Problems on the Republican side
A recent letter to the editor amounts to a diatribe against the “far-left,” former President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party (“Democrats following path of British Labour,” Aug. 16).
But as a practical matter, we have only two viable political parties in this country, and today’s Republican Party is morally bankrupt and fiscally irresponsible. It is led by President Donald Trump, a serial liar, supreme egotist and embarrassment to us and to our children. The president lacks curiosity, humility and empathy. He has staked his presidency on dividing the country, and this cannot be good for the United States or for Israel.
Nor can it be comforting that David Duke, the white supremacist and Holocaust denier, admires him and supports his leadership of Republicans. Further, the Anti-Defamation League has reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than in 2016, the largest single-year increase on record.
The misguided letter states that “fake news” is not a figment of Trump’s imagination, but is “stark reality.” That’s meshugah. “Fake news” is a label, a construct, used by the president to deflect attention from his misrepresentations and lies, and to describe any news unflattering of him.
Trump is for Trump, not reliably for the American people, the Jewish people or for Israel.
SHERMAN D. WINTERS
JCC well within its rights
The Bender Jewish Community Center of Jewish Washington was absolutely within its rights to cancel the event featuring Hasia Diner (“Bender JCC disinvites professor over remarks,” Aug. 30). The article shows bias by characterizing the JCC’s decision as withdrawing “a commitment” to host her.
I am willing to bet that not all material facts regarding Diner were disclosed to the JCC at the time that the event was scheduled. Diner’s statement — “I feel a sense of repulsion when I enter a synagogue in front of which the congregation has planted a sign reading, ‘We Stand With Israel’” — is appalling.
The JCC leadership has a duty to its own members to enforce its own policies and to not bring in speakers like Diner, who many members would find repulsive. Being “open minded” does not mean that we need to bring in or encourage speakers who attack the very existence of the Jewish state.
Yasher koach, Adat Shalom
I am very disappointed that the Bender JCC canceled its sponsorship of the lecture by Hasia Diner (“Bender JCC disinvites professor over remarks,” Aug. 30). By quickly caving to the bullying tactics of a small group whose mission is to cleanse the Jewish community of any position on Israel save full and complete support, it not only weakens our community but Israel as well.
I don’t need to remind WJW readers that Israelis do not seek to quash dissent, they thrive on it — and it strengthens their country. Yasher koach to the boards and rabbinic leaders of Adat Shalom Congregation and the Foundation for Jewish Studies for standing up to these bullies and protecting us and our beloved Israel from the mindless enmity of free expression.
The right to criticize is just
I don’t agree with some aspects of professor Hasia Diner’s reaction to the worsening level of racism and anti-democratic behavior of the present government of Israel (“Bender JCC disinvites professor over remarks,” Aug. 30). But I honor her commitment to criticize it for the sake of justice.
I am saddened by the Bender JCC’s surrender to the forces of slander and repression, refusing to let her speak even on a totally different subject — Jews and immigration. And I thank God that Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb and Adat Shalom Congregation offer space for that discussion.
The Torah teaches that Abraham criticized God’s plan to destroy all the people of Sodom. If it is a sacred Jewish act to criticize God’s Own Self for the sake of justice, how much more so are we obligated to criticize the government or even the state of Israel for the sake of justice?
Whatever cannot be criticized is an idol. The Psalms teach us that idolatry brings death upon the idolater. Making Israel into an uncriticizable idol is deadly to Israel and the Jewish people.
RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW
No right to a platform
Would Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb invite a racist to speak on race relations (“Bender JCC disinvites professor over remarks,” Aug. 30)? Would he invite Harvey Weinstein to speak on American cinema? Professor Hasia Diner is rabidly anti-Israel, she regards Jewish immigration as racist, she feels a “sense of repulsion” when reading synagogue signs announcing, “We Stand With Israel.”
There is a point when “big tent” means no tent. Diner is free to say what she wants, but no one is under any obligation to provide her a platform on any subject, however expert she might be.