Monday, July 31, 2017

Palestine. Land of Promise

In 1938, the United States Department of Agriculture sent Walter Clay Lowdermilk to the “Near East” to make a survey of land use. These photos are from his book,  Palestine, land of Promise, published in 1944, which examines  the “geological setting of these these areas, the state of their population, and the present achievements of Jewish  agriculture and industry”

Tel Aviv
Beth Hakerem

Before and after reforestation:
He writes (p.85)

...the newcomers in Palestine became pioneers, building their own economy in a backward and neglected land...These pioneers in Palestine found the country denuded of trees and depleted of its natural fertility.

With an innovative spirit that persists even today, the Jewish community began transforming the land using scientific agrarian methods

(p.91) The Arab cow gives about 800 quarts of milk a year, but the cows in Jewish settlements average 3500 quarts,  while some prize specimens among them give more than 5000 quarts yearly.

(p.92 )The native Arab hen is a scrawny fowl which lays an average of 60 small eggs a year. Jewish settlers have introduced the leghorn hen and crossed it with native breeds,The resultant new strain is heavier and lays an average of 150 large eggs per year.

(p.94) The most outstanding achievement of Palestinian agriculture is the scientific production of citrus crops... The Arabs quickly adopted the modern methods of the Jews and together the two communities have built up a citrus industry which before this war made Palestine the second largest citrus exporting country in the world.

It was not just the land that prospered- it was the people as well.

(p.151) In the course of 18,000 miles of automobile travel through the Arab lands, I was impressed by the relative progress made by Palestinian Arabs as compared with the Arabs in neighboring countries

(p.152) The higher wages paid in Palestine have attracted considerable numbers of Arab immigrants and seasonal laborers from other countries. According to a government estimate the non-Jewish immigration to Palestine, both legal and illegal was between 25,000 and 30,000 in the period between 1922 and 1925.

(p.157) Arab infant mortality is rapidly declining in all of Palestine but it is lowest in the localities closest to the Jewish settlements.The reduction in the death rate is due in part to the health work of the Palestine government but must be attributed mainly to the activities of the Jewish health agencies,among which Hadassah, the American Jewish Zionist Organization has played the outstanding part.

Lowdermilk concludes:

(p.228) ...a people with faith and devotion born of a long tradition has changed desolation into fertile fields, fruitful orchards and reforested slopes. Ancient cities have been rebuilt and the commerce on their streets quickened, long-unknown resources have been brought into the light of day and sent to the distant marts of the world. After centuries of darkness which crushed the hopes of Palestine's miserable inhabitants, a new force has come into the land and made it live again. The possibility of a new day for the entire Near East is hidden in the fertile fields, the flourishing villages and cities, the co-operatives and the factories of Jewish Palestine

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Reem's: Quashing constitutional rights in the name of "Community"

On July 25, another vigil was held at Reem's, in what appears to be the latest in an ongoing series of actions. The peaceful low-key lunch hour event was again disrupted by a blatant attempt to infringe on the groups constitutional rights of freedom assembly and freedom of expression

And again, Reem Assil's reaction to a non-violent protest was to call  "security"

However, there are no trained security guards at Fruitvale Village.

According to the East Bay Express, several years ago, the Unity Council, the non-profit that owns Fruitvale Village decided to end its contract  with Universal Protection Services, a unionized security company. Instead, the trained guards were replaced with "neighborhood ambassadors" -workers without guard cards or formal security training.

Reem Assil and the Unity Council are now relying on these "neighborhood ambassadors" to curtail the civil rights of the lawful protesters. The ambassadors from the Safety Neighborhood Ambassador Program (SNAP) are employees of Peralta Service Corporation, a subsidiary of the Unity Council, and are clearly uncomfortable being asked to infringe on people's constitutional rights

Legal Insurrection posts more details of the legal protections afforded to the vigil in California in their article Anti-Israel activists try to shut down protests over California bakery honoring Palestinian terrorist

In an important 1980 casePruneyard Shopping Center vs. Robins (447 U.S. 74, 80), the SCOTUS upheld the general claim that citizens have no free expression rights in private shopping centers, but found that state constitutions could confer broader speech rights, if they so desired, permitting free speech in these private arenas.

Pruneyard involved a group of California high school students who were denied permission by the manager of a private mall in Campbell to man a table, hand out leaflets, and collect signatures for a petition against the virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, which determined that ‘Zionism is a form of racism’.

The Court stated that the student group had the right to set up a table, and approach passersby in order to solicit names for their petition, discuss the issue, and distribute their literature because the broadly worded California Constitution does in fact give citizens the right to speak and assemble freely, and to petition, including in private malls.

That is, the Supreme Court recognized that state constitutions may provide more protection than the U.S. Constitution does when it comes to speech in privately-owned malls.

The subsequent history of the decision bears out the free speech rights of the vigil participants

Again, from Legal Insurrection

Thirty-seven years later, another group of pro-Israel protesters stand to benefit from this SCOTUS ruling, and other subsequent California Supreme Court decisions upholding free speech rights at shopping malls.

Particularly relevant for Reem’s protesters is a 2007 case (Fashion Valley Mall, LLC vs. NLRB, 42 Cal. 4th) which held that the state’s constitution even protects “non-commercial expressive activity” in shopping centers that involves advocating for the boycott of a store or business there. More recently, a 2013 court of appeal decision held that
"a shopping mall must allow protests within aural and visual range of a targeted business whenever the mall is open to the public.”

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rabbi Taff speaks about Anti-Semitism in Davis

I wanted to update all of you on developments that have occurred since last week in regard to the anti-Semitic rant at a Davis Mosque.  Last Friday Imam Ammar Shahin at a religious service at the Islamic Center of Davis, said some of the most hateful comments about Jews that one could possibly imagine.  Among other things, he cited in Arabic and English a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, that claims, “Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah.”  He also prayed that the Al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem be liberated from “the filth of the Jews,” and to “annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.” 

No matter how one feels about any religious, political, or territorial dispute, the words spoken by the Imam were absolutely beyond any boundaries of decency and civility.  Those hate-filled comments have absolutely no place in our community.  Our entire Jewish community strongly condemned his words.

In response to the Imam’s hurtful and hateful words, the Islamic Center of Davis with which he is associated, issued a statement on its website and Facebook page that further added to the insult and injury caused by the Imam’s words.  Instead of clearly and unequivocally repudiating the Imam’s hate speech, the Islamic Center of Davis misrepresented the facts surrounding the unfortunate tensions and violence at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  The Center accused a widely-respected organization (MEMRI) that translated the Arabic words of his sermon to English, by casting aspersions on that organization’s integrity, and implying that anyone who was offended by the hateful words was misinterpreting them.  The “If you were offended, we’re sorry” statement is about as close to blaming the victim, than placing the responsibility where it should be placed, on the Imam and on the Islamic Center of Davis. 

We are gratified to hear that this morning Imam Shahin spoke words of contrition at a press conference in Davis, apologizing for his hate-filled words (you can read his statement below).   We are also pleased that the Islamic Center’s non-apology, has been removed from their website and Facebook page.

The Imam’s words of apology and the Islamic Center’s response to remove the inflammatory defense of his sermon from Facebook and from its website is a result of a unified effort led by Rabbi Seth Castleman, the President of our Board of Rabbis.  Rabbi Castleman met for several hours this past Tuesday evening with the Imam and the leaders of the Islamic Center.  He solicited input and suggestions throughout the week from his rabbinic colleagues and other leaders in our Jewish community. I am personally grateful to him and to all who worked to insure that this sad episode is now behind us. 

Our congregation and others have long supported and engaged in harmonious interfaith relations in the Sacramento area.  We believe that building bridges of understanding amongst our very diverse faith communities are vital ingredients to a healthy, just, and whole community. 

A genuine apology is more than mouthing the words. It’s registering the damage that has been done. While I was not present in Davis this morning, I am told by those who were, that the Imam’s body language, his words, and his tone of voice acknowledged a deep recognition of the pain he and his Islamic Center has caused the Jewish Community.  And if that is indeed the case, then maybe true healing can be possible.

I am not so naïve to know that there will be people in our community who will question whether the Imam’s words of apology and the actions of the Islamic Center of Davis are really heartfelt and genuine.  We all know that actions speak louder than words.  So, we will continue to be vigilant and when we see anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head, we will respond forcefully and resolutely, as our community has done this past week.

Wishing you all a peaceful Shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Reuven Taff

In addition to the Imam’s statement, feel free to read this story which was published yesterday in the J by Elissa Einhorn:

Please click HERE for the link to Imam Ammar's Statement

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

UC Davis Iman: Liberate Al Aqsa from the "Filth of the Jews"

The Islamic Center of Davis is located across the street from the University of California at Davis, and serves as the spiritual home for many of the campus' Muslim students.  It does not appear to be acting as a voice of interfaith tolerance and respect in our community.

The Imam at the Davis Islamic Center, Ammar Shahin quoted an anti-Semitic hadith on Friday, in a sermon translated by Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) 

From the MEMRI Facebook Page:

California Friday Sermon: Imam Ammar Shahin Cites Antisemitic Hadith, Prays for Annihilation of Jews, and Calls to Liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque from Their "Filth"

On July 21, the Egyptian-born American preacher Ammar Shahin delivered a Friday sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis, northern California, where he serves as Imam. In it he cited an antisemitic hadith, according to which the Muslims would fight the Jews on Judgment Day, and prayed to Allah to "liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews" and to "annihilate them down to the very last one," not sparing any of them. "Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this," he prayed in the sermon, which was posted on the Davis Masjid YouTube channel. Imam Shahin, who had earned a B.A. in Islamic studies in Egypt, traveled in 1999 to the U.S., where he obtained a degree in computer engineering. He is listed as an instructor of the Zidni Islamic Institute, a California-based organization that teaches Sunni Islam in the West.

View the clip at MEMRI, here

Sheikh Ammar Shahin:
"Allah does not change the situation of people 'until they change their own situation.' The Prophet Muhammad said: 'Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah...' They will not say: Oh Egyptian, oh Palestinian, oh Jordanian, oh Syrian, oh Afghan, oh Pakistani. The Prophet Muhammad says that they time will come, the Last Hour will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews. We don't say if it is in Palestine or another place. Until they fight... When that war breaks out, they will run and hide behind every rock, and house, and wall, and trees. The house, the wall, and the tress will call upon the Muslims. It will say: Oh Muslim... It will not say: Oh Palestinian, oh Egyptian, oh Syrian, oh Afghan, oh Pakistani, oh Indian... No, it will say: Oh Muslim. Muslim. When Muslims come back... 'Come, there is someone behind me – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. Except for a certain tree that they are growing today in Palestine, in that area, except this form of tree, which they are growing today... That's the tree that will not speak to the Muslims.


"Oh Allah, support the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the Muslim lands. Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon them, and the wonders of Your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.


"Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds."

UPDATE, via Algemeiner

The director of the Chabad center serving the University of California-Davis told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that he was “taking seriously” a Friday sermon made by the imam of the local mosque that some have called antisemitic.

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein said the comments from Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis — which sits blocks away from Chabad of Davis — had “unacceptably advocated and incited hatred and violence against Jews”

The Boycotters get boycotted: BDS holes blocked from visiting Israel

Five anti-Israel activists  who decided to violate the Palestinian civil societies call to boycott Israel  have met with a big surprise.  Upon arrival at Dulles International Airport, a Lufthansa airline employee informed the group that they were not permitted to board.

The five people prohibited from flying to Israel are Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) , Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, from JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a  from American Muslims for Palestine. They've been calling themselves "interfaith  leaders" and "peace advocates", but they are associated with groups that do not accept the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, within any borders.

Eighteen additional members of the  "Interfaith delegation" were allowed entry.

Being prevented from visiting a nation they despise has resulted in a characteristically shrill level of whining from the BDS advocates.  For all their hyperbole, the  fact remains-every nation has the right to police their borders.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Vigil at Reem's Oakland. July 22

While Reem's California patrons chanted a call for the genocide of the Jewish nation, progressive community members, including a former delegate for Bernie Sanders expressed their heartfelt desire for peace.

These are the people Jewish Voice for peace and their unsavory allies characterized as the alt-right, btw

From the side of peace and light:

"As long as this community continues to bless terrorists by putting their images on the wall there will never be peace in Oakland or in your hearts"

"By embracing terrorist and giving them platforms your are destroying the credibility of peaceful Muslims everywhere. "

Who are the real "progressives" here?  People calling out hate, people yearning for co-existence and mutual respect, or those calling for the genocide of the Jewish people?

Friday, July 21, 2017

This is how a Palestinian Day of rage ends.

This is how a Palestinian Day of rage ends.

Three are dead- a fourth is struggling for her life.

A Palestinian terrorist targeted a family having Shabbat dinner, stabbing a man and his son and daughter.The mother was badly injured, with stab wound to her back.

The attacker has been identified as 19-year-old Omar al-Abed.

Hamas has already  praised this "heroic" act.

In Gaza, they are celebrating in the streets.

The assailant Omar al-Abed  was shot and is currently being treated in an Israeli hospital

This violence is the direct result of incitement in the Palestinian media and by the Palestinian government.

Reem Assil: the PT Barnum of restaurateurs

Reem Assil is positioning herself as the PT Barnum of restaurateurs

Her attempts at self promotion go far in exposing the incestuous nature of the anti-Israel community in the Bay area.

On July 8,  a group of Jewish elders, including a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, held a peaceful vigil at Reem’s,  upset at the restaurants’ glorification of violence.  The group was attacked.

In remarkable example of the incestuous nature of the group-speak/group-think of the local anti-Israel community  the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the Arab Resource organizing Center, the Mid East Children’s  Alliance and Jewish Voice for Peace have all sent out identical announcements urging people to eat at Reems.

Using terms like  “racist”, “Islamaophobe”, “zealot”,  the collected effort of the Bay area anti-Israel community are desperate to rewrite the incident to place the blame on the victims, and to capitalize on yet another example of their righteous victimhood.

Here’s a quick guide to the Orwellian language of the local haters

“They came with racist signs”:  (remember the victims not their killers)

 "harassed customers”.  (stood there silently)

“defend Reem’s”    (attack a silent vigil)

“writing slandering articles” (engaging in free speech and expressing a contrary opinion )

Its an interesting strategy, though most shop keepers would just use a Groupon to drum up  business.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Arab rocker rejects the call to BDS

Radiohead  an English rock band from Oxfordshire is scheduled to play tomorrow in Tel Aviv. This will be their their 4th performance in Israel.  Since the date was announced, they have been subject to an unrelenting campaign of bullying and pressure from anti-Israeli activists.

Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards) has repeatedly expressed his disgust with the way the band has been treated

From Rolling Stone

I'll be totally honest with you: this has been extremely upsetting. There's an awful lot of people who don't agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don't agree with the cultural ban at all, along with J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky and a long list of others.

There are people I admire [who have been critical of the concert] like [English film director] Ken Loach, who I would never dream of telling where to work or what to do or think. The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that's black or white. I have a problem with that. It's deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. It's deeply disrespectful to assume that we're either being misinformed or that we're so retarded we can't make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It's offensive and I just can't understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them].

Nasreen Qadri, an Israeli Arab singer who will perform alongside Radiohead in Tel Aviv has also rejected BDS bullies claim to speak for the “Palestinians”and  spoke out against calls by BDS activists for the band to cancel their concert in Israel.

In an op-ed in Newsweek, Qadri writes:

An Arabic proverb says "music is the nutrition of the spirit." Music feeds people’s spirits and opens them up. Music builds bridges and this is exactly what I am hoping to achieve through this concert.

Those who call for boycott are only trying to divide us. They are trying to shut down the music. I will not be a part of that. Sadly, there are too many countries in the Middle East in which such a concert could have never taken place.

I was lucky to be born in Israel, and I am grateful for the opportunity to build bridges of understanding.

Alongside Thom Yorke and Radiohead I plan on rocking Israel this Wednesday.

Rock on, Thom and Nasreen and friends, and welcome to Tel Aviv.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reem's Bakery Tries to Cash in

Reem Assil's latest strategy appears to be "When in doubt, lie through your teeth and claim  'I'm the victim.'"

Reem's bakery is attempting to capitalize on their attack on peaceful protesters, in an effort to prove that crime does in fact, pay.

From Reems Bakery Shamelessly Lies About Non-Violent Protest To Cash In On It, published  in IsraellyCool:

"They had racist signs"

Not a single photo exists of a "racist" sign. There was this:

Reem Assil thinks this is racist.
And this:
Again, from Israellycool

The signs are clearly not racist in the slightest, just anti-terrorist. If Reems are equating that with anti-Muslim, then it is them who are the racists.

And Reems expects us to believe those protesters (three 60-something-year-old ladies and a 78-year-old survivor of the Warsaw ghetto) were violent, especially the one in the wheelchair? What shameless liars.

Whether Reem Assil can cook is up for debate. But few doubt that her real talent lies in self promotion 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reem's of Oakland: Photos of attackers emerge

Reem's in Fruitvale has been widely criticized for its lionization of convicted murderer Rasmea Odeh. Yesterday, a non-violent vigil meant to focus community attention on the local cafe's glorification of violence ended in an assault on the participants, including a 78 year old survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto

Lara Kiswani, the Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in San Francisco Bay Area has been identified as one of the attackers. She is reported to have ripped a sign out of a participants hands, then strutted around the outside patio with the remnants.

Ellen Brotsky, a self identified member of Jewish Voice for Peace can also been seen on the footage attacking the non-violent protesters

Ellen Brotsky and Lara Kiswani  with stolen signs

This person  was reported to have assaulted a wheel-chair bound activist, cruelly twisting her fingers in an effort to steal her sign. 

Sara Kershnar of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) also made an appearance, participating in the mayhem until the police arrived, then tossing on a lime green National lawyers Guild Legal Observer hat.  (Pssst, Sara- the National Lawyers Guild Manual for Legal Observers specifically says  "...we ask people to commit themselves to act as Legal Observers and not protesters, and avoid blurring of lines between Legal Observer and activist.")

Oops. Fail.

As morally reprehensible as it might be, Reem Assil and her customers have the right to glorify a murderer, but they do not have the right to attack those in opposition. Organizers of the vigil are planning on returning to Fruitvale Station, committed to the sacred task of educating the community about the dangers of incitement and indoctrination and how they act as an obstacle to peace, both in Oakland and overseas.

These are just empty words from an interview with Reem Assil in Berkeleyside:  “People are afraid of politics, but now more than ever people are asking. If my food can stir up a conversation — even if it’s a hard conversation — that’s what I want it to do. I welcome that in my space.”  Yet when people attempting to engage in the very hard conversation Reem says she welcomes- they are met with abuse, harassment and assault.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Non-Violent Vigil attacked at Reem's in Fruitvale

San Francisco's iconic Bound Together bookstore has a mural, captioned "History remembers 2 kinds of people. Those who murder and those who fight back."

Reem Assil has chosen to adorn her Fruitvale bakery cafe with the likeness of one who chose to murder.

Fortunately, Oakland has chosen to fight back.   This weekend, a group gathered to "Honor the victims, not their killer" , in what organizers promise to be the first of many informative vigils, speaking to the community about why the mural of Rasmea Odeh was so hateful.

In response, Reem Assil called upon her political allies for support.

The non-violent vigil was brutally attacked, and signs and flyers were ripped out of people's hands.

Again we see how in Israel, and in Oakland, violence is justified as a means to an end. Innocent citizens shopping in a grocery store or simply exercising their right to peaceful assembly and free speech are equally at risk.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gal Gadot is Number One.

In spite of a considerable campaign directed against her by the usual suspects,  Wonder Woman Gal Gadot has spent her first week at No. 1 on The Hollywood Reporter’s Top Actors chart.
The Top Actors chart is a ranking of the most popular actors on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus, with global data provided by social media analytics company MVPindex. The chart’s methodology blends social engagement on the platforms along with weekly additions of followers/subscribers. 
Much of the Arab world  cannot stand any Israeli succeeding in anything and as a result Wonder Woman has been banned in Lebanon, Tunisia and in Qatar. In spite of this, as of July 2nd the movie has grossed  $708,444,475  internationally.
This counts as BDS fail
By any metric, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman has been a success. The film enjoyed thelargest-ever opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. It’s now the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman in the world. It got an “A” from Cinemascore viewers, and overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. The profound wave of positivity is particularly striking when compared to other DC Comics Extended Universe sibling films, includingBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
And now, less than a month after its theatrical release, Wonder Woman has overtaken the full-release box-office take of Warner Bros.’ other DCEU films in the United States, The Wrapreports. So far, Wonder Woman has earned $330.5 million in domestic release, to Batman v Superman’s previous DCEU record of $330.3 million. Notably, Wonder Woman’s earnings have hit that mark after less than a month in theaters, while it took Batman v Superman 84 days.