Letters, May 5, 2016


Letter trivializes struggles
The writer of the letter (“Apply bigotry logic to Israel,” April 21) in which he conflates the bigotry of recent anti-LGBT legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi to some vaguely referenced accusations of land discrimination laws in Israel against non-Jews, succeeds in a double trivialization of both the struggles of the American LGBT community for their civil rights and of Israel’s battle to survive against foes determined to annihilate it.

Seth Morrison’s claim that Palestinians in Israel suffer far worse discrimination than what is experienced by the American LGBT community makes me wonder if Morrison was figuratively born yesterday or has no sense of the history of the LGBT community in this country. The LGBT community today is certainly far better off than what was experienced during the Harvey Milk-era of beatings and even murders, lasting at least to the end of the 20th century as we remember Matthew Shepard’s death.
But to say that the American LGBT community is today better off than non-Jews in a free and democratic Israel insults both the LGBT community in terms of what it still needs to achieve and unfairly impugns Israel’s wrangling with how far it can go to protect the rights of those who in some cases wish to see Israel itself destroyed, and the safety of all of its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

What exactly are these laws that prohibit non-Jews from living anywhere they wish?  And if there are limitations, is Morrison willing to listen to any reasoning behind them? Is it possible that whatever laws do exist to protect Jews in Israel may have been conceived in the same way that hate crimes laws have been enacted to protect gay people in the United States? Israel also has protections against hate crimes.

VP received standing ovations at AIPAC event
In your article entitled “Biden, Kerry defend administration’s legacy at J Street event” (April 21), you made the highly misleading statement that Biden “was booed at last month’s AIPAC Policy Conference” in contrast to the applause he received at J Street.  I attended the AIPAC Policy Conference and was present during the vice president’s speech. I heard no boos whatsoever. To the contrary, the vice president received standing ovations on his entrance and exit and during his address. It was clear that the AIPAC attendees warmly welcomed him.


And, as he related his long history of participating in policy conferences, it was evident he felt comfortable and among friends.
Yes, there were a few lines where the audience was mostly silent, particularly when Biden alluded to the Iran nuclear deal that AIPAC strongly opposed. In a crowd of 18,000, it is conceivable that a few people booed (although I did not hear any), but to characterize his reception as being “booed” is utterly unfair and a distortion of what occurred. AIPAC has a policy of encouraging its participants to treat its speakers as guests in our homes and that was adhered to throughout the policy conference, including the vice president’s reception.
Chevy Chase

Progressive views presented at AIPAC event
Why, according to your recent article, “Hip-hop artist seeks a place for Israel in Arab Middle East” (April 14), would Shaanan Streett joke that his progressive perspective on Israeli society would probably not be welcome by AIPAC?

As a student at the George Washington University, I was invited last fall to an AIPAC-sponsored program featuring Shaanan Street. AIPAC arranged to fly him to Washington to expose their student activists to his perspective and explore Israel’s progressive inclinations. Streett was warmly received by the 150 AIPAC campus activists in attendance, who, like me, were inspired by his message.

At the AIPAC Policy Conference this spring, I marveled at a program which included Israeli Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, Member of Knesset Stav Shaffir, Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit, Yuval Rabin, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) along with countless other progressive supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel entitled “Israel and the Progressive Mind,” and had the pleasure of attending breakout sessions and receptions celebrating champions of Middle East peace and coexistence, African-American, Latino and LGBTQ progressive activists.

I can personally assure Streett that a progressive perspective on Israeli society was indeed present at the AIPAC Policy Conference and that his views would have been warmly welcomed.
The writer is a member of the George Washington University Class of 2017.

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