Davidson, rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, New York, and Michael White, the senior rabbi of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, New York, co-authored an article in The Jewish Week in which they called Geller’s proposed talk “hate speech,” and enthused about their deep and abiding love for their Muslim neighbors.
“We state unequivocally that Geller’s inflammatory rhetoric does not represent us or the great majority of Jews in Great Neck and on Long Island. Hate speech has no place in synagogues. Synagogues should be places for worship, positive dialogue and reasoned political debate,” rabbis White and Davidson wrote. They did not mention the planned march or the waves of orchestrated phone calls, or the threats to the Sunday School children’s physical and emotional well-being.
Wiesenfeld waxed philosophical. “these people think that by shutting down someone like Pamela Geller, they’ll be just a little bit safer. They don’t get it. There was no Pamela Geller at the El Al ticket counter in LA (July 4, 2002 terrorist shooting attack by a Muslim, one person was killed, five injured), there was no Pamela Geller at the Riverside Jewish Center when it was targeted by an Islamist terrorist group in 2009, and there was no Pamela Geller at the Seattle Jewish Federation Building (in July, 2006, a Muslim man entered the offices and shot six women, one fatally).”
“With each success in stifling any discussion about our mortal enemies, it becomes that much harder to have that discussion at the next event. And once the discussion cannot even be held, it becomes that much easier to take the next step, and things will not be good for your children and your grandchildren,” intoned Wiesenfeld.
“What’s next?” Wiesenfeld asked rhetorically, then answered his own question, “they’ll be dancing in the streets. Our enemies laugh and say to each other, ‘we know how to screw these Jews, these Jews are just chickens, while we believe in what we do and we will fight for what we believe. Nah, actually those liberal Jews will do the fighting for us, they’ll help us to bury those other Jews.’”
Wiesenfeld has seen too many fights like these lately to be anything but bitter.
Geller was more subdued than usual. She was dismayed that her talk was shut down, but she understood that once her opponents, the Muslims and the liberal Jews alike, were willing to put the safety of Jewish Sunday School children at risk, or simply to allow their Jewish parents to believe there was a risk to their children, her talk would be cancelled.
The willingness to be barbaric enough to use children as a pawn proves Geller’s points about who are the savages and their enablers, but it is a hollow victory.
“It’s a shanda,” Geller said, as the interview ended.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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