Progressive Jews Abandon Their Commitment to Jewish Solidarity at Their Own Peril

Oct. 12 2018

As American liberalism moves increasingly in an anti-Israel direction, liberal, non-Orthodox Jews are becoming ever more uncomfortable with Jewish particularity. Ammiel Hirsch examines this disturbing trend:

While there was always a healthy tension in Jewish thought between the centrality of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish interactions with, and obligations to, the world at large, it is increasingly difficult for liberal Jews today to accept that Jewish distinctiveness is a core Jewish value or even a contemporary social good. Thus, liberal Jews are abandoning their Jewish identity in accelerating and unsustainable numbers. . . .

Under what theory of liberalism are we required to discard attachments and loyalties to Jews? What is this new Jewish progressivism that asserts that the acceptance of others requires the negation of self? . . . To care about fellow Jews, to feel connected to the Jewish people and to be attached to the Jewish state are not proof of ghetto Judaism. In fact, not to be committed to these values is evidence of Jewish decline. Don’t liberals believe in diversity, in a pluralism of communities? Don’t we believe in the dignity of human difference? Or do we believe in diversity for everyone but Jews? . . .

We liberal Jews never seem to speak about Jewish solidarity anymore. We speak about our obligations to the world with profound conviction and eloquence, but never seem to speak about our obligations to Jews. Thus, for many Reform Jews, “tikkun olam” implies everyone in the world except Jews. It is rare to meet an American Reform youth or activist who considers tikkun olam to include the obligation to assist, say, impoverished Jews in Israel or the former Soviet Union. A Reform tikkun-olam mission would more likely travel to a poor African village than a soup kitchen for Jews in Ukraine. . . .

The growing inclination among liberal Jews to de-emphasize Jewish distinctiveness is the gravest threat to the future of liberal Judaism. . . . Is it possible to sustain the Jewish people without being committed to the Jewish people? Can Judaism survive without Jews?

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Read more at Jewish Telegraphic Agency

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Judaism, Liberalism, Reform Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Tikkun Olam

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security