Tuesday the rabbi's congregants conducted a witch hunt?witch hunts' that are allegedly being conducted against 'my friend and colleague Rabbi Neil Blumofe — a great rabbi, leader, and lover of Zion — was brutally smeared and defamed due to a perfidious interpretation of how he built the itinerary for a congregational trip to Israel.' That's a story I covered here.
For those who have forgotten, Blumofe canceled the itinerary, and promised that a new one would be issued that would not include a stop at Arafat's grave. Kurtzer brushes over that:
Rabbi Blumofe has expressed his regret for the decision to have his synagogue stop at Arafat’s grave, as well as for the circulating widely of a complicated itinerary that — taken out of context — was misrepresented as the manifestation of an insidious agenda. One could well imagine an aggrieved congregant who trusted Rabbi Blumofe’s character taking issue with some of the trip’s content, express the grievance, and then bring about a positive change. Once the grievance is translated into the public sphere, however, even the capacity to bring about change on the issue begins to decline.The problem is that while the congregant who publicly took issue with Blumofe chose to focus on the Arafat stop - the most outrageous item - there was plenty more on the itinerary that a true 'lover of Zion' would find objectionable. Look at the itinerary above, and tell me that it doesn't reek of a political agenda that doesn't reflect 'love of Zion.' Look at the 'extra' descriptions in the entries for June 8 and June 13. Note the lack of politics in the June 14 and 15 descriptions. Which sounds more like 'If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium'?
This evening, I received by email the following reply to the Kurtzer article from Sloan Rachmuth, one of the people who demolished an attempt by a rabbi in Raleigh, North Carolina to visit Arafat's tomb (covered originally here):
Rabbi K - why the rabbinical panicked hysteria in the face of communal opposition? Here you decry public objections to percieved rabbinical toʿevahs as "witch hunts." But in a marketplace of ideas this is called "opposition."
Opposition to these two rabbis occurred when they took a stand by publicly advertising (for money) a trip they had each planned, which included meeting with pro-Hammas groups topped off with a tribute to Arafat's grave to "understand his legacy." Our opposition to the actions of these two rabbis is not a withchunt, but a marketplace reaction best described by Newton's Law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And this reaction did not happen overnight. Members in both the Norh carolina and Texas communities wrote letters and had persoanl meetings with these rabbis months before the media learned of these two controveries. We sought to understand why these rabbis would lead delegations from our states that clearly endorsed a pro-terror, anti-Israel message. The rabbis igored us, they refused to answer our questions on more than a dozen occasions.
Rabbi Solomon in Raleigh has now gone on the attack against us, publicly shaming us as haters and "right-wing extremists" and demands we shut up and stop asking questions about the trip. Rabbi Solomon recently implored the community in his shul to do whatever it takes to silence his opposition (us).
Was Rabbi Solomon's reaction here in Raleigh also a with hunt? Or opposition?
To great credit of Rabbis Solomon and Blumofe, they raise their voices in opposition to issues of civil righs violations here in the south. They both understand that they have a resposibility to raise their moral voices to the markeplace of ideas regarding racial justice and equality. These rabbis know that taking a stand has its rewards and, sometimes, opposition.
By taking the premeditated action to plan, promote, and now defend a trip with a pro-terror narrative while Israel and the world is seeing extremist terror first-hand; these two rabbis are experiencing opposition. Not a witch hunt.In case you were wondering about Yehuda Kurtzer's pedigree... I asked. He is the son of former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, who was twice called a Yehudon ('little Jew') a decade ago, and who had a lengthy history of interfering in Israel's internal affairs during his term here (same link).
The apple does not fall far from the tree.