I wanted to call your attention this morning to an article which recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Prof. Ron Hassner, a political scientist at UC Berkeley. Since there has been so much controversy lately about the slogan “From the River to the Sea” which is often chanted at anti-Israel protests, Prof. Hassner decided to delve into the question of what it means to those who support it.
Prof. Hassner hired a survey form to interview 250 college students across the United States. He found that only 47 percent of those who embraced the slogan could correctly identify which river and which sea were being referred to. Less than a quarter knew who Yasser Arafat was (ten percent thought he was the first Prime Minister of Israel). When asked in what decade Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords, more than a quarter of those who supported the chant flatly denied that any such peace agreement had ever occurred.
Prof. Hassner reported that when those who supported the chant were shown maps of the area and understood that this chant meant not simply freedom for Palestinians (something which I support) but the end of Israel, 67.8 percent of students went from supporting the chant to opposing it.
Prof. Hassner closes his article by writing that “Those who hope to encourage extremism depend on the political ignorance of their audiences. It is time for good teachers to join the fray and combat ignorance with education.”
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian