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Richard Kronenfeld
Adult Ba'al Teshuvah Ph.D. Physicist

Jewish Intersectionality: Trying to straddle an earthquake fault

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“Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long will you dance between two opinions? If HASHEM is the God, go after Him! And if the Baal, go after it!”
[I Kings 18:21, Art Scroll Tanach]

“Then Mordechai said in reply to Esther, ‘Do not imagine in your soul that you will be able to escape in the king’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, while you and your father’s house will perish.’”
[Esther 4:13-14, Art Scroll Tanach]

The cat is out of the bag. Speaking to what he undoubtedly considered a supportive audience, the Women’s National Democratic Forum, Amnesty International’s American director, Paul O’Brien, made explicit what many have intuited, namely that in his opinion, Israel should not exist as a Jewish state but merely as a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in other countries. (He offered no explanation as to how a defenseless minority of Jews living in a radical Palestinian state could possibly be safe.) To compound the arrogance, he asserted his belief that the majority of Jews agreed with him, polls to the contrary notwithstanding. [ 1 ] Following a wave of criticism, O’Brien issued a “non-apologetic apology”, expressing regret only at having spoken as the arbiter of Jewish opinion. [ 2 ]

Consequently, it is shocking that a recent article in the Washington Free Beacon reports that the US State Department is offering nearly $1 million in grants for organizations to monitor and report on Israeli “human rights violations” in the territories. [ 3 ] In other words, our government will now be bolstering the Palestinians’ fictitious charges in advance of the United Nations’ anticipated upcoming report branding Israel as an apartheid state. While this represents a betrayal of Israel, it is just part of a wider global change in strategy.

Specifically, the Administration, for which over 70% of American Jews voted, reportedly is preparing to sign an agreement with Iran, without sending it to Congress for approval as required by law, that essentially removes all sanctions, including those on individuals with long histories of committing or abetting terrorist acts, in exchange for a temporary postponement of developing nuclear weapons, while Iran’s ballistic missile program, which has produced rockets capable of striking America, let alone Israel and Europe, remains totally unrestricted. [4]

Three deputy negotiators actually resigned in protest over the agreement, whose terms were negotiated by a Russian diplomat, Mikhail Ulyanov, effectively serving as a subcontractor for chief negotiator Robert Malley. [5] Their policy appeases an enemy while defaming our ally, Israel, not to mention throwing America’s traditional Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Egypt, under the bus. Moreover, as Carolyn Glick observed in her recent column, “Washington’s betrayal has only just begun,” Israel is being set up to be scapegoated by an even stronger demonization campaign than that of the first Obama-Biden administration when it was selling the JCPOA, namely that Israel and the Sunni Arab Gulf states have been maliciously dragging America into decades of wars in the Middle East, for which the cure is to dump and weaken those traditional allies while building up Iran to be the dominant power in the region. [6] A crystal ball isn’t needed to predict the results of that policy.

In other words, the United Nations and a gaggle of NGO’s, with tacit approval from the recycled Obama Administration officials running the State Department, are manufacturing evidence with which to defame and delegitimize Israel with the aim of invoking global sanctions à la South Africa. That South Africa was a true apartheid state with a small minority of whites ruling over a majority of people of color, while Israel is a democratic state ruled by a substantial Jewish majority with guarantees for the rights of Arabs and other minorities (in fact, Arabs hold positions all the way up to the Israeli Supreme Court), is of no consequence. As conservative commentator Dennis Prager has often observed, truth is not a value for the Left.

Of course, the State Department’s position, including Secretary Blinken’s largely blaming Israel for the current violence and implicitly calling for more Israeli concessions to the Palestinians  [ 7 ], is no surprise. The US State Department opposed the creation of the state of Israel.  Secretary of State George Marshall even threatened to vote against President Truman in the upcoming election if he granted diplomatic recognition. [8] (Fortunately, Mr. Truman overruled him.) In fact, I have long felt that the Middle East conflict will be resolved, not when the Arabs recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but when the US State Department does.

The foregoing illustrates the increasingly urgent choice that progressive American Jews face between their political ideology and their Jewish identity. How are they responding to this Alice-in-Wonderland situation – predetermined sentence first, trial (if at all) later? By trying to straddle the growing gap between their conflicting identities. ADL, the lead agency for combatting anti-Semitism, disregards and even covers up for Leftist and Moslem anti-Semitism while concentrating its fire on the extreme Right, which, while armed and dangerous, has few supporters among the American people. (A recent article in Commentary by Seth Mandel cites other ways in which ADL is aiding the progressive movement, to the detriment of Jews.) [9]

Jewish Community Relations Councils largely avoid challenging the anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic ethnic studies curricula, developed by the educational consulting group Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Coalition (LESMC), which are increasingly being adopted around the nation, especially in California; in Newton, Massachusetts the JCRC actually opposed efforts to tone down the curriculum and was rewarded with one seat on a new Commission for Anti-Racism and Equity in Education otherwise dominated by Leftist organizations, including the teachers’ union.[ 10 ]

Yet another approach is to obscure their identity. Just as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith shortened its name to the acronym ADL and became more interested in fighting “Islamophobia” than anti-Semitism, when the flow of Jews fleeing Europe dwindled, late in the 20th century, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society adopted the acronym HIAS and shifted its focus to refugees worldwide, which in practice means importing Moslem refugees into America. A recent fundraising letter I received from them refers to “our shared belief in tikkun olam – ‘to repair the world’” – and justifies their new focus by stating, “Today, HIAS continues to help refugees no matter their religion, ethnicity or nationality because WE are Jewish – and because protecting those who must flee persecution to save their lives, is an outgrowth of our Jewish experiences and a reflection of our Jewish values.” Even more worrisome is the trend exemplified by Congregation Tzedek Chicago, which has officially adopted anti-Zionism as one of its fundamental principles. [11]

In light of all the foregoing, combined with the rise in anti-Semitism, some of it violent, especially in “blue” states where most American Jews live, while we await what seems increasingly likely to be the imminent Redemption, I believe we should explore the Benedict Option. That proposal, originated by Rod Dreher, senior editor at The American Conservative, asserts that the culture war ended in complete victory for the Left with the Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court mandating the legality of same-sex marriage, thus necessitating finding a way to live in a post-Christian nation. [12] (We should note that David Horowitz, a secular Jew who was raised on the Left but moved to the Right, argues that there is an ongoing war aimed at destroying Christianity as well as Judaism. [13]) Mr. Dreher advocates that Christians should create a counter-culture: form local communities – live near one another, educate their children together, employ one another, and support one another. As he sees the implementation of that ideal, believers will begin to stand out from the common culture by:

  • “Turning off the tv and the smartphone and not mindlessly soaking in social media and popular culture that do not support Christian values.
  • Refusing to yield to our distorted sexual impulses through premarital sex, pornography, and other culturally acceptable practices.
  • Helping to minimize wasteful, consumerist culture.
  • Possibly losing our jobs when we refuse to bow to anti-Christian beliefs in the office.(For example, doctors or lawyers who are pressured to participate in or defend abortions and gender transitions.)
  • Holding to the orthodox Christian understanding of the gender complementarity of marriage.” [ 14 ]

I believe that most, if not all, of these points can be adapted to a Jewish perspective, since Orthodox Jews already practice many of these behaviors if we substitute “Jewish” for “Christian.” To illustrate practical implementation of these ideas, consider Bari Weiss’ ten principles for combating “woke culture:”

“1. Remind yourself, right now, of the following truth: You are free.

  1. Be honest.
  2. Stick to your principles.
  3. Set an example for your kids and your community.
  4. If you don’t like it, leave it.
  5. Become more self-reliant.
  6. Worship God more than Yale.
  7. Make like-minded friends.
  8. Trust your own eyes and ears.
  9. Use your capital to build original, interesting and generative things right now. This minute.”

For a more elaborate discussion, it’s well worth taking the time to read Ms. Weiss’ original article. [15]

I’ll share some specific proposals about protecting our children in an upcoming post.

Notes

  1. JI Staff, “Amnesty USA Director Paul O’Brien’s remarks to the Woman’s National Democratic Club,” Jewish Insider, March 14, 2022, https://jewishinsider.com/2022/03/amnesty-usa-director-paul-obriens-remarks-to-the-womens-national-democratic-club/
  2. David Lange, “Amnesty International’s Paul O’Brien’s Gut Wrenching ‘Apology, ’” Israellycool.com, April 3, 2022, https://www.israellycool.com/2022/04/03/amnesty-internationals-paul-obriens-gut-wrenching-apology/ http://gty.im/1319349969 http://gty.im/1319349969
  3. Adam Kredo, “Watchdog Wants Biden To Disclose Origins of $1 Million Grant Program To Demonize Israel,” Washington Free Beacon, March 21, 2022, https://freebeacon.com/national-security/watchdog-wants-biden-to-disclose-origins-of-$1-million-grant-program-to-demonize-Israel/
  4. David Israel, “Former Sec. State Adviser on Iran: Colleagues Fear Rob Malley’s Concessions, Want Congress to Reject Deal,” Jewish Press, March 3, 2022, https://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/former-sec-state-adviser-on-iran-colleagues-fear-rob-malleys-concessions-want-congress-to-reject-deal/2022/03/03/
  1. Colum Lynch, “Russia’sVienna AmbassadorMikhail Ulyanov Tries to Save the Iran Nuclear Deal,” Foreign Policy, January 26, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/26/russia-iran-nuclear-negotiator/
  1. Carolyn Glick, “Washington’s betrayal has only just begun,” JNS.org, March 13, 2022, https://www.jns.org/opinion/washingtons-betrayal-has-only-just-begun/

7. Melanie Phillips, “Blinken’s Obscene Western Progressive Agenda,” JNS.org, March 31, 2022, https://www.jns.org/opinion/blinkens-obscene-western-progressive-agenda

8. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, “President Truman’s Decision to Recognize Israel,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, No. 563, May 2008, https://jcpa.org/article/president-truman-decision-to-recognize-israel/

9. Seth Mandel, “The Revolution inside the ADL,” Commentary, April 2022, https://www.commentary.org/articles/seth-mandel/adl-progressives-antisemitism-greenblatt/

10. Steven Stotsky, “Proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum in Massachusetts Sparks Controversy,” Camera.org, February 8, 2022, https://www.camera.org/article/concerns-in-the-jewish-community-over-adding-an-ethnic-studies-curriculum-in-the-public-schools/

11. Jacob Magid, “Preaching to the margins: Chicago synagogue adopts anti-Zionism as a ‘core value,’” The Times of Israel, April 6, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/preaching-to-the-margins-chicago-synagogue-adopts-anti-zionism-as-a-core-value/

  1. “What is the Benedict Option?” https://thebenedictoption.com/what-is-the-benedict-option/
  2. Steve Byas, “Horowitz: American Left Is at War With Christianity,” New American, March 18, 2019, https://thenewamerican.com/horowitz-american-left-is-at-war-with-christianity/

14. Benedict Option, op.cit.

  1. Bari Weiss, “10 ways to fight back against woke culture,” New York Post, January 31, 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/01/31/10-ways-to-fight-back-against-woke-culture/
About the Author
I'm a native New Yorker (Brooklyn, to be precise) transplanted to the desert as a teen-ager. I hold a Ph.D in Physics from Stanford and have taught mathematics and physics at the high school, community college, and university level. I'm an adult ba'al teshuvah and label myself as centrist Orthodox and a Religious Zionist along the lines of OU, Yeshiva University, and Mizrachi.
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