Over fifty human rights advocates gathered outside the office of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in midtown Manhattan at lunch time today to demand that he prevent the New York Mets from hosting a Citi Field fundraiser for a Jewish group that supports violence and racism against Palestinians. The protest came two weeks after eleven organizations sent a letter to the Mets and Commissioner Selig asking them to cancel the event for the Hebron Fund at the Caesars Club, which is located directly above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field. The groups said that the event would “taint” the Mets and Major League Baseball’s commitment to diversity and equality, and insult the memory of Jackie Robinson.
To the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" the crowd sang:
Mets, please boot the Hebron Fund,
Racism is a shame;
There’s no place for segregationists,
Jackie Rob-in-son would pump his fists
If you don’t eject the Hebron Fund,
Citi Field goes to shame.
And we’ll have to root for the Yanks,
Or a different game.
The protesters chanted:
Don't rent to racists, it's an error,
Just say no to settler terror
Protest organizers said that over 2600 individuals have sent the Mets emails and letters asking them to cancel the event, and Jay Horwitz, the Vice President for Media Relations for the team, told one caller that the Mets are being "bombarded" by phone calls. During the protest, two representatives attempted to hand deliver the letter from eleven organizations to the Baseball Commissioner’s Office, along with photos of Hebron settler violence and racism, 40 additional hand-signed letters and a report by two Israeli organizations on human rights abuses by Israeli settlers and soldiers in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The representatives were not allowed to go up to the Commissioner’s Office, and were asked by his office to leave the information for delivery via the building’s message center.
"The Mets claim it is a business decision, that they are a private organization that rents out their space to a variety of groups. But they would never rent it out to white supremacists or the KKK," explained Donna Nevel of Jews Say No! “We are going to keep the pressure on the Mets and Major League Baseball.” The protest was organized by Adalah-NY, CODEPINK Women for Peace, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jews Say No!, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The Hebron Fund's ties to violent and racist Jewish settlers living in Hebron are well-documented. Noam Arnon, a 2009 Hebron Fund honoree, told the AP when commenting on a 1995 book paying tribute to Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians praying in a Hebron mosque, that "He was an extraordinary person." In 1990, Arnon called three Israelis who were convicted of killing three Arabs and maiming two Palestinian mayors in car bombings “heroes.” In a video on the Hebron Fund website, 2008 dinner honoree Myrna Zisman pays tribute to Hebron settler Yifat Alkoby. Alkoby became famous worldwide in 2006 when she was videotaped in Hebron terrorizing and calling a Palestinian woman and girl “whores” who were caged inside their own home as protection from settler attacks. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a founder of Hebron’s settlements, is among those honored in another video for the 2008 Hebron Fund dinner called “The Next Generation,” though, due to his attacks on Palestinians, Levinger has been charged repeatedly with crimes including manslaughter, assault, rioting, and disturbing the Muslim prayer.
Andrew Kadi of Adalah-NY said, “Institutions like the Mets and Major League Baseball should not allow groups like the Hebron Fund to use their facilities, and organizations like the Hebron Fund should not be given tax-exempt status as nonprofits by the US government to carry out settlement activities that contradict US foreign policy, violate international law and destroy any hope for peace in the Middle East.”
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