Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Glorification of Terror and Violence in Oakland, California

Michael Lumish

{Also published at Jews Down Under and the Elder of Ziyon.}

Matthew Finkelstein, in hat, and Susan George (right) from Vallejo,
and other members of Oakland United Against Hate,
 protest outside of Reem's California bakery in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, January 28, 2018.
They are protesting a mural of Rasmea Odeh located inside of the bakery.
(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Last Sunday, on the afternoon of January 28, about fifty people arrived at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland, California, for the purpose of staring at one another across a notoriously ugly, racially-grounded, political divide.

The problem revolves around Reem's Cafe...or, as I like to think of it, Reem Assil's Racist Flatbread and Terror Joint.

For emotional reasons of her own, political activist Reem Assil has taken it upon herself to introduce Jew hatred into the Oakland culinary scene by featuring a floor-to-ceiling image of anti-Jewish murderer Rasmea Odeh in her little bakery/cafe near a major Bay Area transportation hub.

Odeh, along with her partner, Aisha Odeh and their friends within the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), killed 21-year-old Leon Kanner of Netanya, Israel, and 22-year-old Eddie Joffe on February 21, 1969, in a Jerusalem grocery.

Both were college students.

I find it profoundly disconcerting that within living memory of the Shoah - the genocide of the Jews - the very city that I live in, a city that proudly claims itself against race hate is perfectly comfortable... with race hate.

What the City of Oakland is demonstrating to the rest of the United States is that urinating on Jews is just fine and that honoring the murderers of innocent Jews in a public manner is a righteous matter of "social justice."

So on that perfectly beautiful Sunday afternoon those who despise Israel sat with Reem Assil in the cafe - in a closed, RSVP-Only event - and discussed with professor Sunaina Maira (University of California, Davis), author of Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine, how best to eliminate Jewish self-determination and self-defense from the world stage.

Jewish people and friends of Jewish people - maybe twenty of us total - stood outside in the courtyard beside the leadership of Faith Meltzer, Susan George, and Matthew Finkelstein.

Faith Meltzer and Lara Kiswani

In a video for the East Bay Times under an article entitled, Palestinian mural protesters, bakery backers face off in Oakland, reporter George Kelly gives his readership clips of statements by pro-Jewish / pro-Israel advocate Faith Meltzer, for Oakland Unified Against Hate, and anti-Zionist activist Lara Kiswani who writes for the Israel-despising online journal, Electronic Intifada.
George Kelly: Did the group begin in response to Reem's opening?

Faith Meltzer: Only in response to the mural. Reem's has had a presence in the farmers' market. My family has actually eaten there. And it is only since this mural of Rasmea Odeh that we realized that this was something that we needed to mobilize against because this is the glorification of terror and violence in our community. (My emphasis.)

Lara Kiswani: Today there is an event here that is put on by Sunaina Maira who published a book through the University of California about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement... And so, because of the event and the subject matter is about BDS, boycott, divestment, and sanctions, Israel, and that is we are being critical of apartheid and the colonialist state of Israel at this time, the demonstrators have called for another protest today.
Kiswani also refers to the Jewish people and friends of Jewish people who object to the mural of a Jew murderer as "racist."

The fundamental difference between Meltzer and Kiswani - aside from the fact that Meltzer cares about the well-being of the tiny Jewish minority around the world and Kiswani obviously does not - is that Meltzer wants to organize against the murder and hatred of Jewish people while Kiswani, despite her best intentions, promotes it.

Kiswani favors opposing Israel (i.e., Jewish self-determination and self-defense) by any means necessary.

She calls us apartheid-enthusiasts and colonialists on the very land of our own heritage, the very land where Jewish identity was forged.

This would be like calling indigenous Métis activist Ryan Bellerose a colonist in Alberta.

George and Finkelstein Demonstrate the Failure of Liberalism
within Progressive-Left anti-Zionism

While Meltzer stood before the press directly prior to the vigil/protest at Reem's, Susan George and Matthew Finkelstein endeavored to talk to Reem's anti-liberal supporters.

The most important moment in this entire event came when Finkelstein and George requested that those who faced us actually speak with us.

They wanted to know just why it is that as progressives and Democrats and alleged liberals these folks were standing up for a retail establishment that venerates the murdering of Jewish people?

We can unpack that question... we can put it into the nicest possible terms... but we can only do so through dialogue and dialogue is the very foundation of Enlightenment liberalism.

But make no mistake, as recent polling definitively shows, the progressive-left and the Democratic Party honestly believes that the Jews in the Middle East deserve a good ass-kicking.

Look at these numbers:


According to 2018 Pew polling, 79 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel - by which they essentially mean the Jews - than they do with the Palestinian-Arabs.

Only 27 percent of Democrats do so.

That is a tough fact, but it is a fact that must be acknowledged.

Another fact that must be acknowledged is that the progressive-left, in the United States, is straying well beyond liberalism.

You cannot be a liberal if you refuse to engage in discourse and what Susan George and Matthew Finkelstein showed us is that the other side refuses to engage in honest dialogue.


  1. Ancient Roman historians like Tacticus and Josephus mention the Rome’s war with Judea, and the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, but they NEVER mention Palestine or Palestinians. For more detailed information:

    Ancient Roman historians
    connected Jews with the Land of Israel

    Why Israel’s 1967 Borders are Undefendable:

    How intermarriage harms
    Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel

    How Shabbat-desecration harms
    Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem:

  2. There is no purpose in attempts to engage in dialogue with these people, only to expose what they stand for and support, and to educate the public in doing so.

    The public should be the intended audience for the message, not people who could care less, who pretend they are for human rights. They will always find something else wrong, no matter what, because they could care less about those who have different views.

    In fact, they are filled with hate in their hearts that blinds them from reality of the evil of their heroes.

  3. Mike,
    I think that what your little standoff at Reem's and the polls you are presenting show, and this is not to denigrate your well-thought out and sound thesis, is just how misinformed people are. Much of the ignorance is by design (confirming your thesis). The slanders and lies engaged in against Israel and Jews are quite ugly and totalitarian. It is a vestige of the Cold War and since its end quite naturally magnified, because it's pretty much all that remains in the international arena for the hard Left to hold onto. It's also painfully antisemitic.
    The Palestinian-Arab cause is primarily NOT a national liberation movement, and it is not a human rights cause. If you can successfully expose them for what they are, it will be they who will come to you seeking dialogue.


    About 2 dozen youth showed up in 7 locations. Looks like the Pals' will has been broken.

  5. Just took a short ride to the store and had NPR on the radio. Some sort of discussion with a woman rabbi of Reform Judaism (what else!) in Boston (where else!). Someone in the audience, I guess, was commenting on the big and rather serious problem of Islamic antisemitism. Can you guess the response from the rabbi? It turns out that Islamophobia is an equal problem (all things must be equal!) in the Jewish community! Everything is equal! She made it all so nice and neat, she tucked in the corners and everything!
    You see, Arabs hold onto antisemitic conspiracy theories like the Jews want to wipe out Islam and the Arab nation, because that's the nonsense propaganda Arabs imbibe.
    Whereas Jews think the Arabs want to wipe Israel off the map because the Arabs keep saying so.
    You see? Equal. Everyone just wants the same things! Isn't that nice?