Letter to the Virginia House of Delegates

 

February 1, 2022

To the honorable members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Subcommittee #4, Richmond, Virginia

Re: Virginia House Bill 1161, forcing businesses and their subcontractors to sign contracts that they will not engage in a boycott of Israel.

As an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, I would like to express my objection to the above bill.

Some politicians support this out of good intentions – to combat anti-Semitism and ensure the security of the Jewish people – but actually it is a political move to stop any criticism of the State of Israel or its criminal actions.

This bill is an attempt to silence the voices of people and organizations seeking justice and who wish to stand up for the oppressed. This is an attack on the freedom of speech guaranteed by the United States constitution.

We, as Jews, deeply appreciate the support for our people as a minority, especially after all the suffering we endured throughout our history, but in no way should this be done at the expense of any other people.

Furthermore, I believe this law would have the opposite of what its supporters claim is the desired effect. It would only reinforce the stereotype that the State of Israel represents the Jewish people and that its actions are supported by all Jews. This would in turn lead to the political opponents of the State of Israel targeting Jews in general, which has unfortunately happened many times in the past.

I urge politicians to realize that the above stereotype is false. The existence of a sovereign state for Jews is forbidden under Jewish law. And from its inception until the present, the State of Israel and its criminal actions have been opposed by a significant proportion of Jews worldwide – but one wouldn’t know this in light of pro-Zionist/State of Israel campaigns.

We must realize the fundamental difference between Judaism and Zionism. Judaism is a religion, while Zionism, the philosophy behind the State of Israel, is a secular political movement and therefore cannot represent Judaism or the Jewish people.

Instead of silencing citizens’ freedom of speech, the State of Virginia should recognize that expressing one’s protest against crimes committed by people of Jewish decent is in no way anti-Semitic. On the contrary, conflating Zionism with Judaism is embarrassing and dangerous for Jews.

We urge our lawmakers to stand up for justice and speak up for the oppressed, regardless of theirfaith, culture or race. We urge them to defend the rights of Americans to express themselves peacefully.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Rabbi Dovid Feldman

 

Neturei Karta International

 

 

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