Saturday, December 27, 2008

No More Gazas!--Protest the Batsheva Dance Company--Tues. 1/6 Israel Boycott Meeting


In the wake of the recent Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee has called upon people of conscience around the world "not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights." Likewise, Ali Abunimah writes:
... what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence? Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it 'called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it.' The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.
People in southeast Michigan will have a special opportunity to heed this call on February 14-15 when the Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv comes to Ann Arbor, courtesy of the University Musical Society. Now is the time to begin building opposition to the Batsheva Dance Company's performances as part of a sustained BDS campaign. A recipient of public financing since the 1990s, the Batsheva Dance Company is clearly an Israeli apartheid cultural institution that includes Israeli soldiers in its ranks. Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is "funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is 'proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador.'" For more information on the Batsheva Dance Company, please see "Organize to stop apartheid dance troupe's North America tour" in The Electronic Intifada

Batsheva Dance Company Boycott Organizing Meeting
When: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 7:30 PM
Where: Memorial Christian Church, 730 Tappan Ave (at Hill), Ann Arbor
What: This is a special meeting sponsored by the Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor and the Detroit/Ann Arbor Friends of Sabeel -- North America. The purpose of the meeting is see if and how the various Palestinian solidarity groups in Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan can work together to respond to the scheduled performance by the Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. This meeting is only for people who support the 2004 Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the 2005 Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

See also:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Protest in Support of the Boycott of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra

To download a leaflet (PDF) of this post, click here.

When the elephant has his foot on the tail of the mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. —Archbishop Desmond Tutu as qtd. in A Passion for the Possible by William Sloane Coffin, p. 36.


The University Musical Society is bringing the Israeli government-sponsored Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO) to perform in the Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Sunday, November 16th. This concert and the UMS hosting of it violate the calls of Palestinian civil society for broad boycotts, including cultural and academic boycotts, against Israel until it recognizes the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.

  • Please call or write UMS President Ken Fischer (734-647-1174, and ask him to cancel the JSO concert and the February 14-15, 2009, recital by the Israeli government-sponsored Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv.
  • Please join other people of conscience and faith as we nonviolently protest outside the Hill Auditorium on Sunday, November 16, 2008, at 3:00 PM (concert starts at 4 PM).
Don't give the stage to Israeli Apartheid! Boycott the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra!
(Read the full text at

"The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on the hosts in the fourteen American cities where the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform between October 26, 2008 and November 16, 2008 to rescind their invitations to the Orchestra. We urge the hosts to support the Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, including the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions. …

"Since the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is one of the primary promoters and exporters of Israeli cultural life, one of its functions is to boost Israel's image on the world stage. In this way, the truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestine becomes suppressed, and its institutionalized attacks on Palestinian cultural heritage are ignored. Any attempt by the US hosts of the tour to develop ties with this Orchestra, therefore, amounts to condoning Israeli apartheid.

"As such, we call upon the Orchestra's scheduled hosts to be mindful of the appeal issued in 2006 by Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers … to end all cooperation with Israeli art, film and cultural organizations and institutions sponsored by the Israeli government.

"We urge the hosts to condemn Israel for its racist and discriminatory practices, rather than condoning them. Finally, we call upon all American citizens of conscience to support the Palestinian BDS Call, and to boycott all cultural institutions supported by the apartheid Israeli state."

Sponsored by the Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor. Contact:
For more information on the JSO and the Batsheva Dance Company, go to:
For more information on the global boycott of Israel go to: or

Update: Apartheid Orchestra Protested

Monday, November 10, 2008

Israeli Apartheid Institutions: The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra & the Batsheva Dance Company

The Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor, Michigan is organizing a nonviolent protest outside the Hill Auditorium on Sunday, November 16, 2008, at 3:00 PM in support of the boycott of two Israeli cultural organizations touring the US. Both organizations will be hosted by the University Musical Society (UMS), based in Ann Arbor. The rationale for the boycott is adequately developed in the letter to UMS President Ken Fischer here. The purpose of this post is to provide more information about the two organizations in question, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO) and Batsheva Dance Company (BDC).

According to a recent article on the ardently pro-Israel web site, ISRAEL21C:
The orchestra was founded in the 1940s as an adjunct to BBC radio in Mandatory Palestine, and became the Kol Israel (Voice of Israel) national radio orchestra with the establishment of the State of Israel. In the 1970s, it was expanded and became the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
In the same article it is revealed that the "IBA now provides NIS 6 million of the JSO's annual NIS 9 million budget, with the remainder coming from the Friends, the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport, and independent income." Elsewhere, it is stated that "the Friends" provide 15% of the JSO budget, indicating that Israeli government agencies provide somewhere between 66.7% and 85% of the JSO's budget.

JSO Conductor Leon Botstein brags that the JSO is, "very international, with a very wide age range and a very wide political span - from extreme left to extreme right - and I admire the civility with which it handles itself". Oddly enough for an orchestra that hails from Jerusalem, a city where Palestinians make up about one-third of the population, there are, apparently, no Palestinians in the orchestra. As ISRAEL21C reports, "About 40% of JSO's players come from the former Soviet Union, 25% are native-born Israelis, 10% come from the US, a significant contingent from Romania, along with Greece, Germany and Japan." Of course, it may be that some of the "native-born Israelis" are Palestinians.

No matter, though, it's clear from its history and funding that the JSO is a creature of Zionism and the Jewish state. As the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) has declared, "Since the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is one of the primary promoters and exporters of Israeli cultural life, one of its functions is to boost Israel's image on the world stage. In this way, the truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestine becomes suppressed, and its institutionalized attacks on Palestinian cultural heritage are ignored."

Likewise, the Batsheva Dance Company is an Israeli apartheid institution. An October 26, 2008, article in The Independent of London reports:
On Tuesday night at Sadler's Wells, secret service officers were seen checking under the seats. The next night outside Riverside Studios, protesters tried to persuade punters to boycott the show. What contemporary dance company could possibly merit such attention? An Israeli one, apparently. Batsheva is hardly a political entity, but it's funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is "proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador".
According to a 1998 article in Dance Magazine, the BDC was founded 1964 by Batsheva de Rothschild of the wealthy banking family. Although she "was born in London in 1914" and "grew up in Paris" she settled in Israel the same year she started the BDC. Rothschild also "served in Israel as a driver when her car was mobilized for the Yom Kippur War of 1973" and supported "housing for [Jewish] newcomers [to Israel] in the early 1950s". According to Dance Magazine, the BDC "has relied on public financing" since the 1990s.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

METF Responds to Imad Hamad of the ADC

In May of this year, the Middle East Task Force, a small group of folks based in Ann Arbor, MI began organizing a protest against the Zionist "Fair to Remember" at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on August 21, 2008. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit had started advertising their celebration of Israel's creation a few weeks earlier.

At any given time, about half of our group were Arab Americans and we called the event the "Fair of Shame" because Israel's creation was a Nakba or "catastrophe" for Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslim people. In 1947-48, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed by Jewish forces, more than 350 Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed and later destroyed, driving some 726,000 Palestinians from their homes into exile. The fallout from the Nakba still reverberates in Palestine, the region, and, not least of all, in the hearts of the three Palestinian Americans--all born in Palestine before 1948--who helped us organize the protest.

Concerning the protest, the Detroit News (8/21/08) reported, "Some leaders in the Arab American community of Metro Detroit said there is little support for the protests ... 'There was an attempt to adopt a joint statement between the Arab-American and Jewish communities,' said Imad Hamad, Michigan director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. 'It did not happen, but the demonstration was announced without much input from the community and I would not expect many people from the Dearborn community to participate.' "

From the very beginning reaching out to the metro Detroit Arab and Muslim community and its leaders was a priority for us. We even delayed announcing a time and place until late June in order to give others an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the planning. And nothing would have pleased us more than having the more established leaders of metro Detroit's Muslim and Arab communities take charge of the protest planning.

Local representatives of Friends of Sabeel-North America were contacted in May and that organization declined to formally support the protest due to concerns about being accused of "anti-Semitism." The Palestine Office was contacted in May or early June and declined to participate citing unspecified legal liability concerns. Several Muslim and Christian religious leaders were approached and most expressed some support but, apparently, did little or nothing, to turn out members of their community at the protest.

For example, in June, one prominent imam wrote that the planned protest was a "Great idea" but as far as we can tell no one from his mosque attended it. Beginning in July, Mr. Hamad himself was contacted by e-mail, phone, and fax. One of our Palestinian members also met with him personally. I, personally, left two phones messages at Mr. Hamad's office but got no response.

Some of us have personally seen thousands of members of the Muslim and Arab community turn out in Dearborn on November 29th, the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine. We can only speculate why so many people stayed away from the Fair of Shame protest. In any case, it is not for us to say whether it was wrong for any given person or group to fail to support or attend the Fair of Shame protest. But Mr. Hamad's complaint about lack of input into the protest planning is without merit. We went to great lengths to reach out and if community leaders did not want to work with us then they could have easily worked around us and organized a protest of their own.

The same holds true, of course, for Metro Detroit's non-Arab, non-Muslim majority community leaders, who, if they haven't actually colluded in supporting Zionism, have generally done precious little to oppose the Zionist-driven, US taxpayer-funded killing and injustice in Palestine and surrounding countries. The words of Kathim Al-Sahir should speak to all of us. Here are a few lines from his song, "Ah Ya Arab" (Oh, Arabs):

My Arab brother
I am bewildered
What changed the revolutionaries' sword into a cane?
What changed the Arabic tongue into a wooden tongue?
Oh, my people ...
We didn't sell Arabs out, not even during the worst of calamities ...


Michelle J. Kinnucan
On behalf of the Middle East Task Force

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oakland Press Tortures Truth

In an unsigned editorial last Monday, entitled "Hateful news article hurts chances for understanding," the Oakland Press weighed-in on the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit press release condemning the Arab American News (AAN) and Michelle J. Kinnucan for the article, "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating racism and making money at it." The AAN and the author responded with editorials of their own which have both been submitted for publication to the Press. They appear below and in the AAN print and online editons.
Shame on The Oakland Press
Friday, 09.12.2008, 02:00pm

In an editorial this week, The Oakland Press attacked The Arab American News for running an opinion piece by Michelle Kinnucan on the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's celebration at the Michigan State Fairgrounds of Israel's 60th anniversary. ("Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating racism and making money at it," The Arab American News, Issue 1174, August 9-15, 2008, pages 14 and 15.)

The piece was thoroughly documented and footnoted and we believed there was merit to the writer's argument that resources belonging to the people of Michigan were being used to fundraise for and celebrate the founding of a state that does not deserve to be supported.

Consider that Israel confers citizenship privileges based on one's religion, that Israel has no constitution, that Israel has no recognizable borders, that Israel flies in the face of international law as it expands illegal settlements among a captive civilian population, that Israel is slowly starving to death a million and a half people in Gaza, that Israel is constructing a wall between its residents and the Palestinians in the West Bank which runs deep inside Palestinian territory and creates an apartheid state with Palestinians in bantustans.

Consider all the military checkpoints, the barbed wire, the use of live ammunition against women and children, the relentless home demolitions, the repeated military incursions into Palestinian cities and villages, the murder of innocent civilians on a scale far wider than any terrorist incidents, the imprisonment of 10,000 people including pregnant women and children.

Apparently the article hit too close to home for some of Metropolitan Detroit's pro-Israeli activists. And apparently, like Israel, they don't intend to play by the rules.

Instead of contacting The Arab American News by telephone, facsimile, email, snail mail or personal visit, and registering their opposition, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit decided to blanket all area media except us with a press release condemning the paper for printing the article. Only then did our telephones begin ringing as reporters called for our feedback.

The article was clearly identified as an opinion piece under the heading of Other Voices. There was nothing in the article to justify claims by the group lobbying against us that it was a hate-filled piece. We're comfortable with our decision to publish the piece and comfortable with the writer's subsequent repudiation of the claims made in the press release. ("My response to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit," Michelle Kinnucan, The Arab American News, Issue 1177, August 30-September 5, 2008, pages 14-15.

This week, in an astounding betrayal of all tenets of press freedom and fairness, The Oakland Press joined the pro-Israeli activists in attacking our decision to print someone else's opinion. Huh? One newspaper attacks another for standing up for freedom of speech and of the press?

In a poorly written editorial, The Oakland Press accused The Arab American News of "bias (sic) journalism," even as they themselves absconded on the obligation of proving their points. To make outrageous charges but then say it's all too bad to document, which is what the paper did, sounds like the very definition of biased — and cowardly — journalism to us. There was no courtesy call from The Oakland Press to us.

Had anyone at The Oakland Press checked, they would have avoided the mistakes they made which certainly compromise the credibility of their attack on us. They name the wrong sponsoring organization for the original event and they state that The Arab American News employs the writer, which it does not, And then there's this gem: "Other religious and ethnic groups have learned to live together in the United States and the Jews and the Muslims can also, if, particularly in this case, the Muslims are allowed to." What is that supposed to mean? And do they not know the difference between an Arab and a Muslim?

The editorial says: "There may be fighting in the Middle East but we don't need it here. We don't want it here. We don't have to have it here."

But we have to allow one party to the conflict to divert resources away from Americans and toward the conflict without saying anything about it? And we don't expect the families of the other party to the conflict living here to say anything about that? Come on.

We welcome any opportunity for dialogue that does not come laden with the imperative that "we cannot discuss Israel." But that's exactly what we have always heard about dialogue with the pro-Israeli community.

Which, in the end, just goes to prove Kinnucan's point that Israel and its supporters are not held to the same ethical standards of behavior, the same honor code, the same rules, as the rest of society.

Shame on The Oakland Press and no one else.

The Oakland Press tortures the truth

By Michelle Kinnucan - The Arab American News
Friday, 09.12.2008, 02:00pm

One of the gratifying things about the Fair of Shame protest on August 21st was the response of so many of the Israeli youth. As we stood outside the Jewish Federation's celebration of Israel's creation, dozens of big, yellow school buses passed by. Because traffic was backed up the teens inside had a chance to read our anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian signs, to speak with us, and to tell us where they were from. "Israel," they said, and many of them gave us smiles, peace signs, thumbs-ups, and other signs of approval when they saw what we were doing.

From the ranks of such young people come the hundreds of "sarvanim" or "refuseniks" who show their moral courage by refusing to serve or obey orders in the Israeli military because it violently oppresses Palestinians and people in neighboring countries (military service is compulsory for most young Jewish Israelis). Such young people populate the ranks of groups like Zochrot, which raises "awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948," in part, by erecting signs at the sites of the hundreds of Arab villages ethnically cleansed and destroyed by Zionist forces.

I am reminded, too, of another young Israeli I met a couple of years ago: Jonathan Pollak, who was seriously injured when Israeli troops shot him in the head with a teargas canister in 2005. Pollak was working with the International Solidarity Movement in the village of Bil'in where, he says, "Palestinians are protesting, and others with them, against the theft of their land, against the steps the Israeli government and Israeli army are taking to make their lives impossible — basically to commit a quiet ethnic cleansing."

Of course, the young Israelis in the buses were still going to a celebration of the creation of Israel but they suggest that the youth don't necessarily buy all the hoary fairy tales that their elders peddle about Israel. This certainly includes the oft-repeated lies regurgitated in the Oakland Press editorial of September 8, concerning my August 8th article in The Arab American News (TAAN), "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating racism and making money at it."

The Press claims, "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East … [and] one of the most open and tolerant nations. I put these lies to rest in my response to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit (published in the TAAN on August 29). Suffice to it say, even the State Department's 2007 report on human rights noted, "Institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Israeli Arabs, non-Orthodox Jews, and other religious groups continued" in Israel. Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, has documented that "At least twenty Israeli laws discriminate against the Arab minority …" Further, no country that, as Israel does, militarily dominates and occupies millions of people for more than forty years, extending to them neither citizenship nor any real say in the rule over them, can honestly be called a democracy.

The Press also complains there was no "policy of ethnic cleansing of Arabs from its lands" in 1948 when Israel was founded. In fact, "Plan Dalet" envisioned the "systematic eradication of Palestinian population centers" and was hatched by the Haganah in 1947. Plan Dalet is well-documented by Palestinian and Israeli historians such as Walid Khalidi, Ilan Pappe, and Benny Morris. The infamous April 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin of over 100 Palestinians, half of them women and children, occurred under Plan Dalet.

The Press got one thing right. Israel is "tolerant" … of torture, that is. As Louis Frankenthaler of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel wrote earlier this year, Israel "continues to use torture. … One may choose to believe that torture has been 'abolished in Israel' but it continues with impunity." A 2006 scientific poll for the BBC in 25 countries found: "The largest percentage endorsing torture was found in Israel. … A majority of Jewish respondents (53%) favor allowing governments to use torture … In contrast, Muslims in Israel … are overwhelmingly (87%) against any use of torture." Maybe Israeli tolerance for torture is what inspired the Press to torture the truth so viciously when they criticized the TAAN and my article.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Fair of Shame News

Here are some Fair of Shame articles not included in my post yesterday:
Updated: 8/31/08

Friday, August 22, 2008

8/21 Protest Report--Jalut Nervous

It was a classic Dawud vs. Jalut--i.e. David vs. Goliath--confrontation at the Michigan State Fairgrounds yesterday as 60-70 spirited human rights activists faced off against thousands of racists and their friends coming to celebrate sixty years of Jewish supremacism in apartheid Israel. The Nakba celebrants showed their gleeful allegiance to the country that brutally occupies Palestine and has repeatedly invaded or attacked Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

Jalut was backed by a substantial uniformed and undercover police presence and they were kept in check by courageous legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild. While Dawud held his ground, Jalut was clearly rattled as evidenced by the glum demeanor, frequent middle finger salutes and other obscene gestures and shouts of the fairgoers. These frightened, angry folks know that while Zionist power seems invincible to some, Israel's days are numbered. Israel's ignominious retreat from Gaza, the humiliating defeat of the IDF by Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, the growing BDS movement, and the caterwauling about the "demographic threat" all signal the coming demise of the violent racist project that is Israel. The Jewish Federation's "Fair to Remember" yesterday is reminiscent of the South Africa's apartheid supporters partying at Sun City while their brutal regime goes down the toilet.

Below is the text from "Demonstrators protest apartheid at State fairgrounds" in today's Arab American News.
DETROIT — Dozens of pro-Palestinian, anti-occupation activists demonstrated outside the Michigan State fairgrounds on Thursday.

They protested a celebration of the 60th year since the creation of the state of Israel, put on by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit (JFMD). Invitees of the JFMD had access to all the rides and other features of the State Fair one day before it opens to the public.

Activist Michelle J. Kinnucan organized the protest, enraged at the idea of holding a celebration of what she calls the "violent ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine in 1948," in a poor neighborhood in Detroit.

She said attendees seemed surprised by the demonstration, and hopes their presence will help to get people thinking about the plight of Palestinians.

"They weren't expecting it," she said. "You never know what's going to be effective. You have to do what you can. One of the things that we can do is stand out here and let them know that a celebration of the Naqba is not going to go unchallenged."

Protester Emilio Louchino, 16, an Ann Arbor high school student, said he became conscious of the conflict through reading about it online and hearing anecdotes about West Bank checkpoints from friends who serve in Jordan as members of the Peace Corps.

"I'm just here to speak my mind," he said. "It will maybe make people think about this."

He said the group got some hostile responses from passersby, but that they didn't let it discourage them from trying to raise consciousness of the issue.

"People don't realize that the biggest money in the entire world budget for foreign aid goes to Israel," said Thomas Olechowski, of Detroit. "And most of it goes to arms. It's being done in our name... The exploitation of the Palestinians is the same as the exploitation of the people in the community I live in in Detroit."

Demonstrator Elaine Rumman, 78, a Palestinian American from Ann Arbor who has family living in Bethlehem, said watching hundreds of people enter the State fairgrounds for the event made her intensely sad, but that her pain was eased by the presence of as many as 70 mostly non-Arab protesters outside the event.

"It makes me proud of them. These are the people who have conscience," she said. "Always, justice will rise up, whatever will happen."
See also:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

AAN Article Online; Zionists Outraged

The Arab American News published Michelle J. Kinnucan's article "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating Racism and Making Money At It" online. Predictably, its online publication has infuriated Zionist cyberwarriors. Their comments display three staples of Zionist rhetoric or hasbara: 1) Diversion by subject changing 2) Ad hominem attacks and 3) Outright falsehoods.

The article appears in the 8/9-8/15 print edition of the Arab American News on pages 14-15. For the annotated version of the article go to the Palestine Chronicle here.

Last revised: 9/4/2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Arab American News Covers Zionist Fair of Shame in Detroit--Support Still Needed


The organizers of the August 21 Fair of Shame protest got a boost yesterday when the Arab American News published Michelle J. Kinnucan's article "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating Racism and Making Money At It" and the protest flyer in its 8/9-8/15 print edition on pages 14-15. Look for the article on the AAN web site in the next few days. In the meantime, you can find it online at the Palestine Chronicle (here) and Media Mouse (here).

There are less than two weeks to go until the Fair of Shame, please help make this a protest that Zionists and anti-Zionists alike will remember for a long time.

What you can do:
1. Publicize the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest.
2. Get organizations you support and work with to publicly endorse the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest.
3. Help organize and plan the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest (next meeting is Friday 8/15).
4. Attend the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest--bring friends, signs, and banners.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Protest 8/21--No Celebrations of Racism in Detroit--Call for Support


No Celebrations of Racism in Detroit--Call for Support
Protest the Fair of Shame and "Israelization" in Detroit

When: Thursday, August 21, 2008, Time: 5 PM to 7 PM
Where: Michigan State Fairgrounds, 1120 W. State Fair Ave. (at Woodward) in Detroit. Meet in the grassy area just north of the SmartBus State Fair Transit Center off Woodward Ave.

In 1975, the United Nations affirmed that "zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" (UN GA Res. 3379). Resolutions can be revoked but the truth cannot and what was true in 1948 and in 1975 is true today--Zionism is racism. Just as all humanity is interconnected, all forms of oppression are interconnected and so on August 21, 2008, a diverse group of advocates for peace and justice are expected to protest when the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit stages its "Fair to Remember" at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on that date. We will protest the exclusive, no-risk sweetheart deal granted by a state agency to a largely affluent community to stage a celebration of racism in a largely economically disenfranchised city. The celebration of 60 years of Israeli apartheid in Palestine is a slap in the face to those oppressed by centuries of de jure and de facto American apartheid. We will protest a triumphalist celebration of ethnic cleansing, robbery, and anti-Arab racism in Palestine--a celebration of what its victims call the Nakba, Arabic for "catastrophe"--just a few miles from one of the largest Arab communities outside the Middle East. We will protest the Jewish Federation's "Fair to Remember" because we know it is, in reality, a "Fair of Shame" made possible by the hijacking of US foreign policy realized in the form of inordinate American diplomatic, financial, and military support for the Apartheid State of Israel.

We call upon supporters of justice and peace to help nonviolently protest the "Israelization," as the Jewish Federation puts it, of the Michigan State Fairgrounds.

What you can do:
1. Publicize this call and the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest.
2. Get organizations you support and work with to publicly endorse the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest.
3. Help organize and plan the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest (next meeting is Friday 8/8).
4. Attend the 8/21 Fair of Shame protest--bring friends, signs, and banners.

Sponsored by Middle East Task Force. Endorsed by Michigan Peace Team, Ann Arbor Middle East Film Society, Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, Huron Valley Greens, Green Party of Michigan

See also "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating Racism and Making Money At It" in the Arab American News or "Celebrating the Nakba and Making Money At It" in the Palestine Chronicle.

Updated: 8/17/08

Thanks to Ron Scott, MECAWI, & Media Mouse

Thanks to Ron Scott for publicizing the Fair of Shame protest on his radio show, "Fighting for Justice" on WDTW, 1310 AM.

Thanks to the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) for publicizing the Fair of Shame protest on their web site.

And thanks, finally, to Media Mouse for publishing "Detroit Jewish Federation: Celebrating Racism and Making Money At It."

Poster Quotes on Israel & Zionism

Here are the quotes that appear on the Fair of Shame protest posters:

Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint, the woman trying to get through to the hospital for treatment, the young man whose dignity is trampled, the young student who cannot get to the university to study, the unemployed father who needs to find bread to feed his family; the list is tragically getting longer, and Jesus is there in their midst suffering with them. He is with them when their homes are shelled by tanks and helicopter gunships. He is with them in their towns and villages, in their pains and sorrows.

In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.
Naim Ateek, Lent, 2001

My sympathies are all with the Jews…But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, November 20, 1938

… I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

We would be beneath our own reason for existence as a government and as a nation, if the resolution of the problems of the Middle East did not feature prominently on our agenda.

When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system.

But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians …
Nelson Mandela, Dec. 4, 1997

… the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the U.S.], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic, as if the Palestinians were not Semitic. …

People are scared in this country [the U.S.] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? This is God’s world. For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: What is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.
Desmond Tutu, April 13, 2002

Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the "religious" claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation ... where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine? ...

In short the Zionist argument to justify Israel's present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history ... not even in their own religion. Where is their Messiah?
Malcolm X a.k.a. Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, Sept. 17, 1964

Complete Fair of Shame Schedule

From the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit web site:

Complete Fair Schedule

All rides, food and attractions at the Michigan State Fair will be open to our attendees. In addition, there will be Israel-focused activities and exhibits as well as musical entertainment. You will not want to miss the All-Star Musical Tribute to Israel, held in the band shell, which will be sure to provide an unforgettable moment for our community.

Rides, games, and fair vendors will be open from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Other special events are as follows:

3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Israel-themed interactive activities open

3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Kosher Food Vendors open

4:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Family Entertainment in the Family Grove

7:00 p.m.

Pre-show, including musical performances, video, and light show

8:00 p.m.

Multi-Media Concert, emceed by Peter Himmelman

9:15 p.m.


9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Young Adult Concert/After-Show featuring Moshav Band

All children upon entry to the State Fair will receive an Israeli ID card. For each Israeli-themed activity completed throughout the day, they will receive a stamp on their ID cards. When children have acquired 6 stamps, they will be invited to make an Israeli Flag out of Sandy Candy to then wave proudly at the evening concert.

Israel-themed activities

Picnic Grove

  • Shalom Street’s “All Shuk Up” Exhibit
  • HaKovah Sheli Paper Hat-Making by the Rad Hatter
  • Exploring Israel
  • Tziporri - Archeological Dig
  • Eilate of Sugar - Sandy Candy Israeli Flag-Making
  • Tree Planting presented by Jewish National Fund (JNF)
  • Candle-Making presented by Tamarack Camps
  • Magen David Adom Ambulance
  • Teen2Teen Interviews presented by the Jewish News
  • IsraelSixty sale merchandise and other Judaica
  • Israel Ministry of Tourism

Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  • “Gefilte” Fishing in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)

Family Entertainment at the Caesarea Stage (Family Grove Stage)

4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Peter Himmelman

5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Corinne Stavish

5:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Kidz Klez

6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Israeli Dance Spectacular

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fair of Shame Featured in Palestine Chronicle Article

Below are the first four paragraphs of an article by Michelle J. Kinnucan and published online by the Palestine Chronicle on Wednesday. The article is entitled "Celebrating the Nakba and Making Money At It."
On Thursday, August 21, 2008, one of the country's wealthiest communities will celebrate the Nakba--the violent ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine in 1948--in a poor neighborhood in Detroit. And if all goes well, a large group of folks, representing metro Detroit's large Black and Arab communities and other Palestinian solidarity activists, will be on hand to nonviolently send the message that triumphal celebrations of racism and genocide will not go unchallenged in Detroit.

Detroit's State Fair neighborhood is named after the entity that dominates its landscape--the state-owned Michigan State Fair and Exposition Center (MSFEC). Last year, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit (JFMD) finalized a contract with the State of Michigan for the use of the fairgrounds. The contract was memorialized in a letter, a copy of which was obtained through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.[1]

The Jewish Federation was granted a no risk sweetheart deal for its "Fair to Remember," part of its year-long "IsraelSixty" campaign celebrating the creation of Israel in 1948. The contract provides that "All of the normal operations of the Fair shall be available for use by the patrons of the JFMD including games, rides, and exhibitions." If no one shows up for the Federation's event, the Federation pays nothing, no deposit is forfeited, no cancellation fee is lost, and the MSFEC earns nothing while incurring all of the costs associated with running the fair. All the risk is assumed by the MSFEC, a state body.

And no other fair-goers will pick up any part of the tab because the contract provides "that the use of the Fair by JFMD shall be exclusive and that no individuals that are not the invitees of JFMD ... shall be allowed access to the Fair." As the Jewish Federation brags on its web site: "We will have exclusive use of the State Fairgrounds (including rides and attractions) the day before it opens to the general public, which allows us to 'Israelize' the State Fair."[2] The JFMD encourages people to contact their "Israelization team" with ideas about how to transform the fairgrounds. Palestinians and their friends know what loss and suffering the "Israelization" of Palestine in 1948 and 1967 has meant for the "people of the land" (Ezra 9:1-2).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

MPT Endorses Fair of Shame Protest; New Posters Available

The organizers of the Fair of Shame protest are happy to report that the Michigan Peace Team has recently endorsed our nonviolent protest planned at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on 8/21. The next protest organizing meeting will be in Detroit on August 8th at 7 PM. For more information write to .

We are also happy to report that we have several new posters available. The posters are identical except that they feature quotes on Israel/Zionism by five different prominent leaders in the struggle for justice and peace. They are all 11" x 17" tabloid size. Please print them out and post them in your church, mosque, synagogue, library, favorite bookstore, or cafe--you get the idea. At bottom is an image of the Malcolm X poster (click on the image for better resolution).

Download the posters:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fair of Shame in the Detroit News

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's Fair of Shame was mentioned in the Detroit News yesterday. Below is the full story with a comment in italics.
Monday, July 14, 2008

Israel fair to echo 1949

High point of Jewish community's celebration of 60th mixes joy of past event with the present.

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The high point of the Jewish community of Metro Detroit's year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel is slated for Aug. 21 at the State Fairgrounds in Detroit.

"A Fair to Remember," presented by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, is intended to recall a similar event in 1949 when thousands of Detroiters gathered at the fairgrounds in a joyous celebration of the anniversary of Israel.

"It is meant to re-establish the fact of the Jewish community Metropolitan Detroit and its support of Israel," said Scott Kaufman, director of "Israel at 60," to be held the day before the Michigan State Fair opens. "But it also is intended to have a celebration at a time when what we are hearing is mostly bad news, bad economic news, people losing jobs and houses, and the gas prices ... We are kind of looking at it as St. Patrick's Day, or Cinco de Mayo, or the big Arab-American festival -- just kind of an ethnic celebration of community."
Actually, Scott, your Federation's Fair of Shame is more akin to an American celebration of the Wounded Knee Massacre, a Japanese celebration of the Rape of Nanjing, or a German celebration of the Fall Weiss. You see, St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of the peaceful introduction of Christianity into Ireland by a former slave. And, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican defeat of French imperial forces in Mexico. By contrast, your Fair of Shame celebrates the conquest of the indigenous people of Palestine in 1948, well after the establishment of international norms of conduct that the mostly European and North American Jewish invaders refused to abide by. In fact, you are celebrating previous and ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The rides, food and attractions of the State Fair will be accessible to those attending the event, along with Israel-themed activities, exhibits, shopping at shuks -- Israeli market stands -- and kosher Israeli food. In the evening, an All-Star Musical Tribute to Israel is scheduled at the band shell, with Grammy-nominated children's composer Peter Himmelman and the Israeli rock and reggae group The New Moshav Band performing.

They'll be joined by the Greater New Mount Moriah Baptist Church choirs of Detroit, the Word of Faith Choir from the Word of Faith International Christian center in Southfield and the Drummer Boyz of Pontiac.

The event, for which the Jewish Federation has rented the fairgrounds, is from 3-10 p.m.

Tickets are required for entry and each automobile must have a pass to park on the Fairgrounds.

Tickets and parking passes, including handicapped parking passes, are now available at, or by calling (877) 772-5425. Tickets range from $12.95 to $24.95. Strollers and wheelchairs will be available, on site, for rental.

"The vehicle for the event is the 60th anniversary of Israel," said Zina Kramer of Bloomfield Hills, one of several volunteers working to prepare for the occasion. "But the reason I wanted to be involved is that I see it as an event that has the potential to bring together a lot of people who don't always come together with the Jewish community and, perhaps, along the way they will learn more about Israel and the Jewish community in the area. I also think it will spur a greater interest in Israel on the part of the Jewish community."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Protesting "Israelization" of Michigan State Fair

Protest the Zionist Fair of Shame!!!

No Celebrations of Genocide, Theft, & Racism

This August, the Jewish community "will have exclusive use of the State Fairgrounds" to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit is calling it "A Fair to Remember" (see announcement below). We think it's a fair to be ashamed of. Following the lead of Palestinian civil society organizations and in view of the multi-faceted oppression that is the reality of Israel, we regard participation in "celebrations" of the Nakba/Israel's establishment as collusion in the perpetuation of the dispossession and uprooting of refugees, the prolongation of occupation, and the deepening of Israeli apartheid. We call upon all supporters of justice and peace to nonviolently protest the "Israelization," as the Jewish Federation puts it, of the Michigan State Fairgrounds.

When: Thursday, August 21, 2008
Time: 5 PM to 7 PM
Where: Michigan State Fair & Exposition Center, 1120 W. State Fair Ave. (at Woodward) in Detroit. Meet in the grassy area just north of the SmartBus State Fair Transit Center off Woodward Ave.

To co-sponsor or get more info, send an e-mail to fairofshame[at]yahoo(dot)com

Click on the image below to enlarge it.