"We need an open debate"

April 14th, 2009

Check out Jeremy's letter to the editor, published in today's Jerusalem Post in response to James Kirchick's latest piece. -- We need open debate Sir, - Jamie Kirchick's op-ed ("Self-loathing on J Street," April 13) displaces his own feelings toward Carol Churchill's play, Seven Jewish Children, choosing instead to direct his vitriol toward J Street, a new pro-Israel lobby with whose policy prescriptions Kirchick disagrees. In his zest to attack J Street, Kirchick seems to miss the irony that the show was airing at a pillar of the Washington Jewish community, the Jewish Community Center.  Are we so vulnerable and weak as a community that we can't endure a debate sparked by a 10-minute play at the JCC with some controversial dialogue? J Street didn't, as Kirchick noted, endorse all the words or sentiments in the play's script. So it must be that Kirchick objects to providing a stage to a work that might provoke a conversation about the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Jewish soul and Jewish morality. It is precisely that kind of constraint on open debate and conversation that J Street was founded to help correct. Would Kirchick really ask theaters not to run plays which disagree with his political viewpoints? What country does he think he lives in? We wouldn't - and we didn't when it came to Seven Jewish Children. JEREMY BEN-AMI Executive Director, J Street Washington, DC