To the editor: Phyllis Bennis is correct in asserting that criticism of Israel is neither anti-Semitic nor faithful to the democratic principle of free speech. Her observation that support for Israel’s current policies alienates young people is correct as well.
Unfortunately, Bennis fails to address inconsistencies on the left about Israel, including within Jewish Voice for Peace, on whose board she serves.
By “unequivocally” opposing Zionism and supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Jewish Voice for Peace promotes a different sort of conflation, one that lumps together Israeli annexationists with progressive Zionists who actively support Palestinian rights. She correctly defends the right to boycott but doesn’t address any catastrophic impacts on Israel were the boycotters to succeed.
Those of us who seek justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and who want to confront the real threats of white nationalist and neo-Nazi anti-Semitism have an obligation to be consistent and avoid generalities. One would hope that Bennis will accept that responsibility as well.
Jonathan Jacoby, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: While using Palestinian talking points to oppose the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel, Bennis is silent regarding the thousands of rockets that have been fired on Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip since Israel voluntarily turned the area over to the Palestinians.
Where is the condemnation of the Hamas charter calling for the killing of Jews all over the world or the 100,000 rockets in southern Lebanon pointed at Israel?
Being Jewish does not make your anti-Israel remarks valid.
Jerry Freedman, Los Angeles
To the editor: White House advisor Jared Kushner equating anti-Zionists with anti-Semites is a big lie that has been used by demagogues defending Israel for decades. It is simply not true. Many Jews are anti-Zionists.
I am a German Jewish refugee who lost much of my family in Nazi death camps. I am 84 years old and a proud Jew.
I am also opposed to the way Israel treats millions of Palestinians under its control. It is immoral.
Ernest Salomon, Santa Barbara
To the editor: We can find much to criticize in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, and we can agree that President Trump is dangerous. But nothing in the president’s recent executive order on anti-Semitism would stop us from shouting those opinions on any campus.
The organization Bennis represents would, however, shout me down if I defended the tiny state of Israel. She’d accuse me of supporting apartheid or worse.
While Bennies notes that “Jews come in all races, colors and ethnicities,” she singles out European Jews for chastisement. Israel will continue to protect everyone who chooses to live there in peace.
I hope that the Palestinians will be able to achieve the same freedom of expression and security for themselves that our democracies provide for us.
Shelley Rivlin, Encino