Stop, breathe and please listen


To the editor:

In a number of recent letters to this paper from people like Isaac Geld, Ron Wegsman and Charles Moerdler, a tone is expressed — sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly — concerning anti-Israel statements.

That tone is to the effect of: If you express displeasure with Israel’s behavior as a nation — if you dare criticize Israel — you are either anti-Semitic, or a hater of America, or Israel, or all of the above.

Let’s make some key points clear here.

The right to express an opinion — any opinion — is as American as apple pie. The right to disagree in this expression is inherent. Without it, we’d still be speaking the King’s English as a colony of England.

The worst Jew-haters, it implies, are Jews who disagree with Israel. I am a member in good standing — of more than 15 years — of Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, and an active member of the shul’s minyan. My bona fides as a Jew are unquestionable.

Yet, I find Israel’s public behavior repulsive. It directly ignores the rights of others, similar to the manner in which Jews had their rights taken away at varying times in history in a variety of nations.

Conflating anti-Israel feeling with anti-Semitism is a dichotomy of the worst order. “Every Jew is …” and “Every American is …” is serving only to engrain ignorant stereotypes.

This type of thinking has gotten us as a nation, here in America, to the point where we are today — unable to see life from any viewpoint but our own. “Tragic” does not begin to describe it.

I emphatically reject the conflating stereotypes prevalent in the writing I see in the Opinion pages of this newspaper, while defending the writer’s right to state their opinion.

If we are to move forward in this world, it is high time to step off our high horses, stop and listen to those whose opinion we disagree with. We must recognize that broad sweeping generalizations are not only unhelpful, but extremely toxic to a democratic state.

The current occupant of the White House should have at least taught us all this lesson.

Now, stop. Breathe. And for heaven’s sake, listen.

Adam Stoler

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Adam Stoler,