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

 

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror