To the Editor:
In "Christians' letter was reasonable, worded sensitively," Rabbi Brant Rosen misses the mark both on the substance and process aspects of the Protestants' letter to Congress. Contrary to his piece, the dialogue between Jewish and Christian representatives is quite honest, including significant criticisms of Israeli policy coming from the Christian side. We, of course, counter such criticisms, but the notion put forth by Rabbi Rosen -- that Jews will only dialogue if Christians "leave Israel alone" -- is absurd. Dialogue is about airing differences and seeking common ground.
The Jewish reaction to the letter had nothing to do with demanding Israel be left alone. Our Christian dialogue partners violated our trust when they failed to give us any notice about their taking up with Congress one of the two most anti-Israel notions we encounter. Let's be clear: The two favorite themes of groups hostile to Israel are boycotting the Jewish state and cutting off U.S. aid. Here the Christian groups were adopting a tactic of some of the most hostile anti-Israel parties and doing so on the eve of an important dialogue. It is not surprising that Rabbi Rosen is not at all troubled by this, as Jewish Voices for Peace, the organization he represents, is one of those groups hostile to Israel.
For the Jewish community representatives, after this it could not be business as usual. Dialogue is predicated on trust; now any trust that existed had been shattered. There could be no meeting.
We hope things can be fixed. Rebuilding trust, however, is not easy and requires honesty. Refusing to meet with our Christian interlocutors under these circumstances was the right and honest thing to do. Hopefully it will be the first step toward building a more respectful relationship.