With former President George W. Bush scheduled to speak at a local synagogue later this month, some are planning a protest outside the event.
Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, is headed to on Sept. 21 for what the American Jewish World describes as an "intimate" gathering, with seating limited to 250 and ticket prices starting at $1,250. The AJW reports that the press will not be invited.
The AJW obtained a letter from Gil Mann, Beth El's president, that states that the appearance is due to the efforts of congregants Elliott and Marlys Badzin. Mann also writes:
(Bush's) appearance coincides with the 10th anniversary of 9-11, a time when our country came together with a singular purpose. This national tragedy defined much of his presidency, and the lessons of that time should prove illuminating and provide important perspective today as our country strives to be more united.
His appearance, like those of other world leaders who have spoken at Beth El, such as President Bill Clinton and Israel(i) Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is an important fundraiser for our synagogue.
The AJW reports that Bush's speaking fee is between $100,000 and $150,000. If Beth El can sell all of its tickets, it would gross a minimum of $312,500.
However, some are less-than-thrilled by the scheduled appearance. In an email circulated to St. Louis Park Patch, advocacy group Women Against Military Madness issued the following statement:
Join others at a candlelight vigil to protest the fundraising appearance of torturer and warmonger, George W. Bush. Do we really need to have the man who brought us pre-emptive strike and launched an unjustified war that created widespread unrest in the Middle East held up as a great leader? Join others to stand up against those who torture.
The group called for people to meet on the street outside the synagogue before the event.
It is not the first time that Beth El has stirred up controversy by tabbing a big-name speaker. In 2009, a visit from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attracted roughly 100 protesters, the Minnesota Daily reports.