Like so many cynical manipulators of the First Amendment, what she is being denied is the additional legitimacy she seeks that may be gained from the honor of being invited to address a synagogue like the Great Neck Synagogue or a similar gathering.
By the way, Habeeb Ahmed, the person Geller alleges organized the campaign to have her disinvited from Great Neck Synagogue, is not an imam. He’s a past president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, a moderate mosque that has welcomed delegations of Jews and Muslims from Israel, and has worked with the local Jewish community for years. Ahmed has been honored for such work, and there is no record of his saying anything controversial.
Geller posted on her blog the e-mails Ahmed sent out to friends. It is quite clear, contrary to your editorial, that Ahmed sent them from his personal account. He includes his title as a commissioner of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission in his form signature, which appears at the very bottom of the e-mail. There is no mention of his occupying a position on the Human Rights Commission in the e-mail’s actual text.
Geller had been condemned as a bigot by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Jewish Press should follow their lead.
Boston Marathon Massacre: A Response
Last week, life in America took on a different meaning. Two explosions ripped through the finish line of the Boston Marathon, turning a sunny day of celebration into a gloomy day of devastation.
As the Marathon came to its abrupt and tragic end, our sense of safety and security was shattered. Whenever death intrudes, life just seems so vulnerable. The painful feelings of grief and helplessness cannot be ignored: How should we respond? What can we do in the face of such ruthless brutality?
Amid the ambiguities and confusion, a fascinating juxtaposition stood clear: On the one hand, a group of runners and their fans had assembled to celebrate life. On the other, a group of murderers gathered to spew evil and destruction. Although Moses commanded us to “choose life, so that you and your children may live,” they chose death. Ironically, the sanctity of life that we cherish so deeply disturbs those who hate it so fervently.
And here lies the key to our response: we must respond to death by strengthening our commitment to life and experiencing fully its every moment. Passionate hatred toward living a life of Godly and moral ideals must be fought with a passionate love for it. Forces that wish to destroy life ought to be challenged by forces that aspire to build life with purpose and direction. True, our government and its agencies should do everything in its power to eradicate any person or body that seeks its harm. But it is not enough to focus on that which we are fighting against; we must also know that which we are fighting for.
“An unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates famously said. Let us rise from this tragedy by ensuring that we live an examined and purposeful life. The Boston Marathon of 2013 ended tragically, but the marathons of our lives must continue. Let us leave our marks on this world for good. Let us fully realize our God-given skills and talents. Let us “choose life” and fill our years with actions of goodness and deeds of kindness.
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Allouche is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, Arizona.