Daniel M. Cohen

An Open Letter to Jeremy Ben-Ami

Mr Ben-Ami-


I am not a member of J Street, but I have many dear, pro-Israel friends who are. As a congregational rabbi I have made a point of encouraging members of my synagogue to become involved in Pro-Israel activism, and I have made it clear that I care less about WHERE their involvement takes place and more about the fact THAT they become involved. So while I welcome them to become involved with me in AIPAC, I also encourage them to support J Street if they so choose. I have also taken strong stands against those who look to demonize J Street as such efforts are counterproductive. Our Pro-Israel energy and resources are finite, and we cannot afford to shift any of them from what should be our primary focus – the health, security and well-being of the State of Israel.


That noted, I found your recent post on the murders of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar to be both disappointing and extremely disturbing. You began your post by referring to “three teenage boys…” You did not even show the boys or their families the dignity of referring to them by name. Moreover, you never mentioned the perpetrators of these horrific crimes and you never used the term “terrorist.”


To equate the murders of three Israeli teens who were hitchhiking home from school to the shooting of a Palestinian teen who was throwing rocks at soldiers is an outrage. I understand that you were trying to equate the grief of a Jewish mother with that of a Palestinian mother. To be sure, the anguish of a parent whose child has died is heartbreaking, no matter the circumstances. But there is no basis for equating how or why the two boys died. One was an innocent hitchhiker. The other was throwing stones – not pebbles, but stones – at soldiers.


You claim that, “until there is a two-state solution, this awful conflict will grind on and on and on, and there will be more tragedies – more Naftalis, more Mohammeds.” The terrorists who kidnapped and murdered Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar did not do so because there is no two-state solution. They kidnapped and murdered Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar because the teens were Jewish Israelis, because they cannot accept a Jewish State in the Middle East and because that is what terrorists do. To think such evil will cease when there is a Palestinian State is simply naive.


Mr. Ben-Ami, at this moment, with the murders only being revealed a day and a half ago and the funerals taking place this morning, the ONLY acceptable response from a Jewish organization can and should be grief and outrage. I have long defended J Street as Pro-Israel, but articles such as this one make doing so very difficult.



Rabbi Daniel Cohen

About the Author
Rabbi Daniel Cohen was ordained in 1993 by the HUC-JIR and has served Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel since 1993. An avid technology geek, for fun he writes for the tech blog Gear Diary.
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