Letters – December 6, 2018
Silence Is Not the Solution
In response to “There’s Nothing New About This Wave Of Anti-Semitism” (Nov. 22, page 8), I must say how deeply it both disturbed and outraged me.
The writer tells how horrible it was for her when she personally experienced anti-Semitism as a child, and how her grandmother warned “it” could happen here. The “it” being understood, of course, as the Holocaust.
The author is identified as a “freelance” writer who now believes the answer to anti-Semitism is silence. Silence, she says, is safe. How long does she think she will be free to write about and what will she be free to write with that attitude?
Silence will be the death of us! Silence is our enemy. Jews, more than most, know the importance of speaking out loudly against anyone giving a voice to anti-any religion or anti-any race.
We will only exist as long as we make certain our voices are heard, and we will only be safe if we shout out the rights of all minorities. Silence never was, is not now and never will be the solution to anti-Semitism!
— Barbara Miller
Response from a Messianic Jew
Responding to the political rally in which a Messianic Jewish leader (identified as a “rabbi”) was asked to pray for the victims of the Tree of Life massacre, Rabbi Jason Miller recalled the Judaism course he took from me at Michigan State University over 20 years ago (Nov. 8, page 20).
While I understand his confusion upon learning I was a Messianic Jew, he acknowledges that my personal convictions had no deleterious effect on the quality of the course. Hence, his feeling of being “duped” had no rational basis, as, I presume, he himself recognizes.
Rabbi Miller gave voice to the widespread outrage of the Jewish world in reaction to the political rally in question. Along with many Messianic Jewish leaders, I also objected to the insensitivity that this action demonstrated at such a painful moment for the Jewish world. While we believe that our form of Jewish faith is a legitimate expression of contemporary Jewish experience, we know this is not currently how it is regarded by the other streams of American Judaism. Given that fact, it was offensive to the sensibilities of much of the Jewish world for a Messianic Jew to be presented as a “rabbi” and a leader of the Jewish community.
Nevertheless, I must object to the way Rabbi Miller describes Messianic Judaism. He characterizes our movement as a monolithic group whose “mission is to convert Jews to Christianity.” That statement ignores the diversity of Messianic Judaism and is as accurate as asserting that the mission of Judaism is to rebuild the Jerusalem temple. It reflects the views of some, but not all.
Moreover, can the complex religion identified by the term “Christianity” be reduced to “accepting Jesus as Lord?” And can the richness of Jewish communal identification be nullified merely by such acceptance without further examination of the life lived by those Jews seeking to follow this Galilean rabbi?
On most matters, Jewish thought leaders insist on nuance and attentiveness to concrete realities. When it comes to Messianic Judaism, however, it is common to rely on crude generalizations and outdated narratives. My hope is that Rabbi Miller, along with other Jewish leaders, would show to our movement the same respect I showed to Judaism as a whole in my course at MSU and study the subject more carefully before providing authoritative assessments regarding its nature and validity.
— Dr. Mark S. Kinzer
Michael Koplow wasn’t very convincing in his analysis of what a Democratic House means for Israel (Nov. 15, page 6). He insists that Ilhan Omar, who lied to Jewish constituents about her support for BDS, should be of no concern because of her low status as a newly elected representative. Koplow doesn’t consider her influence years from now when her status rises, and she allies herself with other anti-Israel democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Democratic Vice Chairman Keith Ellison and Michigan’s own Rashida Tlaib, who wrapped herself in a Palestinian flag to celebrate her victory. He also forgot about the Democrats who have ties to Louis Farrakhan, certainly no friend to Israel.
Koplow neglected to mention that according to a recent Pew poll, a scant 27 percent of Democrats sympathize with Israel, which makes Israel, one of our greatest allies, a partisan issue.
To further draw our attention away from an increasingly anti-Israel House, Koplow brings up Democrats Andrew Gillum and Beto O’Rourke, neither of whom was a candidate in House races. Because his analysis is so weak, Koplow sinks to Trump-bashing and making broad attacks on the Trump agenda. Love Trump or hate him, his policies have nothing to do with House Democrats’ stand on Israel. And I do have to question Koplow’s assertion that “the Trump approach,” which included moving our embassy to Jerusalem and cutting funds to Palestinian kleptocrats and the Israel haters of UNESCO, is hurting Israel.
Rather than presenting a serious, non-biased analysis in an effort to find the truth, Koplow has depended on minimum information and maximum distortion and misdirection to provide cover for congressional Israel haters. Somehow, according to Koplow, a president who shows strong support for Israel and is condemned by Israel haters for working too closely with Netanyahu should be more worrisome than Congressional Democrats who support the Palestinian cause. That’s just silly.
— Harry Onickel