SF officials describe ‘apartheid’ label as ‘intolerance alienating the Jewish community’

Israel/Palestine
on 50 Comments
Scott Wiener
Scott Wiener

Things are escalating here in the Bay Area over American Muslims for Palestine’s (AMP) “End Apartheid Now” Muni bus ads. Seven out of twelve members of San Francisco’s board of supervisors have stepped into the fray, requesting San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to donate proceeds from the ad to  the city’s Human Rights Commission to “be used to fight growing intolerance alienating the Jewish community.” Yes you heard that right.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, above, calls AMP’s money “dirty money,” and he says there is a precedent for the donation, spelled out in The San Francisco Chronicle. “Wiener upset over MTA accepting anti-Israel ad money:”

When advertisements went up on Muni buses implying that Muslims are “savages,” the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency donated the revenue from the ad campaign to the Human Rights Commission. Now several supervisors are asking why the same isn’t being done for ads calling Israel an “apartheid” state.

In other words, they see no difference between suggesting that Muslims are savages and calling Israel an apartheid state. Pro-Israel bloggers are enthused.

AMP has issued a press release. Along with the other members of its coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Asian Law Caucus and the National Lawyers Guild, they are urging San Francisco authorities to uphold open debate.

The coalition calls on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to “resist pressure to donate ad proceeds to the Human Rights Commission, which would officially equate the political ads with hate speech.”

ad(SAN FRANCISCO 05/24/2013) – Civil rights organizations call upon San Francisco authorities to resist pressure to stigmatize Muni bus ads that quote Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu characterizing Israeli policies as apartheid. The coalition, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Asian Law Caucus and the National Lawyers Guild, urges San Francisco authorities to uphold open debate on one of the most important human rights issues of our time.

The ads, which first appeared on Muni buses on May 7, were placed by the education and advocacy organization American Muslims for Palestine. They feature political speech that critiques Israeli policy and US foreign aid to Israel. The ads make no denigrating statements about Jewish people or Judaism, nor do they reference that community at all. But in response, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee – institutions with long histories of attempting to stifle open and honest debate about Israeli policies – have unleashed a relentless smear campaign to mislabel political critique as hate speech. They conflate AMP’s political message with hate-filled racist and Islamophobic ads placed by Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative, which call Palestinians and Muslims ‘savages,’ and denigrate an entire religion and its adherents.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate group.

“Critique of Israel’s race-based system of governance is not hate, it is core political speech. It is critical to the free marketplace of ideas to resist the pressure to demonize political speech and equate it with anti-Jewish or hate-filled speech,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and Berkeley professor.

The coalition is urging the Municipal Transportation Authority and San Francisco supervisors to resist pressure to donate ad proceeds to the Human Rights Commission, which would officially equate the political ads with hate speech. The coalition also urges authorities to resist pressure to shut down its vehicles as a public forum for political speech altogether.

“Many Israeli authorities and other notable figures such as former President Jimmy Carter have used the legal term apartheid to characterize Israeli state policies,” said Carol Sanders of Jewish Voice for Peace. “San Francisco has long been a city where diverse opinions, political speech, and freedom of expression have been valued and protected. It should stay that way.”

The transportation authority may consider a letter sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener and signed by six other supervisors calling for condemnation of AMP’s ad at its next meeting. The coalition of human rights and social justice activists is urging SFMTA to uphold the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and refrain from equating political speech with hate speech. To do otherwise would be a disservice to the people of the San Francisco Bay area, where open debate about the great issues of our time and diversity of political opinion are so highly valued.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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50 Responses

  1. just
    May 24, 2013, 6:11 pm

    “dirty money”???

    The sheer hubris is breathtaking and puke- worthy. Annie, I have to go for a bit of a walk before I start cursing and ‘screaming’ on this wonderful, educational and humanistic site.

  2. Cliff
    May 24, 2013, 7:07 pm

    The Jews it is alienating are the Jews promoting apartheid and colonization.

    This is identity politics. White racists (whether they be KKK, White nationalists, or the Afrikaaners) just need a good Lobby like Zionist Jews.

    Then they can be as racist as they want and re-brand their racism as ‘self-defense’ and ‘returning to their homeland’ (whilst kicking everyone else out of theirs).

  3. dimadok
    May 24, 2013, 7:58 pm

    Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee- Apartheid my a…
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/242410#.UZ_9iWTF2fs

    • Djinn
      May 25, 2013, 2:03 am

      What part of the definition of Apartheid says its negated if a member of the oppressed group becomes a judge?

      • Shingo
        May 25, 2013, 9:05 pm

        Great come back Djin.

    • talknic
      May 25, 2013, 4:44 am

      dimadok Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee” (my bold)

      That’d be an Israeli citizen, under Israeli civil law, which doesn’t apply to “territories occupied”

      In “territories occupied” Israeli civil law has no legal jurisdiction, Israel’s illegal civil policies are not dissimilar to apartheid.

      • seafoid
        May 25, 2013, 1:34 pm

        That would be 1948 palestinian and nakba survivor. Israeli arab is bullshit.

    • seafoid
      May 25, 2013, 6:10 am

      “Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee- Apartheid my ass”

      Also from the same stable

      – Obama is black so there is no more poverty amongst African Americans
      – there is a hotel in Gaza so there is no malnutrition
      – there was rain yesterday so there is no global warming

    • Hostage
      May 25, 2013, 8:33 am

      Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee- Apartheid my a…

      He’s still stuck with the job of enforcing the same old apartheid laws and Supreme Court rulings that prohibit any list of candidates from participating if they advocate overturning the statutes and ministry regulations that grant Jews all of their superior rights and privileges.

      Unlike the USA, which adopted a voting rights act and civil rights act to help bring the Jim Crow era to an end, Israeli MK’s are proposing changes to their election laws to further disenfranchise Arab candidates and voters.

      Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Justice Elon , ruled in an elections commission case that Arab citizens merely have an equal right to recognize that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people:

      The principle that the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people is Israel’s foundation and mission [yessoda vi-yeuda], and the principle of the equality of rights and obligations of all citizens of the State of Israel is of the State’s essence and character [mahuta ve-ofya]. The latter principle comes only to add to the former, not to modify it; there is nothing in the principle of the equality of civil rights and obligations to modify the principle that the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people.

      See Ben-Shalom v. Central Election Committee 1988, 272

      Someone needs to put that bullshit on a Metro advertisement! I can think of three of four more Israeli Supreme Court opinions that need to be widely publicized so we can drop all of this “he said, she said” nonsense.

      Palestine and several of the interested state parties, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Cuba, Guinea, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference submitted written or oral statements to the relevant UN organs requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall on Palestinian territory. They explained that Israel was pursuing a policy of “Bantustanization” and “apartheid”. They noted that the construction of the wall and the resulting situation correspond to the constituent acts of the crime of apartheid, as enumerated in Article 2 of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The Court’s findings of illegality (contained in paragraphs 132-134) also correspond to a number of the constituent acts of the crime of apartheid. The Court cited fact finding reports from the Secretary General and rapporteurs Zeigler and Dugard. Those UN reports in-turn had described the human rights violations resulting from the construction of the “apartheid fence” and reliable Israeli press reports concerning the Sharon government’s deliberate pursuit of a policy of “Bantustanization”.

      I’ve commented in the past that neither the Rome Statute nor the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid are the source of basic human rights under international law. The same thing applies to the provisions regarding apartheid in Article 85 of the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Those instruments merely criminalize violations of the human rights and humanitarian rights contained in other conventions, like the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the four Geneva Conventions, themselves.

      Israel is not a party to either the Rome Statute, the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, or the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. So the International Court of Justice had to cite violations of its obligations under the terms of all of the various conventions on human rights and international humanitarian rights mentioned above, of which Israel is either a Member State or contracting State Party.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 25, 2013, 11:41 am

      “Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee- Apartheid my [ass]”

      1/5 of the de jure population of the state which occupies more than 2/3 of Palestine, and it took over half a century to get a Palestinian a permanent appointment to the court. That’s Apartheid. Not to mention the ethno-religious, judeo-supremacist military regimes in the West Bank portion of Palestine. Yeah, pretty much Apartheid. Still further, the illegal ethno-religious based ghettoization policy, reminiscent of the crimes of the 20th C., in the Gaza Strip portion of Palestine. Yeah, absolutely Apartheid.

    • eljay
      May 26, 2013, 1:50 pm

      >> Israeli Arab Judge, Salim Jubran, has been appointed to the head of Israel Central Election committee-

      So Israel’s occupation of Palestine is over? Israel has withdrawn to within its / Partition borders? Israel has agreed to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace? Israel is no longer an oppressive and supremacist “Jewish State” and is now a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all of its citizens, equally?

      Didn’t think so…

  4. yourstruly
    May 24, 2013, 8:56 pm

    too damn bad that some Jews feel alienated by ads calling Israel an apartheid state. sorry, but the label just happens to fit. if they’re so upset they should do something about it – Israel’s apartheid, that is. on the other hand the ad that suggests all Muslims are savages, hey, this is despicable stereotyping to the Nth degree and deserves condemnation.

    • ritzl
      May 24, 2013, 11:31 pm

      …they should do something about it…” Amen, yt. I think it’s coming. The light bulbs are winking on at a visceral, personal level, imho, that something is very wrong and unsupportable about status quo Israel.

      My cue on why is some of the blog reaction to that Gaza kid on Arab Idol. It was almost like why is this kid so loved and we are not. That’s obviously my overstatement, but if even tiny grains of that are seeping into the hasbara strategy, it is meaningful, again imho.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 24, 2013, 11:35 pm

        ritzl, i’m going bonkers

      • ritzl
        May 24, 2013, 11:49 pm

        Bonkers good?! ;) I f’ing hope he wins it. He’s got the audience in his palm.

        I wish I could read Arabic.

        Thanks Annie.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 25, 2013, 3:57 am

        I wish I could read Arabic.

        i’d rather understand the spoken word. or his songs. i think i understand a lot tho, kinda.

      • seafoid
        May 25, 2013, 4:00 am

        Israel won’t let him into Jerusalem. Imagine Springsteen being denied access to New York City because he was born in New Jersey.
        Maybe Wiener could organize something like that.

      • CloakAndDagger
        May 25, 2013, 2:59 pm

        Looks like a terrorist to me.

  5. seafoid
    May 24, 2013, 9:59 pm

    ‘intolerance alienating the Jewish community’

    1. who is this Jewish community ?

    2 Israel is effectively engaging in a national system of abuse of Palestinians. It is fascinating to see intolerance raised as an issue in the US to defend abuse in Israel. The centre won’t be able to hold on this defence, I’m afraid.

    I would hate to have the bots speaking for me.

  6. Blownaway
    May 24, 2013, 11:02 pm

    Why doesn’t Scott Wiener disclose his vested interest as a member of the Jewish community and recuse himself from the debate ..if there is going to be a debate

    • Annie Robbins
      May 24, 2013, 11:36 pm

      why didn’t i think of that?

    • Daniel Rich
      May 25, 2013, 8:14 pm

      @ Blownaway,

      Q: … vested interest …

      R: What I’ve observed over the past decades is that it is a genuine reaction, fueled by whatever happened in the past and prolonged by present day myths and fables [although some shards of truths are also intertwined with that rich folklore]. In that sense, to some, Israel is indeed the ‘holy’ land and will be defended regardless the moral ramifications of doing so. It’s quite difficult to be able to not condemn something you’re condemning, but some people do pull it off.

      • Blownaway
        May 26, 2013, 10:52 am

        @D.Rich
        Jerusalem is holy to all religions and to ascribe its holiness to only one religion is just plain wrong. As for genuine reaction? What is a genuine reaction to truth? reflection or denial?

      • RoHa
        May 26, 2013, 9:08 pm

        “Jerusalem is holy to all religions”

        Only holy to four on my count. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Baha’i.
        Anyone know of any others?

  7. American
    May 24, 2013, 11:49 pm

    ‘ to “be used to fight growing intolerance alienating the Jewish community.”

    If Wiener feels ‘alienated’ by the ads he can always go live in Israel…after all that’s what Israel is for isn’t it?….we’ve spent a trillion dollars on a state for Jews to go to if they don’t like it here or wherever they live…..he can go ‘self determine’ to not see any ads mentioning the Palestine occupation in Israel.

  8. seafoid
    May 25, 2013, 1:47 am

    So the SPLC defines the bots behind this as a hate group. Another milestone for zionism . It is a degenerative ideology . Started off with so much goodwill and now spawns hate speech . Onwards and downwards .

  9. Shmuel
    May 25, 2013, 5:33 am

    intolerance alienating the Jewish community

    Why? Did someone suggest that the Jewish community in SF practises apartheid? Supports apartheid? Defends apartheid? The ad mentions Israel (not the Jewish community), Americans (not Jewish Americans) and the U.S. (not the San Francisco Jewish community).

    Had someone called out the “Jewish community” (or at least its mainstream institutions and most vocal spokesmen) for its support and defence of apartheid, that would have been alienating – true, but alienating. If the “Jewish community” can’t take its political choices being challenged (even harshly), then it should stay out of politics.

    It’s rather ironic that it is those claiming to defend the Jewish community — not the people behind the ad — who are blaming all Jews (by religious/ethnic association) for Israeli apartheid. Shame on them.

    • seafoid
      May 25, 2013, 6:11 am

      Who gave these people the right to speak for Judaism?

      • Ecru
        May 25, 2013, 7:12 am

        @ Seafoid

        Those who don’t speak out against them.

      • Shmuel
        May 25, 2013, 7:39 am

        Those who don’t speak out against them.

        Against whom? The members of San Francisco’s board of supervisors (7 out of 12) who think they’re doing the Jewish community a favour by equating this ad (end apartheid ) with the previous one (Muslim savages)?

      • Ecru
        May 25, 2013, 8:43 am

        Sorry – against those very loud Jews who complain of anti-semitism at the thought of a dropping hat. Basically the self-declared “official” Jewish community and its mouthpieces.

      • seafoid
        May 25, 2013, 1:42 pm

        I wonder if there will be an internal jewish coup in the US led by the younger generation or it will be the goys who drive the collapse of Zionism. Conflating judaism and race hate is a dead end.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 25, 2013, 7:48 pm

        I wonder if there will be an internal jewish coup in the US led by the younger generation or it will be the goys who drive the collapse of Zionism.

        the power and sumud of palestinian american youth will emerge in this country and blow everyone’s mind.

      • MRW
        May 26, 2013, 2:27 am

        It will be in the Christian churches. And the more squawking that groups like CAMERA do (re: CBS and Bob Simon) a year after the fact the worse they are making it for themselves. But, of course, they will never see it that way until it’s too late…when it’s cry me a river time.

  10. Ramzi Jaber
    May 25, 2013, 8:39 am

    We have a saying in Palestine that goes something like this: he hit me and he cried first, he hit me and he complained first. That’s what Scott Wiesel is doing.

    • just
      May 25, 2013, 9:03 am

      That pretty much says it all, Ramzi. Thanks for that– it’s a keeper.

      • seafoid
        May 27, 2013, 6:29 am

        Isn’t that the same as the Hebrew “shooting and crying” ?

  11. bintbiba
    May 25, 2013, 10:30 am

    Thank you Ramzi. Great one.
    “darabni wa shtaka, saba’ni wa baka !!”
    It has such a great rhythm to it!!

    • bintbiba
      May 25, 2013, 11:36 am

      Correction!!!The ‘baka’ comes first (cried) ; the ‘shtaka ‘ (snitched) ends it.
      Apologies, I am ancient,and my Mama is long gone to chastise me!! Darabni wa shtaka, saba’ni wa baka!

      • Ramzi Jaber
        May 25, 2013, 9:40 pm

        Yes bintbiba, that’s right… “darabni wa baka, saba’ni wa shtaka”. The rhyme is beautiful and the structure is extremely concise, just like all great arabic poetry. Your Mama will certainly be proud of you!!

      • MRW
        May 26, 2013, 2:22 am

        Where are the accents? Can you put them in bold after the syllable?

      • Ramzi Jaber
        May 26, 2013, 7:23 am

        da-rab-ni wa ba-ka, sa-ba’-ni wa shta-ka

        Does this help, MRW?

      • Kate
        May 26, 2013, 4:28 pm

        Ramzi, bintbiba: I think this terrific saying is the same as this:
        ضربني وبكى سبقني و شتكى (Darabni wa baka, sabaqni wa shtaka) But I don’t know much Arabic, so am not sure. I would like to ask a question.

        When you wrote ‘ in the middle of your version of ‘he preceded / anticipated me’ (saba’ni) did you mean hamza (ء)? Or perhaps ‘ain (ع )? And is that a common Palestinian substitute for qaf (q, ق ) as in the middle of the same word (sabaqni) in the above version? I noticed more than one type of Arabic in Palestine and don’t know much about any of them.

        MRW, the linguist in me can’t help noting that Arabic is not a stress language, it’s a vowel-length language, so stress isn’t really important in it – vowel length is. There aren’t any long vowels in any of these particular words.

        Sorry for boring most readers stiff with this, but I am really interested in the answers to this question!

      • Ramzi Jaber
        May 26, 2013, 5:36 pm

        Kate, you’re absolutely right in your observation.

        Not to bore the gracious MW community… with “accents”, the anglicized way would be: “darabani wa baka, sabaqani wa ishtaka”. This is the Classical Arabic where the “ain (ع )” is used in “sabaqani”.

        In colloquial Arabic, depending where in Palestine or other Arab countries, we say “darabni w’baka, saba’ni wishtaka”. Here the “ain (ع )” in “sabaqani” is pronounced as a “hamza (ء)”, making it “saba’ni”.

        The dialect variations across Palestine are rather small and one easily understand across these. It’s not the same across Arab countries as dialects are fundamentally differently that sometimes Classical Arabic is the only way to ensure understanding and correct communication.

        Hope this clarifies just a bit Kate, and keep up your valiant study of Arabic language! We appreciate your interest and your support of the Palestinian cause.

      • MRW
        May 27, 2013, 3:55 am

        Ahhhhh….I didn’t know this! Thanks.

        MRW, the linguist in me can’t help noting that Arabic is not a stress language, it’s a vowel-length language, so stress isn’t really important in it – vowel length is

        So would a long vowel be like tones in Chinese? I love being able to at least pronounce a foreign language properly. My hair winds up in my hands with Gaelic (which my grandmother spoke fluently and never taught me). Thx to Ramzi and Kate.

      • MRW
        May 27, 2013, 3:58 am

        Ramzi,

        the anglicized way would be: “darabani wa baka, sabaqani wa ishtaka”. This is the Classical Arabic where the “ain (ع )” is used in “sabaqani”.

        In colloquial Arabic, depending where in Palestine or other Arab countries, we say “darabni w’baka, saba’ni wishtaka”

        I don’t even know what you are talking about, but I get it. This answers my question.

  12. Daniel Rich
    May 25, 2013, 8:23 pm

    Q: ‘intolerance alienating the Jewish community’

    R: The number of people who’ve been vocal about the disproportionate Apartheid Regime’s actions and been alienated by said Regime, is simply staggering [Mr. Hawking, anyone?]. The book will be folded any day soon now and its pages turn to dust. Zionism is Judaism’s only enemy.

  13. eljay
    May 26, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Mr. Wiener is unable to comprehend the difference between:
    – a blanket condemnation of all Muslims as “savages”; and
    – referring to the supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel as an “apartheid” state.

    Mr. Wiener is:
    – a dick;
    – a dummy; and/or
    – a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist.

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