On inviting soft Zionists to mosques
The problems with inviting soft Zionists to a mosque are numerous but let me highlight key ones:
1) Soft Zionists imagine equality between oppressed and oppressor and colonized and colonizers. In this case Lerner goes even further as many times he articulated that Israeli military attacks are legitimized in fighting terrorism while all Palestinian resistance is not legitimate.
2) Putting a soft Zionist on a stage of our own events even with a balance of a human rights activist is unfair to audience and to the cause. It is like putting a civil rights black advocate on a stage with a more "moderate" white supremacist (moderate because he condemns the Ku Klux Xlan but supremacist because he still believes in segregation, us here them there). Worse yet put it in front of a black audience.
3) Soft Zionists never create a forum in their own communities where anti-Zionists are invited. Lerner runs a synagogue, an organization, and a community center but has never created a forum where he invited an anti-Zionist Palestinian to speak.
4) You rightly point out that our own communities (Arab, Muslim etc) still needs lots of education. At our mosques, Arab community centers etc we should invite some of the hundreds of Jewish speakers like Anna Baltzer who brings eywitness to the occupation. Many other names are listed here: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/honorlist/ (you can pick those with Jewish names). All are real moderates. All could provide the kind of interfaith dialogue needed in our communities. They represent many groups or speak as honest individuals. For a list of about 100 Jewish groups (minus Tikkun), see http://www.qumsiyeh.org/predominantlyjewishlinks/ . But you need to also start with forums of education by Arab and Muslim intellectuals. Let me know and I can suggest some for you. This prepares the community for then having a more productive dialogue with others.
We should be neither against dialogue nor against educational events but we should ensure venues and formats advance true justice not delay justice. Think carefully that during apartheid in South Africa, what were teh strategies for action and education? Did they involve dualogue with moderate Afrikaaners and if so in what venues? I myself debated Zionists in public events but all were hosted by other groups and neutral venues. It is good to have such debates. Fr example, your mosque and a synagogue nearby could cosponsor a debate/dialogue format at a neutral location and have equal time for Zionists and anti-Zionists (I would be happy to participate). Also your mosque may want to join interfaith dialogue but it must be based on human rights. Here in CT, we have a group that meets monthly called We refuse to be Enemies (Jews, Christians, Muslims, see http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1216-01.htm ). We based it on acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which includes right of people to leave their country and return to it, i.e. right of return for refugees). Lerner is against basic human rights of Palestinian Muslims and Christians (refugees) to return to their homes and lands while he supports the "right" of Jews (including converts) frm around the world to go live on Palestinian land. That is racist/discriminatory. Bottom line, would you invite a speaker to your mosque who is against the basic right of equality based on skin color? If the answer is no, then whey allow for racism based on religion?
PS See also this musing by Dennis fox on Dialogue groups