The Jewish Chronicle
‘Proud Liberal Jews’ oppose meeting with Israeli envoy
LIBERAL JUDAISM has defended organising an event with Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely after members called for its cancellation.
More than 30 “proud and committed Liberal Jews” backed an open letter critical of the online meeting that was due to be chaired on Thursday by movement chief executive Rabbi Charley Baginsky.
Omar Portillo has resigned as chair of Liberal Judaism’s Black Jews and Jews of Colour Action Group — established last summer in the wake of Black Lives Matter — in protest at the decision to host Ms Hotovely.
Citing past remarks made by Ms Hotovely about Palestinians, opponents of the meeting wrote: “We are sure that Rabbi Charley will ask challenging and important questions. But no question will negate the fact that Hotovely has been given the honour of the invitation and our community has therefore become that much more tolerant of racism.” The event would confer a “symbolic platform and endorsement”.
Explaining his resignation from the action group, Mr Portillo tweeted: “Providing Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely [with] a platform is not consistent with the anti-racist values that I understand Liberal Judaism to hold.”
Ms Hotovely’s appointment divided opinion, eliciting a flurry of rival petitions, with critics highlighting past controversial remarks. She told Arab MKs during a Knesset speech in 2017 that they were “thieves of history”, seeking to “co-opt Jewish history and Islamicize it”.
In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, Liberal Judaism said it would continue to speak out when warranted against actions or statements made by the Israeli government or its envoy. “However, to cancel or ‘no platform’ individuals of importance in our global Jewish community would take the Liberal Jewish voice out of the conversation. Instead, this event allows both our chief executive and members of our congregations and youth movement to put their questions and concerns directly to the ambassador.”
Its policy was to host and take part “in events where we may disagree, even vehemently so, with views previously expressed by other speakers”. The Israeli Embassy declined to comment.