David Harris-Gershon, the author of a memoir recounting his experience in the aftermath of his wife being severely injured in a terrorist attack, did not address his support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel during a moderated program Sunday at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel.
Harris-Gershon only made indirect mention of the column, “Today, I’m Coming Out in Favor of BDS,” that led the Hillel at University of California, Santa Barbara, and a JCC in Washington, D.C., to cancel their planned events with him, referring to it as "the elephant in the room."
The author of What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? also said he was planning to meet with one of his most "virulent critics" after the event at a local bar to talk about their disagreement.
But at the Conservative synagogue in Center City, the discusson between Harris-Gershon and Cherly Cutrona, the executive director of the Good Shepherd Mediation Program, focused on his story after the 2002 bombing at Hebrew University, which, in addition to injuring his wife, Jamie, killed two of his friends.
Harris-Gershon, who now teaches at a Jewish day school in Pittsburgh, set out to meet the terrorist, Mohammad Odeh, after reading an article in which he expressed remorse for the attack. He was unsuccessful but ultimately met Odeh's family in east Jerusalem.
After the board voted not to rescind the invitation to Harris-Gershon — as some, like the Israel advocacy organization Stand With Us, called for — the synagogue's head rabbi said the author would not be allowed to talk about BDS from the bimah and the audience would not be allowed to ask him questions on the subject.