Ashkelon because it is only 7.2 miles away.
Speaker 11 (an American teacher):
The purpose of this speaker was to let us know that she had taught English in Bethlehem and had read books which extensively “deconstructed the myths of Israel” and showed that Israel is in “profound violation of so many U.N. ‘laws’.” She summed up her bizarre message by claiming that Ashkelon is a “discriminatory city in a discriminatory country.”
Speaker 12 (a Sacramento resident):
The purpose of this speaker was to again emphasize travel exclusions for Palestinian and to show victimization again: homes seized, tortured prisoners, etc.
Speaker 13 (a leader of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement in California):
The purpose of this speaker was to tell us that while he is “pro-human rights”, Israel practices “pervasive discrimination”–especially by giving “Jews” immigration priority.
Speaker 14 (a Palestinian-American activist):
The purpose of this speaker was to tell of his family connections to the Ashkelon area (where he said that “Zionist militias” attacked “unarmed civilians”–when in fact it was the men of Majdal who joined the Egyptians in attacking the nascent state of Israel) and to Yaffa and Haifa–though he seemed to be thoroughly confused about where these cities are.
Speaker 15 (another Palestinian American):
The purpose of this last speaker was to reiterate the bogus charges of Israeli discrimination and Israeli violation of international law–and to play the victim card yet again: “we are a minority; we are used to being a minority–stand up for the Palestinians!”
To your humble servant, the amazing feature of presentations like these is the hollow generality of the false accusations–a generality made necessary by the lack of specific details to support their arguments. When you come up against people like these in your location one day, come armed with the facts that will dispute such canards as “ethnic cleansing”, “apartheid”, “massacres”, and “human rights violations.”
Let me share a final story told by a good friend who was there Tuesday night. One of the speakers who supported the Ashkelon proposal was Pastor Dumisani Washington of an African American church in Sacramento. Pastor Washington lambasted the opposition for accusing Israel of being “apartheid.”
As Pastor Washington was leaving the hall, one of the anti-Israel speakers began to lecture him about his need to study the American civil rights movement. Pastor Washington listened patiently and simply answered his grandfather was a sharecropper and that he needed no such study. The anti-Israel woman was left speechless and sheepishly walked away.
The anti-Israel forces have no answer for experience and knowledge.
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