The Jewish Telegraph Association in “Here’s why we report on the Jewish victims of general tragedies” explains why it would be OK that it time and again reports on (tiny) Jewish angles in general stories. I appreciate the doubt!
Is that not chauvinist? Is it not ridiculous to look for rare Jewish victims in general tragedies, or focus on one Jewish winner among many non-Jewish ones, just in order to bring home the news to Jewish readers?
While arguing that all people are most interested in what happens to “their own,” he misses something crucial.
Judaism is characterized by two aspects, as I learned from Rabbi Lopes Cardozo: Jewish and humanistic stuff. We have Shabbat, kosher and our own sexual laws, but we have also things like: the Torah is given to all of Mankind through the Jews, Jews must be like Priests to all the Nations and Jews should work in Repairing the World – not just their own tent.
And just when you would argue that Jews are no better than Gentiles, and must be as egotistical, self-centered and small-minded as everyone else, I will say that anyway we are held to a higher standard. It is part of the rationale of our existence as Chosen Nation – the only People with an eternal mission.
What’s good enough for the Gentiles is not good enough for the Jews. (My variation to “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”) Gentiles should be good people; Jews must besides good be holy. (I don’t write we are – I write we should. Let others tell us if we are.)
Jews should feel empathy with Jews AND everyone. Which is happening, as we see in the unprecedented number of Israeli Jewish organizations that stand up for Gentile rights and needs (sometimes even slandering their own in the process).
Possibly subconsciously, the JTA boss seems to think so too. The length of his defense may be telling, as the French say so well: “qui s’excuse s’accuse,” or Shakespeare: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
His solution is that it’s OK to focus on “our own” first, but that that then should be the opening to focus after that on everyone else. Unfortunately JTA does not always do that – understatement.
But I say: Don’t worry. Jews can handle the Jewish AND the humanistic angle. Use them both. Mix them. To be a humanist is Jewish too.