The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
During the course of this latest Palestinian intifada, I received my first two disinvitations – courtesy not of some pro-Islamist university (that would come later) but of another Jew who also opposes anti-Semitism. Eventually I came to understand that in the world of Jewish organizations and professional Jews, each Big Shot competes against all the other Big Shots for the right – and the funding – to be the only Jewish voice authorized to sound the alarm and ride to the rescue.
And such behavior, unfortunately, is not limited to Jewish men.
Years ago, I interviewed a female Jewish professional who held a Ph.D. and who had years of government and lobbyist experience to her credit. For idealistic reasons, she took a lesser-paying position at a large Jewish women’s organization. She told me that the wives of the wealthy men who ran the organization treated her as if she were their servant – indeed, treated her in ways that servants should not be treated.
“Perhaps this is how their husbands treated them,” she said, “or maybe they watched how their husbands treated their employees, but it broke my heart and I had to quit. These wives had no job experience, they could not even keep themselves in pantyhose, but they consistently forced me to do wrong things that would hurt the organization’s objectives. And they always took the credit for the work that I did.”
Does this sound familiar? Such behavior demoralizes and shames Jews who often end up leaving the Jewish organizational world.
I have some religious female friends who have been exploited by Jewish religious women’s organizations. What do I mean? Simply that their brilliance, experience, and noble devotion were harnessed and exploited for the greater glory of the wealthy women who ran the organization and who liked to be congratulated for accomplishing things they had not truly accomplished.
My friends – tireless workers all – were not treated with respect by these women, who reserved such emotions only for major male rabbis and wealthy male donors.
Many volunteers have fled such organizations heartbroken and cynical.
One more unpleasant personal experience: At an organizational event, a major Jewish donor said to me shortly after I’d been introduced to him (and I’m paraphrasing here because his exact words were a lot more graphic): “You’re Phyllis Chesler? How would you like it if I kissed you as if we were a married couple all alone, and not two strangers in public?”
I was shocked and disgusted. I responded, “Sir, why would you say such a thing to me?” His comeback: “Well, I was thinking about the Chaim Ramon case and his excessive sentence.” Said I: “Surely, you could put your concern into words.”
He gave me the blankest of stares and walked away. In his remarks to the audience later on, he freely mocked them and the Jewish religion. It mattered not to his rapt listeners. They still bowed, scraped, and curtsied before him. After all, he had money – lots of money.
Bad behavior is not limited to Jewish millionaires and billionaires. Those who seek their funding trample over one another. The badmouthing is surreal, as is the paranoia. Friends and allies are often seen as enemies and huge blow-ups occur over minor matters. The pettiness is bloodcurdling.
And I am not talking about political differences, only interpersonal behavior.
Living as we do in a time of growing anti-Semitism, and with Israel seemingly adrift and lacking strong leadership, we must, for the sake of Jewish survival, follow Hillel’s timeless maxim: That which is hateful to you, do not do to others.
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.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
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/my-jewish-wars-a-dispatch-from-the-front/2007/05/16/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: