By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Zena, a 6-year-old Belgian-Palestinian girl, waves a Palestinian flag during a protest in central Brussels September 21, 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans on Friday to submit an application for full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine based in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the coastal Gaza Strip — lands occupied by Israel since 1967.
Camp Meeker, CA–September 20th–The vote in the U.N. (United Nations) is happening over Palestinian statehood as my readers are consuming this article, but one of most egregious examples of Islamophobia has just happened in the city of Oakland in the East Bay within the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California.
Of your authorâ€™s thirty years on this side of the Bay, all but three of them that city was my domicile. I can only mourn at my own.
On September tenth I received an electronic mailing from the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) that the show that MECA (Middle Eastern Childrenâ€™s Alliance) of Berkeley (a smaller twin city to Oakland) had put together with the Museum of Childrenâ€™s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) on childâ€™s art created in the mini-nation of Gaza during the IDF (Israel Defense Forceâ€™s) incursion into the Strip at the end of 2008 through the beginning of 2009 had been canceled shortly before its scheduled opening on the 24th of this month.
Your commentator must point out at that the JVP is a Jewish Organization and MECAâ€™s Director and founder, Barbara Lubin, is a Jewish-American who in her youth went to Israel fully adhering to the Zionist myth only to discover the truth of repression there. When she came back to the States, she founded MECA whose â€œmission statementâ€ would include the support of children in Gaza, the West Bank, and Iraq. Probably, her best known project is the funding for the Childrenâ€™s Hospital in Gaza. The latest major project of MECA, a multi-sectarian group which actively recruits Muslims, is to improve the drinking water quality within Gaza. Although the Middle Eastern Childrenâ€™s Alliance has a strong political vision, its major focus is humanitarian.
The forgoing paragraph is only to emphasize that both the heroes and villains of this story are Jewish-Americans and possibly the â€œStateâ€ of Israel itself. American Muslims should keep in mind that not all Jews are their enemies, and many are â€œrighteousâ€ and moral towards you and the American body-politick. It is people like these Jewish-American heroes that have driven the â€œsinâ€ of anti-Semitism from your columnistâ€™s soul, and I thank them, and commend them for their courage!
MOCHA informed MECA that the show of art work by Gazan children on their reaction to the overly violent Israeli incursion, Operation Cast Lead, wherein approximately 300 0f the over 1400 Palestinian casualties were children, was inappropriate for its depiction of â€œviolence.â€ Yet the rescinded exhibition, â€œA Childâ€™s View from Gaza,â€ gives agency and a voice to those very young victims.
The reason the board of the Childrenâ€™s Museum gave to cancel the show so close to its opening, was that the (Zionist) community voiced concern over the violence of the imagery, but the museum has sponsored exhibits in the past of art created in war zones â€“ showing imagery of Iraqi children drawings of the violence of the American aggression and, also, another exposition of Second World War images by child observers.
The Executive Director of MECA, Barbara Lubin, accuses the Board of MOCHA that â€œâ€¦its decision was politicalâ€¦â€ Curiously, in the immediate days after the cancelation the Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Federation of the East Bay bragged to the regional media of forcing their agenda of an anti-Arab (and, thus, Islamophobic) agenda upon the Museum; and, thus, the museumâ€™s horrendously inhumane decision against the child victims of Gaza. It was an attack on the childrenâ€™s right to express their psychological angst upon their loss of their childhood. A child, Asil, who painted a picture of himself in jail (Sic!) stated â€œI have a right to live in peaceâ€¦I have a right to live this life,â€ and, further, â€œI have a right to play!â€
It was a denial, since the exhibition was in America, of U.S. citizens (including Muslim-Americanâ€™s) First Amendment Rights being denied by a foreign power. As an American citizen your writer has the right to view the material to make his own decision about its content, and he resents agents of a foreign government denying him his natal right as a citizen of this country!
Ziad Abbas, the Associate Director of MECHA, stated that â€œâ€¦By silencing these Palestinian children, the pro-Israeli groups succeeded to stretch the siege from Gaza to Oakland!â€
This incident was foreshadowed by a past incident in 2005. MECA had allied themselves then with the Berkeley Art Center (a city of Berkeley and County of Alameda as well as the private sector supported instituted) and the Graphics Alliance to produce a show in Live Oak Park entitled â€œJustice Matters: [14 Palestinian and American] Artists Consider Palestine.â€
Viciously, that show was attacked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League (who were successfully sued during the same period under California law for spying on Muslims and non-Muslims who supported Palestine) and individuals who claimed to represent the â€œmainstreamâ€ (in reality they were speaking for the Zionist faction, a perversion of) Judaism.
There was even a call by this belligerent fringe element to close the presentation down. Fortunately, the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, stood up to this radical pro-Israel faction. As Ramallah goes to the United Nations, it is easy to perceive the pressure Obama is under with these financially well-endowed vengeful sectarian bigots at his back.
Your researcher is going to suggest something he would not normally do. That is that you, my target audience, write to Masako Kalbach, the Interim Executive Director of the Museum of Childrenâ€™s Art in Oakland at firstname.lastname@example.org with a cc to Barbara Lubin at the Middle Eastern Childrenâ€™s Alliance at email@example.com to demonstrate your support for MECA and the victimized children of Gaza and to the Oakland Tribuneâ€™s Letters to the Editor where you can cut and paste your comment at http://www.insidebayarea. com /feedback /tribune. Further, although the Childrenâ€™s Museum of Oakland is private, it is intimately involved with its host cities, and I would hope residents contact their representative either in the County of Alameda or the city itself or even the Sacramento to ask them to investigate if any there was any infringement of any law or policy.
The current plan is to have the opening display of â€œA Childâ€™s View of Gazaâ€ in the courtyard of the Museum of Childrenâ€™s Art in Oakland. (This is termed â€œplopâ€ art.) This may be controversial and confrontational, though.
In the long run, this display will need a more stable venue in the (S.F.) Bay Area, and, hopefully the noise of this event will garner enough interest to tour further in North America and Europe. An Islamic Center in this region taking on this project would be a strong statement!
This incident is only one incident of Zionist and Christian Zionist attempts to silence Palestinian aspirations both politically and culturally. Caught between these fringe groups, the best course of action at the U.N. is for the U.S. to abstain–which would allow the decision for Palestinian Statehood up to the General Assembly. As a nation, Ramallah could stand up for their interests in Oakland!