What’s acceptable

Your recent article (“The Jewish Zen master to make Seattle appearance,” March 5) detailed an appearance by Bernie Glassman in Seattle. Aside from the question of why a Jewish organization would host a Jew who has chosen to be a Buddhist, there is another troublesome issue.
His organization, called Zen Peacemakers, notes his alliance with a so-called leader in the “Palestinian non-violence movement,” Sami Awad. Glassman states on his website that he “is going to Israel and Palestine twice a year” and supporting Awad’s efforts. According to NGO Monitor, Awad is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and he has stated that non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”
I would never suggest that people who favor a two-state approach, or even those that are anti-Israel, should be prevented from speaking. And to be fair, the Glassman event may been a lovely evening of peace and fellowship. So why mention it?
Quite simply, it illustrates how acceptable it has become for local organizations to host, and for the JTNews to publicize, speakers and events that seek to weaken or discredit Israel, or in this case, those who openly associate with people who wish to harm the Jewish State. And why celebrate a Jew who has chosen Buddhism? Will local synagogues start hosting so-called Jewish Christians or Jewish Muslims next?
Obviously, as individuals and as a Jewish community, we should respect those who have different religious or political beliefs. But in a time when intermarriage is at an all-time high, and Jewish pride in Israel is not a given, it should be equally clear that our community institutions should foster love and support of Judaism and Israel.
Randy Kessler
Mercer Island

Leave a Reply