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  • "Kesher" means "connection" in Hebrew. The banner image is the mosaic floor of a 6th c. synagogue in Jericho, showing a menorah flanked by a shofar and lulav; the inscription reads "Shalom Al Yisrael." (This synagogue was destroyed by Arab vandals a few years ago. The condition of the mosaic floor is unknown.)
  • Contributors:
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April 05, 2007

Brit Tzedek V'Shalom doesn't impress LA shul

Allyson Rowen Taylor of Stand With Us attended a speech by one of the leaders of Brit Tzedek V'Shalom at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, one of the largest in the LA area and pulpit of author Rabbi Harold Shulweis. BTvS promotes the Baker-Hamilton Report, sponsors "Combatants for Peace" (which we wrote about here) and holds Israel responsible for everything that happens to the Palestinians (being a classic case of Richard Landes' Masochistic Omnipotent Syndrome). But their positions are even more ridiculous than I thought.

Allyson's report (via email) is emotional but contains some facts:

I monitored Marcia Freedman, from Brit Tsedek v' Shalom last Saturday, spewin her pro-Palestinian, anti-Occupation, ususal blame Israel stuff at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue. Needless to say, we had about 60 elderly people who stayed for this and it was a joy to hear them attack this woman with pointed questions that she tried to defend.

She refused to acknowlege any hate being taught by the Palestinians, and said our unilateral withdrawal caused tumult in the Gaza region, as we did not give them enough time to prepare how to govern themselves. She said the kids being taught by hate videos will not have an impact on the future. Without boring you more, It was good I went, I asked her why she felt :
1. The targeted killing of Sheik Yassin was wrong, as she stated on her website, and
2. Why can Arabs live within Jewish borders, but Jews cannot live within Arab borders???

Imagine the answers, words like "occupation" , "humiliation" "IDF brutality" and all the other tag lines you have all heard. The room groaned, and when an 89 year old woman stomped out on her walker, speaking loudly that this who issue on Shabbas was a "shanda," others who were more able bodied walked with her, and then the room proceeded to walk out. This was delicious!

I emailed Allyson about Freedman's assertion that "our unilateral withdrawel caused tumult in the Gaza region, as we did not give them enough time to prepare how to govern themselves."

So it's bad if Israel leaves and it's bad if Israel stays. Israel bad bad bad.
Did anyone call her on that?

Allyson replied:

Judith, We were only allowed to ask questions at the end of the event. We did ask her the question of Israel bad for "occupation" and Israel bad for "unilateral withdrawal". Her response was we did not give them time. and then she said that the Israelis allowed them to drown in their own "shit" however she said "s blank blank t", and that this is the worst thing we can do.

Rabbi Feinstein seemed embarrassed by her statements, and though he tried to justify it as an opportunity for all the different types of beliefs that Jews hold, he gave her credibility by allowing her to speak at Valley Beth Shalom. This is a very large, influential congregation, and Rabbi Shulweis (sp?), known for his left wing views, however, has been a supporter of Israel. In fact, outside of the Synagogue there is a sign that says "We stand with Israel" unlike many of the JCRC's and ,many reformed shuls that say "Save Darfur". WHile Darfur is important it is not the primary issue Jews should be concerned with at this time.

Many of the members of the VBS that heard this were very upset, and they will make their voices heard. Alan Howard, who joined me is writing a letter to the Rabbi, and I will be doing it as well. I am a believer in free speech, but it was a shanda to have this [woman] speak on the steps of the bima, criticizing the IDF, Zionists, Religious Jews, and "Settlers" for all the problems that lie in the MIddle East.

I still wonder what BTvS thinks Israel should have been doing in Gaza to "give the Palestinians time." And whether Israel could do anything that these people would not characterize as "occupation" and "oppression." We all know "democracy-building" has a bad name on the Left, and the Gazans already had a chaotic thugocracy run by Hamas, fed by EU and UN "no strings attached" funding. So what does BTvS want instead - for the US to install a strongman? Any candidates, Marcia?

PS Here is BTvS's "rabbinic cabinet." I recognize way too many names on that list.

Judith | 04/05/07 at 06:12 PM | Categories: - Gaza and Palestine

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i assume that her reference to "drowning in their own shit" is to the sewage tsunami. this kind of talk is breathtakingly racist in that this woman holds the palestinians to no standards. they have no agency, no choice, no ability to act -- everything that goes wrong is our fault. the white jew's burden.

what's changed, and is great, is the audience response. about time that people spoke out against such grotesque comments, against people playing out what one can only imagine are profound personal psychological conflicts in public at other people's expense -- in this case, both the israelis and the palestinians.

ralph the bald | April 5, 2007 08:35 PM

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