February 8, 2007
Divided we fall? A once-united Jewish Los Angeles breaks apart again
How best to support Israel is the key issue that divides left, right and center.
(Page 2 - Previous Page)The reception has been decidedly less warm elsewhere, with a growing number of community members privately expressing their misgivings.
Gary Ratner, executive director of AJCongress, Pacific Southwest Region, said he believes PJA has chosen the wrong partner for peace.
"I personally believe that MPAC, no matter what they say, doesn't believe in a two-state solution, isn't moderate and supports groups like Hamas and Hezbollah," Ratner said.
MPAC officially supports a two-state solution and condemns suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. The group has also actively lobbied for divestment from Israel, and MPAC leaders have, on occasion, made hostile remarks about the Jewish state that some believe are anti-Semitic.
Conservative Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes said the PJA's willingness to work with MPAC seems to "fit the pattern of leftists bending over backwards to accommodate Islamists."
But PJA Executive Director Daniel Sokatch defends the alliance because he believes an ongoing local Muslim-Jewish dialogue can benefit the Jewish state. Jews and Muslims who develop close relationships here would be less likely to support extremists on both sides during a Middle East crisis, he said.
Sokatch said some right-wing Jewish detractors play quite rough.
"They try to intimidate through their phone calls and letters, but those are the tactics of fear," Sokatch said. "And we're going to keep on doing this work, which we're proud of and believe represents the voices of tens of thousands of Jews."
Perhaps, suggested Sherry Weinman, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the AJCommittee, it is time to take a step back, to see whether some good could come -- for all of the Jewish community -- out of all this crossfire.
"I believe that these strains in the relationships between different groups of Jews present an opportunity to talk, to bridge and to get to know one another, Weinman said. "If people are really willing to do that."
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