Skip to main content

Time to shut down the "Jewish self-loathing" bitterness

I am fed up with claims that dissension in the Jewish ranks of the "I love Israel block" is a prima facie case of uneducated self-loathing, self-hatred and Jewish anti-Semitism. To those who promote such canards: you are not only off base but you are engaging in behavior that would make anti-Semites proud. So there ... it cuts both ways.

A friend forwarded this article by Daniel Gordis to a group of friends. It has me very upset, so I'm going to weigh in.

Thanks to a family graduation, I plan to be at Brandeis to enjoy Ambassador Oren's speech [as I did at the URJ Biennial in Toronto in November] and Paul Simon's music [he's receiving an honorary degree and word on the street has it that he's going to sing].

Please understand that I take a back seat to NO ONE in my love for and loyalty to Israel. It is a mansion in a crappy neighborhood and there is way more right about it than wrong. You want to disagree with me? Let the back-and-forth begin. Just be aware: I do not tolerate being called a self-loathing, anti-Semite, anti-Israel Jew.

I think Mr. Gordis is right in some ways but so very wrong in many ways - the least of which is his absolute belief that if one questions Mr. Oren's speaking at Brandeis then one has an "astounding simplicity, and frankly, an utter lack of courage to stand firm against the tidal wave of unbridled hostility toward Israel."

Our young people have very different opinions from grownups older than they, and this is to be expected: they have a different history, Israel has a different place in their lives, they have had different living experiences. They have lived through 9-11, the intifadas, Gaza, Lebanon, shoe bombers and Ahmadinajad. A president that many of them helped elect is maligned daily with insults that would crush even the sturdiest of us.

Many Brandeis students choose Brandeis specifically because of the Jewish presence on campus. They are not ignorant of the history of Israel's place in this world. They are not naive, they do understand the arguments, and believe me - they do NOT believe everything they hear.

But Jewish students do not march to our drummer, and this does not make their opinions foolish, ignorant, naive or misplaced. They are NOT simplistic, they are NOT cowards. They have a very different world view. They will create an American Judaism that will be very different from ours.

Discussions - arguments - about Israel are constantly going on at Brandeis. There are many well-considered opinions (as there should be) - and the editorial board reflects that diversity of opinion. That students did not write back the way Mr. Gordis thinks they should means nothing. I don't agree with everything the NY Times says, but I don't write back every time I read their stuff.

Let's be fair: Mr. Oren's presence *can* be thought of as polarizing on a campus with a multitude of thoughtful Jewish viewpoints on Israel and the world. Just because I think he's brilliant (he's a GREAT speaker and has a lot of good information to deliver, especially about the Iranian issue) doesn't mean that he's not going to promote his boss's party line - that's his job. And there are a lot of Jews - self/Israel/Jew-loving Jews - who question his boss's positions and politics. These students have a right to question why he was invited to speak.

Conflating ever-growing British anti-Semitism, the Scottish/European divestment movements and the uber-liberal UC Berkeley/Irvine with *Brandeis* is an exercise in absurdity and - quite frankly - an insult. Mr. Gordis needs to reserve condemnation for the times and the people to whom it should be directed.

Please let me be blunt about something: There is a loud and persistent voice in today's Jewish community that screams that people who express any opinion other than Israel's many perfections are leading to Israel's destruction. This is a real problem because those who disagree are being tarred with very ugly brushes. There is more than one way to approach the issues in the Middle East, and I'm very concerned by the real polarizing of American Jewish opinion.

OK - enough ranting.


As I am quiet new in Jewish, looking around for some Jewish information> Got something important here. Nice to get it.
Have you seen this video ? It helped me get over my internal anger.

Popular posts from this blog

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 23: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:50 (Begin)

Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?

Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision. 

Even  בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).

We're about …

Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.