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The Price Of Neglecting Jewish Values

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“Do not judge your fellow until you get to his place.” (Avot once more.) The new breed of Jew passes judgment on Israel’s struggle with terrorism from the security of his living room. Yet, within Israel, there was virtually no debate about the morality of its response in Gaza. In Israel, where parents send their sons off to war and pay exorbitant taxes to support a needed military, Operation Cast Lead had the support of the entire Israeli political landscape.

Unlike the misgivings of Americans for Peace Now, its Israeli counterpart, Shalom Achshav, supported the incursion. Perhaps for once, Diaspora Jews should allow their brothers and sisters in Israel who are paying the price to determine policy. Before placing Jews in jeopardy, it is important to recall that personal responsibility to the klal is also a core Jewish value.

Some of the new Jews flee from any kind of Jewish particularism. They ignore the fact that the very universal truths they so enthusiastically embrace were contributed to the world by Jews proudly tending first to their own. In our times, Jewish contributions in medicine, science, and technology have never been hurt because they originated from a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Some want to see the New Jews ousted from the community. This too would violate a core Jewish value – that of understanding and utilizing the power of persuasion. It is up to all of us to teach them that Jewish values cannot be treated like a Chinese menu, picking one here and dropping one there. Those who vie for the mantle of Jewish leadership must absorb and reflect the central truth of Jewish history – that the Jewish people survive and flourish only when all Jewish values – the particular and the universal – are internalized and applied.

Finally, we must never be willfully naïve – not when Israel’s very right to exist is under assault. Make no mistake: from Caracas to Paris to Mumbai, hostile acts against Jews around the world are tied directly to the public image of the Jewish State. Lo taamod al dam reiecha – do not stand by idly while your brother’s blood is being spilled – is one Jewish value Richard Goldstone ignored. The likelihood is that we will all pay the price. Jews may die because of his myopia – a Jewish disease once thought cured by the horrific lessons of the Shoah.

About the Author: Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of Interfaith Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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