Ed Felien responds to Jewish Community Relations Council

SSP LOGOThank you Rabbi Spilker for your response.  But I think it is most unfair of you to equate a criticism of the current Israeli government with a “shocking disdain for Jews and Judaism.”  I believe reasonable people can love and respect Jews, Jewish culture and the state of Israel while still abhorring the genocidal practices of the current Israeli government.
“Oddly, Mr. Felien equates contemporary Jews with the ancient Israelites of the Bible.”  “Oddly?”  Are you saying that Israel does not lay its claim to Judea based on the Torah?  Are you saying there is no biblical justification for the state of Israel?  Wikipedia:  “Religious Jews believe that ‘Eretz Yisrael’ (the Land of Israel) was promised to the ancient Israelites by God and the right of the Jews to the land is permanent and inalienable.”  Do you really believe that The Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism political parties are not basing their political ideology and their “blueprint for contemporary Israeli policies” on the biblical verses I cited?  These religious Zionists control 30 seats, one-fourth of the members of the Knesset.
Calls to “kill all Arabs” used to be confined to extremist groups but “today, you hear it everywhere,” Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, a legal center for Arab rights in Israel, told The New York Times. “In the past when people said racist things, we found that many officials denounced that. This time we found silence.  There is tolerance of this extremist rhetoric by the present government, including by Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, who recently made a very unacceptable comment that there is a moral gap between Jews and Arabs.” To believe another group is morally inferior to your own is racist, and, since Arabs (like Jews) are Semites, it is anti-Semetic.
And what about Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister in the Israeli government and the head of the Russian settler party that is driving Palestinians out of the West Bank?  He wants an Israel without Arabs, or, if they stay they must sign a loyalty oath to a Jewish state. He is a Semite-hating Semite.
Forgive me Rabbi, but when you say “the modern State of Israel” no longer believes in the superiority of the Jews and the inferiority (the “otherness”) of the Arabs, I must disagree.  The facts speak otherwise.
I believe all Jews, all people of conscience must condemn the Netanyahu government.  It has locked nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza without food, water or electricity.  It has murdered 2,000, mostly civilians, 500 children.  This is an attempt to exterminate a people.
Israel has always depended on the American Jewish community for support.  Now the American Jewish community must say to Israel, “It is enough.  Dayenu.  Put down your weapons.  You have built a strong state.  No one doubts your right to live there.  Now, you must walk in peace with your brothers.  No more money for war.  We will no longer be your accomplices in murder.”
Rabbi, what I have quoted from the Torah is there.  It is part of the biblical tradition.  And that theology supports the current tragedy.  But you are right.  There is another tradition.  When Jesus commanded the disciples to love thy neighbor as thyself, he was quoting the Torah.  And Muhammed said, “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.”  There are better angels in our nature, and we should support them.  And we should condemn any government that preaches hate and fear—whether it is Hamas in Gaza or Netanyahu in the Knesset.

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