Readers React: A rabbi’s controversial words on Mideast violence

Jimmy Carter, Leonard Beerman
Former President Jimmy Carter, left, is presented the Ridenhour Courage Prize by Rabbi Leonard Beerman in Washington in 2007.
(Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)

To the editor: Some may call Rabbi Leonard Beerman’s public criticism of Israel brave; I call it hypocrisy. Beerman admits that if he had been attacked when he was in the pre-Israeli state Jewish militia, he would have had to fight back — exactly what Israel itself is doing today. (“At 93, Rabbi Leonard Beerman still stirs passions with pacifist views,” Nov. 26)

Beerman states that “hating … is no way for humankind to live,” something most people would agree with. But Beerman’s criticism of Israel is misplaced.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time in Israel and the “disputed territories,” I do see hate coming from both sides. However, based on my experiences, I also firmly believe that peaceful coexistence can only come if the Palestinians give up violence, accept Israel’s right to exist and sit down at the negotiating table.

Aaron Levinson, Woodland Hills



To the editor: Having been a member of Leo Baeck Temple’s congregation for the last 37 years, I read with great interest the article on Rabbi Beerman, the founding rabbi of our temple. He is truly the remarkable person so well described in the article, having set and continued to guide the moral compass not only for the congregation and the Jewish community of Los Angeles, but for countless peace-loving citizens around the world.

Often taking controversial and unpopular positions but never wavering in his principles, he has alienated some but inspired and motivated many others to follow his leadership. We have indeed been fortunate to have had his presence in our temple, our community and the world.

Robert Davidson, Beverly Hills



To the editor: I found the Yom Kippur sermon given by Rabbi Beerman very upsetting and appeasing.

It is a tragedy when children die under any circumstances, but it is a greater tragedy when children or patients are used as a pawns by their own people while they shoot missiles to Israel to kill more innocent people. It is Hamas that uses schools, homes and other civilian areas as points from which to attack Israel.

What does the rabbi expect the Israelis to do? Do nothing and just count their casualties?

Since 1948, Israelis have made many concessions to the Palestinians for the sake of peace. Palestinians, on the other hand, have not accepted peace.

Gerda Seifer, Long Beach

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