on facebook, the rabbi posted this yesterday:
“This is our New Big Pro Israel Ad, appearing Today in The New York Times promoting Israel as a place where gay men and women encounter safety, dignity, and human rights, compared to the Barbarity of Israel's neighbors where gays are shot in the head and hung from cranes in public squares.”
and here is my open letter to him:
dear, rabbi shmuley,
you had been one of my favorite rabbis for a long time. i had always found your message to be one of common sense, rooted in spiritual and factual foundations. today, however, i became very disappointed by your accusations of “barbarity” in relation to israel’s neighbors.
when "america's rabbi" posts a message like that it becomes difficult to hold the anti-jewish people in the arab media to a better standard (because they refer to jewish people, not just extreme zionists, as "barbaric" and "apartheid" friendly), and it makes muslims from the arab world like myself who believe in a jewish state in the middle east difficult to be taken seriously.
first of all, no one is doing israel any service by comparing it with hamas, isis, and the government of iran. israel has great partners in the middle east... like jordan, with whom it has peace (and who by the way had decrimalized homosexuality in 1951, nearly 40 years before israel did in 1988)... and turkey (which also had decriminalized homosexuality 125 years before israel in 1858).
how would you feel if a jordanian imam posted an ad in the new york times, saying "israel kills palestinians like me. in jordan, i am free"? it's not necessary to paint israel's neighbors as "barbaric" to gain a better position for jewish people in the world, because only love can change situations... as hate fuels more hate (and tomorrow when the arab media refers to you as "barbaric" it becomes an "eye for eye"... rather than from a place of love).
some years ago, i had to defend israel in the ha’aretz from accusations of pinkwashing/whitewashing. the accusations came from an arab lesbian who denied the contributions israel has made towards lgbt people in the region through her interview. i compared that hypocrisy with the one about islamists who claim there aren’t any gays in their countries.
your accusation that israel’s neighbors are “barbaric” because they kill gays is as baseless as those who accuse israel of pinkwashing because of statements like yours. it’s not pinkwashing, it’s just plain wrong. the facts are wrong. israel has borders with three people; palestinians (in the palestinian territories), lebanese, and syrian. none of the countries that serve these people have laws that kill gays.
i’m disappointed because this kind of baseless information is not expected from people like you, and because people like you are expected to be representatives of god. i would expect someone like you to be seeking better solutions for a lasting peace between people, not adding more fuel to the fire.
i hope for your own sake, for the sake of the jewish people, and for the sake of all humanity that your future contributions will be of love, adding value to the hard work we all have in front of us in making peace.
thank you, and happy holidays.