"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Friday, September 01, 2006

The San Antonio Express-News uses the anti-semitism word to sell its newspapers at the cost of peace in the middle east

You know this man in the pic? Yep, this is Robert "Bob" Rivard, Executive Editor of the San Antonio Express-News, presiding like some patron over what remains - of a newspaper.

Yesterday, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center - all feministas - met with him and the editorial board - all white men and one latina editorial writer - to challenge the SAEN's biased coverage of the Esperanza Center's middle east series. The Esperanza Center has been hosting a packed-audience series examining the middle east story - featuring the voices of people you just don't read or hear about in the media. The discussions examine the history, culture, and marginalized peoples of the middle east - including the plight of the Palestinians, who are living under seige.

On August 17, 2006, the SAEN published a front-page story using the word anti-semitism in the headlines, "Claims of Anti-Semitism Fuel City Arts Fund."
The reporter Guillermo X. Garcia quoted Rabbi Block a couple of times saying the Esperanza Center was anti-semitic. That's a loaded word, and one that represents everything the Esperanza is against: prejudice/hate/injustice.

In a column following this story by the conservative and simplistic Roddy Stinson, who quoted Rabbi Block as well in his column on August 20, 2006: "They (Esperanza Peace and Justice Center) stand for neither peace nor justice, and I am finding very little of their program has anything to do with the arts," said Block, who sees Esperanza's anti-Israel programming as a pernicious form of anti-Semitism."

DeAnne Cuellar, the media reform advocate at the Esperanza Center, reported that Bob Rivard acted like a patron at the SAEN's editorial boardmeeting with the women of the Esperanza Center:

1. Attack the Esperanza, using scraps of anything he could find to diminish and deride the women.
2. Attack his reporter, Guillermo X. Garcia, when the Esperanza shared an email they from Rabbi Block where he denies using the term "anti-semitic" when talking about the Esperanza (I'm looking at this email right now)
3. And as he's known for, Rivard looked at Deanne's
chichis the rest of the time. This is what Rivard does when it comes to women, latinas, and how he respects anyone who's grappling with real issues.

The Esperanza women included some of the most formidable talent in San Antonio: Amy Kastely, the attorney who led and won the Esperanza vs. City of San Antonio lawsuit in federal court in 2001. Nadine Saliba, a brainy and compassionate Lebanese-born political thinker; Gloria Ramirez, editor of La Voz, the Esperanza Center's monthly newsletter; Salwa Arnous, a Palestinian-born artist who's had 40 art exhibits and whose work is up at the Esperanza Center; Dianne Monroe, a progressive Jewish writer and playwright; Judith Norman, Ph.D, a progressive Jewish activist and professor at Trinity University. And of course, Deanne Cuellar, the media activist.

Why did the San Antonio Express-News use the word "anti-semitism" in the headlines and in the story?
Why did Stinson use it?

What kind of journalism or editors do we have in this town?
Are they hyping hate? Why has Rabbi Block written an email denying he said it?

In a city that's 60% brown and becoming more so every day, as thousands of people die in a war when peace is possible in the middle east - you see what kind of newspaper editors and journalism we have to endure. It begins at home, doesn't it? I can barely read the San Antonio Express-News anymore.

Excerpt from the SAEN Story on August 17, 2006 by Guillermo X. Garcia:

As the city begins the process of allocating almost $4 million in arts funding, officials are facing a budding dispute between next-door neighbors that has led to accusations of cultural racism and counter charges of attempts to stifle artistic freedom. At the heart of the dispute is the criticism by a prominent Jewish religious leader of the political undertones in an Esperanza Peace and Justice Center cultural program about the Middle East conflict.
Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth-El questions whether city funds are being used in a program on the Middle East by the center that he says promotes anti-Semitism. City cultural officials defended the center and note several of its community, women's and cultural programs have been nationally recognized. The center's director angrily denied the group opposes the Jewish viewpoint and says the center counts on support and input from Jewish members. "They stand for neither peace nor justice, and I am finding that very little of their program has anything to do with the arts," Block said. Head of the city's largest temple, Block said it would be inappropriate for city funds to be used by the Esperanza center to put on a controversial series of ongoing presentations, discussion groups and films that present the Palestinian perspective, which he categorizes as virulently anti-Semitic.


The 411 Show said...

I often wonder how people all over the city and elsewhere immediately assume that what is written in the SAEN must be true, and the hate-radio stations echo that, without ever going in to see the
art for themselves. The majority of the people commenting on this inflammatory story have NOT GONE IN TO SEE THE ARTWORK! It amazes me how people can be so easily influenced by negative blanket comments without asking if the person making the comment has seen it for themselves. If you think a certain art exhibit is racist then you should at least go see it for yourself before you agree and echo what you are being told, especially since the admission is FREE. No te cuesta nada!
Patsy Robles

dragonfly said...

I still don't understand how and why anything that is sympathetic to Palestinians, or critical of Israeli policies is automatically equated as 'anti-semitic.' It is just like how Afrocentrism is automatically dismissed as anti-white, when in fact is has nothing to do with it.

Furthermore, I don't even understand how the term 'Semetic' came to exclusively represent Judaism, as I recently learned that actually all of the three major world religions [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] are ALL considered Semetic religions, as they share much of the same roots, language and history.

This inability of a community to be self-critical is a blatant use of the 'race-card' and does more to stir up genuine anti-semitism than these knee-jerk accusations. Any group that places itself above critique or the ability engage in valid discourse needs to come off of its pedestal and reclaim its hu[wo]manity as well as acknowledge the hu[wo]manity of its neighbors.