Published: Sep 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Sep 14, 2012 12:56 PM
An Open Letter To the Mayor and Chapel Hill Town Council,
When we boarded our Delta flight in Tel Aviv this August, it was with this conviction: “We’ve got to find a way to talk about this.”
Our month of travel in Israel and on the West Bank was both exhilarating and exhausting. There were many dislocations and surprises. One surprise was the vibrant debate that we found on the pages of the Jerusalem Post. It was unlike any coverage we had known in the United States.
Our capacity to enter into productive dialogue concerning the United States’ role in the Middle East has been greatly impeded and diminished by fearful and, yes, cynical constituencies on every side. Suppressing speech on this issue helps neither Israel nor the Palestinians.
If we love Israel, if we yearn to come to the aid of the Palestinians, dialogue must begin concerning the U.S. role in those contested places.
We hope you will join with us in supporting citizens of the Chapel Hill community as we seek to be in dialogue around the most difficult issues of our day. The issue of U.S. military aid to Israel raised by Church of Reconciliation in its advertising on Chapel Hill Transit buses is challenging, but it has motivated us to redouble our efforts to be in dialogue.
To this end, and, as a demonstration of our willingness to join together in dialogue, United Church held a forum last Wednesday evening with Rabbi John Friedman of Judea Reform Congregation where we discussed the bus poster controversy and the challenges to achieving peace in the Middle East.
We hope that the Town Council will take this moment in history not to do what happens so often in the U.S., shut down any possibility of open dialogue – as rudimentary a beginning and as blunt an instrument as bus posters admittedly are – but instead, call our community into respectful dialogue.
Let us welcome this as an opportunity to “talk about this” rather than set the table for another contentious and fruitless town conflict that has the potential to further polarize people of good will.
The Revs. Richard and Jill Edens are co-pastors at United Church of Chapel Hill.