Without Boundaries, Religions—and Nations—Can’t Endure

June 22 2017

A controversy has broken out within Conservative Judaism as two prominent rabbis have openly rejected the movement’s stance against intermarriage. David Wolpe weighs in:

Among the many arguments on both sides, there is an underlying reality: America is very uncomfortable with particularism. Borders, boundaries, and exclusions make us uneasy. Standards smack of elitism. Saying to someone, “you may not join,” goes against our American ethos.

In the American story, love erases all boundaries. Think of the Disney movies: beauty marries the beast, the mermaid marries the man. The people who stand on the sidelines in such stories and say, “you cannot marry each other, you are from different worlds,” are either clueless or evil. How many American movies, shows, and books tell the story of the outsider who is finally accepted? . . . Today, the fight over immigration takes on this question: what are our rights of exclusion and what are the norms of inclusion?

For Jews, this is a very powerful question. Unlike Christianity, which is a belief-based system (believe in Jesus and you are Christian), Judaism is familial. You are born Jewish. Like any family, you can join (through conversion), but you are expected to “feel” like family. You are implicated in the fate of all Jews. . . .

Yet we know what happens when there are no borders at all. Without boundaries there is no nation, without standards there is no institution, without periodic rejection acceptance means nothing. So on one side religion risks being seen as narrow and exclusionary, and on the other side is the possibility of losing all self-definition.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at RealClearReligion

More about: Conservative Judaism, Immigration, Intermarriage, Judaism, Religion & Holidays

The Significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust Denial

Aug. 19 2022

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to Berlin, gave a joint press conference with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he was asked by a journalist if he would apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (The relationship between the group that carried out the massacre and Abbas’s Fatah party remains murky.) Abbas instead responded by ranting about the “50 Holocausts” perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. Stephen Pollard comments:

Scholz’s response to that? He shook Abbas’s hand and ended the press conference.

Reading yet another column pointing out that Scholz is a dunderhead isn’t, I grant you, the most useful of ways to spend an August afternoon, so let’s leave the German chancellor there, save to say that he eventually issued a statement hours later, after an eruption of fury from his fellow countrymen, saying that “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.” Which only goes to show that late is actually no better than never.

The real issue, in Pollard’s view, is the West’s willful blindness about Abbas, who wrote a doctoral thesis at a Soviet university blaming “Zionists” for the Holocaust and claiming that a mere million Jews were killed by the Nazis—notions he has reiterated publicly as recently as 2013.

On Wednesday, [Abbas] “clarified” his remarks in Berlin, saying that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.” Credulous fools have again ignored what Abbas actually means by that.

It’s time we stopped projecting what we want Abbas to be and focused on what he actually is, using his own words. In a speech in 2018 he informed us that Israel is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism”—to such an extent that European Jews chose to stay in their homes and be murdered rather than live in Palestine. Do I have to point out the moral degeneracy of such a proposition? It would seem so, given the persistent refusal of so many to take Abbas for what he actually is.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority