Letters to the Ledger Opinion

The Ledger responds

A response to a “Letter to the Ledger” from Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Ph.d. of the Jewish Theological Seminary, concerning a recent Ledger editorial.

Misquoting the source you are engaging is one way to avoid answering the question we posed concerning the lack of information provided by the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) about the program it is about to embark upon with the Hartford Seminary. We specifically asked — first by phone and then in print — why we hadn’t heard about this program from JTS. Instead of answering the question, however, you provided the disparaging explanation included here.

To attribute to the Ledger the “characterization” that the “Hartford Seminary is a hotbed of ‘activist Islamist organizations’” is an inference that goes too far. In fact, we wrote that the Seminary “has had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and other activist Islamist organizations,” which is something that is easily verifiable.

The Hartford Seminary’s immediate past president, Ingrid Mattson was also the  president of  the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization with its beginnings in the Muslim Brotherhood — the very same Muslim Brotherhood that is now slaughtering Christians in Egypt.  It is also a fact that both Mattson and ISNA are unindicted co-conspirators in the El Arian trial which resulted in the conviction of a terrorist funder of Hamas and the probable complicity of that funder with a number of organizations, including ISNA .  Since its roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, one would think Mattson and/or the Seminary would comment on what is going on in the Middle East today. Instead, we haven’t heard a single comment from the Seminary on the murder of Copts in Egypt — just as we haven’t heard the Seminary’s condemnation of the killings in Syria, another Middle East country in which the Muslim Brothers are now active.

Of course, there is more — but I don’t think it’s the facts that you are interested in.

It is easier to attack and disparage than it is to provide answers. Again, our question was why this joint venture was announced only by the Hartford Seminary, and not JTS. That is still an open and fair question.

In addition, we have seen the nature of the study materials the Hartford Seminary uses in its chaplaincy program, so we are also curious as to just what the JTS students will be studying in Hartford. Much of what has come out of the Seminary does not seem to be very friendly to Israel.  In her own words, Mattson consistently seeks to blame Israel for the tensions in the Middle East.  Some examples:

“The American government has not criticized sufficiently the brutality of the Israeli government, believing that it needs to be ‘supportive’ of the Jewish state. The result is that oppression, left unchecked, can increase to immense proportions, until the oppressed are smothered with hopelessness and rage….” 

—  From Matson’s chapter in the book “September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences. 2002.”


“… Muslims perceive that Israeli aggression against Palestinians continues without American sanction; indeed, enormous financial and military support for Israel has continued. It seems that any Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation is termed ‘terrorism,’ and is responded to with overwhelming force. The result is the Palestinians themselves are increasingly showing less restraint in the force they employ to defend their families and lands.”  

Throughout Mattson’s tenure, we were never able to see any statement on terrorism that didn’t condemn “all” parties instead of dealing with the act at hand — and Mattson’s tenure encompassed not only the Oslo years, and the hundreds of deaths and incidents that occurred during that period, but also the 9/11 terrorist act that caused so many deaths here. Mattson was far more interested in curbing language to exclude the words “Islamic terrorism” than in talking about what was going on. In 2006, she said “I’m convinced that it (the words Islamic terrorism) is not only inaccurate, but unhelpful,”.

Mattson has also been busy telling Jews who is antisemitic. In 2007 on CNN.

“Right-wing Christians are very risky allies for American Jews, because they [Christians] are really antsemitic. They do not like Jews and [they harbor the] fundamentalist belief that it would be desirable for all Jews to return to Israel.”

There’s much on the record that would make one wonder about the JTS association with the Hartford Seminary. Asking questions about it is not “fractious” – it is warranted.



Outrage over the murder of George Floyd doesn’t justify intersectional myths
Nakba – The Arab Self-Inflicted Catastrophe
In support of the Hartford JCRC

Leave Your Reply