Jewish Lessons for the Age of Social-Media Shaming

Lamenting our current era of “cancel culture” and online mobs, Meir Soloveichik turns to the work of two outstanding Jewish figures of our times: the former prisoner of Zion, and current Jewish leader, Natan Sharansky, and the late British chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

Today, Americans are not hunted by the KGB, nor do we come close to enduring the terror and tyranny that marked Sharansky’s childhood [in the Soviet Union]. Yet Sharansky himself suggests that . . . much of America leads a masked life, one in which we feel forced to hide what we truly believe, who we truly are, for fear of social ostracization, or, worse, professional or personal retribution, for offending the wrong people. . . . We are bowing to the power of the online mob.

Sacks, meanwhile, focused on the lack of any idea of forgiveness in our current culture of censoriousness:

[In our day], mistakes made by young people have been used against them years later. We have seen expulsions, school acceptances withdrawn, jobs lost, lives ruined because of an irresponsible comment someone made on social media years before, as a teenager. In our current environment, no apologies for fallibility are accepted, and no allowance is made for the maturation process.

“What happens when an entire culture loses faith in God?” asks Rabbi Sacks. I’ll tell you all that’s left. All that’s left is an unconscious universe of impersonal forces that doesn’t care if we exist or not. In the other direction, all that’s left is a world of Facebook and Twitter and viral videos in which anyone can pass judgment on anyone without regard to the facts or truth or reflective moral judgment. And by the time the person accused has had the chance to explain, or the truth has emerged, the crowd has already moved on. They’re not interested anymore. And what happens in an unforgiving culture? In an unforgiving culture, the people who survive and thrive are the people without shame.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Cancel culture, Jonathan Sacks, Judaism, Natan Sharansky, Social media


Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus