What about Abbas?
Regarding “DC area rabbis join letter protesting extremists in Israel’s government” (WJW, Jan. 5):
I am appalled that rabbis would sign a letter protesting Israel’s government and, incredibly, would ”lobby” to keep certain elected Israeli leaders “from speaking in their communities.” It seems that those who extol the virtues of democracy lack virtue when the results of the vote are not to their liking. Israel has a vibrant democracy, with a higher voter participation rate than the United States. Palestinian President Abbas was elected to a four-year term in 2005, and the Palestinian government has more than its share of “extremists,” but those signing the letter lack the same outrage, and desire to censor speech. To attempt to block the free flow of ideas is the height of chutzpah and contrary to our cherished values of free speech.
The letter shows remarkable naivete. It should be obvious to rabbis and cantors that this letter is another arrow in the quiver of those who wish Israel ill. It is dangerous in the current atmosphere of rising antisemitism. Moreover, the letter is pointless and shows a shameful disrespect for Israeli democracy. Israeli voters will not do an “Al Chet” and change the party they vote for after having been lectured by some American rabbis who have a different agenda and are seen as arrogant and ill-informed. If people are upset at the current Israeli government, then be upset at the Israeli center and left for their failure to put forward candidates and a program that better resonates with Israeli voters. In a democracy, change comes by winning elections.
Also, the purported “crisis between Israel and the U.S. Jewish community” is overstated. I am a member of a Conservative synagogue in Northern Virginia and I’m not seeing it. In checking the list of signers, I did not see one Conservative pulpit rabbi in Northern Virginia. I think the reason for that is obvious — it would be highly divisive and infuriating to members of the congregation.
Andrew Golkow, Fairfax
Regarding “Engage with Israel’s new government” (Editorial, Dec. 28):
Kudos to the WJW on the need for American Jews to continue the dialogue with the new Israeli government regardless of the grave concerns over proposed policy shifts found to be objectionable.
The recent policy statement signed by 350 American rabbis goes in the opposite direction by urging the severance of any discussion with objectionable elements of the new governing coalition. Effectively, the statement bars representatives of the offending factions from speaking at their synagogues or affiliated organizations. It’s shameful these rabbis would shut down honest debate and dialogue in the name of supporting democratic values. Howard Marks, Washington, D.C.
Exchange ideas freely
I agree with Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt’s view of the incoming Israeli government (“DC-area rabbis join letter protesting extremists in Israel’s government,” Jan. 5). American Jews’ criticism of the parties supported by a majority of Israel’s voters is gist for the many groups spreading falsehoods about Israel in American media and on college campuses. Rather than deciding not to invite certain Israeli leaders to address their congregations, it would be better for congregations to host discussions of the current challenges facing Israel and the differing approaches which have been suggested to remedy the problems.
These discussions should be conducted in a manner that permits a free exchange of ideas between the Israelis and Americans and offers information on how each group can become more knowledgeable about the other.
Toby F. Block, Atlanta