By COLlive reporter
Political pundits are debating comments made by Rabbi Levi Shemtov during a meeting between Democratic senators and Jewish organizations.
Shemtov, director of the Washington office of American Friends of Lubavitch, was invited to speak at the conclusion of the Wednesday meeting and began with a Dvar Torah.
His message at the Capitol Hill meeting was that “just as there is more than one way to be pro-Israel, there is more than one way to be pro-peace.”
“Show me a Jew who is against peace, and I would like to know what his Jewish source is,” JTA quoted him as saying.
“Show me a Jew who doesn’t want a decent life for Palestinians,” he said, and he’ll ask what his Jewish source is.
The meeting, organized by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and chaired by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), was attended by 22 senators and leaders of 18 Jewish organizations.
Writing on the conservative Commentary website, Jennifer Rubin said Shemtov’s remarks were “a dig at the left-wing groups that posit themselves as the ones in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
In response, Shemtov told JTA that was completely untrue.
The rabbi said he was saying that “fundamentally, there does not need to be a conflict between people of the Jewish faith and people of the Muslim faith. While we obviously have theological differences, they shouldn’t be the basis for conflict.”
While some say that peace needs to be “imposed” on the Middle East, Shemtov said “the Jewish quest is for peace,” and it is conflict that has been “imposed” on the region.
One representative of a left-wing pro-Israel groups praised the rabbi’s remarks, JTA reported.
“He was very positive,” said Steve Masters, president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. “It was very clear he feels being pro-peace is an essential part of being a Jew.”