Wednesday, November 03, 2021

  • Wednesday, November 03, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Anti-Zionist Jews are loving an article by Marc Tracy that will be published in this coming Sunday's New York Times magazine, "Inside the Unraveling of American Zionism."

Tracy interviews some of the Jewish rabbinical and cantorial students who signed a letter in May that attacked Israel. The letter compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to American racism. It said Israel having a different legal system for territories it has not annexed (which it must have under international law!) is "apartheid." It did not even mention Israel's security concerns at the very same moment thousands of Hamas rockets were pouring on Israeli cities and towns. (Hamas isn't mentioned at all.)

Tracy notes obliquely that the students who wrote and signed this letter are really clueless about Israel's history: 

If you are 26 years old, you were not yet born when Oslo was signed and do not more than faintly remember the height of the Second Intifada. Your impression of Israel could well be of an occupying power and a fortress protected by militarized barriers and the U.S.-funded Iron Dome missile-defense system — a powerful country that, during a 2014 war in Gaza, responded to Hamas’s killing of three Israeli teenagers and the firing of rockets at Israeli towns with airstrikes and ground incursions that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many noncombatants. Israel to you is personified not by Rabin, or the senior statesman Shimon Peres, or even the reformed hawk Ariel Sharon, but by Netanyahu, who not only presided over more settlement construction in the West Bank but sided with the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate on matters both religious and civil, attempted to hamstring liberal NGOs, engaged in racial demagogy against Palestinians and made common cause with Republicans, including and especially Donald J. Trump.

Some of the very people who plan to lead congregations cannot see or understand anything before the year 2010. To them, Israel's desire for security is an abstraction and an excuse; they post idiotic memes like a nuclear power has no reason to be concerned over terrorist attacks. The very people who should be studying the thousands of years of Jewish history and putting today's events in context think that the oversimplification of the conflict by today's journalists is reality and history is irrelevant. Instead of thinking critically about facile comparisons between Palestinians and the American civil rights movement, they embrace them. 

One of the most famous Talmudic expressions is "Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh" - all of Israel is responsible for one another. The modern State of Israel takes this obligation very seriously.  Its very purpose is to defend Jews physically from those who want to kill them. One can argue about whether it goes too far, about whether every restriction on the Palestinians is necessary, about balancing the imperative to protect Israelis against that of minimizing damage and casualties of the enemy. That is perfectly OK. But Israel exists to protect Jews, and it takes this responsibility very seriously.

If you do not understand this basic concept, you don't know anything about Israel. 

To these supposed leaders, though, the expression of Kol Yisrael Areivim means that they are responsible - in their wisdom of being adults for a few years - to tell the State of Israel that it is wrong in how it decides to defend the Jewish people. They don't spend the time to actually read Israeli High Court decisions, or IDF MAG reports that describe the painstaking investigations into every war-time incident that results in civilian deaths, or the layers of decision-making that goes into every single airstrike to minimize the potential of innocent lives being lost. No, these future leaders decide that Israel is guilty based on articles they read in the New York Times and one-sided tours of Hebron by Breaking the Silence. 

In short, if you don't believe that Israel acts as it does to protect its citizens, you are not being dan l'chaf zechut (giving the benefit of the doubt.) If you cannot be dan l'chaf zechut about your fellow Jews, you have no business becoming a rabbi.

The ignorance of these future leaders of liberal American Jews shown in this letter is breathtaking. But it isn't only ignorance. 

It is narcissism. 

They think they are wiser than the old fogies who actually remember the terror of Second Intifada, let alone the Six Day War or the War of Independence.

This narcissism goes beyond Israel into Judaism itself:

The fellowship is part of a broader trend among Jews in progressive spaces who have sought to align aspects of their identity — like political leftism and queerness — with their Judaism. When I met the farm director, she was wearing a shirt for Linke Fligl — Yiddish for “left wing” — an organization that calls itself a “queer Jewish chicken farm and cultural organizing project.” Another afternoon this summer, I spoke to two women who work at Mayyim Hayyim, a mikveh, or ritual bath, in Newton, Mass. Submerging in a mikveh is best known as the final thing one does in converting to Judaism, and in some Orthodox communities women use one every month and after childbirth — when the female body is considered “impure” by Jewish law. But Mayyim Hayyim seeks to “reclaim” the mikveh from its patriarchal practices, and has developed rituals for all kinds of life events; by the end of our call, they were trying to persuade me to take a dip in honor of having recently become a father. I also heard about SVARA, a yeshiva that centers the queer experience. It somehow did not shock me each time I learned of a new program with crunchy elements and noticed the participation of a student whose name was familiar to me from the letter’s signers.

“People are thirsty,” said Amalia Mark, who signed the letter last spring, weeks before she was ordained at Hebrew College — a multidenominational seminary outside Boston that is not to be confused with Hebrew Union College — and who now works at Mayyim Hayyim. “People want meaning and connection in their life right now, and people want authentic tradition.”
That last sentence from an actual ordained rabbi who signed the letter says it all. These people are so self-centered that they insist that Judaism itself be wrapped around their own concepts of identity and politics. They are no different than the JVP members who twist Jewish traditions into anti-Israel pretzels - but this is worse, because these people are aspiring or ordained rabbis who claim that these self-serving acts are "authentic tradition."  

Judaism teaches humility. The signers of this letter think that they know better than every major Jewish figure of the past 3000 years. Which means that they are spectacularly unqualified to lead anyone.

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