While we admire and share Mr. Friedman’s concern for Israel, his recent letter to the editor in response to ours (“Letters were disgraceful,” Aug. 16), relies on a tired argument that gets recycled whenever anyone has the temerity to criticize Israel.
To be clear, there are those who do obsess about Israel. However, it does nothing to advance the cause of peace to demand that anyone who voices an opinion does so as part of a litany of human rights abuses.
As Jews, we may feel more concern about Israel than other hotspots, because we have a personal, spiritual and historical connection to Israel. But what Mr. Friedman and others who think that Israel should be immune from criticism seem to forget is that we are not the only ones who have ties to Israel.
The Holy Land is holy to three of the world’s major religions and consequently there are millions of people all over the world with co-religionists, holy sites, schools, hospitals, seminaries and other institutions located there. Add to that the fact that Israel is a vital ally of our own country and it would be strange for American Christians not to be concerned about what happens within the Jewish state.
We are glad that you “stand with Israel,” Mr. Friedman. So do we, but we think that the role of those who stand with Israel is to assess Israel’s policies and actions with clear eyes rather than through rose-colored glasses, and to help others understand the context within which Israel relates to her neighbors. Standing with Israel does not give you or anyone else license to brand critics of Israeli policy, such as the PC(USA) anti-Semites, or “despicable” (as you called our letter).
Whatever one thought of the PC(USA)’s resolutions and process, our letter decried the use of unnecessary and incendiary language that mischaracterized a lengthy and often thoughtful process. We Jews owe a good deal of our prominence in this country to our success in building alliances and forming coalitions to further shared interests. Spitting in the eye of old friends when we disagree, even vehemently, furthers no one’s interests.
and Marshall Dayan
Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee
(The authors are the director and president respectively of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.)