Thursday, June 03, 2021

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

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My 'As A Jew' Beats Your 'My Rabbi Said'

by Ariel Elyse Gold, National Co-Director, Code Pink

Ariel GoldNew York, June 3 - In the rhetorical contest surrounding who gets to represent "authentic" Judaism to the world, and to invoke "what Judaism says" about any issue, we must remember the comparative strengths of different sources of authority. I seek to draw the reader's attention in particular to an important point in this regard: the lived experience and insight that one implies merely by asserting one's status as a member of the tribe holds more weight than the statements of some Rabbinical scholar who spends all his time examining "sources" and whatever.

This observation holds true regardless of, and I might even argue, because of, any paltry level of Jewish education on the part of the person invoking the "As a Jew" rhetorical device. For example, it's one thing to cite ancient, medieval, or even modern sources demonstrating that in the Torah's view, abortion equals murder; but I win the debate if I declare, "As a Jew, I firmly support a woman's right to choose, and not to let the repressive patriarchal structures of society dictate what I do with my body." Those are the rules.

I have exercised this philosophical principal in discussions about Israel-Palestine, as well. I'll see your "The Bible and overwhelming archaeological evidence prove Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people," and raise it "As a Jew, I feel that the genocidal Apartheid regime of far-right nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu is the chief source of antisemitism in the world today."

The latter example shows that the "As a Jew" device doesn't even have to cite anything factual to back it up - that's how powerful it is. Your so-called "evidence" effectively melts away when I pronounce my authoritative position on anything regardless of its - or my - relationship to Jewish tradition and lore. When I engage  the "As a Jew" protocol, I am Jewish tradition and lore. You cannot argue with me. If you do, you're a misogynist and and antisemite. Further attempts to adduce evidence, or even logic, will constitute mansplaining, and only further cement my position's superiority over yours.

Employing this device can get fuzzy when the person invoking "As a Jew" is already a Rabbi, especially the correct kind of Rabbi, namely a progressive activist whose de facto religion is twenty-first-century American progressive ideology but who shoehorns what token traditional Jewish knowledge she has into the progressive framework and pronounces it canonical. But as a Jew, that doesn't bother me.


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