I want to split up this treatment into several portions.
There are lots of ways to compromise truth. One can only be truthful and have a mind with integrity by giving it the almost-highest priority. The only thing that’s higher than truth is that we need to take into account the effects of being truthful. We cannot hurt people needlessly (including ourselves) just in the name of truth. But for the rest, one loves and prioritizes truth or one doesn’t. There is no middle road.
Small children don’t know what is lying until grownups show it to them. There is nothing normal, natural, inborn, genetic about being untruthful. However, once one got used to not say the truth almost always and is liberal with the facts when it suits one, it’s a struggle to regain a life of integrity. It’s a struggle but it is possible. Our soul is honest and we only need to listen to it (again).
One of the advantages of honesty is that one’s relationships are truthful too. Lies make one distant from everyone and everything. Being real makes one close to everyone. Liars live comfortable but lonely lives. Because even their best friends are only so-so friends. The dishonest person can’t help thinking: No one would be my friend if they knew exactly who I am. That means having no friends at all. (Of course, it’s not true that being forthcoming would kill off every friendship. True friends stay friends. But one can’t know that until one is open and real.) Without truth we also can’t be close to G^d. Not just that He hates liars. We close ourselves off if we don’t think or say something honest anymore. And when we became untrustworthy, we also can’t trust anyone else anymore. And without integrity, it’s almost impossible to face the ugly and deal with it.
There doesn’t seem to be a worldview, tradition or belief system that doesn’t need cleaning up. There are two ways about it. One hides what is ugly and one reveals it to reject it. Germany after WW II shows what is the best way. There is no real pride in defending the indefensible, in ignoring the ugly past. Real pride comes from admitting to and facing the ugly in one’s background and rejecting it.
Judaism is no exception. After thousands of years of Jews being oppressed, there are pockets of Judaism that are ugly — to put it shortly. While on the whole, Judaism is proudly among the most humane set of principles ever bundled, and often the first source of others’ highest morality, there are other views from a few rabbis that are outright shameful. Not in the Torah, not in the Mishhah, not in the Talmud — all works of incredible integrity, wisdom and kindness. But there are some more recent interpretations that need to be rejected.
The best one can say about it is that in desperate times, some Jewish leaders saw themselves forced to say unkind things about Gentiles to encourage Jews, being put down and persecuted for centuries in a row, not to give up on their sense of pride and purpose. These mean ideas about Gentiles were said not to justify being mean to them but in defense of the meanness that they subjugated us to. We were constantly not only humiliated but also held living at the brink of extinction.
However, it gets worse. Not only did some Jewish teachers — a small minority, only a few among thousands — in the last few millennia write some untruthful, short-sighted and unkind words about non-Jews. After the most recent attempt to exterminate the Jews, the Holocaust, the State of Israel became a reality, but again surrounded by hundreds of millions brainwashed to kill every Jew in it. (This time Muslims and not Christians, so uneducated by the Gentile moral downfall of the Holocaust.) Some modern rabbis became defensive. We were not powerless — we were better than them. G^d was on our hand and our enemies were inferior to us. Some of them couldn’t see anymore that we were not better but rather tasked with being better — a clear difference.
And now we have a new post-Diaspora generation who doesn’t know non-Jews at all; they have no Gentile friends. Gentile stands for enemy or would-be enemy. So they quote and hang on to these ideas of these few superiority teachers of the past. Rabbi Meir Kahane and his son Benyamin cherry-picked such teachings and expanded on them. Selectively quoting the haters of Gentiles in a warped attempt to lift the Jewish spirit and make Jews proud again. “We are not filth — they are.”
As long and as far as Jews were and are the underdog, it doesn’t matter. We can look down on people who want to mass murder us into extinction. But there where we get in charge, like in our own country, it does matter. We cannot be racists — or be “reverse anti-Semites.” (It’s not real racism just like women hating men is not “reverse sexism” and Blacks hating Whites is not “reverse racism.” The international power structures are not reversed so there is no reverse oppression.)
And there we have it. Jewish teachers and students who believe in hatred. It’s really difficult to shout and not get angry; it’s really difficult to have to kill to defend the Jewish People and not begin hating those who want us dead. Jews are human too, you know. And I’m not pleading for “turning the other cheek.” That principle has lead to more bloodshed than any other in history, because it’s for most people too much to ask. Rather, we need to say “I may come to hate people for being committed to our utter destruction but it’s not my ideal.” As my parents said to their children born after WW II: “We can’t help hating the Germans for what they did to us but you weren’t there and have no permission.” I don’t even hate Nazis. I see that they were human, which is not an excuse but rather an accusation: how could they?! (If they were just vicious beings without free will, who could blame them or be angry at them?)
Hatred is an unsafe way to promote certain ideas because hatred wears off. Further, hatred closes our hearts and hampers even contacts that we want to be loving. Worst of all, if you portray Gentiles as subhuman and your kids meet them, they’d be so surprised, fall in love a marry them — exactly what you don’t want. Rather, you should teach: Gentiles are wonderful people, mostly just like us but what can we do, we are forbidden to marry them. That’s the traditional-Jewish way against intermarriage and very effective.
So yes, there are religious Jews who teach disdain or even hatred of non-Jews. And thank you, Times of Israel for reporting! And in the same way, many Orthodox rabbis who don’t know anyone gay, teach disdain and revulsion about homosexuals because they feel that Gay Lib threatens the Jews’ way of life. (It doesn’t but they are too scared to learn.) There are even Jewish sects that preach and demand submission of women and restrictions on sexuality that are unheard-of in Judaism — as a clear bulwark against modernity and fear of assimilation. (They don’t realize that their version of sexuality is very close to non-Jewish ways of the past, that they rather assimilated by acting like this.) Even the idea against gender separation in school (“sexism is racism against women”) should be considered as we cannot afford to teach and sustain sexism.
More than a few Jewish sects withhold the teaching of basic “secular” knowledge in their schools thereby forcing their youths to a ghetto life. Also this can’t be; living a dedicated Jewish life must be a choice, not enforced. When Jews educate our children with lots of love and gentleness, why wouldn’t they want a Jewish life? It must be their choice, though. Just like G^d doesn’t force us, we have no right to force those dependent on us.
It is not OK to permit extremists their own “cozy” corners to poison the minds and lives of the (young) people in their communities. This must be fought by the majority as unwanted, unbecoming and a mistake.
And so, we don’t need to reject Judaism — only recent monstrosities. That will bring us pride. It will make us stronger. We need to strive to be worthy of being Gentiles’ teachers and they are not intrinsically evil. Homosexuals can teach us how to stop the skyrocketing divorce rates and are not evil. Women are the natural leaders of the Jewish home.
We may need to say that almost all of the Jewish tradition and history disagree with the few haters and that contrary to constant lies, the IDF is the most moral army in the world but that is no excuse for letting oppressive but rare destructive elements off the hook.
Make laws in Israel so that Jews who express disdain for Gentiles can be convicted to do community service in hospitals; who hate homosexuals, in gay centers; who look down on women, in houses for battered women, etc. Repeat offenders go to jail. As a society, we can’t settle for anything less.