I recall reading not long ago that Judaism is the most admired religion in America. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that the religion of less than 2% of the population is the most admired. Not that I believe Judaism is not worthy of that appellation. Nor do I think that Jews are seen in negative terms by the vast majority of Americans.
Quite the contrary. As I have pointed out many times in the past, the fact that Al Gore’s chances of winning his presidential bid in 2000 became realistic only after he chose an observant Jew (Joseph Lieberman) as his running mate clearly demonstrates how Judaism – especially observant Judaism – is respected in this country. What surprised me is that in a survey, Judaism came out on top, ahead of the dominant religion, Christianity,
That said, I realize that anti Semitism still exist in some circles. But only in the fringes of society. I think I can plainly say that there has never been a time or a country where the Jewish people were so accepted and even admired than they are now in America… not even the during golden era of Spain.
Which is one of the reasons I get so upset when a Jew does something wrong. And the more religious that Jew appears to be, the more upset I get. Their behavior brings shame upon the Jewish people. There have been so many of late, it amazes me that we are so admired.
But John McCain’s response to a question about Jack Abramoff is instructive. (Abramoff was an observant Jew who in an Indian lobbying scandal pleaded guilty to 3 felony counts: conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion.) McCain was asked if the American people would now judge the Jewish people negatively because of Abramoff. His answer was that the American people can tell the difference between one bad individual who happened to be Jewish and the entirety of the Jewish people.
Which brings me to a recent editorial by Yated editor Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz (republished at YWN). He was responding to a disgusting headline by the New York Post about the murder of Satmar Chasid and businessman, Menachem Stark. I was among the first to condemn the Post for its sensationalist headline which read, ‘Who Didin’t Want Him Dead?’ While that headline was disgusting, it was not an accusation made in a vacuum. As I indicated in that post, he must have made a lot of people angry to have been murdered execution style in what may have been a mob hit.
But Rabbi Lipschutz does not stop with simply criticizing the Post, he goes completely off the reservation by making this about the inherent anti Semitism of the non Jewish world. One would think that we are about to embark of another Holocaust. The headline in the Post was clearly about one man. That man had the appearance of a religious Jew and was considered a hero in his community. That’s why that community is so upset. Understandably so. His family had no clue about his business practices.
What that headline was not about was the Jewish people. But Rabbi Lipschutz does not want to be confused by that very clear fact. He goes on into a tirade in his editorial. ‘Who doesn’t want “US” dead?’, he asks! As if to say that the New York Post is the ultimate expression of Esav. The Esav that eternally hates Yaakov. Translation: The Goyim hate us and given the chance they would just as soon kill us as look at us!
He brings up every negative stereotype any anti Semite ever made about us as as if this is what Americans really thinks of us. Americans as represented by the Post are simply the latest incarntion of ‘Titus,. Ferdinand, Isabella, Mussolini, and Hitler’! Here is how he thinks Americans see us:
Why, they ask, are the Jews titans of industry and commerce? Real estate, stocks and bonds? Why do they have influence? Why aren’t they dead? They are all cheaters. They are all liars. Underworld cut-throats.
They poisoned the wells, They killed our babies, For matzos. They froze us in the winter, Boiled us in the summer. The Jews. It’s all their fault. The rotten, Smelly, Jews. Till today they wonder How to get rid of us.
They cover their hate with smiles, Feigned ignorance, and legal shenanigans. “We love the Jews,” they say. Sure, just as Paroh did. All types of charges, Allegations, Fraud. The Jews, they say, don’t care about laws, Violations, Fidelity, Children, Abuse victims.
They kill their baby boys, To satisfy an ancient rite. They rob, cheat and steal. They can’t be trusted, Disloyal citizens. They control the banks, The press, But not the Post.
We thought it was different here. America is not Russia, Or Germany, France or Rome. It’s not, But the hatred is here as well. The quiet murmurs, Suspicions, And tricks.
This is breathtaking in scope. How Rabbi Lipschutz can believe that the respect and admiration that the American people is anything but genuine is mind boggling. To make these kinds of accusations about a people that are so clearly false is not only patently ridiculous, but an insult to the good people of this country.
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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