It is troubling that the only letters published in the HJN November issue responding to Rachel Loewith Rochwerg’s letter We must not stifle those who criticize Israel were hostile and disparaging.
Several of the writers used the existential threat of antisemitism as justification for refuting Rachel’s comments. Antisemitism has existed for hundreds of years. Does this justify the poor treatment of Palestinians? Does the suffering of Israeli children growing up in southern communities negate the distress of Palestinian children? Humanity is at the core of our Jewish ideals. What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour (Rabbi Hillel).
Judith Coret Simon and Alexander Coret have suggested two books to read. We, in turn, would recommend two others: “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit and “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan. We also recommend viewing the video by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal, which can be seen through the New York Times. We can all deepen our understanding of the complex context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through such thought-provoking and insightful works.
“Not even the remotest perception of demonization of Israel should be given a forum in its (HJN) pages.” Comments insinuating that censorship has a place in our community are frightening. We believe that HJN is the appropriate place for dialogue. Otherwise, we risk standing by as Israel becomes a pariah state.
In conclusion, we wish to compliment Rachel on a thoughtful and well written letter. She is not the only one to subscribe to her opinions. Nor is it only young people who have the same concerns. We are seniors and we agree that criticism of Israel should not be stifled. Our community can love Israel without giving unconditional support to its policies. Israel must live up to a high standard because we, as Jews, hold ourselves to high standards in our daily conduct. To love Israel does not mean to never criticize Israel’s policies.
Hinda and Mark Levine