And speaking of closing shop, the JFNA announced today that it was shutting down Otzma, one of those deep-context, long-term Israel programs that actually grounds North American Jews in the realities of Israeli life and goes on to produce alums (60 percent of which) who dedicate themselves to bettering the Jewish community in a way that 10 sleepless days on a bus can and does not. (Read more about Otzma here.).
(And you can read all of the back-patting Brandeis stuff about Birthright – it still will not show how a majority of BRI alums go on to work in and for the Jewish community… because they do not.)
In other words, I blame Birthright. …Not for the decline in antisemitism, of course.
DeKalb County police are watching for a pickup truck whose occupants allegedly have been targeting worshipers at a synagogue in the Toco Hill area, Channel 2 Action News reports.
The incidents of the last three weeks involving members of Congregation Beth Jacob in the 1800 block of Lavista Road have ranged from mischievous – leaving bagels on people’s lawns and tied to trees – to malicious.
Thankfully, the local police are not treating the incidents as a hate crime. But perhaps they should… ? An attack on our national culinary symbol is an attack on us all.
Now that the “Christmas” clip part of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption “Help Them Come Home” campaign has been withdrawn and the initial blowback-cum-outrage has dissipated (somewhat), we now have a second wave of comment pondering why it is (some, vocal) American Jews were offended by the content. One such piece, by Gil Troy, chastises American Jews and their “freak-out”:
Oh noes you didn't!
…given all the talk lately about how Israelis must learn to take criticism from Americans and American Jews without freaking out. The “big tent” looks less welcoming if the criticism only flows, like the donations, from enlightened America to benighted Israel. “Hugging and wrestling” must be mutual; otherwise it becomes moralizing and finger-pointing. With Jewish Voices for Peace becoming ever louder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comparing Israel to theocratic Iran and the segregated South, while Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta browbeats Israel to kowtow to the Palestinians, Americans have shown they know how to disparage Israel.
For Troy to lump in Jewish Voices for Peace alongside two high-profile US government officials as if all those voices carry equal weight within and without the Jewish community is disingenuous if not purposely deceptive. But I digress…
I also came across a piece by Jeffrey Goldberg whose sole output these days for The Atlantic seems to be his Jewyness. He points to a Michael Moynihan piece about Kalle Lasn, Lasn’s “record of anti-Jewish invective” and “his peculiar obsession with perfidious Jews”. Lasn, as you may know, was the editor of the Canadian magazine Adbusters who theoretically inspired the #OccupyWallStreet movement. He, as discreditors of #OccupyWallStreet (and now Jeffrey Goldberg) also point out, said some not-nice things about Jews.
These two pieces, though unrelated, are like two satellites sharing the same geosynchronous orbit around the planet J’Accuse. (Do not dwell on the image for too long. Read on. Read on.)
… Which led to me ponder the following questions: Is there any circumstance where it is EVER kosher to express dislike of Israeli policy on anything? And can one do it without being immediately attacked as an anti-semite (if the critic is not Jewish, like Lasn), a self-hater (if the critic is, say, the extremely powerful, globally popular Jewish Voices for Peace) or at best, a WATB (if the critics are North American Jewish bloggers)?
…which means that it is time to set aside the fraying fabric of our community for a minute and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Anti-Defamation League against the haters.
…unless, of course, you have seen “Defamation,” (watch it here) in which case, you will take Abe Foxman and ADL survey results (with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent in this case – which wipes out the purported increase, but why quibble?) with a grain of salt.
…in which case, please return to cuddling the fraying fabric and carry on!