Ann Arbor Area Community News
In an op-ed in Thursday’s Ann Arbor News, two Jewish community members write that they feel that those protesting Beth Israel Congregation for Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza are missing the point.
“True, Beth Israel Congregation – like 99 percent of Americans, like the United Nations, indeed, like the Arab League – supports Israel’s right to exist as a basic principle. True, as a Jewish organization the congregation is more emotionally and publicly invested in that principle than the general population. But no officer or publication of Beth Israel has ever endorsed, officially or unofficially, any Israeli military action, political party, or leader. No officer has ever issued a statement of any sort about the disputed territories. The rabbi himself virtually never speaks about Mideast politics, and when he does so, it is only to pray for peace and understanding in the most abstract, ecumenical sense. All this is entirely appropriate for an institution whose raison d’etre is religious, not political. To conclude that Beth Israel is a suitable target for picketing because the organization, according to the May 28 writer’s allegations, supports the occupation is therefore utterly gratuitous. (Although I have doubts, I take at face value the picketers’ claim that they object to Israel’s actions in the disputed territories, not to the existence of Israel per se.) If they wish to protest an Israeli policy, let them do so before a body that has expressed an opinion about that policy.
To avoid confusion for the goyish readership and those unfamiliar with the Jewish lexicon, the ‘Israel’ in Beth Israel, does not refer to the Israeli polity, but the abstract nation of the Jews, a notion that predates the mere concept of Zionism by a few thousand years.
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