Thursday, December 27, 2012

On Dissent and Dialogue

Guest Post by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Satmar Rebbe, HaRavYoel Teitelbaum (center) - Photo courtesy VIN
Being the gentleman that he is, Rabbi Horowitz has responded to my previous post. I was going to append it there. But I feel it deserves to be a stand alone post  which will probably be more widely read.  Please note his gracious offer to Satmar Chasidim and the link to his website where he explains it more fully. Without  further comment, his words follow in their entirety.

Reb Harry:

I hope all is well and thanks for your kind words.

For the record, I think it is important to note the distinction between respectful disagreement which is healthy and personal attacks/threats which is toxic.

As opposed to the personal attacks and harassment directed at me since the Weberman trial began, the critique sent my way during the Markey Bill debate was not unfair. People attacked my position -- with words only -- some respectful, some otherwise. More than a few questioned my motives and integrity, said that I was a puppet whose strings were being pulled by the Agudah; on and on.

It wasn't enjoyable to read the comments, but I always felt that their feelings and thoughts ought to be expressed. In our interconnected world, one ought not write and post his/her thoughts in the public arena if they are not prepared to have people disagree strongly with their opinion. Have a look at our website and see the pretty strong attacks that I did not block or delete – because it is all part of the imperfect but amazing system of democracy.

“The Hedyot” and I have been debating on and off for years now, and he criticizes me roundly in public forums when he feels that I am wrong. I consider him a friend, though, and I dare say he feels the same way about me. After communicating electronically for years, we recently met in person and had a mutually enjoyable time together.  

Bottom line, Reb Harry, is that there is absolutely no need for anyone to apologize for things they wrote when the Markey matter was churning. It was never taken personally, but rather part of a civilized give and take.

While we are on the subject of dissent and dialogue, …

In an effort to engage the vast majority of moderate Williamsburg chassidim in respectful discourse, I just extended an offer to them to present their thoughts regarding the Weberman matter on our website here and via our Project YES worldwide email list.