Trending Topics:

The elephant in the room, in Marin County

on 20 Comments

What does this picture say to you? Zoe Goorman made it for an action held outside Marin County’s Dining for Democrats Gala in Corte Madera, California, last Saturday night. And it represents the kind of actions going on at a local level all across the country by citizens fed up with their municipalities tax dollars being funneled to support Israel’s inhumane occupation of Palestine.

How’d she get the idea? Organizer Esther Riley read about the upcoming VIP gala in the local fish wrap and sent out an action alert last week.

The Democratic Party says it’s for human rights, so why do our elected officials help to suppress Palestinian rights? Why do Democrats keep funding Israel’s wars and the occupation instead of using economic leverage to get Israel to grant equality to everyone under its control? Why do Democrats send military aid to Israel while cutting our own military budget? Why did [Northern California Congressman] Jared Huffman vote to put us in debt for another $225 million to give Israel spare parts for Iron Dome when there were millions of unexpended dollars in the Iron Dome account and when another $351 million was slated to be put into that account on October 1? And why give money to save Jewish lives but not Palestinian lives? Why is [state assemblyman] Marc Levine willing to suppress free speech on California campuses for the sake of “campus climate”?–do the feelings of Zionists over here matter more than the feelings of Palestinians living under occupation and military assault? Why is Israel the elephant in the room that no one can talk about?

Good questions! Goorman spent all Saturday afternoon making this incredible sign and met up with other local activist who responded to the call. But Goorman says she didn’t think people “got it”. What do you think? I get it! I love her elephant. She sent out an email to some friends asking what words could be added to her sign to make it clearer, but I don’t think it needs anything else. Here’s an idea Esther Riley sent to me this morning:

A variation of the poster that Zoe did could be a back view of an elephant inside the voting room of Congress with the word “Israel” written on its rear end. The elephant could be drawn with it trunk up so that it would not be mistaken for another animal and perhaps less mistaken as the symbol of the GOP, which is usually a side view.

I don’t think it matters that the elephant also represents Republicans. The elephant in the room in American politics– the elephant so many people don’t mention or criticize for fear of being labeled anti Semitic– that’s Israel. I hope Goorman’s sign catches on. The next time you attend a local event in your town, don’t just talk about the elephant in the room, make it a symbol.

(Hat tip Karen Platt)



Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

20 Responses

  1. pabelmont on September 16, 2014, 2:51 pm

    Israel is surely a large elephant in any USA governmental room. But it is not in there alone.Major corporations and wealthy individuals (Kochs for instance) are in there too.

    Obama is talking up CLIMATE CHANGE but also talking up ENERGY INDEPENDENCE (meaning: support for oil/gas/coal use in the USA).

    I guess I am surprised to hear him talk up climate change. But the increased use of oil/gas (fracking) is no surprise. America is Corporate State in all but name.

    Israel is a big player, but not the only player.

    • Parity on September 16, 2014, 6:18 pm

      Pabelmont, we do have debate in Congress and the media on climate change, and there is some debate in the media on corporations. But on Israel there appears to be no debate. Imagine Congress considering what might have caused an increase in rocket attacks from Gaza before unanimously voting to give Israel the right to “defend itself” from “unprovoked” rocket attacks. No one questions the spin. In an article on AIPAC in the September 1 issue of the New Yorker, freshman Congressman Beto O’Rourke, one of four Democrats to vote against AIPAC’s request for more money for Iron Dome, is quoted as saying, “I could not in good conscience vote for borrowing $225 million more to send to Israel without debate and without discussion, in the midst of a war that has cost more than a thousand civilian lives already, too many of them children.” If there had been debate, might he have been able to influence members of Congress to vote against the bill?

  2. annie on September 16, 2014, 3:50 pm

    i just got an email from a vip who does not comment here. he wrote “she could add an 800-lb gorilla holding the elephant’s trunk!”

    i think this idea could spread very very easily. hey!

    • just on September 16, 2014, 4:51 pm

      It’s great stuff!

      (Hope it spreads to the other ‘side’ as well. I do love Zoe’s elephant)

    • American on September 16, 2014, 5:33 pm

      CNI did a ad in the WP several years ago that showed King Kong standing on top of the capitol and snapping off the flag pole of American flag flying over it… really made the point.

      • American on September 16, 2014, 5:34 pm

        ps King Kong was named Israel naturally

  3. Shmuel on September 16, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Q: How do you stop an elephant from charging?
    A: Take away its credit card!

  4. irishmoses on September 16, 2014, 7:23 pm

    I couldn’t figure out the point of the elephant. All I could think was that it was associating Israel with the GOP. Great picture but I think the “elephant in the room” metaphor won’t come across to most of us
    lame-ies. It needs a caption or something to better make the connection, like one person saying “Shhh, don’t say anything” to another who is gawking at the elephant with her mouth open. I like the message though. I-P really is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, particularly Congress, not to mention the media, the corporate world, the academic world, etc.

    Another approach might be a cartoon with the caption, “Honey, we need to talk”. I’ll leave the artwork and labeling to those with some talent.

    I think the calm, neutrality of this approach could be much more effective than the more strident methods currently used. Instead of “Israel is an apartheid state”, etc., which tend to be big turn-offs to most who have a knee-jerk reaction in favor of Israel, the message becomes, “we need to have a serious discussion about this very important issue that is affecting all of us, not to mention the Palestinians and Israelis.

    It could be structured in the form of “10 questions for discussion” which would be neutrally phrased. This would allow the discussion or debate to be refocused on the key, critical issues, not the straw men that Israel and the lobby are so effective at promoting. Instead of “Israel has a right to defend itself”, the issue becomes, “Do oppressed people living under illegal military occupation have a right to resist their occupiers and fight for their freedom?”

    I think one of the keys to changing people’s minds on the I-P issue is to tone down the rhetoric. Zoe’s pachyderm is a great start.

    • BethlehemOlivesRedeem on September 17, 2014, 3:15 pm

      “Honey, we need to talk” aint such a hot idea — it’s what the Zionist lobby has managed to trick its Christian, Buddhist and other buddies into doing for decades [ aka “dialogue” ], as if there were any balance whatsoever in the actual living-vs-killingANDstealing situation where the “pro-Israel” side pretends to be “liberal Zionists” [is it possible to BE a “liberal racist”?] and want peace while giving tax breaks to the thieves and murderers — and their paid liars in the USA – serving the Israeli ethnosupremacist regime’s 117-year agenda of colonial expansion.
      You don’t ask to talk with a bully’s friends when the bully has his boot on a child’s throat. You do your damnedest to yank the bastard off his victim. His friends insisting on dialogue are disingenuous at best, cynically contemptuous of you and all non-Zionists ….
      Yes, calm. By all means, calm. This is the Zionist pretense, to be “reasonable.” Yes we need to be diplomatic for sure, but the “dialogue” text only gives more cover for the Jews-Who-falsify-Judaism’s-ethical-teachings-by-playing-the-Holocaust-card (as Ben-Gurion advised in 1942) to ethnically cleanse more Palestinians from their ancestral homes.

  5. MRW on September 16, 2014, 7:34 pm

    I think it needs a caption on the bottom for those who won’t get it, and it should be plain-speaking:

    What We’re Not Allowed To Talk About
    (according to the Israel Lobby)

  6. RoHa on September 16, 2014, 7:34 pm

    “But Goorman says she didn’t think people “got it”. What do you think?”

    How could I guess whether a bunch of people in Marin county understood her intent? The only information I have is in the article. There would be no point in trying.

    But I hope that the people do get it. And that it spreads throughout the country.

  7. amigo on September 17, 2014, 9:31 am

    I think “Bull” (y) in a China shop would be more apt.

    Bulls don,t do “Pinpoint” ops.

    They smash all the delicate objects , (children, elderly, women ) in their path to find an exit , of which they have no idea of where/ what that is.Turning around and going back is not an option.

    Describes Israel perfectly.

  8. chauncey on September 17, 2014, 2:04 pm

    I think it works well as is. The painting is a clear depiction of an oft-used and in this case, appropriate metaphor. Perhaps a caption like this might help spell it out and add emphasis:
    “Israel is the elephant in the room. It must be discussed!”

  9. BethlehemOlivesRedeem on September 17, 2014, 6:24 pm

    I don’t agree that “Israel” is the elephant. Rather, the elephant is “Israel, the Rogue ethnosupremacist Colonial state” —
    or in more detail, “Israeli Jewish-supremacist military expansionist, racist colonialist regime,” which inherently (since its unilateral (not voted on by any UN) declaration of statehood has continuously violated several international laws, laws which Israel’s founders (with a wink and fingers crossed behind their backs) signed onto in order to be admitted to the United Nations, which they openly deride as irrelevant.

  10. Henry Norr on September 17, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Since you mention “actions going on at a local level all across the country,” Annie, I can report on another one in Oakland: our rep in Congress, Barbara Lee, held a fundraiser, with Rep. Keith Ellison as a guest attraction, at a restaurant on the Oakland waterfront on Sept. 4. Lee, as some folks will recall, was the only person in either house of Congress to vote against the resolution authorizing GW Bush to use military force in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and she styles herself a “renegade for peace and justice.” Some of us have been after her for years to speak out on Palestine, but with only very meager results: she has, quietly, joined Ellison in saying the siege of Gaza should be lifted, but beyond that she just calls for a resumption of negotiations on a two-state solution, and in the meantime she keeps voting for military aid to Israel.

    So an ad hoc coalition involving folks active in NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other groups decided to show up at her Oakland event. About 40 people turned out, and we were able to position ourselves right outside the restaurant, so the arriving guests and Ms. Lee herself had to go right through us and our signs denouncing Israeli war crimes and calling for an end to US aid to Israel to get to their party. Best of all, once they were in the restaurant, we discovered that we could move to the dock right outside the venue, so whenever they looked through the huge glass window that was supposed to offer scenic views of the harbor and Alameda Island, what they actually saw was us and our signs!

    After all these years I don’t have much hope Lee will ever stand up to the lobby – she’s not really vulnerable to a primary challenge, but apparently, according to people who know her or her staff, she’s scared that if she steps out of line on this issue, Obama, Pelosi et al. will punish her by cutting her Congressional perks, limiting her access to pork for pet projects, and generally isolating her in the same way they did to her former friend Cynthia McKinney. Still, no harm in nagging her – at the very least, I think we’ve started to make it harder for her to claim her constituents all support Israel.

    • annie on September 17, 2014, 7:24 pm

      Best of all, once they were in the restaurant, we discovered that we could move to the dock right outside the venue, so whenever they looked through the huge glass window that was supposed to offer scenic views of the harbor and Alameda Island, what they actually saw was us and our signs!

      i love this henry!!! i couldn’t stop laughing, fantastic

    • just on September 17, 2014, 7:59 pm

      Great stuff Henry!

      I read via Max’s twitter feed that no Zim ships will be unloading in LA or Oakland til next May…

  11. pianoteacher on September 18, 2014, 7:27 pm

    Next block the boat action in Oakland Oct 25 saturday .

Leave a Reply