The “Rabbi’s Turn” on May 22 (“What we’re all about”) featured Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia. While he provided interesting facts about the history of TBH and Olympia’s local Jewish community, he does a great disservice to those of us in Olympia who see that the very active and growing BDS movement and strong and well-organized groups of Israel demonizers have caused harm and promote anti-Semitism here in Olympia and beyond.
If the rhetoric against Israel — supposedly in support of the “suffering” Palestinians — could have been curbed, or at least moderated, through some of our local Jewish leaders coming forward to counter the false claims and outright lies that have been spewed by the Evergreen State College professors and others, our community would not have been allowed to get so poisoned with these biased and false anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments and propaganda.
Our family has never joined the TBH congregation because we couldn’t comfortably align ourselves with a rabbi and other Jewish leaders who wouldn’t lead. Their peace-at-any-price attitudes and concessions to local Israel haters have led to the strengthening of the BDS movement at Evergreen and now South Puget Sound Community College and elsewhere in Olympia.
Some openly Jewish and Israel-supportive students at these local public colleges have been harassed, shoved, intimidated, and threatened by Israel demonizers. The silence of most of our Jewish leaders has contributed greatly to the divisiveness, stress, and vitriol that most of us experience here.
How can Rabbi Goldstein claim that we don’t have a problem with the vocal “minority” in Olympia who hate Israel? I am actually offended that he has made this claim. Far too many of us have been affected!
Some of us can’t even comfortably express our support of Israel in our community at large without being shunned or attacked or intimidated. We have to constantly listen to the lies and hatred against Israel and fellow Jews that take place through professors, guest speakers, biased documentaries, and other events within our community.
At a major intersection in Olympia, a large, in-your-face mural showing “solidarity” between Olympia and Rafah was painted by those who hate Israel. The anti-Israel organization, The Rachel Corrie Foundation, headquartered in Olympia, sponsors ongoing events that demonize Israel and its Jews.
Longtime friends in Olympia no longer talk to each other because they have differing opinions on the merits of Israel and the Jewish people. What happened to a community that once prided itself on its diversity, tolerance, and acceptance?
Is Rabbi Goldstein blind to what we’ve been forced to endure for all these years, including the Olympia Food Co-op board’s unilateral decision, with BDS pressure, in July 2010, to boycott Israel and Israeli goods without input from members on this contentious issue?
The anti-Israel proselytizing will take place, again, in September at Evergreen and SPSCC to another group of young, impressionable, and unsuspecting students, with no counterbalancing by Rabbi Goldstein or others. Another crowd of brainwashed students will then take up the cause against Israel, based on lies and misinformation. Truthful facts are not part of any dialogue, so proselytizing and hatred continue to foment in Olympia. Rabbi Goldstein has buried his head in the sand.