“Enlightened” – Jewish Selection in America

At a time when politics and policy are front and centre, a time when we as citizens of the world are seeing shifts in government and tactics, my naïveté in hoping that the growing divide we see each time we turn on the news, will somehow shake up the Jewish community and bridge the gap between us, remains unfulfilled. 

Non Israeli, left leaning groups who identify as Jewish in order to give credence to their views in the eyes of the international community regarding , a country that most have never lived in, served in, voted in, yet demand that the democratically elected Israeli government consider their positions on Israel in, while sitting comfortably in their Brooklyn, LA or  Miami homes, is asinine. 

But this divide within the Jewish community existed long before we returned home in 1948. Being forced into the diaspora saw the Jewish people and their views assimilate into those of their host countries, which many sociologists would argue is a natural and expected occurrence. 

Yet, amazingly, the Jewish people have always kept their close knit sense of community and family, especially during tumultuous times. 

As the world sees politics shift to more extremist views, the Jewish people seem to have fallen victim to the polarizing affects of this new normal, which is anything but. 

It only takes a little investigating into some of these groups who claim to support Israel, actively advocating for solutions to the Israeli -Palestinian conflict, to find that many do not support Israel at all. 

That the fairly new, all be it ridiculous idea of “self identifying” as Jews, even if one is not ethnically or religiously Jewish by any accepted standard, somehow affords individuals the accreditation to speak about Israel from “a Jewish perspective”. 

None of this, of course, is news. 

So, why the urgency to write this piece? A comment by Women’s March organizer Sophie Ellman-Golan. 

Following a blatant antisemitic attack on a Sukkah in New York, defacing the property with Free Gaza” spray painted on it’s exterior walls, a time when one might expect Jews from both ends of the political spectrum would come together in support of the community as a whole, Ms. Ellman-Golan responded by tweeting “You only write on a random sukkah or a synagogue if you blame all Jews for the occupation. Target supporters of the state, not people practising their faith” 

While her strong connections and support of co-organizer, Linda Sarsour, a supporter of Louis Farrakhan, who only a few weeks back called on the American Muslim community to “stop humanizing Israelis”, Ms. Ellman- Golan’s hateful comments are usually part in parcel of her anti Israel vitriol and rarely surprise me at all. 

But this was different. What Ms. Ellman-Golan has done is place a target on the backs of Jews she considers fair game to attack. A Jewish selection, if you will. Certain Jews to the right, others to the left. A chilling reference to a time not that long ago. 

Doree Lewak of the New York Post published an article entitled “Israeli student at Columbia says she’s being bullied by Palestinian group” recanting the fearful story of Ofir Dayan, daughter to Israeli Consul General of New York, Dani Dayan. The article headlined a photo of Ms. Dayan on campus wearing a kaffiyeh, with what appears to be Stars of David woven into the fabric.

No sooner did the article post, when an editor of The Forward, a Jewish paper who’s tagline reads “Jewish. Fearless. Since 1897” posted a tweet referencing Ms. Dayan wearing the kaffiyeh, “She’s literally wearing the Palestinian national accessory with Israeli flags on it” 

While one might hope that an individual who holds the position of editor at a paper, a publication that identifies as Jewish no less, would know that the kaffiyeh is not Palestinian, rather middle eastern, worn by Mizrahi Jews in addition to Arab populations for centuries, this editor seems to lack understanding of Jewish cultures other than her own. 

 Instead her tweet seemed to accept the reality that a Jewish student who dares to wear a Star of David, (which she incorrectly identified as the Israeli flag) on a piece of clothing she incorrectly identified as “Palestinian”, might expect such attacks to occur. 

 The “enlightened” Jewish extreme left, like the radical right they so often and rightfully so call out,  are clearly anything but.

About the Author
Shai is an Israeli television and media personality living abroad in Toronto, Canada. Following the 2014 Israel / Gaza war, Shai understood that his North American platform, afforded him the rare opportunity to educate against the rise in Antisemitism and Anti-Israel vitriol. In addition to his success in television and media, Shai now travels internationally, speaking to various international organizations & communities on combating the fallacies presented on Israel and the Israeli - Arab conflict.
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