Watching unrest in Egypt, US Jews voice many concerns, some hopes
American Jews' concerns center on the fear that a new regime in Egypt would not honor the peace with Israel. But other voices call for the community to embrace the cause of Egyptian freedom.
(Page 2 of 2)
“We don’t feel they should be rushing into elections because it’s likely they would get the same results that Hamas got in Gaza,” Klein says. “They won fair and square but is that good for the world and the region? We must say, no.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A 'missed opportunity'
That’s why the ZOA has not been in solidarity with comments from author and television personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that the Egyptian crisis has been a “missed opportunity” for American Jews to be more vocal about the spread of democracy in the region.
“We should take this moment to stand in brotherhood with our Arab brothers in their desire for freedom,” Boteach says.
Some US Jewish groups are going out of their way to promote inter-religious dialogue and tolerance and see this as an historic moment to achieve progress on that front.
“We are very happy because we know that Mubarak has been awfully repressive in torturing people who disagree,” says management consultant Simma Lieberman, member of Kehilla community synagogue, a progressive synagogue in Piedmont, California. Her congregation sponsors dinners once a year between Christian churches and a mosque in Oakland. “We see this as an even better chance for peace in the Middle East,” she says.
“Americans are too easily fooled by their love of loaded words,” she says. “The Muslim Brotherhood does not mean the same thing when they use the word democracy. There is no such thing as a fundamentalist, Islamic democracy. It’s an oxymoron.”
Need to 'overcome our fears'
There is a growing sense among many Jewish Americans, however, that the current movement in Egypt is different, says Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of jewishjournal.com, the largest Jewish news web site outside Israel.
“I don’t think that freedom is the ‘f’ word. We have to overcome our fears and embrace this,” he says.
Contrary to what many experts are saying, he says this is a different situation than either Gaza or Iran. Egypt is different, he says.
“When you know how strong Egyptians are and how oppressed they have been, you can’t help but feel this is moment for hope and that we should embrace this.”