Todd’s Thoughts May 2019

We recently postponed a special congregational meeting to decide whether or not to show a controversial film, “Occupation of the American Mind,” that some in our local Jewish community considered anti-Semitic. We did so, out of respect, given our meeting was supposed to occur only hours after the terrible mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburg. More recently, our Social Justice Coordinating Council showed a different film, “Imprisoning a Generation,” about the criminalization of Palestinian children as young as ten, as part of its “Meaningful Movies” series on a variety of social justice issues. Our Board of Trustees immediately received a letter from the Board of Temple Beth Shalom claiming, without offering their reasons, that this film is also anti-Semitic. Although I do not accept that merely talking about the suffering of ordinary Palestinians makes one anti-Semitic, I remain sensitive to the nuances of doing so. For this reason, I’ve been working with Rabbi Michael Davis, a cofounder of Jewish Voice for Peace, to come to Spokane this summer and lead a weekend long conversation on this matter. JPL is the fastest growing Jewish organization in America, with more than 70 chapters and 15,000 members. The 22-year-old organization opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression; seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East. We will, of course, also invite representatives from our local Jewish community to participate in the presentation. I’m also working to make certain Palestinian voices are represented. I agree with Dr. King, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and that I must speak against those injustices experienced by our Palestinian neighbors, or else I’m not doing my job. But it feels good and right to let the conversation begin by inviting the voices of those most impacted by this ongoing conflict.

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