The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Whenever people ask me to explain Jewish anti-Semitism, Jewish anti-Zionism, or Israeli anti-Zionism, I pause and then try to discuss these questions calmly and dispassionately.
I say: Why are you so surprised? Jews are also human beings. They internalize anti-Semitism along with everyone else. In addition, centuries of persecution and abuse can lead to self-blame, identification with the aggressor, and a highly dysfunctional family life. Sometimes, a Jewish son or daughter self-defensively acts out against cold, abusive or mentally ill parents by projecting such traits onto all Jews for all time.
Since Jews really are human beings, they do not necessarily want to bear the burden of having to defend the Jewish state when doing so is unpopular or even slightly dangerous. Like others, Jews want to be liked, to fit in, to be fashionable, and they want to lead safe and happy lives without having to keep fighting for their right to exist. For such reasons, some Jews convert out or practice Judaism “light.”
Most Jews in America are liberals. And while many liberal Jews have been strong supporters of Israel, many other liberal Jews have tended to bypass Hillel’s first question (“If I am not for myself who am I?”) while going directly to his second (“If I am only for myself, what am I?”).
Such Jews devote themselves primarily to the suffering of others, but not to Jewish suffering. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, in their view; it also allows the Jewish helper to feel powerful. If a Jew can devote herself to helping non-Jews, it means she herself must not be in any danger – and besides, accumulating brownie points in the eyes of a Jew-hating world can’t hurt.
When people ask me to explain why an appreciable number of Jews are anti-Israel or oppose the U.S. government or demonize evangelical Christians who so fervently support Israel ‘s right to exist, I may seem cool and collected as I attempt to respond. But that’s on the outside. Inside, I am screaming and figuratively tearing my hair out.
Inside, I am thanking God that I have not felt the compulsion to write a book about Jewish anti-Semitism. I can only imagine how the author of such a book would be attacked by other Jews and exploited by Jew-haters.
Fear not. It is not in me to cast a stone at Jews or against Israel at a time when so many others have assembled standing armies and mobs for this express purpose. Despite everything I know about the imperfection of the Jews, I have fallen in love with my people and with the study of our history and our Law. (Stranger things have happened.)
Thus, I do not have the luxury of exposing Jewish anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism in a hateful or righteously indignant voice. Yes, I am deeply troubled by it. Yes, it causes me to despair. Yes, it eats me up alive.
Though I may disagree with Jews who criticize Israel at this moment in history, how exactly will it help matters if I, too, rage against other Jews as opposed to wrestling with their ideas? And yet the anti-Israel rhetoric of leftist academics – including Israeli leftist academics – is frightening.
In 2003, I tried to get The New York Times to do a story about the way Israel was being demonized on college campuses. A major reporter was interested and I shared with her at least 25 e-mails written by professors who feared they would be punished if they said anything about Israel that could be perceived as positive. The reporter was stopped at “higher levels.”
I’ve spent years writing about this subject and academic, advocacy, and media-monitoring groups have subsequently emerged to do invaluable work in this area.
Thankfully, it’s easy to dismiss the most outrageous pseudo-academic views of Israel.
Israel Academia Monitor has a website that documents Israeli academic excesses. IAM cites, among many others, Prof. Oren Yiftachel of Ben-Gurion University for repeatedly denouncing Israel as an “apartheid” state; Prof. Neve Gordon, also of BGU, for declaring that Israel is becoming a fascist and terrorist state worse than Hamas; Prof. Moshe Zimmerman from Hebrew University for comparing the Torah to Mein Kampf; Paul Wexler and the late Tanya Reinhart of Tel Aviv University for calling for a worldwide boycott of Israeli universities; and Prof. Micah Leshem of Haifa University for his view of Israel as being similar to Iran and North Korea.
About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.
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As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.
What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.
The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.
Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviet’s persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined
Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion
Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry
Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”
On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor
After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process
Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria
Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony
Few of the volunteers were experienced sailors, (Greenfield had been in the Merchant Marine). Few were Zionists.
My good colleague Kay is wrong about the early demise of conspiracy theories and blood libels against the Jews.
“I am surprised those Zionists are not outside protesting,” says one woman.
“Miral” is a film that has garnered an inordinate amount of media attention. In interviews, the director, Julian Schnabel, defends his right to tell the Palestinian “narrative” for what he claims is the first time. He seems not to know that many others before him have specialized in this particular line of work.
Our beloved, miraculous Jewish state is under siege.
It was assumed that the ceaseless persecution of the Jews in exile would cease once we again had our own sovereign homeland, our own army, navy, and air force.
In 1947-1948 I lived in Boro Park where, against parental and rabbinic advice, I joined a Zionist group. By 1950 I was packing machine-gun parts for Israel in a home not far from the Young Israel. But what I did as a child does not compare to what my friend and colleague David Gutmann did for love of Zion at that very time on the dangerous open seas.
Reality has become somewhat Scandinavian. It grows dark early and it is bitterly cold here in New York City and over a good portion of our fair land. Our Prince of Peace (The Norwegian Nobel, not the noble variety) is not yet asking whether “to be or not to be.” Perhaps he is not entirely convinced that “that is the question.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/differentiating-between-blind-hate-and-honest-criticism/2008/01/09/
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