Dear Editor – Perspective on Protest

Dear Editor,

I’m responding to “Political Posters Offend, Customer Walks” letter by Joel H. Albers regarding the window posters at Jackson Market featuring the Jewish Voice for Peace. The writer makes certain statements about the JVP organization that I find factually wrong and terribly misleading even as he disparages as shameful the owner (Fawaz Istwani) of Jackson Market.

Although I’m not a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, I have long applauded (as a several-generation resident of Culver City) its support for the Palestinian/Jewish call for an Israel that is a true democracy with a constitution that protects the rights of all its citizens and residents (much like the U. S. Constitution).

Mr. Albers depicts JVP and its members as perverse, immoral, disgusting, and deranged, implying that the organization is little more than a front for Palestinians driven by antisemitism. What’s more, Mr. Albers finds Mr. Istwani’s posting of JVP’s call for a ceasefire and the liberation of all Palestinians to be the shameful spreading of lies.

To be clear, JVP is a Jewish organization staffed and founded by Jews, including leading intellectuals and Jewish religious leaders. It advocates (1) a negotiated return of Palestinians to the lands from which they were evicted by the Israel government, (2) an end to the Zionist quest for a Jewish state dedicated to the expulsion of all Palestinians from Israel and adjoining territories, (3) the immediate ceasefire in the Israeli/Hamas war, (4) the end to the so-called settler colonialism of the West Bank, and (5) the return of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. The JVP home page and newsletter are available for all to investigate regarding membership, funding, and program.

For me, the posters in the Jackson Market window call for a ceasefire in the moment and a long-term solution that allows Palestinians and Israeli Jews to live together in peace. JVP may not speak for all Jews in the world but that is not to say that its voice is unreasonable, uninformed, and worthless. Nor is it insanity to advocate a so-called “single state solution” rather than a Jewish state or even a “two-state solution.” These are policy differences that matter.

I do not criticize the author’s right to boycott Jackson Market. Indeed, the JVP similarly advocates boycotting Israel in ways resembling the world’s historic boycotting of an apartheid South Africa. But alleging that Mr. Istwani’s calling attention to the killing of innocent Palestinian children by Israel is spreading lies and half-truths strikes me as little more than an irrational rant. Mr. Istwani risks much in taking his courageous stand, perhaps the very viability of his popular and beloved market, the fruits of his twenty-five years of dedicated labor and service to the community.

Regarding the charge that Mr. Istwani should keep his concern about killing children to himself, out of the public eyes of his customers. This smacks of cowardness. Had the shopkeepers of Nazi Germany used their store windows to protest the genocidal killing of Jews, Romani, and other Eastern Europeans, the world might have taken notice. What is shameful, in my opinion, is to remain silent in the face of the continuing slaughter of the children of Gaza by the I.D.F’s (Israel military) indiscriminate bombing. When will enough killing be enough? For some among the Ultra-Conservative voices in Israel, the answer is chilling and unspeakably shocking.

I want to thank Mr. Albers for calling our community’s attention to Jackson Market’s efforts to protest the brutal and unrelenting attack on Palestinian children and civilians by Israel in its war against Hamas. Conversation based on mutual respect and shared values rather than half-truths is always to be applauded. It should never hurt to advocate for peace.

I talk often with the market’s owner, and I’ve found him to be a courageous and concerned member of our community—a valiant and principled man willing to act on his convictions and talk to anyone about his motives and feelings. To know Mr. Istwani, or Tony, as he is known by his customers and neighbors, is to know a decent, generous, an honorable man.


Ronald L. F. Davis

The Actors' Gang