January 31, 2008
CAMERA, Sabeel and The Jewish Journal
(Page 2 - Previous Page)In other words, these people are dangerous, but our reaction must not make things worse. I think CAMERA, which in so many cases I find useful and correct, is in this case making things worse.
All Saints Church is a massive, mainstream Christian church with longstanding ties to the Jewish community. It is not some small group of liberation theology radicals hosting a vegan potluck in a rented community room. The Sabeel conference also has the backing of Bishop Jon Bruno, who has done as much or more for the Jewish and Israeli cause in this town as any Christian leader.
These men lead an educated, sophisticated flock that does not want to be told who and who it can't invite. They are not looking to CAMERA or any other Jews to kasher their lectures. In fact, doing so will only build up resentment. It will turn the Arab Israeli conflict over there into a free speech issue here, and when that happens, when Jews are perceived as being on the wrong side of free speech, we will lose.
So what is the answer?
I believe it is engagement. I believe the pro-Israel center and left need to also focus their energies on these liberal Christian groups. They need to dissect the arguments of Sabeel and present the Israeli case in what I believe will be a much more persuasive and winning way.
I don't believe this has to happen simultaneous to Sabeel's presentation. Grown-ups can hear opposing viewpoints days, weeks or even months apart and still make a fair assessment. But these Jewish groups need to build on a long history of goodwill to make sure they get numerous opportunities to present Israel's case.
Sabeel doesn't use hypnotism or special serums. It presents overblown and sometimes vicious rhetoric in the pursuit of its aims. Andrea Levin believes that to help Israel we need harangue our friends to keep Sabeel from doing that. I believe a better way is to counter their hate talk with our truth.
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