As rabbis of Oak Park and River Forest’s two largest synagogues, we were deeply disappointed to read last week’s article “Jewish, Muslim Oak Parkers on the Israel-Gaza war: ‘a collective mourning’” [News, Oct. 25].
It legitimized and gave a platform to Jewish Voice for Peace, a fringe organization that does not represent the mainstream Jewish community. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s website:
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a radical anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activist group that advocates for the boycott of Israel and eradication of Zionism.
JVP does not represent the mainstream Jewish community, which it views as bigoted for its association with Israel.
The spread of JVP’s most inflammatory ideas can help give rise to antisemitism.
In addition to JVP’s promotion of messaging that descends into the antisemitic vilification of ‘Zionists,’ the group has expressed support for violence and, occasionally, classic antisemitic tropes.
JVP’s statement on Oct. 7 blamed Israel for Hamas’ unprecedented terrorist attack that saw 2,500 terrorists break into Israel, murder over 1,300 Israelis, the majority of whom were civilians, injure over 5,000, and take over 200 hostages, in an act that President Biden called “pure unadulterated evil.”
This came after Israel had permitted more work permits for regular Gazans to enter Israel.
The article gave more space to the JVP event than the solidarity gathering co-hosted by our synagogues that represent most of the Jews in Oak Park and River Forest. Furthermore, the article also repeated the viewpoints of those organizations without any explanations or context, or an attempt to offer a balanced stance.
There is a reason that President Biden, the Senate, Congress, and the leaders of almost every Western nation have condemned the attack in no uncertain terms and upheld Israel’s right to defend itself. President Biden, French President Macron, British Prime Minister Sunak, and a host of other world leaders all made wartime visits to Israel.
People of conscience understandably feel sympathy for the innocent who are suffering in Gaza and in Israel. We also call on our neighbors and friends to have the moral credibility not to obscure the difference between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas is an organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel. There are documented cases of Hamas using human shields — its own citizens — in its barter for world sympathy. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is part of the Israeli-Arab conflict is complex. We wish Wednesday Journal would do more to provide balanced reporting and viewpoints. Jews in the area are already feeling unsafe enough in the hostile environment following the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.
Rabbi Adir Gick
West Suburban Temple Har Zion
Rabbi Max Weiss
Oak Park Temple