Liberal Rabbis Shouldn’t Be Sowing Political Division in Jewish Communities

March 29 2017

In recent months, writes Karol Markowicz, the increasing concern expressed by liberal American rabbis over incidents of anti-Semitism has often become indistinguishable from their vocal opposition to the current president. She comments:

Too many rabbis and other Jewish leaders are linking the threats against JCCs and other Jewish spaces . . . to President Trump. Sure, you stand against anti-Semitism, and that’s good. But you do it under the umbrella of groups like Get Organized Brooklyn, groups with openly political leftist aims. Your fight against anti-Semitism is part and parcel of your fight against the president. It shouldn’t be. . . .

At a time when we need to stand together, you must know you are fostering an atmosphere that is working against that goal. When you infused the Purim shpil with your opposition to Donald Trump, do you know that you alienated people? I don’t mean people in faraway red states—I mean people in your own congregations. . . . Yes, though it may surprise you to learn, . . . people in your own congregations . . . voted for the man you so openly oppose. Your efforts to pretend these people don’t exist, or don’t matter, or are on the wrong side, don’t do anything to bridge any divides.

Indeed, it’s fair to ask: is your purpose to make people feel unwelcome? Certainly your emails, filled with calls for vigils and pleas for peace, as if Donald Trump were the great evil facing Jews (if not the whole world) and Jews have a duty to stand up to him, suggest that. But why can’t you live up to the values you write to me about weekly—most notably, tolerance for people with different points of view?

Yes, we need to take anti-Semitism and threats to our community spaces seriously. Being a Jew can never mean sitting back and hoping for the best. There’s a reason we’ve had concrete blocks outside so many of our Manhattan buildings, metal detectors at our doors, security guards at every entryway. But this didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and it won’t end with him. . . . It’s time for Jewish leaders to disentangle their justified concern for the safety of Jews from their desire for a different president. Weakening Jewish unity and politicizing threats to Jews won’t do anyone much good.

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More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Jewish community, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times