Letters | June 23, 2021


Carefully chosen words

Regarding ”JCRC’s overblown denunciation of Abrar Omeish chills interfaith relations” (Opinion, June 10):

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington did not take lightly our choice of words, and we stand behind our statement. We have no desire to engage in a tit-for-tat about this issue, but rather will focus on furthering dialogue between local leaders and the tens of thousands of Jews across Fairfax County and the rest of the DMV who were not only anguished by the death, destruction and terror perpetrated against their Israeli brethren last month, but who are also fearfully grappling with the recent dramatic and unprecedented surge in violent and hateful antisemitism in our own country. The Jewish community’s experience of being targeted is largely unseen by the broader community, and we need the vocal moral support of our leaders now more than ever.

As the representatives of the Jewish community in Greater Washington, we are supporting numerous Fairfax County Public Schools stakeholders who have reported in recent weeks about Jewish students, faculty members and even school board members being subjected to horrific, frightening invective online. We look to our local leaders to partner with us in speaking out and bringing the community back together, not to fan the flames of division.

We deeply value our relationships with our interfaith and intergroup partners and commend JAMAAT for fostering the dialogue and community-building that are so important to our region. We are committed to this sacred work and to bringing our full identities as Jews and Zionists to the interfaith table when we do so.


Ron Halber, executive director
Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director
JCRC of Greater Washington

Pause before condemning

I agree wholeheartedly with “Moral certainty and truth” (Editorial, June 17). Even WJW editorials should consider a pause before condemning remarks of Muslim elected officials. Those others who labeled her tweet “antisemitic” was step one in what has swelled a hate-filled environment here in Northern Virginia. (“Personal attacks and name calling have replaced debate itself.”) Unlike the JCRC’s statement, there was no allegation of disenfranchisement, nor insistence on a fix to a perceived offense. Since then, community division has been fueled by purposeful mistranslation of the Arabic word “jihad” in a commencement speech Omeish delivered, and then the horrific news that hateful KKK messages were distributed to many Fairfax residents, along with death threats. That is the actual antisemitism/hate that threatens the religious tolerance and diversity that Fairfax County leaders desire. Let’s agree: “The pursuit of ‘truth’ should not include the deliberate misunderstanding of contrary arguments or the bending of truth to make a point.”


50 years on

Thank you for Saul Golubcow’s op-ed, “A picture and its lasting meaning” (June 9). On June 11, 2017, I met Zion Karasanti, Dr. Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri, the three Israeli paratroopers in David Rubinger’s iconic photograph, who were reunited for the Six-Day War’s 50th anniversary. The photo, with Yifat cradling his helmet over his heart, gazing up in awe at the Western Wall, encapsulated the sense of wonder felt by Israelis and Jews everywhere. Israel — under siege days earlier — had miraculously prevailed, and Jerusalem’s ancient Jewish heart was liberated.

At the reunion, the paratroopers said they were supposed to have gone to Egypt, but their mission was changed. Oshri recalled that as they passed through Jerusalem’s Old City, an Arab woman approached and said she was hungry. Despite incessant sniper fire, Oshri stopped, removed his ration of a loaf of bread from his backpack, and shared it with the Arab woman. That humanity, too, is part of the photo’s legacy.

San Francisco

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