An underlying prejudice

Dear Editor:Robert Pew (Letters to the editor, March 6) deplores debate being stifled on the grounds that it might be anti-religious. I couldn’t agree more. I am secular and an ardent supporter of maintaining the separation of church and state that, as Mr. Pew wisely reminds us, is a cornerstone of our constitution.I am also as Jewish as I am secular. I understand that this can be confusing unless one is familiar with Jewish history and culture. Rabbi Mendel Mintz is Orthodox. Our conversations are underlined by a shared core commitment to the Jewish people and to the continued existence of the state of Israel.The personalized responses from members of the Aspen Jewish community to Sue Gray’s letters to the editor are not an attempt to stifle debate about Israel’s policies on religious grounds; they stem from a sense that underlying her political rhetoric is a prejudice against Jews. Sadly, I am convinced from firsthand knowledge of Sue’s perspective that their assessment is accurate.I first encountered Sue Gray in January of 2005, at a discussion group in which she attributed the problems in the Middle East to theological differences, stating that Judaism, unlike Christianity and Islam, which are about “love and forgiveness,” is about “hate and vengeance.” So much for three millennia of a humanitarian Judaic ethical code.Nearly a year later, Sue apologized to me for the remark, saying her thinking had changed. Subsequently we met twice for what I found to be meaningful dialogues in which the calm dignity of Sue’s demeanor and her receptivity to viewpoints she had not previously considered belied bouts of belligerent letters.Last summer, in the midst of the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, I accepted Sue’s gracious invitation to attend a vigil for peace and to bring a Jewish prayer to read aloud. The surreal result was that I ended up, in effect, sharing a podium with the person who had e-mailed me links to hate sites blaming the Jews for both World Wars I and II, and defining the Holocaust as a “Zionist fabrication.”When I phoned Sue the following day to tell her how disturbing I had found this proximity, she expressed surprise that I harbored such “an animosity” toward this individual. Would Sue have reacted the same way were an African-American conveying dismay at having participated in a public event with a disseminator of Ku Klux Klan websites? I think not.What I do think is that when it comes to Jews, Sue Gray has a blind spot from which emanates a blaze of bigotry that is scorched through her letters about the Middle East and ignites heated responses.Judith KingGlenwood Springs


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