It’s amazing what a little bit of crass and a few “****”s will do for you. In my previous article, “American Jews: Support Bibi or Shut Up,” I didn’t say anything revolutionary. Both Israelis and American Jews have been saying for years how groups like J Street are doing serious damage while they perform their roles as “useful idiots” to perfection. Yet for the first time, American Jews across the country are confronting and discussing this issue en masse, and they’re doing it because some ass on Times of Israel pointed a finger in their faces and said “hey you.”
If that’s what it took to bring the issue to the forefront then I don’t mind taking the hit and being the ass that lit the flames. For too long I’ve watched J Street and other like-minded and misguided Jews take aim at Israel without enough of us questioning the ramifications of their actions and how they mesh with their so-called “pro-Israel” credentials. At the same time, I’ve seen articles with titles like “Shalom, Mother F****r” and “It’s time to tell terrorism to go f%ck itself” rise to the top of the charts with thousands of shares and comments discussing the content of those articles. The only reasonable conclusion is that the TOI readership, while diverse in many ways, is united in that it wants to see articles that push buttons, that stroke the fire, and that, yes, brandish a little foul language.
What that says about society at large is less interesting for me at the moment. What I care about most right now is Israel, America and the relationship Jews have with both, and how we can ensure that all three survive and prosper together. Accordingly, one of the first orders of business in any sort of initiative is to get your own house in order, which, as I see it, Jews have not done (although to be fair, I’m not sure we ever did).
Jews need to be united from America to Israel to Europe and beyond if we are to weather the storm of anti-Semitism that is only just beginning to brew. Israel needs diaspora Jewry as much as diaspora Jews need Israel. We all have the same goal, but we disagree about how to get there. There are ways to deal with that disagreement privately, without the need for inflammatory and widespread anti-Israel activity, whether through campus protests, ads in the New York Times, or lobbying the American government to act against Israel. I honestly don’t know how Jews who take part in these activities can still feel good about being a Jew. If ever there was a time for Jewish guilt to kick in, I hope it comes thundering through with a high-flying dropkick from the top of the rafters.
But I already said what I think about this issue. And I also said it with the level of passion and anger that I feel toward Jews who take part in these actions. I don’t regret one word of my previous article, and for those who I angered the most, it’s fair to assume they are also the ones who most needed to hear the message.
There have been three basic reactions to the article:
1. People totally agree.
2. People totally disagree.
3. People totally agree with the substance but feel the style was crass and unwarranted.
I respect both those who agree and those who disagree with me. I do not “hate” American Jews of any kind, although I do hate the actions some are taking. While I think they have every right to do what they want as an American, I believe they need to counter that with their Jewish identity and ask themselves if they are choosing one over the other, and if there’s not a better way for both to coexist equally and uniquely. We’re all entitled to our opinion and mine was nothing more than that.
To those who had the last reaction, I’m sorry if you found the style of writing unpleasant, but I’m not trying to win any Pulitzers. I was trying to deliver a message and make sure it got heard as far as possible. I’m not a journalist, but a simple musician who cares deeply about these issues, and will do whatever I can to try and influence the court of public opinion. It’s clear from the reaction that many Jews agree with me, but for whatever reason this was not an issue being discussed prominently. Now it is. As I said earlier, if I had to be the one to stand up and speak the harsh truth in order for others to feel emboldened enough to do the same, then so be it.
Maybe it will cause Jews to think twice about their actions the next time they attack the state of Israel. Maybe it will cause Jews who disagree with what J Street is doing to speak out more strongly against them. Whatever the result, people are talking and that’s the way forward.
And in the future, if you don’t want bloggers to write crass articles with foul language, then don’t read, share and comment on them. All I did was give you what you wanted in order to get what I want – a conversation.
Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv