Letters March 23, 2017

Countries can bar people deemed to be a threat
Your editorial, “Is Israel shutting the door on skeptics” (March 16), stems disappointment by stimulating anger and disgust. A New York Times editorial came under fire from CAMERA for the same analysis the Washington Jewish Week printed.

Any country certainly has a right to keep out individuals it deems to be a threat. The anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions movement) law you disparage is actually highly limited and specific in application. Rather than keeping out “skeptics” as WJW falsely claims, the law bars an individual “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott — if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” Hardly simply a “skeptic.”

On the other hand, the law in the United States is far more general. Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act says an individual “whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible.” That’s much broader than Israel’s language and is entirely at the discretion of the secretary of state.

WJW owes the State of Israel and the Washington Jewish community an apology.
ROBERT BERMAN
Vienna

Conservative movement doesn’t seriously address intermarriage
As usual, the Conservative movement is decades late and miles short of effectively addressing the issue of dual faith households (“Conservatives open door to non-Jews,” March 16).

Sophisticated and successful congregations have dealt with and solved the membership problem the movement just figured out by counting households rather than individuals for membership dues. This approach not only made interfaith couples a nonissue, but it made all nontraditional households (live-in parents, gay couples, etc.) a nonissue as well.

Some forward-thinking congregations, such as Adas Israel, have begun invitingdual-faith brides and grooms to the bima for an aliyah and blessing. But the issue will never be seriously or effectively addressed until the Conservative movement allows its rabbis to perform secular, civil wedding ceremonies.

It is disingenuous for the movement, or a synagogue, or a rabbi, to tell the child of a longtime member or tell a young engaged couple at a most exciting time of their lives to go away, get married by a Reform rabbi (or as is becoming more common, a friend who becomes clergy for a day on the Internet), and then come back — and we will be welcoming and engaging.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve or encourage in-marriage. But then be prepared and satisfied to be a smaller movement or congregation.
SCOTT EPSTEIN
Baltimore

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