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).

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