As the existential question of the legitimacy of the state of Israel is being raised by both the extreme left and the extreme right, American Jews and Israelis are faced with some difficult moral and religious issues. Do they acquiesce and support the morally and perhaps legally corrupt politicians who pander to their existential needs and seem to support Israel in ways that are popular to right wing Jews or do they stay and fight within less corrupt, but more challenging party where they tend more to align liberal, even progressive, domestic issues.
So many American Jews I know have become one-issue candidates and they don’t care whom they support or align themselves with as long as they “support Israel.” They are willing to overlook the real inconsistencies and shortcomings of the party simply because “so and so is good on Israel.” They say they are upset and tired of what is happening in the other party and simply have had enough realizing that much of which that party has fought for is something from which they have benefited.
When I hear members of the Republican Jewish Coalition laugh at immigration jokes from our President, I am struck with the lack of understanding and tone-deafness these folks have about their own stories of families fleeing from oppression, pogroms and the Shoah and even enemy threats to the state of Israel. Those Jews who laughed committed an immoral act and should have walked out.
When I hear Jewish young people aligning with the enemies of Israel and be tone deaf to the lack of reality of the enemies’ real agenda for the Jews in Israel, I am angry with their self-righteous criticism and eye-rolling responses to the facts on the ground and their thinking they are the “good Jews” whom the enemies might spare.
Both groups represent to me the main problem with Judaism. Jews who for forget who they are, where they came from and what their history is. I don’t think they’re self hating. They just don’t know and they just don’t accept. Whether through assimilation or having it too good or reacting to by identifying with those they perceive as victims to enhance their own self esteem, they are not doing any favors to anyone, not even themselves. They, sadly are living in a delusional reality and harming the rest of us who simply want to live and let live in peace and harmony with others without existential threats and compromises to our own identities.
Sadly, Jews are just as capable of self deception, identity confusion, intersectional lazy and simplistic thinking and intellectual dishonesty as any other ethnic or religious group. We are as capable of bigotry, hatred and discrimination as any other group. We are as capable of making bad decisions and choices as other groups.
We are called to “do justice” and “repair the world” and be a “light unto the nations”, but we fall short when we laugh at immigrants from oppression or identify with enemies our people. If we cannot act respectful towards ourselves and others how can claim to really be “good Jews.” We not only must do better, we must stop doing some of the things we are doing. Laughing at harmful, racist immigration jokes and identifying with our enemies does not morally elevate us one bit. If fact it has always led to more existential challenges for us all.