Remarkable. A group of influential Bay Area Jews- Jewish scholars, rabbis, organizational heads and more- got together to take an ad out in the Jewish Daily Forward “warning” other Jewish communities about the Jewish Federation’s new restrictive funding guidelines (which we have called McCarthyite here).It will be fascinating to see the response from the Federation system both here and across the country. Many of these critics are from the heart of the institutional Jewish world. Will the SF Federation change the guidelines, or punish? Either way, these are brave thinkers with a clear sense of history. Anyone who values free thought-especially in the Jewish world- owes them all a debt of gratitude.
Their group’s press release states:
An ad hoc group of prominent San Francisco Bay Area Jews is publishing an “Open Letter to All Jewish Communities” in the national Jewish newspaper, The Forward, warning of an upsurge in efforts to silence debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict inside the American Jewish community. The Open Letter advocates instead for “unfettered freedom of speech, open-minded public education, respectful discussion, and willingness to engage in that time-honored Jewish tradition of fruitful debate and meaningful dialogue.”The Open Letter warns that new San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Guidelines “on potentially controversial Israel-related programming” will affect “the range of American Jewish voices on issues concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”According to the Open Letter, the Guidelines “limit debate, threaten dissent, and establish, for the first time, a litmus test for loyalty to Israel as a condition of funding.”The Open Letter is signed by more than 70 prominent Bay Area scholars, rabbis, philanthropists, artists and community leaders, including Hebrew literature scholars Robert Alter and Chana Kronfeld, Jewish Studies scholars Steven Zipperstein and David Biale, founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and former Knesset member Marcia Freedman, and Rabbis David Cooper and Lavey Derby.
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