Letter: Response to ‘SJP event on Palestine history unhelpful and misleading’

Letter to the Editor

I am writing in response to the letter published on April 12 “SJP event on Palestine history unhelpful and misleading.” I delivered the lecture at this SJP event. Maya Strohm and Shay Burke (the students) in their letter to the editor accused me of “cherry-picking quotes [from the Torah] to disparage the values of Judaism,” and said that “our campus should refuse to accept this bigotry toward the Jewish community” and “the student group (SJP) plans events led by biased, misinformed individuals who spew anti-Semitic rhetoric.” In short, they committed “criminal defamation” by publicly labeling me a bigot and an anti-Semite.

I stated: “The Torah is the greatest gift that humanity had been given up to that point because it made know the existence of the one and only God to a dark, ignorant world, who is the creator and sustainer of all.” I went on to say: “The Torah taught humanity how to treat humanity with humanity,” and that “the Hebrews (not Jews, as anyone can become a Jew or stop being a Jew) where chosen as a vehicle to deliver this message to all humanity.” I also stated: “A Jew is no better than anyone else and no one else is better than a Jew, we are all created in the image of God.” I also quoted the Torah and 50 Bible scholars proving that the Bible was edited by men, and I stated that “the hallmark of Judaism is social justice” and quoted the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) to support my statement. Lastly, I spoke highly of the Jewish sage Hillel and The Beit (Academy) Hillel. The students stated that I said: “Jews introduced terror to Palestine, not Christians and Muslims.”

The following were introduced to Palestine Jewish leadership. The final solution for the ethnic cleansing of all Christians and Muslims in Palestine was composed of “The Village Files,” begun by 1938, and “Plan Dalet,” finalized in 1947. The Village Files were a vast collection of every minute detail of every village, town and city in Palestine. Half of Palestine’s Christians and Muslims were ethnically cleansed and half (531) of the towns and villages were completely destroyed. Zionism’s antithetical view of Judaism is exemplified by insulting the Jewish tradition of preparing for Passover. The ethnic cleaning operations were horrifically titled: “Tihur” (“Cleansing the Leaven”) as in cleansing a Jewish home of all traces of wheat before the High Holy Passover. This cleansing included summary execution of thousands of Christian and Muslim males between 10 and 50 years old. Zionist leadership (David Ben Gurion first and foremost) and soldiers introduced and committed crimes against humanity in Palestine just short of what the Nazis did — only minus the crematoriums.

I challenge any theologian, lay person, professor of any religion, atheist or agnostic to a public presentation and discussion organized by U of MN Hillel and Students for Justice in Palestine. As UMN divestiture will be decided, a public airing of both sides is warranted.

This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Russ Waletski was a speaker at a April 2 Students for Justice in Palestine event.