Symbols are not as important as the things they represent, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that. Take the current disagreement over the proposal to construct a mosque at the World Trade Center site. The Anti-Defamation League says it opposes the plan; JStreet favors it. Of course the deeper issue is not Cordoba House or its planned programming about (among other things) Arab-Jewish relations. The building is being debated because of what it stands for.
A guest column in todays’s Jerusalem Post takes the opposite approach. Ari Hart, co-founder of the Orthodox social-justice organization Uri l’Tzedek, writes about the planned encirclement of the Palestinian village of Walaja by an extension of the separation barrier. For him it is not a metaphor for some abstract policy question. It’s about the lives and livelihoods of 2000 human beings. It’s well worth reading—both because of the issues it raises, and because it is a model of placing human concerns over rhetorical ones.
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