Seattle Times Op-Ed Response: ‘Extreme Liberals’ may not be the real problem

Gaza Anniversary Demonstration, Seattle, Dec 27, 2009. (photo: Palestine Solidarity Committee)
The following letter has been submitted to the Seattle Times in response to an op-ed by Rabbi Weiner on Dec 3, 2019.

By Rev. Richard Gibson | Presbyterian Church USA | Dec 5, 2019

Please do not allow the term ‘anti-Semitism’ to become a distraction for appropriate criticism of immoral government and military policies which violate International Law and United Nations resolutions.

Dear Editor:

“Extreme Liberals” may not be the real problem. Thanks to Rabbi Weiner (Seattle’s extreme liberals also pose a threat to the Jewish community) for raising the difficult question of “anti-Semitism”: defined as the hatred of Jewish people and their religion.

Liberals in Seattle, across the nation and in Congress, are very concerned about the immoral government and military policies of the State of Israel: denying Palestinian rights, bulldozing homes and orchards, arresting and imprisoning children in the middle of the night, sniper fire killing civilian journalists, medical persons and children at the border protests in GAZA — all of which violate International Law, and do not give Israel good publicity!

Rabbi Weiner knows of Interfaith Dialogue in Seattle with “liberal” mainline church groups and pastors, and how supportive we are of our Jewish neighbors, institutions and statehood for Jewish people.

Nevertheless, we also speak out strongly against Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights, and we support the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of products made in Israel, on Palestinian land, with Palestinian underpaid labor. We also speak out strongly against the 81 years of refugees, the 57 years of illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the recent Trump Administration’s encouragement of more “settlements” on Palestinian land.

None of this “speaking out” is “Anti-Semitism.” It is crying out for the poor and suffering, as the Hebrew Bible and the Prophets teach us. It is standing with the vulnerable and speaking for those without a voice.

Please do not allow the term “anti-Semitism” to become a distraction for appropriate criticism of immoral government and military policies which violate International Law and United Nations Resolutions.

Sincerely,

Rev. Richard K. Gibson
Presbyterian Church USA