Israeli Reform Rabbi Blasts Washington Temple for Hosting Deported Arab Mayors

Rabbi Moshe Haim Weiler, chairman of the Council of Rabbis for Progressive Judaism (Reform) in Israel, has strongly attacked the Washington Reform Temple Sinai for hosting the departed mayors Fahd Kawasme of Hebron and Mohammed Milhim of Halaout at a public meeting last week.

“I utterly object to offering hospitality in a Jewish house of worship for these two enemies of Israel,” Rabbi Weiler said. This was to “give legitimation to what Kawasme and Milhim represent,” he added. Weiler settled in Israel more than 20 years ago. He lost two sons, both officers in the army in action against the enemy.

“I am a Jew of humanistic persuasion,” he said. “If the two (deportees) would at least have expressed sorrow over the murder of a child at Misgav Am or the six Jews at Hebron, they would have had the right to make their own case. But to open the doors of a synagogue to them when they come only to accuse Israel and Jews — this I cannot agree with,” he said.

The Temple Sinai episode, which was screened on Israeli television in the peak evening news show, triggered two divergent agenda motions by Labor Party members of the Knesset. Yossi Sarid, in his motion, argued that the episode shows that the expulsions were a mistake. The presence of the mayors in the U.S. caused Israel harm, and the Temple Sinai incident demonstrated the ongoing divisions within U.S. Jewry, he said.

But Shoshana Arbelli-Almsolino, in her motion, recalled that almost all Knesset factions are united in opposing negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Jews of the U.S. should be made to appreciate Israel’s united position on this, she stated.

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