The Jewish community is approaching meltdown.
A perfect storm of events has culminated in one of the nastiest communal food fights in recent memory. Among other things, Democrats are incensed at President Trump’s reckless and offensive accusations, and at Prime Minister Netanyahu for following Trump’s partisan games; while Republicans are incensed, among other things, that Democratic leaders haven’t held anti-Israel Democrats like Reps Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar accountable.
The only happy ones are those benefiting from the madness. The media sees ratings and dollar signs when it sees a good battle. Fundraisers and television pundits are geniuses at monetizing outrage. Political activists, who would kill to win in 2020, are ecstatic when they see the other side mess up.
It’s as if we’ve all become political activists. Our marching orders have the rhythm of an Alcoholics Anonymous mantra: “I will say and do only the things that help my side. I will never say or do anything that helps the other side. And I pray that I will always know the difference.”
Anything that smacks of a mistake is an opportunity to pounce.
We’re so on edge that any word can set us off. Trump’s “disloyalty” comment set off hysterics about “classic anti-Semitic tropes.” The only calm reaction I read came from a leftist intellectual and frequent Israel critic, Shaul Magid:
“Not to diminish the insanity of Trump’s ‘disloyalty’ comment but isn’t he actually inverting the anti-Semitic canard? Dual allegiance (disloyalty) usually accused Jews of being disloyal to their country of residence in favor of the Jewish people or later Israel.
“Trump is saying Jewish Democrats are being disloyal to Israel in favor of their American values as embodied in the Democratic Party.”
That attempt at subtlety, whether you agree with it or not, has no place in tribal warfare.
Every news event is filtered through a partisan lens. If a Democrat says anything bad about Israel or the Jews, one side pounces. If a Republican politician blunders (including, most prominently, the man in the White House), the other side pounces. Anything that smacks of a mistake is an opportunity to pounce.
Rarely will you see one side take on its own. The offending side will usually keep mum or try to change the subject. Just as Democrats have been shamelessly dismissive of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel antics of Tlaib and Omar, Republicans have been shamelessly dismissive of the irresponsible and divisive antics of the president.
I guess that makes sense: If the goal is to win, why beat up your own team? Winning the White House in 2020 is a fight to the death. All’s fair in love and war.
Unless we figure out a way to calm down and call at least a temporary cease-fire, the merchants of outrage will fuel our fight until it permanently divides us.
The Jewish community, always so actively engaged with the world, has been sucked into this confrontational vortex. We bash and slash with the best of them.
Of course, the great maestro of this gigantic food fight is President Trump, a man for whom confrontation is like breast milk for a hungry baby.
Someone high up in the Jewish world told me yesterday that “it will only get worse,” partly because Trump loves nothing better than to double down and triple down on a good mud fight.
His latest accusation of “disloyalty,” inverted or not, has sent us over the edge. Neither side feels like throwing water on the fire. We’re too wound up. Now it’s drag-down, hand-to-hand combat, hide the children. Dignified debate? That feels as distant and ancient as our forty years wandering in the desert.
We’ve convinced ourselves that the stakes are life and death. If Trump wins again, some people tell me, they will leave the country. If Trump loses, others tell me, they also will leave the country.
Don’t worry, I’m not claiming any perfect equivalency here—moral or otherwise. I’m just pointing out the simple fact that there’s more than one side in this ugly battle. I’ll let you do the moral math as you see fit.
Here’s my moral math: Unless we figure out a way to calm down and call at least a temporary cease-fire, the merchants of outrage will fuel our fight until it permanently divides us.
Maybe we can all channel Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday to let her know that Israel-US ties “are not dependent on the relationship with one particular party.”
That’s right—our ties, our lives, our well-being, should not be dependent on a political party. The fact that politicians and professional activists routinely bash one another as part of their job description does not mean we have to.
The White House is important, yes, but so is keeping the Jewish House from crumbling.
Publishes in the LA Jewish Journal
An Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Leonhard Foeger / File.
The acting chief of the UN nuclear watchdog policing Iran‘s nuclear deal with major powers, Cornel Feruta, will meet senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday.
“The visit is part of ongoing interactions between the IAEA and Iran,” the spokesman said
The headquarters of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in Tel Aviv. Photo: Screenshot.
The World Zionist Organization (WZO) on Friday opened a three-day conference in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on the topic of confronting antisemitism in Latin America.
Convened by WZO vice-chair Yaakov Hagoel, the conference will involve 150 Jewish professionals from around the region who will receive briefings from “high-level experts in the field to deal with the growing phenomenon,” the Spanish-language Jewish news outlet Diario Judio reported.
Russian immigrants (new olim) attend an event marking the 25th anniversary of the great Russian aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union at the Jerusalem Convention Center on Dec. 24, 2015. Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90.
JNS.org – For most olim, moving to Israel is the realization of a dream. After years of hoping and planning, making aliyah and taking root in the Jewish state is a joyous and exultant experience. Still, the big move is not without its challenges, and many new immigrants become frustrated while attempting to navigate Israeli bureaucracy, secure a job, and find the right neighborhood to call home.
Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Aug. 18, 2014. Photo: Flash90.
JNS.org – “It’s so much more.” That’s the mantra of the 54 Jewish young adults from across North America who just wrapped up 10 weeks in Israel.
Sure, they had applied to the Birthright Israel Excel program for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern at Israeli offices of such top global companies as Facebook, Visa, Microsoft, Ernst & Young (EY), and Barclay’s.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announced that the State Department will consider allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.
“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” he told JNS in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry responded to this in a statement published in Wafa News saying the move was “an emphasis by the administration of President Donald Trump to antagonize the Palestinian people and undermine any chance for peace on the basis of a two-state solution.”
If you’re Jewish, how afraid should you be of being a victim of a violent anti-Semitic hate crime? In the wake of the Pittsburgh and Poway synagogue shootings in the last year, many American Jews remain afraid. The specter of white-supremacist hate that fueled those and other mass shootings has become the primary focus of those tasked with fighting and monitoring anti-Semitism.
If the use of Nazi symbolism in fashion was manifested in isolated cases, there would be only slight cause for concern. But when this trend is backed or glossed over by giants such as Amazon, the biggest online sales platform in the world, we cannot remain indifferent. From home decor to clothing and accessories, the popular website is infested with products depicting Holocaust victims heading to the gas chambers and images glorifying the Third Reich.
When the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin boasted that the desire of his people for death in the service of Hamas was greater than the Israelis’ desire to live. Yassin, of course, was not referring to himself; happy to send his people off to die, he himself clung to life and even believed that his advanced age and status would protect him. But nothing lasts forever, and in March 2004, he was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Egypt’s leading authorities have reinstated a notoriously “radical” cleric and hate preacher to the pulpit (minbar), despite strong opposition.
According to Arab Weekly, “The Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, which controls the mosques, gave Yasser Burhami, the deputy head of the Salafist Call, the umbrella organisation of Salafi movements, approval to deliver sermons before Friday prayers at the Wise Caliphs Mosque in Alexandria.”
This week’s Torah reading Shoftim, maps out for us, the ideal national structure, of the Jewish people in their homeland, the Land of Israel. It describes the policies that Jews should be striving to implement today: Malchut/Kingdom, Sanhedrin/Torah, Nevuah/Prophecy, and Kehunah/Temple.