Santa Clara County’s Palestine Cultural Day, May 15, 2009. A similar cultural day designated for Palestinians was canceled today by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. (Photo: Sharat G. Lin/IndyBay)
Yesterday, Oakland’s Alameda County Board of Supervisors should have rubber stamped a proclamation marking June 5th as Palestine Day. But after noted Islamophobe and birther Pamela Geller lambasted county officials as “Jew-haters” working with Muslims “goosestepping armies,” and following a secret 11th hour meeting with an unnamed Zionist organization, Palestine Day was erased.
“What’s next? Auschwitz Proclamation day? It’s the same thing,”[emphasis in original] opens Geller on an Atlas Shrugs appeal pushing to have the event canceled. Geller then continues her call to action with her bread and butter, Islamophobia:
The mission of the mystical ‘Palestinian’ narrative is the destruction of the tiny state of Israel so as to satiate the racism and Jewish genocide as commanded by quran. The same devout Muslim world that was aligned with Hitler during the shoah is itching to annihilate Israel for the very same reasons. Same people, same ideology, same racism, same savage. They opposed the Jewish people in Israel (Palestine) in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, when Muslims conducted pogrom after pogrom against Palestinian Jews. The Muslims engaged in war after war against Israel in the 50s, 60s, 70, 80s, 90s, and post Oslo. The Muslims refuse to accept a Jewish state.
Proclamation? In America. Below is what the Muslim groups are sending out to their goosestepping armies. I strongly advise Atlas readers to get on the phone and condemn this bloody, anti-human proclamation. Why is it they are exalting? The 64-year-old war on Israel or the 1,400 year Islamic war on the Jews?
Alameda County is under siege. Infiltration.
Despite Geller’s description of Muslim “infiltrators,” Palestine Day is not a sectarian project. The resolution was co-sponsored by Supervisor Wilma Chan, the Arab Cultural and Community Center, and the Buena Vista United Methodist Church; no Muslim organization sponsored the proclamation. The text of the bill celebrates Palestinian “books, poetry, music, dance, oral history, folktales, proverbs, and handicrafts” and honors the “major contributions” of the community’s 20,000 Palestinians “in the fields of arts and culture, community organizing, student activism, law and medicine, and are valued members of the community as small business owners.” In fact, the single mention of religion in the bill is a reference to the community’s composition as “profess[ing] either a Christian, Jewish or Muslim faith.” Yet, during public comment at today’s county meeting, it was this mention of religious diversity that was called into question by two of the three Zionist protesters, one of which was armed with a hand-held recorder.
Matthew White, former member of the rightist student group Tikvah and supporter of Stand With Us recoiled over the inclusion of “Jewish” Palestinians. White asserted that “Jews,” are a separate and distinct national group from “Palestinians”. But Loubna Qatami, executive director of the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC), and one of the drafter of the Palestine Day proclamation, said Stand With Us is off base. “It’s a historical fact that is contested on their end to reaffirm their political power. For us, it’s just about illuminating a historical narrative as to what our communities are,” said Qatami. Continuing, by acknowledging the Jewish members of the Palestinian community, the resolution is “de-legitimizing the myth that it [the Palestinian-Israeli conflict] is a religious conflict.”
Last week when Qatami was hammering out the bills language with Chan and other supervisors, she received informal approval from the board. “We modified the text and Thursday evening they approved the proclamation,” said Qatami. Continuing, “As of Friday, all of the board of supervisors were ready to go on that text.”
Yet, late Monday evening, Qatami and the other sponsors received notification without explanation that Palestine Day was taken off of Tuesday’s board meeting agenda.
“It’s really disappointing, we feel that the decision does have racial undertones. For this to happen due to inflammatory rhetoric posted on the internet, than there is a larger conversation that we need to have with our county representatives,” said Qatami. Chan also expressed regret over axing the event during today’s board meeting. However, at the time of publication, the supervisor was not available for comment.
The board’s decision to cancel Palestine Day marks the first time Alameda County maneuvered out of recognizing one of the community’s immigrant groups. Yet, despite the unexplained decision to strike Palestine Day, the Bay Area is still home to other government sponsored Palestinian cultural days, including Santa Clara County, San Mateo and San Francisco.
Full text of the Palestine Day proclamation that was slated to pass:
WHEREAS, Palestinians trace their roots back to the historic land of Palestine and primarily speak Arabic and profess either a Christian, Jewish or Muslim faith; and
WHEREAS, Palestinian culture is presented through books, poetry, music, dance, oral history, folktales, proverbs, and handicrafts made with cross-stitch embroidery patterns that often display ethnic or regional identity and honor a rich cultural legacy from centuries past that are important symbols of Palestinian culture; and
WHEREAS, Palestinians have embraced for over 2,000 years core values such as love of family, commitment to education, hospitality, and reverence for land, community empowerment, strong sense of justice and they now share these values with the residents of Alameda County; and
WHEREAS, Palestinian residents of Alameda County now number approximately 20,000 and continue to make major contributions to the County in the fields of arts and culture, community organizing, student activism, law and medicine, and are valued members of the community as small business owners; and
WHEREAS, Palestinians Jiving in Alameda County will hold the first annual Palestinian Cultural Day that honors the local Palestinian community and its contributions to the County’s civic life as well as the historical and cultural contributions o f Palestinians throughout the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED that this Board of Supervisors, County of Alameda, Does hereby proclaim June 5, 2012 as ‘Palestinian Cultrual Day’ and recognizes the contributions of the local Palestinian population 10 Alameda County residents and communities.