Editorial by Fred Taub,
President, Boycott Watch
Like many library
systems, the Cleveland Heights - University Heights (Ohio)
Public Library presents community
programming. In its most recent newsletter, this library used taxpayer dollars
to advertise an event featuring a film by Arafat terrorism apologist Landrum
Bolling, a man with a long history of anti-Semitic statements.
film starts off equating terrorism, including Hamas terrorism, with Israel's
response to it, and then continues to bash Israel despite claims that the movie
is balanced. The balance claim is preposterous since Hamas brought the world
suicide bombers, the recent massacre of Yeshiva students in Jerusalem and the
constant barrage of rockets out of Gaza aimed at the town of Sderot, Israel,
all targeting innocent civilians and children in particular. There is simply no
moral equivalence between terrorism and the response to it.
was one event in a series advertised by the library as having a diverse panel
from various communities, yet a call to the promoter, Cleveland Peace Action,
revealed that to have been a lie - the only co-presenter was CAIR, the Council
on American-Islamic Relations, a group which has been exposed by various
websites for having links to Hamas, which makes the choice of the film even
First, by only inviting CAIR despite the claims of
balance, the library firmly declared a political bias. Second, the
advertisement of the events in the library newsletter means the political
events were being advertised using taxpayer dollars. Third, since the ad
deliberately misleads the public into thinking the event has balance - there is
a clear case of false advertisement, all three of which are illegal.
After bringing this to the attention of Stephen Wood, the Library Director, it
became abundantly clear that he had no intention of correcting the issue, and
that Mr. Wood applauded the content of the video as well as the and other
events in the series. The next step was clear. I informed Mr. Wood and the
relevant elected and appointed public officials that a protest would be held at
the library on the Sunday before the March 4th Ohio primary elections, the same
election which contained a tax increase levy for the library.
after, Mr. Wood replied with a
declaring that the events were cancelled and inviting me to a board to oversee
such events to ensure balance. While this seemingly ended the conflict, in an
article which appeared in the
Jewish News just days after the primary, Mr. Wood was quoted as saying the
events were "rescheduled." This was clearly in direct contrast to the letter he
sent me, promising cancellation, not to mention that the rescheduling
announcement bypassed the committee I was invited to serve on.
such, I sent an email to Mr. Wood requesting a clarification of his statements,
and the reply was a confirmation of the reversal of the cancellation promise to
me. As such, Mr. Wood, possibly under the direction of the Library Board, took
action to silence my freedom of speech before the election, as not to
jeopardize the library tax levy which as approved by voters.
believe this constitutes a violation of my civil rights, as there was a
concerted effort to silence my opposition to the tax levy and my plans to alert
the media to the protest at the library just days before the election. In that
protest, I had planned to express my belief that if the library, as a
governmental organization, clearly has the money to falsely advertise and
promote a political events, it must therefore have excess money in its budget
and thus not need the tax increase it requested from the electorate. Mr. Wood
simply did not want my message in the media and lied to me in order to pass the
I also asked Mr. Wood if he would show, promote or reschedule
an event that was objectionable to the African American community, for example,
to which Mr. Wood did not respond. I must conclude, therefore, that Mr. Wood's
actions demonstrate that although he would not offend the African-American
community, Mr. Wood feels promoting and presenting events which are offensive
to the Jewish community is acceptable. By definition, therefore, Mr. Wood is a
bigot and he therefore must resign - I made that call to the relevant
Now, the ACLU, which has a history of
supporting the rights of Nazi's to protest, has come to support of CAIR and the
presentation of the film, which happened to be moved to a different venue.
Interestingly, the ACLU echoed the "censorship" claim by Mr. Wood, also in the
to support CAIR in their quest to use the library as a platform to promote
their anti-Israel agenda.
The library is not just providing a venue
for these anti-Semitic and political events, but is also engaged in active
promotion of these events, thus the agenda. The fact is that no governmental
agency should be involved in promoting or picking sides in any political
argument, especially when the events are offensive to members of the community
it serves, or any other community for that matter.
The usage of local
governmental facilities by political parties to discuss local issues is
legitimate, but public events to promote non-local political agendas are misuse
of such facilities and public funds. Additionally, knowingly hosting events
which are offensive despite objections are by definition bigotry, the "stubborn
and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from
one's own" (www.dictionary.com).
standing with those who hate and knowingly insisting on presenting events that
are reasonably objectionable to members of the community he serves, Mr. Wood
must resign. There is simply no place for governmental promotion of hate, and
these events must be stopped before they spread to the schools and beyond.
In the words of Martin Niemoeller: "First they came for the Communists,
but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the
Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And
when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."
for one will not be silent.