Jonathan Weisman (the author of a very interesting recent book on American anti-Semitism), quotes Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Washington, DC…. Weisman writes that on Yom Kippur, “Rabbi Zemel implored his congregation to act before it is too late, to save Israel from itself.”
A Reform Congregation in DC should save Israel before it is too late? Does no one see the hubris (and the humor, frankly) in such a suggestion? Who are these people who are being urged to save Israel? Can they read the op-ed page of a Hebrew newspaper? Since they cannot, and since the vast majority of the Hebrew press is not translated into English, why do they imagine that they know what’s best for Israel without being exposed to what millions of Israelis think, without access to Israeli discourse on the subject? (Not speaking Hebrew is no crime, of course, but should it not engender at least some humility when it comes to speaking about Israel?) American progressives imagine that they have what to teach liberal, secular Israelis because they are… more intelligent than Israelis? Better educated? More moral? More deeply committed to Israel’s decency?
How well do these people know the country they’re being asked to save? What can they say about the ideological worlds represented by readers of Haaretz and Makor Rishon and what animates the worldviews of each? Can they name five Jewish communities along the Gaza border and speak about how they’re different? How those communities see the conflict? They cannot, of course, and as very few have spoken at length to people trying to raise their families in Sderot or Sha’ar HaNegev, they have no real idea what life is like there.
… one can, and should, at least acknowledge that Beinart and Zemel both care about Israel and believe that what they are doing is best for Israel.
That, though, cannot be said for more extremist elements in the American progressive community, where positions that are ostensibly meant to make Israel “better” are clearly just camouflage for a desire to do Israel harm. No group embodies this better than IfNotNow, which, as a recent New York Magazine article noted, had participants say Kaddish for Palestinians who were killed by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border. “‘We do not organize Kaddish prayers for ‘Arab terrorists’ or ‘Hamas members.’ We say Kaddish and mourn the unconscionable Israeli violence on Palestinian protesters,” one of INN’s leaders said to New York Magazine.
Many of the young people who are involved in or leaders of INN are bright and sophisticated, the graduates of America’s finest colleges [? America’s finest colleges are among the most parochial institutions in the country–DB]. So it is rather astonishing that they did not apply any of the critical thinking skills that got them into college and then through it to bear on this issue. If the killing of Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border (which is unquestionably sad) is so obviously “unconscionable Israeli violence,” why did the Israeli political left not protest? Why were even Meretz and Labor mostly silent after many Gazans were killed at the border? Do American Jewish progressives ever ask themselves what they know that Israelis do not?
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: How “sophisticated” are the lies of IfNotNow activists? Their level of “sophistication” stretches little further than the (obviously bogus) notion that Israeli Jews are white, Palestinian Arabs are “people of color,” and the latter therefore win the intersectional sweepstakes and require unquestioned devotion. Beyond that, it’s leftist dogma all the way down.
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