Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Would We Do?

Yesterday the Boston Globe that Temple Beth Avodah in Newton made a decision to "cancel an event with the president of J Street, a lobbying group that supports liberal positions on Israel, because of vigorous objections from some members of the congregation regarding J Street's politics." The Globe further reported that the event, a conversation between the J Street president and the editor of the Jewish Advocate, was moved to another location.

The Globe described J Street as believing that the U.S. should encourage the peace process in the Middle East, even if it means disagreeing with Israel, and reported that the group has come under fire for accepting funds from Holocaust survivor George Soros who has been a critic of Israel and of US policies supporting Israel.

The Globe article ended with a quote from Jonathan Sarna from Brandeis, who termed the community's question as "What is J Street? Is it simply a progressive organization that supports a different policy for the state of Israel, or is it a Trojan horse for anti-Israel activists?"

We don't know the details of what transpired within Temple Beth Avodah that led to this decision, and we are therefore not in a position to judge Temple Beth Avodah or its decision.

What we can do, however, is ask the following: how would our community respond if members of our congregation voiced strong objections because a perceived critic of Israel was a planned speaker at Temple Beth Shalom? What steps would we want to take under such a scenario?


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  3. Thanks for writing about this. It touches on a key issue - how can American Jews who disagree with the policies of the current Israeli government find a voice, a forum to express their views?

    Most TBS politically oriented events that I know of seem geared toward the AIPAC end of the spectrum. Would TBS invite a speaker from J Street? What do TBS members feel about I/P? Maybe it's time for a membership survey.

    As part of this process of learning about other points of view, I would love to hear more from our Yom Kippur Colloquy speaker. A better teacher about Islam I could not imagine. Perhaps he would also be willing to address the political situation as well.

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