I received this email from the husband of a friend...I asked if I could share it because I am disgusted by the first letter and incredibly proud of the second. If I had to add anything, it would be to say that if you live in Virginia and you agree with the first letter, shame on you. If you don't agree with it but do nothing, I would remind you that silence to injustice can only result in greater injustices.
The single point I would add to the second letter is a request that in the future, this Martingayle person consider including the reason WHY Israel "discriminates" - which really translates as checks carefully some people who enter our country as opposed to others. When my mother was in Germany, they stopped her because she was "the fourth in line." In England, they randomly checked my backpack for explosives.
For the record, the grand total of Jewish grandmothers who live in Israel that have blown up planes, automobiles, restaurants, etc. is exactly ZERO. But sure, go spend your time checking them while other threats walk by unchecked. An Israeli security expert, upon hearing from an American official who claimed that "in America we check everyone," responded, "then you check no one."
But rather than come for themselves, the Virginia State Bar chose to boycott the only real democracy in the Middle East, the country...the only country in the Middle East that regularly sends hundreds of relief workers to save lives...any lives...all lives. So Virginia lawyers, shame on YOU!
The first letter - by Kevin E. Martingayle dated March 27th, 2015
Dear Fellow Members of the Virginia State Bar,
Certain members of the Virginia State Bar and other individuals have expressed objections to the VSB's plan to take the Midyear Legal Seminar trip in November to Jerusalem. It was stated that there are some unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers to the nation. Upon review of U.S. State Department advisories and other research, and after consultation with our leaders, it has been determined that there is enough legitimate concern to warrant cancellation of the Israel trip and exploration of alternative locations.
Undoubtedly, this news will disappoint some VSB members. But we are a state agency that strives for maximum inclusion and equality, and that explains this action. Fortunately, we still anticipate being able to find a suitable location for the November seminar trip, and we will send out further news very soon.
Finally, we are pleased that our members and citizens feel able to express concerns and look to us to protect rights. In the end, we are all part of the same team, and the VSB will continue to stay focused on advancing its primary objectives-public protection, access to justice, and improvement of the profession.
As always, I appreciate having the honor of serving as your president.
Best regards, Kevin E. Martingayle,
President, Virginia State Bar
The very correct response by David Michael, MD (reprinted with permission and with my gratitude), dated March 30, 2015
Dear Mr. Martingayle,
I am an American physician, living and working in Jerusalem. I moved here at the age of 43, with my wife and five kids, after living my whole life in Chicago.
We are Jews, people of the book, the chosen people…the people of Israel.
We are the people who introduced to the world the concepts of G-d, social justice, law as we know if today, and so much of what humanity has to offer.
Boycotts of the Jews is nothing new. Jews have been singularly boycotted well before there was Israel—for thousands of years in fact. Boycotts are when we are treated nicely, since expulsions and massacres have been much more common than mere boycotts. Ever consider why there are only 12 million Jews left in the world, when we were the first major religion to appear on earth?
Now that there is Israel, people can boycott the Jewish state, and “hide” their anti-Semitism as a political act, so that fine, respected, educated people like you can perform anti-Semitic aggression, without being overtly accused of anti-Semitism.
A lot of people are truly misinformed, and I cut them more slack. I too would believe the media, had I not been so educated, had I not lived here myself, been in the hospital among Arab doctors, Arab patients alongside Jews, and see how everyone is treated equally, just like in America. Nowhere in the Arab world do Arabs get to experience the level of judicial and social justice as in Israel. However, given your level of education, access to information, and assumed intelligence, I cannot make for you the excuse that you are ignorant, rather than anti-Semitic. You can deny anti-Semitism, but your actions cannot deny it. The Nazis were also a very educated group of people.
To be fair, I do personally experience discrimination in Israel—as a Jew. For instance, while Muslims are free to ascend and pray on the holiest place for the Jewish people, the Temple Mount (where the Jewish first and second Temples once stood and now you find the Golden Dome), I as a Jew have strict limitations to visit, and may not pray, nor show any sign of prayer on the Temple Mount. Jews are discriminated against by the Jewish police, for fear that any Jewish presence will incite Arab aggression.
So perhaps it is a worthy cause that you boycott Jerusalem, so that the Jewish people will one day be fully accepted and respected by their Muslim cousins, the same way that the Jews accept them, and respect them as fellow human beings.
In the meantime, while Iran is openly calling and planning for the annihilation of the Jewish state, consider having your meeting there, since you are trying to achieve maximum inclusion and equality. Just tell them that you are boycotting Israel, and I am sure that they will treat you like royalty.
I just don’t understand where all this hatred of Jews comes from, when we as a people have only love and respect for all of humanity in our hearts, and have demonstrated that time and again throughout history.
Sincerely, David Michael, MD