Thursday, January 25, 2007

Silencing the 'other side' of the Palestinian story

Silencing the 'other side' of the Palestinian story

Salma Abu Ayyash, P.F. Soto
Bridge News
Tue, 23 Jan 2007 14:18 EST

Last year the Center for Palestinian Human Rights (CPHR) rented office space in the basement of the First Church Congregational UCC in Cambridge. For several months the group screened documentaries on Palestine in the church. Then late in October, the leadership of the church sent CPHR a curt letter:
"During the last five weeks, our office has been receiving numerous calls expressing concern about the nature and purpose of your organization. Some of these calls have come from individuals and organizations with whom we have important relationships."

CPHR was asked to vacate by mid November, even though their lease ran through December.

The Jewish Advocate gave credit for this eviction to groups like the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). "Jewish activists are at the forefront of ousting a series of Palestinian advocacy groups held at a cluster of churches in Cambridge."

The article referred to First Church and Christ Church (home of Sabeel, a Christian pro-Palestine group) as "red hot centers of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity."

The charge of anti-Semitism is hurled with abandon at any one who dares to challenge Israel's perspective on the Middle East, which dominates the US media. At stake is over $4 billion a year in military and economic grants to the State of Israel. The "other side of the story" might not sit well with American taxpayers.

Last July 20th, in the midst of Israel's attack on Lebanon, business and political leaders in Massachusetts, including all Democrat and Republican candidates for governor, signed the "We Stand With Israel" ad in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

We have to imagine that these people either didn't know or didn't care that Israel was committing atrocities, atrocities that infuriated the rest of the world; didn't know or didn't care that Israel showered the south of Lebanon with one million cluster bombs, as the remains of hundreds of children, many refugees, piled up; or that Israel's total devastation of Lebanon severely diminished the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians.

Israel right or wrong

A cynic might even wonder if professional or personal gains were too much to pass up. The fear is that going against the Israel Lobby is a formula for political suicide.

In January this year, all hell broke loose when a Palestinian human rights group tried to speak at Andover High School. Six social studies teachers, including teachers union president Tom Meyers, originally invited the Wheels of Justice Bus Tour [], to speak in October. Zionists were successful in getting the principal to dis-invite the Wheels of Justice at the very last minute, late in the night before the scheduled visit!

On behalf of the organizers, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) contacted the school and the Wheels of Justice was invited back.

Over 300 parents, students, and community members assembled on January 5th in the school Library. Zionists mobilized and let loose their wrath on the speakers. Zionist agitators and parents who agree with them put on the most despicable display of incivility the tour group has ever encountered - and Wheels of Justice has visited over 200 high schools.

It was too much for the distressed principal, who eventually shut down the event. This was precisely what the Zionists were after, but they didn't gain any friends on that sad and shameful night. The hate and venom was laid bare for all present to see, though TV viewers did not see it on the news.

Joe Carr, a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team for months in Palestine and Iraq, and a speaker on the bus tour, said, "It never ceases to amaze me how far some people will go to hide the truth - though it shouldn't be surprising, considering that lies and propaganda is all the Zionist movement has to stand on. Once enough Americans learn the truth about what our government is supporting in the Middle East, Zionist imperialism is done for." Let's hope Joe's right.

We see what is happening to former President Jimmy Carter, who had the audacity to call his latest book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. He's not the first and he won't be the last to be shunned, disavowed, or called liar by those who cannot or will not take on the Israel Lobby.

Because he speaks about Israeli violations of human rights, a deluge of politicians have disassociated themselves from Carter. In a democratic country you might think there ought to be a pluralistic response among high ranking politicians. But it seems pure McCarthyism prevails.

There most definitely is an "other side" of the Palestinian story. We can't rely on the US media or elected representatives to get it. But if we are funding crimes against humanity, shouldn't we know about it?


Jeff Blankfort comments: Jewish pro-Israel lobbyists don't have to wear brown shirts and jackboots with armbands embellished with the Magen David, or cover themselves with white sheets with hoods to browbeat their targets, just their telephones and their checkbooks. The leave the outright violence to the Israeli Wehrmacht.

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