In the aftermath of the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX (Update: All Four Hostages at Congregation Beth Israel Are Free), several media outlets, including JTA, have praised temple clergyman Charlie Cytron-Walker as a “wonderful human being,” and “Quite simply a mensch.”
As the temple website puts it: “Since… Charlie arrived at CBI he has worked to bring a sense of spirituality, compassion, and learning into the lives of our community. He loves finding a connection with people of every age and strives to carry forward the CBI tradition of welcoming all who enter into our congregation, from interfaith families to LGBT individuals and families to those seeking to find a spiritual home in Judaism, along with all others. In the community, he has developed positive relationships with local school districts and has organized interfaith gatherings including National Day of Prayer events and a memorial service on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. He is a past President of the South West Association of Reform Rabbis and serves on the steering committee of Peace Together.”
So, before I add a sour note to the discussion, I should probably stipulate that Charlie Cytron-Walker must be a nice guy and well-liked in his community.
What peaked my interest was this Facebook post, shortly after the hostage drama had emerged.
So I went looking for the nice mench from Colleyville, TX and discovered an item that probably confirms where his politics and alliances lie: on June 18, 2020, when it appeared as if the Trump administration was encouraging then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose Israeli law in the Jewish settlements of Judea and Samaria, “Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker – North Richland Hills, TX” was listed among a gigantic group of 798 anti-settlement Jewish American clergies who called on the Israeli government to “Abandon Plans for Annexing the West Bank.”
The “Letter from Jewish Clergy” was sponsored by T’ruah, which states on its website that “as a human rights organization, we deplore the egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that continue to occur in the occupied Palestinian territories. We advocate for the Israeli government to stop settlement expansion immediately and to work towards ending the occupation for the benefit of Israelis and Palestinians alike. We condemn the use of violence to achieve political ends by any of the parties involved and advocate for all to work for a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
The letter warns: “We hold fast to the vision, laid out in the state’s Declaration of Independence, that Israel will be ‘based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.’ Annexing all or part of the West Bank would mean turning Palestinians living there into non-citizen residents of Israel, without the legal rights or voting rights of citizens.
“This would be a catastrophic mistake.”
Now you know.