Editor’s note: The following letter to VSB leaders Kevin Martingayle and Edward Weiner was shared with Virginia Lawyers Weekly and posted here at our website on March 31.
Dear Kevin and Edward:
I have not been privy to, nor previously followed, discussions regarding the Bar’s planned midyear seminar in Israel. But I was surprised to read your message below. As a Jewish member of the Bar who has lived in Israel and has friends and family living in Israel, I am inclined to reject as unworthy of attention any notion that the Bar’s decision to cancel the seminar was based on any factor other than the legitimate ones you have identified below.
Among the more obnoxious issues I have had to deal with as a civil rights lawyer is the occasional automatic playing of an historical victim’s card in response to any and every adversity, regardless of its cause, context, or appropriateness. The accusation that the Bar is anti-Semitic by reason of canceling an under-subscribed trip to a country that cannot guarantee entry to its members says little about the Bar. It says a great deal, alas, about the current sorry state of affairs whereby persons who say or do anything that can be interpreted as not supporting the Israeli government are, by reason of that fact, deemed anti-Israel if not anti-Semitic. On that basis, I and many other Jews (and non-Jews) in this country and in Israel are both. In fact, we are neither.
If there are actual issues of religious, political, or other inappropriate considerations coming into play in Bar decisions, let them be fully broached and assessed on the merits. Absent that, let me encourage you not to apologize, explain, or discuss this matter further. I expect you have other useful work to do.