Have we learned the civility lesson?
Angus Johnston writes that in 1934 academics encouraged Jewish civility towards Nazis (“In 1934, an American professor urged that Jews be civil — to the Nazis,” July 12). Fighting back was seen as counterproductive. But with the benefit of hindsight, we see civility towards those publicly advocating our destruction as wrong-headed. Or do we?
Israel has been scolded by elements of the American Jewish community for denying entry to Ariel Gold, the Code Pink activist who supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Founded in 2005, the BDS movement and its founder, Omar Barghouti, rejects the validity of a Jewish state. Says Mr. Barghouti: “Most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
Bear in mind that to the Palestinian Authority as well as Hamas, all of Israel is part of “occupied” Palestine. The economic impact of BDS is negligible and beside the point. BDS is more concerned with providing a progressive outlet for spouting anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda to delegitimize of the State of Israel.
Jewish and Israeli anti-Zionists such as Ms. Gold lend BDS the facade of legitimacy, shielding the movement against charges of anti-Semitism. But just because one is Jewish doesn’t mean one can’t be a Zionophobe.
True, all BDS has now is “boycotts and hostile rhetoric,” but that’s precisely all the Nazis had. Initially. Once able, Nazis began the violent attacks those behind the BDS movement would do if given the chance. Just look at what is transpiring in Gaza.
The Israelis learned. Civility towards those advocating your destruction is, indeed, wrong-headed.
Readers wants more of Hillel Smith
Having taken the course with Hillel Smith at the Havurah Institute, I have been following and supporting his work whenever I can (“You Should Know … Hillel Smith,” July 19). I consider him a most creative Jewish artist in the tradition of Mordechai Rosenstein and others. I am hoping to see more examples of his ingenious work in the Washington Jewish Week and perhaps a mural in town. Are you listening EDCJCC renovations committee?
KAY FLICK ELFANT
Gold criticizes Israel from the safety of a colonial empire
I don’t agree that being a member of a synagogue and celebrating children’s Bar and Bat Mitzvahs gives someone the right to demonize and boycott Israel as Ariel Gold does (“Giving ammunition to BDS,” July 12). When she gets off her soapbox, she returns to her family — living on land stolen from American Indians and in a home safe from enemies because of the military actions of her country, resulting in far more casualties than she would count from Israeli actions.
Israelis and their families are at risk every day. Lone soldiers put their lives on the line for their belief in the Jewish state. What has Gold risked?
To legitimately criticize Israel, one must also admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, that the Palestinian Authority pays others to kill Israelis, that Palestinians will never recognize Israel’s borders and its right to exist, and that the Arabs of the region killed Jews before 1948.
To legitimately criticize Israel, one must admit that the Americas are colonial states, that European colonizers of the Americas and Australia have killed millions around the globe, that Arabs and Islam are not indigenous to the area but are there because of conquest, that Christians have persecuted Jews for generations, killing millions.
Gold ignores these facts. To only criticize Israel, while ignoring its enemies and history, is not to be applauded as an extension of religious practice or a claim to “Jewish values.” Gold is to be denounced for singling out Jews and no one else for demonization and boycott.