I’ve recently received notes from two of my Internet friends suggesting that the usual tension among Jews has reached a point of high fever.
Involved in the uptick is the continuing issue of Israel not doing enough to accommodate Palestinians, and the election of Donald Trump.
Both notes come from Jews who are about the same age and level of professional achievement, but who have made different political choices.
From several notes sent by a friend on the left
“It’s truly tragically ironic and a shame that Netanyahu has been silent and said nothing during all of the anti-Semitic attacks that have taken place in lieu of Trumps ascendancy to the Presidency. I thought Netanyahu was right to come to the US and make his thoughts known concerning the Iran Nuclear deal!
But for him and all the Israelis to remain silent in the face of a fascist takeover of the US Government and to THEN to witness the directly consequential unleashing of the Alt Right, and the White Supremacists and the Pro-Nazis on Jews all over the states, and NOT to decry it OUT LOUD.
Do not expect me to support the fascism that is inherent Netanyahu, when next Israel gets in trouble. . . .
Shame on Israel, which once said “We reserve the right to protect Jews anywhere in the world,” and did so with acts like “Raid on Entebbe” is silent now, along with so many right wing US Jews in the face of blatant anti-Semitism here in the US.
If not now; when?!
From the right
“The charges of Anti-Semitism appear to be fueled primarily by an anti-Trump animus; it is of interest that the further away one goes from strong involvement with the Jewish community, with activism on behalf of Israel, or with traditional Judaism, the stronger the allegations of anti-Semitism and the opposite is also the case. In other words, the charges of anti-Semitism appear to serve primarily political purposes, either consciously or unconsciously.”
This writer attached a detailed article entitled, “Is the ‘rising tide’ of American anti-Semitism only a surge in incident reporting?”
Those wanting to judge the issue can click here.
Donald Trump and Benyamin Netanyahu are prominent in explanations for this uptick in intra-Jewish tensions.
A social scientist should be careful about concluding too much from too little information, but a number of notes from Internet friends suggest a sharp division on Trump among mature and educated Jews.
Trump has been breaking a number of the informal rules of politics, and maybe some of the formal ones, i.e.,in his sharp criticism of judges who ruled against his actions on immigrants from Muslim countries, as well as in the tweet about Obama tapping his phones that the head of the FBI said was not worth following up.
It’s not only Trump, per se, but a division among Jews (as well as other Americans) that began with Barack Obama. Several of my contacts assert that they voted against Trump in the Republican primaries, but when it came to the final election it was a matter of anybody but Hillary, and what she represented as a continuation of Obama.
If Trump is provoking a widening split between politically liberal and conservative American Jews, Netanyhu adds an Israeli dimension to the divide. He’s seen as the head of a right wing government, that some go so far as to label fascist. What seems to be provoking them is a continued impasse with the Palestinians, and an increase in settlement activity that is taken as putting more nails in the coffin of what might have been a Palestinian State and the end of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
I see myself as primarily observer rather than participant in these squabbles among Americans on the subject of Trump, Clinton and Obama, while I bristle at any who assign primary responsibility to Israelis for the incapacity of Palestinians to move conceptually beyond 1947, or perhaps the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
Moreover, Netanyahu and other members of his government plus leaders of the Knesset opposition have spoken out against the wave of anti-Semitism in the US. Some, more those on the left than the right, have linked it to Trump’s affect on America First, and an opposition to those viewed as foreign to the essence of America.
What more could Israelis do? The US is not Entebbe, ripe for an invasion by the Israeli Air Force. Urging the movement of American Jews to Israel appears to be premature, and could batter a country already suffering from overcrowded roads and a housing market inflated by more demand than supply.
Jews have been arguing since some of them composed portions of what became the Hebrew Bible, then the generations of rabbis who contributed to the Talmud, and all the commentators since.
While some insist that Jewish unity is the key to further survival, a reading of history suggests the impossibility of that, and that a willingness to dispute is one of the pillars of Jewish success.
It may not be fun to find oneself in the midst of yet another uptick in this Judaic trait. It may help to keep our balance by reminding ourselves about the benefits in exposing oneself to dispute before deciding how to act. Among Jews, dispute generally doesn’t come along with violence. While we’re going through another of our higher waves of dispute, it’s our Muslim cousins who are spilling one another’s blood in one of their waves of dispute, in ways likely to limit how survivors can reach a life described as enviable..
Among the Judaic curiosities is that Purim was celebrated yesterday every place but in walled cities. Today, it’s celebrated in Jerusalem.
Enjoy the Jewish Carnival, while I sit back, observe and comment on problems here, there, and everywhere..
Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post