Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hate Signs on the Bus

Sleepless in Seattle:  Abq Jew has just learned (thanks, El!) about a major controversy that has been brewing in Seattle concerning ads that will be running on Seattle area buses beginning December 27th.  Here is (in part) what Rabbi Zari Weiss of Kol HaNeshamah, West Seattle's Progressive Synagogue Community, wrote to her congregation about this.
The ads accuse Israel of war crimes, and state that $30 billion is given to Israel each year in foreign aid. The ads have attracted local, national, and even international attention, and many people have been responding emotionally and vocally in response. I have been weighing how best to respond, particularly given the diversity of opinions in our own community. As is often the case, I wish that we had the chance to gather as a community, to come to a better understanding about the issues-both those at the forefront of this particular situation as well as those in the background-and to try to sort through them thoughtfully and respectfully before having to respond. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of that opportunity.
After careful consideration, I have come to agree with the position taken by our local Jewish Federation, which feels that these bus ads should not be run because they go against transit advertising policy, which forbids running ads that "insult specific groups to the point that a riot could be incited, vandalism could occur or public safety could be threatened." With the Federation, I believe that "this type of inflammatory campaign is destructive to the peace process and undermines efforts to build positive relationships both in the Middle East and within our local community," and that "this kind of demonization of Israel is contrary to reconciliation and does not contribute to furthering the peace process."
I do believe that all of us want to find a way for there to be peaceful coexistence between those who live in this hotly contested area. Until that happens, I hope that we here in the United States can find ways to better understand the issues, so that our discussions and our efforts help lead to peace and justice, rather than deter us further from it.
L'shalom v'tzedek Toward peace and justice),
Rabbi Zari Weiss

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