Monday, October 29, 2007

Thoughts after Attending the Sabeel Conference - Part 3

The Israel Lobby Strikes (out) Again

(note the timely use of a baseball phrase here in Boston the day after the Red Sox won the World Series)

So it appears that the minister of the Old South Church knew that the local “leaders” of The Israel Lobby (TIL) would be upset by their hosting the Sabeel Conference so they reached an agreement with TIL to have Dennis Ross and a Rabbi speak at the church after the conference ended. Before the Sabeel Conference began, however, I read that the TIL demanded that a representative of its choice be invited to be a speaker at the Sabeel Conference.

My guess is that the folks at the Old South Church probably assumed, as any reasonable person would, that this was just another joke, an attempt at humor, and laughed it off. Would it not be an act of arrogant and, may I say, chutzpah to think you can dictate a speaker for someone else’s conference?

Is it really possible that 800 people attending this conference and hearing speaker after speaker present evidence about the 40 years of oppression by the Government of Israel of the Palestinians - demolishing of homes, stealing of land, uprooting of olive trees, holding in detention, building high walls and separate roads, establishing 500 checkpoints, allowing 120 Jewish settlements - would be so immediately convinced by what was said as not to be able to listen to counter arguments and opposing views a day later? (Hmmm? Now that I think about it......)

TIL probably said that the program must have “balance.”

It has gone beyond ridiculous. You have to laugh!

Think about it. When was the last time you heard about TIL inviting the Rev. Canon Naim Ateek, Archbishop Tutu, Jeff Halper or even Marty Federman to be a speaker at a program sponsored by AIPAC, ADL, JCRC, CJP, the David Project or CAMERA to provide a balance for the comments of the representative of the Government of Israel.

“The distinct odour of panic” is driving the TIL to become even more fearful that the truth will emerge. It has NO interest in open discussion. Its sole purpose is to keep the public from hearing about the oppression of the Palestinians so that …….. I don’t know so what?

In order to insure that folks at the Old South Church would hear its views, guess what I heard TIL did – would you believe that it persuaded Dennis Ross and the rabbi to back out and withdraw from their commitments to speak at the Old South Church.

That’s right. You heard it here. TIL persuaded Dennis Ross and the rabbi to back out and withdraw from their commitment to speak at the Old South Church.

Let me say that again in case you missed it the second time.

Because Sabeel did not want to cave in to the ridiculous demand of the TIL to be allowed to choose a speaker for Sabeel’s Conference, the TIL decided to bring pressure (so it seems) on those it had agreed on to present what is commonly referred to as “Pro-Israel” arguments at the Old South Church and organized a protest which consisted of signs that contained really thoughtful comments full of deep insight like “Sabeel’s Solution, Blame the Jews”

So the Old South Church asked Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia to speak.

He accepted and spoke to over 200 people this past Sunday, the day after the end of the Sabeel Conference.

While I was not there and I do not know what he said, this is an excerpt from one of his recent messages:

“In the last few days, the Israeli government has announced draconian new measures to reduce electricity and fuel deliveries to Gaza, and six Israeli human-rights organizations have joined in protesting. I urge you to call Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, to urge that the US demand the Israeli government abandon plans for this worsening of its blockade. The reason given for the new measures is as a response to continuing rocket attacks against the Israeli town of Sderot. These attacks are reprehensible and contemptible, but collective punishment upon an entire civilian population is profoundly immoral.”

Message to TIL “What a well thought out strategy – stop Dennis Ross from speaking and allow Rabbi Arthur Waskow to present “the Jewish perspective?”

That works for me!!

You really do have to laugh!!


Eric Smith said...

I had read a statement Arthur Waskow had issued regarding his speaking at Old South Church, they day after the Sabeel Conference ended. In the address, he said a transcription of his speech had not yet been made, but that a tape was made and he expects that his speech will be transcribed and posted to his website soon.

So I ran a google search under Arthur Waskow with the "exact phrase" "Old South Church" to look for it. I didn't find it yet, but ran into your blog which I must say is pretty good.

If your blog takes subscriptions, I'd like to subscribe. I'm interested in fair and balanced dialogue that addresses the impact of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in the region known as the West Bank.

Indeed, it very well might be the case that peaceful resolution of this particular conflict may be the key to avert Word War III (which may already have started).

My name is Eric Smith. I am a mediator who lives in Denver, CO. I am a social worker by training and background and am involved with the Compassionate Listening Project. I have deep interests in social justice and interfaith dialogue.

Here's one thing I'm working on right now:

My email address is

Ron Fox said...

Hi Eric

First things first.

Thank you for asking to subscribe to my blog. I suggest two options.

The first is use Google Reader and where it says "add subscription" fill in

The second is to use bloglines - and do the same thing - establish an account - go to "add" and insert where it says "Blog or Feed" and then hit "subscribe" URL

I don't know if you are already doing this but I have been very pleased using bloglines.

Thank you also for your kind words.

We share some background: I graduated law school in 1963 and began to practice family law in 1970. Soon I realized how absurd the courts were for handling divorces and in 1974 began to provide advice to a couple who I fixed up and went out with on their first date when we were about 17 . They were now separating. I sat with both of them and responded to their questions. I was then asked to help another couple come to an agreement and soon found a term for what I was doing - divorce mediation. (I was pleased to read a year later that the bar assocation said it was ethical to do this since I did not realize there was an issue.) I did that for 16 years until I got more involved in provided career advice to dissatisfied lawyers and working on just peace eforts between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians.

I look forward to reading Arthur Waskow's sppech. I was so worn from the two day Sabeel Conference, I regret that I did not have the energy to travel in to hear him.

I know about the Compassionate Listening Project. From 2002-2006 I was quite active in the Tikkun Community and recall it sponsoring someone presenting a workshop on it.

I am impressed by what you are offering in January.

If you would like to read more about the occupation (which I "objectively" refer to as illegal and immoral), at your convenience, you could review more of the articles on this blog including one entitled "Favorite Blogs"
which will lead you to other sites with related material. Also just this morning I found out about and joined the Israel Palestine Forum

Again, Eric, nice "meeting" you. Thank you for writing and please stay in touch with comments and suggestions.