Sunday, May 27, 2012

Palestinian Propagandizing Of American Children

For those of you who, like I, enjoy “world music” it is saddening that a major venue in San Diego which largely targets children is sponsoring pro-Palestinian propaganda from a virulent anti-Israel, anti-US group operating under the misleading name Middle East Children’s Alliance. The WorldBeat Cultural Center sits on San Diego City property in Balboa Park and is funded by some prestigious foundations and corporate sponsors. This misuse of their funds, and reputations, deserves direct protests.
The Oakland Museum of Children’s Art had dropped this exhibit in October 2011, a Board member explaining:
[T]he museum canceled the show “because we lacked a formal policy for sensitive content and because were not confident that we had the resources to deal with the numerous concerns we received regarding the exhibit.”
 Rabbi James Brandt, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, was more direct in a joint statement with East Bay’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League:
“A biased, one-sided perspective filled with depictions of violence has no place in a community-based museum dedicated to serving young children, including 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds,” the statement read…. 

 Even without the stars of David identifying the soldiers [which IDF soldiers do not wear], Brandt maintained, the violent images were “inappropriate for this age group.” As for the Jewish star, he said, “for children in our region… their immediate association is not with the State of Israel, but [with] their classmates who have Jewish stars on their T-shirts from our Jewish camps and after-school programs.” 

The exhibit is by the anti-Israel, anti-US Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). The drawings were done under the supervision of “therapists” hired by MECA. Some art experts doubt the drawings were even done by children, or they were touched up by adults. MECA is the funder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which sends young protestors to Israel to oppose its security fencing made necessary by Palestinian cross-border terror attacks and participated in the May 2010 flotilla from Turkey to Gaza. MECA also raised funds for George Galloway’s “Viva Palestine” convoy. MECA’s Executive Director wrote “I think the Jewish State is racist to the core.” MECA states its goal: “We educate North Americans about children in the region and the brutal impact of US foreign policy on their lives.” 

As with other drawings by Gaza children, the viewpoint is one of victimization and hatred as inculcated by all the official Hamas propaganda aimed at Gazan children. For example, a Gaza TV show for children tells them to slaughter all Jews, and another uses a rabbit to say he “will finish off the Jews and eat them, Allah willing." Another encourages children of the glory of death for Allah in attacking Jews. And another Hamas childrens program: “Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews!" in reference to Muhammad's battle against Jews in the year 629. 

Here’s a sample of the exhibit at the San Diego World Beat Cultural Center:

 The exhibit includes the film “Tears of Gaza” made in 2010 by a Norweigan activist Vibeke Lokkeberg. She gathered film of Gazan children shot by, according to her, “15 or 20” Palestinians during the Israel incursion into Gaza during the winter of 2008-9, and selected the most worrisome. Needless to say, children caught up in war is a tragedy and heartrending. At Wikipedia: “The directors explain that it is not Hamas that is being hit hardest in such a war, it is the civilians, and this is what the producers have tried to focus on through this film.” Actually, most killed were not civilians but armed Hamas and its allied combatants. They were often firing from among civilians.

But, make no mistake about the purpose of the film. In Lokkeberg’s own words in an interview at the World Socialist website:
You can see by the film that the bombing of Gaza was a war crime. This film is a proof that this was a war crime….
There is also something new with this war. And that is bombs that deliberately destroy the lower part of the body—so that the population cannot propagate. This is collective punishment.
Her husband adds: “We were asked why we did not show the other side, the Israeli side. But when a bomb lands on one’s head, there is no “other side.”
But, there is another side, the constant rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and other cross-border attacks. Israel is completely justified in defending itself and its civilians.
JJ Surbeck, attended the event last night. Surbeck earned a law degree from the University of Geneva and worked for 16 years for the International Committee of the Red Cross. He now heads up T.E.A.M. (Training and Education About the Middle East). Surbeck attended the event last night. Surbeck writes:
[I]t is the Palestinians’ favorite weapon. In one word: decontextualization. This mouthful means that they will show the world an abundance of sad stories of children and women “allegedly” victimized by the Israelis, but never explain why they happened. We are never told the context. All their speakers use the same technique. It takes a particularly strenuous effort on the part of the informed viewer to remember that these stories, as tragic as they are, are only a small part of the whole picture. They are in fact the effect of a cause which we are never told about. These gruesome images have been selected and put together with only one goal in mind: rile viewers and demonize Israel. It’s easy: without context to explain why Israel attacked Gaza, the conclusion can only be that the Israelis are sadistic monsters who enjoy persecuting and hurting the poor, sweet, innocent Palestinians who have never done anything to deserve such treatment.
In an email to me from another attendee at the event, the curator of the event commented during a Q&A: ""the media can't write about Gaza because of the people who own the newspapers", a veiled reference to the Jewish conspiracy canard so popular among anti-Semites.
Back to the WorldBeat Cultural Center. Here’s its Mission Statement:
As a non-profit multi-cultural arts organization we are dedicated to promoting, presenting & preserving the African & Indigenous cultures of the world through Music, Art, Dance, Education & Technology. We are located in beautiful Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego, California.
Through consciousness raising the WorldBeat Center promotes peace within our San Diego community by providing on going programs and services that nurture the spirit of children, the elderly, and everyone in between. Our main goal is then to create unity within diversity.
This anti-Israel program hardly fits that Mission. 

WorldBeat is a 501(c)(3) organization, formally named Prophet World Beat Productions, which according to Guidestar had annual revenues in 2010 of $362,267. According to WorldBeat’s website, its prominent sponsors include the taxpayer-funded state agency California Arts Council, San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture, federal HUD Community Block Development Program, the Port of San Diego. In addition, excluding an obviously liberal activist organization like RESIST and some other legitimate charitable organizations, there are private company contributions from Target Corporation and foundations from Alliance Healthcare and Real Networks. One must wonder if these contributors are aware of the misuse of their funds and the association of their names with this anti-Israel propaganda. If you care to write to them, go to the link at the top of this paragraph. Some have email addresses. Some don’t, which itself is curious for philanthropic organizations that affect our community, particularly taxpayer-funded ones. 

I’ve taken my sons to the WorldBeat Cultural Center for music events. I won’t again.

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