Bibi Doesn’t Speak for Me

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From left to right: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
From left to right: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

The actions of Trump-Netanyahu to exclude congresswomen and censor debate violates justice and Jewish values.

Rebecca Kaplan

Recently, Prime Minister Bibi Netanya­hu, at the request of Donald Trump, banned two US Congresswomen from visiting Israel. This conduct violates basic principles of justice, and goes against Jewish val­ues, which support robust debate and free speech. As Trump seeks to distort Jew­ish ideals to perpetuate his prejudice and attacks on Muslims, I felt it important to make clear that this ban violates my ethics, and does not speak for me!

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Muslim-American women, are the duly-elected repre­sentatives of their districts and should not be targeted or excluded. If Israel seeks to continue a working relation­ship with the United States, it should not prohibit our dem­ocratically elected officials from visiting.

Furthermore, banning our congresspersons from vis­iting Israel, out of fear that they may criticize the poli­cies of the Netanyahu gov­ernment is an act of a cow­ard and a bully – it shows weakness, not strength. It also exposes the dangerous flirtation of the Netanyahu administration with outright fascism.

Stifling robust debate pulls us further away from the vision of peace and jus­tice that we seek in Israel and Palestine. Israelis them­selves hold a wide range of views on these subjects, and so do American Jews. Many Israelis and American Jews oppose the occupation.

Furthermore, Jewish teachings value inclusion and debate. The main text of Jewish legal interpreta­tion, known as the Talmud, is thousands of pages long and recounts extensive de­bates and disagreements on numerous subjects.

In this tradition, minor­ity opinions are included, debate is encouraged and encompassed in the materi­als to be passed on to future generations. Fundamentally in Judaism, there is not one right answer to a complex question. Censorship is not the solution nor is it a Jewish value.

Trump’s latest statement about “disloyal Jews” further shows his disdain of our com­munity by using old tropes and stereotypes.

Neither Israel nor Ameri­can Jews, should allow our­selves to be used as props in Trumps despicable bigotry and attempt to rally white su­premacy for his own political benefit. We must stand up for our Muslim community, our Abrahamic family, and against all forms of hate and injustice.

Rebecca Kaplan is a To­rah teacher, Talmud scholar, and President of the Oak­land City Council.

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