By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Van Buren Board of Education near Findlay, Ohio is holding ‘A Night to Honor Israel’ at its High School on October 27th. The sponsor of the event is nothing other than Christians United for Israel (CUFI). This is an odd thing. A Night of Honoring Israel for what? Honoring someone, or a group, should be reserved for those whose work and contributions help positively impact the quality of life for others and enhance the image of their country. Not Israel!
That said, there are however several noted and noble Israelis that are worthy of honor for their efforts end the occupation and help bring peace to the region. Here is my short list: Jeff Halper, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Rami Elhanan and Uri Avnery.
The first thing I did after reading about this so-called "Honor Night," was draft a letter and send it to the School Superintendent and to all Board of Education members urging them to pull the plug on this unpatriotic and anti-Muslim hate group.
This event is in direct violation of the board policy 9700 on special interest groups which states that:
"All materials or activities proposed by outside political sources for student or staff use or participation shall be reviewed by the Superintendent on the basis of their educational contribution to part or all of the school program, benefit to students, and no such approval shall have the primary purpose of advancing the special interest of the proposing group."
If the primary purpose isn’t for fundraising (they are charging $15 per adult/$10 per student), then what educational benefit does this event provide?
Secondly, honoring a foreign nation that engages in spying, stealing America’s top, and murder its citizen is a betrayal in itself, and a shameless act to say the least. Van Buren School district should honor instead the victims of the USS Liberty, a US Navy intelligence ship that was suddenly and brutally attacked in international waters on June 8, 1967 by the air and naval forces of Israel. Thirty-four Americans were killed in the attack and another 174 were wounded.
Why would CUFI honor the foreign country that killed Rachel Corrie? This group does not know her. Rachel was a 23-year old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect a Palestinian family from demolition.
CUFI is also honoring the same foreign nation that murdered the 19 year-old American peace activist, Furkan Dogan. Eight other Turkish citizens were also killed on Gaza bound aid Flotilla. Hey, John Hagee, founder of CUFI, a foreign navy boarded an unarmed ship flying the flag of a NATO member in international waters! Where were you hiding on Memorial Day of 2010?
Speaking of pastor John Heage, this man has repeatedly argued that the United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West. According to this "man of God," CUFI is a lobby intended, he says, to be a Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC.) In other words, CUFI is acting as an unregistered foreign agent group, better yet, a mouthpiece for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
A quick check into CUFI website, I ran into a link from a 2006 NPR interview should suffice…it’s tempting to write this guy off as a nutjob, but he has hundreds of thousands of followers and this is the kind of indoctrination that will be coming to a public school if it’s not canceled (see here). It’s about 25 minutes long, but it’s really necessary to listen to all of it for someone that’s rather new to this theology to understand how deadly this venomous hate speech is. He also says in this interview that "Israel gave up Jordan" …and they’re considering letting him pass out "educational" material??!?
Beginning at the 14:00 minute mark, Hagee (founder of CUFI) says that Muslims have a mandate in the Qur’an that they must kill Christians and Jews. He also compares Islamic nations to Hitler and Imperial Japan.
I also fail to understand the logic in renting the school to an extremist organization that is notorious for its anti-Muslim and anti-Arab views. I mean, if a public school is nothing more than a facility and a meeting place, regardless to what it is, then would they rent out schools to show adult movies on the weekend?
I don’t believe Van Buren School District would be thrilled, or even allow any other speaker, to spew similar anti-Christian, or anti-Jewish rhetoric, at any of its schools. Muslims and Islam should not be fair game.
Truth is, Israel is wolf in a sheep’s clothing yet CUFI will depict it as an innocent lamb during their scheduled event. CUFI is among several groups that are behind most of the anti-Muslim hysteria that swept across our country. They create fear and hate mongering against ALL Muslims and other minority groups.
Let`s set the record straight: Muslims respect and revere Jesus [peace be upon him]. They consider him one of the greatest of God’s messengers to mankind. The Quran confirms his virgin birth and a chapter of the Quran is entitled "Mariam" (Mary). Muslims also believe he was born miraculously, by the command of God, the same command that had brought Adam, [pbuh] into being with neither a father nor a mother.
Neither this group, nor their invited guests, will tell you that the name of Jesus Christ, [pbuh], is mentioned 33 times in the Holy Quran, whereas the Prophet Mohammad’s name is mentioned only 5 times. That is called respect! What this group and their guest are promoting is hate, fear, and depiction.
Every red-blooded American should take a stand against bigotry and fear mongering against Muslims by helping to pull the plug on this event or any other event in the future that defames, degrades, or insults any ethnic or religious group in America.
Every one in America is entitled to free speech, even if it is bigoted. However, doing it on school grounds will give the impression, that the School District endorses and promotes hate speech. School facilities, that are supported by taxpayers, should not be used as a platform, to defame and bash Islam, or any other faith. Such was the recent decision of the School Board when a Columbus-area high school canceled the appearance of an anti-Muslim Tea Party speaker.
Make no mistake about it, CUFI does not speak for Muslims, Jews or God-fearing Christians that I know.
– Mahmoud El-Yousseph is retired USAF Veteran. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.