Letters | Sept. 20, 2018


Look to the east to explain relations with the north
Instead of “O, Canada!” your editorial should have been entitled “O, Russia!” (“O, Canada!” Sept. 13).
Ever since President Donald Trump has had a financial relationship with Russia, going back to the 1980s, he has attacked the trade practices of our allies in Canada and Europe. Since financial self-interest has always trumped concerns over national security and everything else, only the offer of a major Trump Tower real estate venture in Canada that would surpass what he would get in Russia would change his trade practices with our major trading and security partner to the north.
Alexandria, Va.

A response to Hasia Diner’s host
Dear Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb (“Big Tent, Free Speech and ‘Derech Eretz,’” Aug. 30):
Ever since I’ve known you, I’ve had the utmost respect for you. In spite of occasional disagreements with some of your views I have always admired you as a rabbi, as a scholar and as a true “mensch.” This has not changed.

But now we have yet another disagreement. Your synagogue, Adat Shalom, hosted a lecture by Dr. Hasia Diner, a virulent and vocal anti-Zionist. Your reasons for doing so boiled down to two arguments: One, the Jewish community must be big enough to be inclusive of those whose views we might oppose; two, Diner’s views on Israel and Zionism were irrelevant to the topic of her lecture, which was the history of Jewish immigration to America.

Let’s put your arguments into a sharp relief by suggesting an extreme thought experiment: Albert Speer, an architect by profession, was Hitler’s minister of war production. His efficiency and skills at this job, and his extensive use of slave labor, fueled the Nazi war machine and allowed Hitler to implement the Final Solution. Would you invite Albert Speer to Adat Shalom to discuss architecture’s finer points with your congregation?


This is the place to make it absolutely clear: Not for a moment do I compare Diner to Speer. Diner, for all I know, is a decent, well-meaning, normal human being and certainly an outstanding scholar of Jewish history. The analogy, however, is still valid: Her opposition is not directed at Israel’s specific policies; she does not object to this or that government official or this or that Israeli law. Diner’s immoral opposition is to Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state, which she views as racism.

While I too think that our family tent should indeed include those with whom we may disagree, I draw the line at the immoral denial of the Jews’ right to a state. Diner, who chose to cross that red line, has no place in my family’s tent.
Union Hall, Va.

Disinviting Diner showed true backbone
I am a native Washingtonian but no longer live in the D.C. area (“Big Tent, Free Speech and ‘Derech Eretz,’” Aug. 30). However, I still subscribe to the Washington Jewish Week to stay connected. This week I read with horror and sadness about the disinviting — and later inviting — of the scholar Dr. Hasia Diner from speaking at an event.

Really?! What is all this fuss about, a redux of what happened at Theater J several years back?

No tent is big enough to embrace ones loathing of Israel, who call the Jewish state a place “I abhor visiting, and to which I will contribute no money, and whose products I will not buy.”

Are these the sentiments we want in any tent influencing others, particularly the minds of young people?
If we are not for ourselves, who will be? Israel stands alone, and I stand with Israel. And if this supposed scholar will not enter a domain that bears that sign, then why would anyone invite her in?

It is bad enough that we have non-Jews like Louis Farrakhan espousing vile hatred toward the Jews. But when we have one of our own espousing the same vitriol, why would we give her a platform?

Hurrah for the organization that disinvited Diner. Bravo to them for having a backbone. And shame on those organizations that use the ruse of a large tent to foster hate dialogue, including the denigration of Jews, as a means of open communication.
Lake Worth, Fla.

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