Panel lacked diversity
The community meeting at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase titled “Welcoming and Listening to Diverse Positions about Israel” (“Rules of engagement,” WJW, April 30) seemed from the article to be anything but welcoming and diverse. Two out of the three panelists were from far-left liberal groups including J Street and the New Israel Fund. There was absolutely no representation from any conservative leaning groups such as ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) or EMET (Endowment for Middle East Truth).
Rule No. 1, no interrupting, was violated when one seemingly conservative-leaning participant questioned the wisdom of Israel giving up Judea and Samaria. How can anyone who claims to be serious about promoting diversity and respecting different views only have one view represented and promoted? It would be far more beneficial for the community to hear a wide range of views on Israel presented and debated in a respectful manner. The true test of promoting diversity is not listening to only the views that the organizers are comfortable with, but rather hearing all sides including those of which they may strongly disagree with. The question remains: Would there be any respect for diversity if there was a truly diverse panel at this meeting?
Jews should be able to criticize Israeli government
I expect I was not the only one surprised by some of the views expressed by Ilan Sztulman (head of public diplomacy for the Israeli embassy in Washington). He indicated that Jews who are committed to Israeli democracy should defer to the Israeli government (“Rules of engagement,” WJW, April 30). If Israeli Jews are free to criticize the Israeli government, why cannot other Jews? Think of the implications when he says, for example, “When you lobby against the government of Israel, you’re against Zionism” — apparently without regard to the government’s policies and with no limitation on what he means by “lobby against.”
As a thought experiment, change the identity of the government: Would he agree that when one lobbies against the government of the United States, you are anti-American? I expect that would come as a shock to the numerous Americans, Israelis and indeed the Israeli prime minister, all of whom have from time to time sharply criticized and “lobbied against” the positions of the government of the United States.
Some criticisms of Israel will, of course, be invalid and motivated by ill-will. But I believe Israeli democracy is robust and will be stronger for the criticism that Sztulman apparently fears.
ROBERT H. WINTER
Crossword clue offensive
The crossword puzzle of April 30 (Puzzles, David Benkof, WJW), contains a most offensive clue and insults large groups of people. The clue for 3 Down says “Like anti-Semitism in the Muslim world” and has as an answer of “rife.” Does this do justice to the millions of people it purports to speak for? Muslims, like other people, are a very diverse group with a variety of opinions. Many care deeply that all people deserve respect and work closely with Jews and people of other faiths.
If another newspaper ran a crossword clue “Like anti-Muslim sentiment in Israel and the rest of the Jewish world” with the same answer, Jews all over the world would rightfully be furious, and it would be used as an example of a closed-minded attitude that prevents long-term peace. The WJW should be ashamed of printing it.
Organizer hopes coverage inspires more discussions of Israel’s policies
I just wanted to thank you, David Holzel and the Washington Jewish Week for your recent coverage of the Jewish Town Hall meeting (“Rules of engagement,” WJW, April 30).
I hope the article will inspire communities and their leaders to open up conversations on Israel, our relationship to Israel and the policies that trouble us. It is sad that so few rabbis and other leaders were not there.
I am pleased that the Washington Jewish Week is also committed to reporting all sides.
RABBI DAVID SHNEYER
The writer is the rabbi at Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community of Greater Washington and organized the event.
Sudoku addition appreciated
Thank you so much for having Sudoku puzzles (“Puzzles,” WJW, Sudoku added in March).
I hope you will continue to include them in the paper.
They are so much fun, and I love the challenge.