Washington Jewish Week presents a sampling of comments from our website (washingtonjewishweek.com).
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In his letter of May 8 entitled “Pleasing Refutation,” Melvin Farber appears to rely on comments by a spokesperson for the Zionist Organization of America for the proposition that J Street, an organization which grows every year in both membership and significance within the pro-Israel advocacy community, “criticizes and often condemns Netanyahu and Israel, but has nary a bad word to say about Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.”
“Just once,” he says, “I would like someone to ask J Street why a Palestinian state will mean peace and security for Israel. Just once I would like to read J Street blame Palestinians and not Israel.”
As a supporter of J Street, I really wish that fellow members of our Jewish community who have such a sour opinion about J Street would go to its website and see what the organization is actually saying: the last J Street press statements I found on the website about Palestinians and the Palestinian leadership condemn a terrorist attack and criticize the rhetoric in an Abbas speech as “inflammatory,” “polarizing,” and “counter-productive.”
The website is primarily devoted to explanations about why the establishment of a Palestinian state will enhance Israel’s security and improve the prospects for peace: indeed, it seems that Israel’s peace and security is what the organization is all about.
While I understand Mr. Farber’s contention that J Street is “not accountable to anyone” because it does not automatically support whatever position the present Israeli government adopts, the idea that it must do this to be a legitimate pro-Israel group is archaic: most recently, J Street has been promoting the “Arab Peace Initiative,” as a good step forward, but so have the 43 Knesset members who have signed a petition in support. Must J Street wait until Netanyahu signs the petition before J Street may be permitted to express its position?
J Street’s website is only a few mouse clicks away, Mr. Farber. If you do not know how to use a mouse, I am sure there is someone who will be happy to show you.
As to “O’Malley’s star rises in Israel, Jordan” (WJW, May 2), it’s not too difficult getting “progressive” legislation passed in a one-party state. But even then, he had to arm-twist the black sheep of his party. Am I seeing the beginnings of WJW’s campaign?
Regarding “Civil marriage in Israel – the time has come” (WJW, April 18), the columnist writes: “For American Jews who have depended upon the separation of religion and state as the keystone to our acceptance and prosperity in this country…”
Please do not foist American values on other countries in general and on Israel in particular. This is sheerest chutzpah. It always gets me (an oleh from the U.S., 26+ years ago) how American Jews express such passionate opinions about what happens here in Israel, from the faraway and safe confines of, in this case, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Gelman, I do not doubt your sincerity. But if you care so much about what happens here in Israel, you are welcome to come down from the cheap seats and get in the game (make aliyah).
Years ago, Hirsch Goodman flayed Michael Lerner (about conscientious objection in the IDF, but that’s beside the point). The former noted that those brave young Israelis who objected strongly enough to service in the IDF to the point where they were willing to risk imprisonment or ostracism were living up to the courage of their convictions, whereas Rabbi Lerner’s convictions (expressed from distant San Francisco) required no courage.
Footsteps of Hillel
Thank you, Asher Mayerson, for your courage and for your recognition that Judaism at its best is a tradition that sees the validity of one’s own needs as interlinked with the needs of the Other (“Two sides of the same coin,” (WJW, April 11). I am guessing you’ll get some hostile and even hateful replies, and I want to encourage you to not let any degrading comments discourage you from your very deeply Jewish desire for peace, coexistence and a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. You are walking in the footsteps of Hillel – if we are not for ourselves, who will be for us – but if we are only for ourselves, what are we? Kol hakavod.
RABBI MAURICE HARRIS