Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heroic Women Artists - Part Two - Deborah Fink Vindicated

British human rights activist and soprano, Deborah Fink, was cleared of London Police charges last week, in the matter of her arrest and detainment last May, during a protest against a visit there by Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Debbie's arsenal has a lot of weapons: the music of cabaret songs (which she sings, with her own anti-war lyrics), a visit to Israel and the occupied territories, where she has worked in the olive groves, and the poetry of University of Alaska professor, Linda McCarriston (set to my music).

In the May 12 episode, however, she was arrested at a bagel throwing incident:

The Israeli minister's visit had been kept quiet right up to the last minute, and no communique was to be issued after the talks. But on the Tuesday evening, hearing that he had been invited to a reception with heads of the Jewish National Fund (JNF),the main Zionist fundraising outfit, Jewish peace activists managed to trace the Hampstead venue and turn up to demonstrate. The JNF,described in the Guardian as a "humnitarian and environmental charity", was founded to assist Jewish settlement in Palestine, and been kept going since the Israeli state was established 61 years ago, not only as a means of raising funds but because it could exclude Arab farmers and workers from its land, and eradicate trace of former villages, while the State and governments denied official discrimination. Lieberman would be less hypocritical. But Gordon Brown meanwhile is a registered patron of the JNF,which is a registered British charity.

As guests arrived at the home of JNF chairman Samuel Hayek, some demonstrators threw bagels (stale I hope) at them. Protesters denounced Lieberman as a racist, and compared him with the fascist BNP. Lieberman’s security guards delayed his arrival until the demonstration had been dispersed by police.

Deborah resisted:

Demonstrators who refused to move away sat down, but police waded in and forcibly dragged them away. Debbie Fink, who had remained standing with the banner of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods was arrested, and taken away in handcuffs. Debbie, an operatic singer and music teacher was held overnight at Holborn police station, before being released on bail. I understand she may be charged with assaulting two police officers.

She was charged with assaulting one of them. On October 6th, Debbie was exonerated:

A Jewish peace activist was today found not guilty of using threatening and abusive words and behaviour and of assaulting a police officer.

Deborah Fink, a founder of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods was arrested on May 12th while protesting against the visit of Avigdor Lieberman, the right wing former nightclub bouncer, now foreign minister of Israel.

About 15 mainly Jewish protesters, between the ages of 25 and 70, had gathered outside a house in a residential street in South Hampstead where Lieberman was due to attend a garden party organised by the Jewish National Fund. Claiming that the demonstration posed a security risk, police officers demanded that the protestors move. When they refused, the police lifted and dragged protestors to a cordoned area largely out of sight of the venue.

Fink was vocal in her objections and put up a strong physical resistance when the police tried to move her, whereupon she was arrested. Fink, who is 5 foot 3, was later accused of assaulting one of the 6 foot tall officers.

However, dismissing the charges, District Judge Baker ruled that in the circumstances, the police had no power to require the protestors to move and certainly not to move them by force. The demonstrators were protesting peacefully and posed no threat to public order. They had taken advantage of Mr Lieberman’s visit to express their support for Palestinian human rights and disapproval of events in Gaza but had not sought to stop anyone from attending the garden party. In preventing Fink and her fellow protestors from exercising their fundamental right to protest, the police had not been acting in the execution of their duty.

Deborah has been singing parts of my cantata, The Skies are Weeping, to raise money to rebuild the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. It was destroyed, along with every other Gaza hospital, in Operation Cast Lead last winter. Although materials for rebuilding of this Christian hospital have been procured, the Israelis are not letting them into Gaza.

At those fundraisers, Deborah has sung the song I set to this poem by Linda McCarriston:

God the Synecdote in His Holy Land i.m. Rachel Corrie

Around you the father gods war. This
Father. That father. The other father.

What more dangerous place could
A woman stand, upright, than on that sand, as if
She were still antiphon to that voice, the other
Mind of that power. The very idea!

Crush her back in to her mother!
Crush her. Crush her. Consensus. War.

Here is a recording of Deborah Fink singing the song.


Anonymous said...

Throwing a bagel is "heroic" ? Oh, please ! Another kapo who won't be happy until the islamic fundamentalists destroy Israel. How about a mention of a real female hero Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who daily faces death threats from radical muslims because she stands up for women's rights. But she won't get praise from the Leftists because she doesn't want to destroy Israel.

Philip Munger said...

The bagel throwing isn't heroic, but standing her ground was. And is.

And so are Debbie's daily efforts to confront Zionist Expansionism.

I despise Islamic fundamentalists every bit as much as I do Christian, Hindu or Jewish fundamentalists. Almost all fundamentalist religious sects marginalize women such as Deborah Fink or Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That is certainly ONE THING they ALL have in common.

Deborah Fink said...

I was not actually thowing bagels and arrived after they had been thrown.

The police wanted us to move diagonally opposite from where we were protesting, where we would have been obscured by a tree and cars, and from where bagels could still have been thrown, as the judge himself implied. This had nothing to do with security but was probably about not embarassing Lieberman. It says it all that our police were taking orders from diplomatic security rather than using British law and were thereby infringing our right to protest.

I could not sit down as I was holding my banner and basically tried to resist being moved. When the police finally dragged me to the cordoned off area, I got away when they weren't looking, only to be dragged back. I asked PC Sekhon why he was doing this and he said, 'You were throwing bagels'. I accused him of lying and he arrested me. His lies continued in court.

How typical of Israel apologists to post anonymously and how ironic that someone with such cowardice, is challenging the courage of others.

How typical also, that he/she makes the hackneyed, knee-jerk accusation that I want Israel to be destroyed. No, I would just like Israel to be a democratic, secular state that doesn't occupy another people and tries to adhere to Jewish values rather than flouting them and tarring all Jews with its bloody brush.

But is it really worth engaging with someone who uses the insult kapo, thereby implying that to be a good Jew, you have to support Israel's atrocities?

Anonymous said...

"I despise Islamic fundamentalists every bit as much as I do Christian, Hindu or Jewish fundamentalists. "

But strangely enough you never seem to get round to mentioning islamic fundamentalism although that , by far, has the most negative impact on women today.

Philip Munger said...

But, unlike Xian and Zionist fundamentalism, we rarely pay for their structures with my taxes.

Anonymous said...

"How typical of Israel apologists to post anonymously "

How typical of an anti-Isreal leftist to apply such a generalization to all those who support Israel.

"No, I would just like Israel to be a democratic, secular state that doesn't occupy another people"

Hello, Israel is a democratic state. It hasn't occupied another defended itself from the genocidal attacks of fanatical islamists who refuse to accept the acceptance of a Jewish state. That you would side with those who danced in the streets when 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on 9/11 tells me all I need to know about you and your ilk.

"tarring all Jews with its bloody brush."

How interesting that you take the same line as the islamofascists who have declared that ALL Jews and not just Israeli Jews are their targets.

Anonymous said...

"But, unlike Xian and Zionist fundamentalism, we rarely pay for their structures with my taxes."

Really ? How much money has the US government given the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Pakistanis, the Saudis ?
How many women have been beheaded by "Xian" or "Zionist" (Nice code word)fundamentalists ? How many have been ritually circumcised ? How many stoned to death for adultery ? The numbers of women degraded by Islamic fundamentalism is in the millions and yet the "progressive" Left only see evil in the West.So much for Third World solidarity !

Anonymous said...

Was this the same Rachel Corrie who was photographed burning an American flag while Palestinian children looked on nervously ?

Philip Munger said...

Yes - it is the same Rachel Corrie. What she did - by burning a flag effigy - wasn't a violation of any US statute.

It was a protest, a week before the Iraq invasion, of that senseless war that has killed well over a million Iraqis, forced 88% of Iraqi Christians from their work, school and home, and destroyed the public health infrastructure of that nation for a generation or more. Talk about disrespect for what the American flag stands for.

Makabit Bat Guriel said...

Oh, Phil, so you despise other "fundamentalist" too!?
But you only bitch and whine about the Jews...go figure!

Anonymous said...

"Yes - it is the same Rachel Corrie. What she did - by burning a flag effigy - wasn't a violation of any US statute. "

Yes, what a great example to set young, impressionable Palestinian children who see enough hate as it is. Funny how anti-Israel "peace activists" like Corrie seem intent on stirring up less "peace".
I also love the way you give Corrie prophetic powers...somehow, a week before the Liberation of Iraq, she strangely already knew knew what that "senseless war" was going to do. Amazing.
BTW the official Iraqi death toll is put at less than 100,000 (your 1,000,000 has no validation whatsoever and is pure propaganda) and most of those deaths were caused by islamic extremists. The war didn't force Iraqi Christians from their homes...Islamic extremists did. The Iraqi public health infrastructure will be rebuilt within five to seven years. Let's not forget that under UN sanctions over 500,000 Iraqis, mainly children, died from disease and malnutrition. The Liberation of Iraq also reversed the biggest ecological disaster in the Middle East - the draining of the southern marshes and saved the Marsh Arabs from possible extinction.Something all Americans can be proud of.