David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Streams of Anxious Consciousness XXII

My definition of fanaticism is when people manipulate words or weaponize religion for unintended intent.

Fanatics are running rampant and co-opting words that used to be benign and are now seen as evil. Meanwhile, evil words have been sanitized, all in a fanatical pursuit of distorting truth and manipulating narratives.

I want to reclaim a bunch of words and express their true intentions and make clear delineations of what we could and should say, and words we need to use sparingly or should trash, because they belong at the bottom of our lexicon.

The word Zionism originated as a pursuit to establish a Jewish State. It now refers to the development and protection of a Jewish nation in the land of Israel. Zionism is all about the right of a Jewish people to have a homeland. It is NOT a bad word. It has been co-opted by haters as a weapon and used as a derogatory term when ironically, it is a badge of honor. A word of praise. It should be used loudly, proudly and freely.

Woke stems from African-American vernacular English that alerts people to racial prejudice and discrimination. It has evolved in recent years to represent a liberal leaning bias to be supportive of LGBTQ awareness, racial justice and social inequalities.

This word has also been co-opted, but by a different extreme to devalue social justice and denigrate those who seek to help the downtrodden and are politically progressive.

The essence of these words and the movements behind them are good, at their core. Why would we allow anyone the right to hijack these words and manipulate them to serve their goal, especially when they do not represent the definition.

I should not need to use a semi colon in defining myself as woke or a Zionist. I know what those terms mean. I do not need or want crazies and fanatics to ascribe their definition on to me. Shame on them. And I do not want fringe elements of those groups to define what we do and do not stand for. I know what we are all about.

At the same time, there are a few bad words we all need to be reminded of too.

Antisemite is more than Jewish hatred. Semitism as first used by a German historian in 1781 comes from the idea of languages from a Middle Eastern origin. Almost 150 years ago, a journalist referring to the hatred of Jews coined the phrase, antisemitism. The phrase stuck because it was prevalent.

Today, antisemitism means more than Jew hatred. It connects historical, political, religious as well as social streams of Jewish identity and advocacy and bundles them alas one. Because Israel is a Jewish State and the indigenous homeland of our people, to be anti-Zionist is to be antisemitic.

One of my favorite illustrations of this comes from Congressman Richie Torres. He says, could anyone imagine saying I hate Puerto Rico. It is a horrible place that is riddled with horrible things and I do not like the way people behave there, and I despise their terrible policies and are cruel to the animals and the indigenous people of the land. It deserves to be wiped from the map. But I love Puerto Ricans! That is beyond absurd. The place and the people are intrinsically connected. Anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same.

Of course Israel and Zionism is rooted in democracy, which allows us to question and take umbrage with our leaders. We are encouraged to disagree with our government, when it does not suit us. Some would say, it is a requirement of Israeli citizenship. But being critical of a government is NOT being opposed to the existence of a state. Most Americans can explain that distinction easily.

We need to treat the label of antisemitism with disgust and revulsion. It should hold similar weight to terms like racist, a rapist or pedophile. The very lowest scum of the earth traffic in antisemitism. Its degree of offense needs to be elevated.

Ironically, many who play in the sandbox of woke-ness and social justice are not thinking twice about playing in the world of antisemitism. I cannot get past the hypocrisy. To call a woke activist racist is a great crime to their character. So too, must we do the same with calling them antisemitic, when they behave in that manner.

Many such people misusing the term woke feel invincible against such labels. They see the world refracted through two lenses; oppressor and oppressed. Oppressors are usually wealthy, white and have entitlements. The oppressed are usually of color, economically challenged and stretching to achieve. Oppressors have power. The oppressed are powerless.

If you look through these lenses only, like so many activists today do, with no history, facts, nuance or understanding, one could wrongly deduce that Israel oppresses and Palestinians are oppressed. But that is not the case.

Many of these naïve foot soldiers might have received an education in top notch schools, but they are indeed stupid. They march blindly for causes they know nothing about. When anyone who claims to love liberal values tears down signs of civilian hostages taken against their will because they loathe Israel and falsely call Israel oppressors, it boils down to nothing more than antisemitism. It is that simple. It is not complicated. They MUST be called out for their unashamed hatred.

These so-called activists are stooges. A stooge is someone that does evil people’s bidding for them, without even realizing how they are being manipulated. They naively correlate that supporting the oppressed Palestinians means they should stand with Hamas. They are clueless. A stooge cannot thank for themselves. The stooge thinks vilifying Israel and claiming the hostages are deserving of their fate is morally sound. It is preposterous if it were not so sad.

I am going to try to add a new word to my lexicon and you are free to use it and disseminate it widely.It is an anti-Semitic Stooge, or A.S.S. for short. Allow me to share some examples of who an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS) is.

If you decried the bombing of a Palestinian hospital by Israel but were silent when evidence proved the missile came from Hamas, you were never really angered about the death of innocents in a hospital and children dying. You are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS) who unfairly targets Jews and Israel.

If you want Israel to be found guilty of war crimes in the United Nations but are radio silent when Hamas headquarters are uncovered smack in the center of and underneath a hospital, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you scream in frustration that Israel is blocking fuel from arriving in Gaza, but your voice is squelched at the endless fuel used to propel rockets towards Israel by Hamas (which requires hundreds of gallons of fuel for a barrage to get airborne), you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you wag a finger at Israel for bombing civilian targets and are speechless at the 25,000 rockets to date, that have been launched by Hamas on civilians in Israel, you are decidedly an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you blame Israel for a paralyzing siege over Gaza that has denied food, aid, supplies and restricted travel for Palestinians but conveniently ignore the materials that were at the disposable of Hamas which were used to assemble thousands of rockets and mortars that were brought into Gaza, the 100,000 machine guns in the hands of terrorists, the thousands of pounds of dynamite, the scores of grenades, the millions of tons of concrete used to build terror tunnels, and the at least 500 Gazans who as recently as last month were able to freely travel to Iran for terror training, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you fault Israel for stifling technological advances or limiting trade in Gaza but seem to forget the elaborate ventilation systems used to oxygenate tunnels or the access to millions of cell phones, iPads, and truck loads of Go-Pro cameras strapped to the bodies of terrorists, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you claim Israel is lying about the atrocities that occurred in Jewish homes and deny that people were tortured because you have seen no proof, even though Israel was compelled to disseminate pictures and videos, yet you take the word of Hamas on numbers of injuries and deaths and how manny of those are civilians and not terrorists, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you stupidly claim that 230 hostages deserve their fate, and you equate their captivity to the 4300 Hamas terrorists in Israeli jails. Yet, you ignore that those terrorists in jails were given a fair trial in a democratic judicial system, they are served Halal food, are offered prayer mats and prayer space 5 times a day, a chance to study the Quran daily, given medical care and attention as needed, are afforded opportunities to talk and see family and walk outside, when none of those things are given to the 230 Jewish hostages, you are a raging hypocrite and an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you have repeatedly tossed the phrase, ‘proportionality’ around but are fine trading 4500 felons for 230 innocent civilians, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

If you are sure of the pain inflicted by an Israeli bomb but question the veracity of the stories Israeli victims of terror endured, you are an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS).

Most of the anti-Semitic Stooges I see are mired in hypocrisy and steeped in double standards. Not being able to treat situations equally adds proof of the viral crime of Jew and Israel hatred.

It is time for us to reclaim our vocabulary and draw distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong in those words. We should not be ashamed of being Woke, Zionist or activists. Whereas antisemitism should be a label of embarrassment, shame and disgust. If anyone claims the above, make sure they know the title they wear. They really are an A.S.S.

And anyone who uses the former part of any of the arguments above needs to be rebutted with their hypocrisy and shamed for double standards and their silence. They can and should be labeled loudly, an anti-Semitic Stooge, (ASS). Feel free to use ANY of these examples to print or broadcast media, social streams or around the lunch table. We can be loud too!

I wish all a week of peace. May gladness rain and joy increase. We need that so badly!

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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