Shmuley Boteach once produced a wittily titled book, The Jewish Guide to Adultery. It’s a lightly written romp (so to speak), deft, amusing and insightful by turns, that well lives up to its intriguing promise.
If only the same could be said of his recent intercession in the kerfuffle surrounding the singer Lorde’s decision to bag a planned appearance in Tel Aviv this summer.
The man Newsweek called “the most famous rabbi in America,” and the Jerusalem Post lists as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world, was the prime mover in the placement of a notably ham-fisted advertisement that appeared today in the Washington Post.
The full-page effort, paid for by the clunkily named World Values Network, describes Lorde as a “bigot” for canceling her concert, slates her “hypocrisy” in respect of yet deciding to play Russian dates, and holds her partly responsible for what it describes as a growing prejudice against the Jewish state among young people in her adopted New Zealand homeland. It also castigates New Zealand for its Israel-related activities at the United Nations.
As ads go, this sort of misses the golden copywriting rule of a single-minded proposition.
The truth is, nobody is a bigot for deciding not to play a concert, or indeed for going ahead with a performance. She may have been stupid, misguided and ridiculous. She may have missed a golden opportunity. She may have been chronically ill-informed. But bigotry rests on a kind of certainty that in fact she manifestly lacked.
If the episode did the Takapuna tyke a major disservice, it was to reveal her as a chronic vacillator. This affliction is not unheard of among the young and the restless, especially so in a place like New Zealand (where the word “Israel” still remains most popularly associated with the name of a nationally known sporting figure involved in the bizarre game called rugby rather than in relation to any supposedly anti-Semitic hordes who push and plead).
One naturally hesitates to give religious advice to America’s Rabbi, even on the occasion of this latest counterproductive prolixity.
However, there is such a thing as taking the high moral ground, as evinced by the succinct statement on the affair made earlier by Lorde’s Israeli promoter, Eran Arielli of Naranjah:
“We forgive her.”
Less is sometimes more, Shmuley.