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
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.