After reading Richard Rose's letter about Rev. Dan Wanders' column, which asked "What if we all communicated as persons beloved of God" (Living and Growing, Nov. 23), I hurried to read it again. Rose said, "Interestingly, the Rev. Wanders specifically identifies one group of people who would not be welcome at this diverse and tolerant dinner table: Zionists." Where did he get that? Mr. Wanders didn't say Zionists wouldn't have been welcome there. He said it was his Jewish friends at the table who "criticized Zionism and were vehemently opposed to Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, which they described as a violation of Judaism." He also said he heard his Muslim friends "rejecting retaliation for wounds and advocating actively pursuing reconciliation." He was reporting the conversation of his guests. He didn't say a word about who was welcome and who wasn't.
And Rose called Wanders' Jewish friends "renters." How does he know that? Mr. Wanders didn't say they were renters. He said they were "from the apartment we owned." Rose had absolutely no basis to impugn their motives for being there as guests, which he did.
Rose's catalog of the history of Israel's struggle is interesting and even instructive, but woefully incomplete. If he is going to presume to instruct us, he had best not operate only from his bias. He should tell the whole story. Tell about the checkpoints imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza making it impossible for honest, hard working, peace-loving Palestinians (surely he must know that many are) to hold a job in Jerusalem because the army makes it impossible for them get to work on time. Tell about the highway across the West Bank to Jerusalem that only Jews can travel, built by Israel across Palestinian land. Tell about the fear that is imposed on the region by the Israeli army, the toughest and best-equipped in the Middle East. Nobody fares very well when the story is truly told. How dare he say "none of this is of any concern to the Rev. Wanders?"
Dan Wanders is my pastor. I have eaten at his table. I can't imagine anybody not being welcome there. I'm pretty sure even Richard Rose would be.
Someone has to dream a future before it can happen. Dan Wanders helps us dream a future where even enemies might be able to talk together. It's a good future, one the world would welcome, and I pray will come to pass. Dan's question is simply, "What would happen if...?" But cynicism won't let any of us go there. Instead, Rose's future is only in his rear-view mirror. His unrelenting backward look exposes a meanness of spirit that corrupts hope and leaves no room for new possibilities in a world that needs them, badly. He makes me sad.
Thomas H. Dahl
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