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Important Distinction

Important Distinction

In his well reasoned and judicious Opinion piece, “Combating Delegitimization Requires a Big Tent” (Feb. 18), John Ruskay has displayed a much-needed guidance and common sense regarding communal discussion and debate concerning the State of Israel.

His nuanced understanding of the challenges the State of Israel confronts allows for an important and needed distinction between “haters of Israel” who advocate delegitimization of the Jewish state and “supporters of Israel” who question and critique specific policy positions that the Israeli government advances. His insights remind us that our people must display sufficient self-confidence to embrace Jews who love the State of Israel and who yet are critical at times of certain stances the government of Israel adopts.

I applaud his defense of organizations such as the JCC in Manhattan that are unfairly targeted by those whose ill-conceived fervor attempts to curtail or even censure legitimate communal disagreements on these matters. As the late Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook observed at the end of his commentary on the Talmudic tractate Berachot, Jewish teachings demand that opinions representing different perspectives and different approaches to issues be expressed if a healthy and vibrant Jewish community is to exist. The Ruskay op-ed expresses a viewpoint that strengthens both our community and the State of Israel from those who would do them harm.

President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

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