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?