It was 1990, I was 13, and I was about to get a bar mitzvah in the world of Jewish politics.
Growing up in Western Wisconsin, we followed Minnesota news, especially when that news was of a rumpled college professor cum Senatorial candidate who was as erudite as my uncle, funny as my mother, hyper as me, J, and as unabashedly Midwestern liberal as well, my entire family.
One of us, Paul Wellstone, was running for higher office, and we were enthused. The one of us was only heightened by the Jewishness he shared with my mother, my sisters, and me. His opponent Rudy Boschwitz was Jewish, and a relatively liberal Republican, but it was clear who the homeboy was. We cheered from our ringside seat in the rolling hills, wishing there was voting reciprocity between Minnesota and Wisconsin like there is for college tuition.
It was going to go down as a wild one, complete with unsubstantiated allegations over in the gubernatorial race of a candidate skinny dipping with teenage girls and Wellstone’s hilarious ads (designed by a friend of my cousin, they had things like Wellstone talking at high speed because he couldn’t afford longer commercials and another one where babies tried to write checks to Rudy Boschwitz).
But the drama that the biggest impression on my teenage self was something called the “Jewish letter.”
It was an open letter to the Jewish community from Rudy Boschwitz.
I don’t think I ever read the actual text, but it essentially called on his coreligionists to vote for the “real Jew” in the race. The evidence against Wellstone’s Real Jewishness was twofold. First, he had married a Shiksa (non Jewish woman, the amazing Sheila a lifelong opponent of domestic violence) while Rudy had held singles gatherings for Jews to increase their odds of hooking up with a member of the tribe. And two, Wellstone had supported recognition of the PLO and palled around with Jesse Jackson.
I was horrified.
First of all, my dad who converted seven years later, had not yet done so, so that was my family Rudy was attacking as unreal in our Jewishness.
Second of all, I had a soft spot for Jesse Jackson because of our shared first name. He definitely had my vote starting in 1984; the first election I can remember. His use of another, derogatory name in calling New York City Hymietown seemed quite forgivable to me. I had never been called a hymie, the anti-Semites I dealt with were far too ignorant to know such a quaint slur.
As for the meeting with the PLO, I knew vaguely that there was an Intifada going on and that everyone was identifying me with the soldiers, and that I identified with the stone throwing kids, though I was far too wussy to throw much on anything. If Paul and Jesse could put a stop to that, it was fine with me.
Thankfully, the Jewish letter went over about as well with the Minnesota Jews as with me. It was cited as one of the factors in Paul’s miraculous victory. The world seemed a magical place, between that and the Twins World Series victory the following year, I cannot tell you which was a bigger deal at the time. Two years later, Paul gloated and pogoed to the victory of our Wisconsin progressive Jew, Russ Feingold.
I became more of a man, or at least an older one.
The Jewish letter was the moment I saw both how uptight my community elders were about two things that were a basic fact of my existence: recognizing Palestinians and having relationships with non-Jews. I also saw that the community could ignore the nagging of its elders and do the principled thing.
Since then, I have been frustrated.
Both Feingold and Wellstone learned to vote like U.S. Senators whenever Israel came up, which is to say with none of the creativity or morality they had brought to their campaigns. And now neither are in the Senate anymore, the victims of a fatal plane crash and a suicidal Republican wave election. Another one-of-us-except-for-on-Israel Jew, Al Franken is an improbable Senator.
And while Rudy has been defeated, there are no elections for Jewish community leaders. The current bunch is pretty much exactly the same as the old bunch, and every bit as kneejerk when it comes to my issues.
But I have learned you don’t have to wait for leaders to leave or be defeated, you find your own.
And you become one.
I have attended Jews of all Hues, a gathering for Jews from interfaith families.
And I have joined Jewish Voice for Peace, which has a youth wing Young, Jewish, and Proud that stood up to both Israel’s Prime Minister and the leaders of the American Jewish community. We stand for those hyper, articulate, and compassionate Jewish values of my childhood. And while Paul might not have signed on at YoungJewishProud.org, I think he would still be proud of me.
(photo: Ross Hammsersley)
Dear Jesse… Frankly, I’m not so sure Professor Paul would be so proud of the choices you are making.
My husband advised both Boschwitz’ and Wellstone’s campaigns on Veterans affairs… (a win/win ticket for US Veterans)… and the candidates views re Israel were not that dissimilar either… both were strong supporters of Israel… which is probably what motivated some of Boschwitz’ supporters to distastefully interject into the debate who was more Jewish…
While Paul inspired you to get involved, in the end you condemn him for selling out to the system in re to Israel… but that was never the case… he always strongly supported Israel… it is your views that changed.
I think many (young people especially) got the first part of Paul’s message… get involved… but some didn’t get the part about knowing where you are going.
And we can’t know where we’re going unless we know where we’ve come from.
Paul sought advice & counsel from the learned in our community… from highly regarded rabbis.
He didn’t diss them as “nagging elders”. He was about reaching across the aisle… and the generations…
And always supportive of Israel’s right to peacefully exist as a Jewish nation.
I think it naively presumptuous to believe Paul would have been proud of someone signing on to a cause whose webpage reads like an Al-Jazeera newsfeed and whose main agenda item is the anti-Israel boycott/divestment campaign.
You sound like a nice, sincere, guy. I hope you discover soon that “Jewish Voice for Peace” is not about peace, but is about the destruction of Israel. There are other organizations that are actually working toward a two state solution. Read “The Case for Israel” before you start believing too many lies about the history of the Middle East.
@Charlie, my point was not who was the strong supporter of Israel in the race. It was about how the Jewish community attempts to limit debate and demands thoughtless loyalty. If Jewish community elders spent more time listening to those who think like m and less time currying the favor of senators, our community and maybe even Israel would be a different place.
And yes, my views have changed since I was 13 years old, but my basic principles have not. I hope Paul’s would have as well, but I can still fight for the Jewish community’s to change and not remain stuck in 1967.
It’s true that as an alum of Carleton College, I do go a little swoony whenever I hear either of the Wellstones mentioned.
Thank you so much for writing this touching, personal, and principled piece. As another young progressive Jew, I sympathize with the confusion and rejection you feel when our community sets up litmus tests for our Judaism, tests that often contradict values we hold as dear and quintessentially Jewish.
We respect our elders. We understand your fear. And we also know the well-worn and oft-repeated battle cries for “Israel right-or-wrong.” We just don’t believe them anymore, because they fly in the face of what we’ve seen in the West Bank, what we’ve heard from trusted Israeli and Palestinian friends, and our core values.
Regarding the other writers’ vitriol about Jewish Voice for Peace — I’m on the board and have been involved for years. No one ever informed me, or any other members, that JVP is about the destruction of Israel. Please actually view our website and talk to us if you have any questions. It may turn out that you agree with us once you learn about who we actually are. And if not, well, then at least you’ll object to what we actually stand for and do.
Actually… it’s not the Jewish community “stuck in 1967” but the Palestinians… e.g., it is they who demand Israel return to pre-’67 borders… regardless of current facts on the ground.
Ironically, when given the “mic”, so to speak, on these pages…a Jewish forum… your point is that the Jewish community limits debate? Huh?
“Nobody ever listens to me!”
We hear ya… just don’t agree.
And not because our community “demands thoughtless loyality”. Ask 3 Jews a question, you’ll get 5 opinions at least…
I dunno… maybe growing up in rural Wisconsin you have a different take on who We/you are?
Yeah, you “can still fight for the Jewish community’s to change”… but are we the enemy?
Thank you for sharing your experience of that historic election with us.
I do have just one question though –
You mention both Paul Wellstone z”l and Russ Feingold (and Al Franken) as having had the courage and principles to buck the establishment – Jewish and otherwise – on every issue. You mention them being courageous progressives, who stood on their principles in every way.
And yet you accuse them of giving in on Israel. You say they had followed “none of the creativity or morality they had brought to their campaigns” in supporting Israel very strongly in the Senate.
I wonder – have you ever considered that perhaps these very principled and very well informed men in fact had considered the situation, and believed that “the creativity and morality” of their campaigns did in fact lead them to support Israel?
Is it perhaps possible that these men, who generally knuckled under for nothing, did not knuckle under for this, either, but did in fact believe that they supported the right position on Israel? That Israel, as a free and democratic country, was and is the right nation to support for a progressive American Senator?
Or do you seriously believe that men who did not compromise their principles on anything – anything! – not even to get themselved re-elected! – that even they could be made to compromise only on this one issue alone? Really? The drive to “support Israel” is really the one thing that can beat down even such men as they? When nothing else can?
And do you not feel, as their admirer, that you do them a grave disservice in accusing them of bending and selling out the moment they dare disagree with you on one single issue?
Personally, I find it far easier to believe that they really and truly believed that supporting Israel was the right thing, than that they “gave in” on it. Not those two.
And having spoken with Al Franken about Israel, I believe that he sincerely believes in his support, as well. He’s not just going along to get along (does he ever?)
I just wonder whether other progressive liberals (Jewish or otherwise), who see their heroes take a stand for Israel, might ever give them a chance, and see whether there’s any chance they might be right, might know something – instead of simply vilifying them of “going with the established position.” Maybe – just maybe – there’s something they know or understand that you’re not seeing here?
@Jenna, Good question, if one that ignores the role of AIPAC contributions. I think implicit in my article is the whole generational shift. For people Paul’s or Al’s age, supporting Israel’s policies was the liberal Jewish thing to do, For people my age and younger it’s not. Obviously there is a wide range of opinion, but we are talking generalities That’s why I expect that people who don’t agree with me will nonetheless take my arguments seriously as examples of a growing trend whether or not they share them personally. Another shift in my article: supporting a two state solution was a courageous act for a Jewish senator when Paul did it. Now it is not, in the moment when a two state solution becomes more and more difficult to achieve. I believe the positions I am taking will seem similarly uncontroversial in twenty years. And those who are trying to shut such discourse down are ignoring both of these shifts: generational and positional that have taken place. My goal is to have my own work, which is not focused on a one- or two-state solution to succeed where there previous generation’s has failed.
You seem to think you’ve discovered some new thinking… e.g.,the boycott of Israel that Jewish Vision for Peace extols on their website is NOT new thinking… it’s as old as the State of Israel…
And the concept for a 2 state solution also not exactly new… It began before the formation of the “modern state of Israel”… when Arabs (who today call themselves Palestinians) were offered a state side-by-side to Israel and rejected the UN partition plan, instead declaring war on the new state of Israel.
The Palestinians could have had a parallel state to Israel 63 years ago… and anytime since then… but have repeatedly refused… why? because they don’t want a side-by-state… they want a state of their own that includes all of Israel proper.
I also disagree that your views represent the new youth pov. I think your views may however represent those of some disenfranchised Jewish youth… who perhaps due to some attitudes in the community re intermarriage still see themselves as somewhat of an outsider… It’s YOU vs all the generations that came before…
As we say in the Jewish tradition… l’dor va dor…
from generation to generation. Amen.
Let’s talk for a moment about “the role of AIPAC contributions.”
And I’ll just take Russ Feingold — only because I’ve followed his career more than that of Wellstone — as an example of how preposterous and disrespectful-verging-on-slanderous that insinuation is.
To say that Feingold was influenced by AIPAC money into supporting Israel is ludicrous.
Let’s start with the fact that Feingold clearly was not afraid to take positions that do not track what is expected. There are many examples, but I’ll give just two. Feingold was the major voice in advocating for a Free Tibet. Given how much of a lost cause (at least in the foreseeable future) this is, do you really think he did this for any other reason than a principled belief?
Also, Feingold was the only senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act. Lots of people rightly had reservations about various expansive provisions, but Feingold was the only one in the Senate who actually stood up and voted against it. I think I don’t need to explain what kind of person it takes to do that.
But now let’s look specifically at Sen. Feingold and campaign contributions. He not only fought for years to get a campaign-finance reform act passed (it’s now known as the McCain-Feingold Act), he actually practiced what he preached — and more.
Feingold would not take Political Action Committe (PAC) money. When he was behind in money and in the polls in 2006 and was asked whether he’d rather be right or re-elected, he stuck to his guns. In 2010, he also refused to have the national Democratic party pay for commercials on his behallf — simply because he was against using out-of-state money and thought that the party ads would be too negative. Outspent again, this time Feingold did lose. He proved finally that he would rather be right than re-elected.
But he never did anything for money that he didn’t think was right.
So please, Mr. Bacon, have the decency to not smear this principled man simply because he disagrees with you.
I’d like to thank everyone who has been posting here.
Assumptions like “If you disagree with me then you must be…” – fill in the blank:
“…selling out” or
“…checking your liberalism at Israel’s door” or
“…questioning my Judaism” or
“…trying to silence me” etc.
need to be challenged.
As this thread shows, these issues can be addressed in a respectful manner without any of the above being the case.
Ok, Abby, I visited your website… truly sad.
Above you state, “We respect our elders”….
Is priding yourselvwa on interrupting and trying to shout down Netanyahu, a visiting foreign head of State, how you show this “respect”?
Here… I’ll promote your website… readers can decide for themselves http://www.youngjewishproud.org/
This is bullying. DisRESPECTful. Bratty. Rude.
The author and Voices and similar fringe groups always whine that they are not being heard… demanding your right to be heard by denying others that same right?
This is the type of twisted logic and incongurent thinking of the fringe left… that’s gone so far left, it looks like the far right to me.
I agree with Mike’s comments. In order to accept the pov of the far left, and eliminate inconguency, Jesse throws Wellstone, Feingold, all the generations… under the bus. Yep, respecting the elders. hmmmm? Did I miss something here?
I have to say that I’m somewhat amazed by your “role of AIPAC contributions” comment. First of all, allow me to point out that AIPAC is not a “PAC,” and does not, ever, endorse particular candidates, and it certainly does not give them money. Ever. No exceptions. You may have them confused with some other organization.
However, that aside, are you actually trying to imply that these men, whose principles you yourself have admired so much, were petty enough to be swayed on such a major issue by nothing but money? But only on this issue, of course? Are you actually saying they were so easily “bought”? By anyone?
Or are you really saying that AIPAC is the one and only organization powerful or wealthy enough to sway all of Congress? Or most of it? To sway even such principled men? China, or the NRA, or the Patriot Act, or the entire lobbying world – they were not enough to sway Wellstone or Feingold. But AIPAC… Well, of course, they must have some incredible demonic power, there. Any idea how they manage to get so much remarkably more powerful than anyone else in America? And if they are, how come they have still accomplished so little? With that kind of power to move any – even the most principled of leaders – they still cannot stop nuclear Iran, or even Hamas rockets? Really?
That aside, I was a tad amused by your statement about “people your age and younger,” being, incidentally, a good half a decade your junior. So I assure you that I am well familiar with the positions and opinions of people my own age. And I assure you that we are not all a mindless horde of slogan-chanting drones. Young Jews, just like their elders before them, have a variety of opinions, and espouse them all equally vociferously. Are young Jews more liberal than their elders? Sure. All young people are more liberal than their elders. That also tends to change over time. The more things change…
I would, however, like to point out that I encountered Jewish Voice for Peace quite frequently while I was a student at Berkeley. You may be surprised to hear, however, that there were no young people, and certainly no students, among them. The Jewish Voice for Peace group in as liberal a place as UC Berkeley was overwhelmingly middle-aged and older. So much for the voice of a new generation. I guess they must have been more progressive than even Paul Wellstone, huh? And certainly better informed on world affairs…
What I actually foung most troubling in your response is your statement that “supporting Israel’s policies was the liberal Jewish thing to do. For people my age and younger it’s not.” It is my sincere hope that people of any age would actually go out, learn the facts, and develop their own opinion on a major political question that may mean the lives of millions, rather than blindly follow whatever happens to be the current political fashion. I would hope that people – liberals or conservatives – would not support a major position simply because it is “the liberal Jewish thing to do.” We are not talking about fads here. We are talking about human lives. I’m afraid that too many people, especially young people, are simply holding their opinions on Israel simply because it’s “the thing to do.” With no study or understanding whatsoever. And that’s scary.
Perhaps had they attempted to actually go out and learn something about Israel – learn that it is a country with full women’s rights, gays and women in the military, tremendous freedoms of speech, the press, abortion, and anything else you like, persecution of rapists and spousal abusers, extreme environmentalist sensibilities and policies, free healthcare for all citizens – perhaps then they may think twice about blindly shouting in favor of a boycott of Israel, while buying Chinese or Syrian goods without batting an eye.
I will, however, commend you on your remarkably honest final statement. “My goal is to have my own work… succeed.” That is, I believe, very honest, and very true. Your goal is to have your own work succeed. Generation shift, liberalism, or Paul Wellstone have nothing to do with it. I respect each person’s right to try to push their own efforts and their own agenda. But we must recognize what they truly are – your own.
@cheryl, so it is “bullying” to protest a head of state, one of the most powerful men in the world? @Jenna et al AIPAC is a lobbying group, they do not give the contributions themselves, but a visit to Opensecrets.org shows “Pro-Israel” (I would dispute that label contributions as Feingold’s fifth largest. I do not see the “China lobby” or security firms listed. I think it does a disservice to AIPAC to imply that their proxy contributions have no effect, why would they raise them? I am not however one that thinks it is the only important factor in shaping US Policy. I am definitely interested in succeeding in playing a positive role to bring about a just resolution of the conflict, whether one- or two-stated. Anyone else is welcome to join me, but I do not believe the current configuration of the US Jewish community is playing a positive role, nor it reflecting the full spectrum of its own opinion. Glad I seem to be touching a nerve!
Oh, and by saying it is the “liberal Jewish thing to do” I don’t mean just a fad. I mean what is part and parcel of the culture of secular liberal Judaism. Support for Israel’s government once was, now it isn’t. Don’t hate the messenger.
When you shout down anyone who is trying to speak – any human being, all of whom were created b’tzelem elohim (in the image of God) – and try to prevent them from talking, it is bullying. It is rude to the person you are shouting down, and it is rude and bullying toward the people who came to hear the person you are shouting down.
It is not bullying to protest peacefully outside a venue where someone is speaking, nor is it bullying to hold your own event in which you respectfully present your own views on an issue.
Shouting down others IS bullying behavior.
It’ perfectly fine to protest and challenge the views of others… but not in this bullish, confrontational manner.
The far left claims to be major proponents of “tolerance”… But shouting down others who have just as much right to be heard… even more right to be heard as this was their event and invited guest speaker… does NOT demonstrate tolerance… & is not the type of respect you want given to your views.
I would hardly define shouting down others as a “voice for peace”.
The hypocracies of these groups that promote the Arab agenda and call it support for Israel abound.
And nope, not hitting a nerve… or was that your intent?
@Susan, how about the message of our protest itself which is that Israel’s government does more to delegitimize itself than the best-organized protest? What about the rights of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who was killed by tear gas at a protest (and don’t tell me she had cancer, even the army doesn’t believe that any more)? Or the rights of Jewish Israeli Jonathan Pollak, who was sentenced to three months in jail for riding a bicycle at a protest? Maybe Israel would have more of a claim on the support of liberal democrats if it was more concerned about such matters.
I am rather curious as to your definition of “secular liberal Judaism” here in this country. Especially the “secular” portion.
Where I come from, the Old World, Judaism is both a religion and nationality (race, in plainspeak). And the nationality is something that you are born with, regardless whether you follow the religious doctrine. Actually, the Old World definition is somewhat unidirectional — person who converted into Judaism automagically acquired nationality traits, but a Jew who converted to Christianity, for example, forever remained a Convert Jew.
Here, in this country, Judaism is treated as religion, with “national” aspects largely dropped, forgotten or considered politically incorrect.
In lieu of that, what is the meaning and culture of “secular liberal Judaism”.
I was commenting on your question about whether stopping someone from speaking is considered bullying. Your attempt to try to change the subject by throwing out a list of things you don’t like doesn’t further the discussion about the bullying aspect of shouting down people in any way.
There are some things people employed by the Israeli government have done that I do not like. They are no worse than some of the things people employed by the US government have done. This does not mean the Israeli or US governments as a whole condone those actions.
I do not believe we should shout down speakers from either the US or Israel because of those actions. I do not think we should divest from, or boycott, or sanction the US or Israel because of those actions. I believe there are more constructive ways to respond to those actions. You are free to disagree.
I wonder about your claim that support for Israel is no longer “part and parcel of the culture of secular liberal Judaism.”
Consider that most American Jews are secular (only about 15-20% are religious), and that Jews are one of the most uniformly liberal communities in the country (note that about 80% voted for Obama).
And yet an overwhelming majority of Jews continue to support Israel. Including well over half of even 20-something Jews.
That does force the question – how are you then saying that support for Israel is not part and parcel of secular liberal Judaism? It seems precisely part and parcel of it to me. Or are *all* those Jews really not liberal enough for you?
It seems like a bit of wishful thinking to loudly shout “this is the voice of a new kind of Jew,” without any real numbers to back you up. Sure, today’s young Jews, who have never seen a world without an Israel, are less supportive of it than their grandparents, who had seen first hand what that world means for Jews. But they still do support it. All polls point in that direction. Young Jews are not running out in droves to boycott Israeli goods. To pretend otherwise is folly. And to pretend that they are all “not liberal enough” for doing so is condescending at best.
@Dmitry, good question. I actually think there is a secular Jewish culture here, with mores and traits of its own that is a somewhat contradictory of religion and ethnicity. @Jenna, I believe you are comparing the wrong sense of data points. This distinction is really between the current Jewish establishment that came of age in the triumphal post-1967 atmosphere, and folks my age and younger who came of age after Israel’s occupation of Lebanon and the first Initifada and younger. I am not going to argue survey factiods with you, I don’t think it’s that interesting or how culture is actually lived and felt. But read any of a number of pieces the Beinart piece is the most famous, I myself like No Direction Home by Daniel Luban. But I would question what “support for Israel” means in a public opinion poll. The point is not absolute numbers, culture doesn’t change by 50% +1 adopting a particular position. It is more the trendlines, more young Jews disconnecting from any actual involvement in Israel, and more Jews of all ages supporting BDS campaigns. I can say personally, yes I feel very fortunate to be able to write on sites like this one, and I see those opportunities as only increasing for myself and others with similar views. We are in your community, and more vocal and organized then ever before.
What I find sad is how quick you are to condemn Israel… e.g. the Arab woman who allegedly died from teargas fired by Israel Defense Forces at the increasingly violent weekly Palestinian protests in Bil’in. Was she even present? There seems to be some confusion about even that… Her death unfortunate… and what about her rights?
I’ve seen videos of those protests… and they are violent. I’d be asking why the IDF had to use teargas? Might this woman’s death have something to do with her compatriots acting violently? Her death, even if is due to exposure to teargas at a protest that she may not have even attended, certainly couldn’t be considered an intentional killing? So what’s your point?
“Support for Israel” means that one supports the right of Israel to live in peace as a Jewish nation.
Supporting the boycott/divestment campaign does NOT support Israel. It is delusional to think, to claim, that you/Voice for Peace “supports Israel” when you explicitly support actions to harm Israel. You’ve alligned yourself with Israel’s enemies and say this supports Israel? Again, I’m missing something here.
@Cheryl, you are spending a lot of time commenting on a piece that ISN”T hitting a nerve! Yes there are definitely doubts about Jawaher’s death, if by “doubts” you mean utterly preposterous stories made up by desperate and anonymous Israeli military spokespeople and repeated credulously by online loyalists. This is a major reason that Israel is delegitimizing itself, many people are looking at eyewitness testimony of Palestinians and their Israeli allies and then at the official notion that a healthy 36 year old was struck down by cancer in one days and drawing their own conclusions. If Israel’s defenders spent the time they used to devise the surprise cancer scenario on addressing the grievances of folks like the Bil’in villagers, we’d be a lot closer to a just resolution now.
Hitting a nerve? … Naw, more like a pesky fly.
You have to get rid of what’s attracting it, before it piles up, and attracts its friends. I suppose this week is just my turn to shovel?
Most all sensational, libelous, Palestinian eyewitness accounts prove Bogus… e.g. Al Dura and more recently the little Palestinian boy who allegedly was shot & killed by IDF forces but found to be alive and well running about his village…
What I find “preposterous” is that while Palestinians are firing rockets on Israelis, violently attacking and INTENTIONALLY killing them… that the possible ACCIDENTAL death of a Palestinian, becomes a rallying point to villify Israel.
Here’s Honest Reportings take on this incident:
The video well worth a watch
Notice the flags the Palestinian protestors are waving… Do they really come in peace? And what about those wire cutters? And rocks?
@cheryl, you are actually doing me a great favor with your comments. The more you use derogatory or conspiratorial language (“enemies,” “the Arab Agenda”) without “refudiation”from others on the site, the more you make the point that Israel is becoming a illiberal cause more effectively than I could. And while calling me a fly echoes the dehumanizing language directed at Palestinians, it is accurate reflection of the futility of your actions. As long as you know the fly attracting substance in this case is Israel’s own behavior, change that and I’ll have to go back to blogging about daddyhood and masculinity. Otherwise, I like it here and am here to stay.
It appears to me that both Jesse and Cheryl have used conspiritorial and derogatory language in this thread. I don’t believe such language serves to convince rational people of the point of view presented to the person using such language, nor does it prove the point of the other side. It simply lowers the conversation from one of facts and ideas to one of insults and innuendo.
Ok, I meant “presented by” not “to”
I blame it on the system for making us retype the comment if we forgot to put in the “Captcha” code.
@Susan, could you quote some derogatory or conspiriatorial language I have used? I think there is a danger of “both sides do it” false equivalence. I certainly haven’t compared anyone to insects or posited one Jewish or Israeli perspective (indeed I am living proof of the lack of the former, and I also mentioned Israelis who were wrongfully imprisoned or marginalized. I do sometimes not bother typing Israel’s government and its apolgists, which is what I mean when I say “Israel” did this or that, sorry if that wasn’t clear.
I do think we are getting away from the original theme of my post, which was that the effect a specific event had on my development as a Jew and as a human being. Now, obviously there are other ways to experience this event, but this is mine and I can’t undo the effects on me now. The question is what current events are going to shape the 13 year olds of today, and where will they be in 20 years? I submit to you that it is likely that increasing numbers of them are going to come to similar conclusions as I did and I look forward to them moving me off the stage if my approach isn’t working!
Jesse… perhaps my analogy not the best… my bad.
Maybe you did “hit a nerve”… maybe that’s your goal? Israel will always have her detractors… who feed off Palestinian missives that almost always turn out to be untrue… I see these missives as more of a bothersome annoyance… rather than the pain of “hitting a nerve”… Like this alleged teargas victim… Her death unfortunate… but even if the Palestinian version were to prove true… it would still be a freak accidental death… not a major issue… or an issue at all…
And unless these missives are debunked as they arise, they take on a life of their own… So we spend time having to debunk missives rather than dealing with actual facts and real issues.
I agree that Palestinians need to be heard… But didn’t they just walk from the bargaining table… again?
I don’t know what you mean by “conspiratorial language”? Israel does have sworn “enemies” and there is an “Arab agenda”…
Maybe we speak a different language?
Also don’t get what “a illiberal cause” means? or if that even matters.
I appreciate Jenna’s well articulated response and share her optimism about Jewish youth today.
Although some youth, especially those who feel somewhat distanced from their people, will continue to be influenced by these other voices, especially on college campuses where all too often they’re exposed to only the Arab pov…
In answer to your question about what influences will shape the next generation… well, instead of Wellstone, of Beloved Memory, and Feingold… how about Al Franken and Jon Stewart (“The Most Trusted Man in America”) for starts? May we always have a sense of humor!
And how about Gabrielle Giffords?
Thanks for asking. I would say, for example, that “apologists” in the phrase “Israel’s government and its apologists” is a derogatory term.
It reduces anyone who speaks in defense of the Israeli government to a common, low denominator, as if there is nothing Israel could ever do that is right; as if any time Israel is ever accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever the accusers are always speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (and therefore there is no truth or value in any response that expresses the Israeli government’s point of view in the matter); and as if nobody who speaks on behalf of Israel does so with truth and integrity.
At least that’s the way I read it.
@Susan, I am sorry for using the word apologists. I think it’s literally true but I can see how it has a perjorative cast. I don’t like using pro-Israel since I think that cedes the debate and that their actions are harmful to actual Israelis, but I guess I could have just called them defenders. Still don’t think that’s akin to calling people flies though or saying a person’s death doesn’t matter and I wish defenders spent a bit less time on critics of Israel and more time actually criticizing Israel’s actions themselves if they are so bothered by them.
Jesse… I already apologized for using that analogy… and I didn’t say this woman’s death “doesn’t matter”… I said it’s not an issue… why make it one?
I also answered your question re influences on young people today… In addition to e.g. Al Franken, Jon Stewart and Gabrielle Giffords… 9-1-1 also is a factor… particularly on Jewish youth…
You’re the one who said this chat should get back on topic…
Or are we done here?
@Cheryl apology accepted. But I don’t think it’s for you to decide whose death is not an issue. The reason to make it one is no one else, Israeli or Palestinian , dies at a protest like the ones I am privileged to attend. I agree with you, and I note that Jon Stewart has done a better job criticizing Israeli policies than most other media pros
I agree Jesse, no one should die… and if the Palestinians had not turned the protest violent, Israeli security would not have taken riot control measures.
Today people may not get killed at U.S. protests that you attend… altho there was a time they did… but there is a climate of hate/violence… culminating last week in the shooting of Giffords and wounding and killing of 20 others… granted this guy was a nutcase… only a nutcase would do such a thing… & pundits are still debating whether he is politically “left” or “right”… in trying to place the blame… both have contributed to a toxic climate… perhaps the “right” more explicity… but pro-Palestinian rallies in the U.S. say some pretty horridly explicit things about what should be done to Jews …one of the AZ shooter’s favorite books (among many others), was Mein Kampf … Giffords is a Jew who also strongly supports Israel. Did it contribute to her being the target of this deranged killer? ……
I think the rhetoric on both sides (especially the right) contributed to this maniac committing this horrendous deed. And the villainization of Israel contributes to that toxic brew of hate.
And actually, if one recalls the RNC8… the IDF is probably far more permissive than our security forces are here at home… the IDF at least didn’t respond until after Palestinians threw rocks and tried to damage the security fence with wire cutters.
Here in America, in Minnesota, would-be protestors were pre-emptively rounded up by security and didn’t even have the right to protest.
And citizens not even involved in the RNC protests which for the most part were very peaceful…. were tear gassed and harrassed and arrested for no other crime than being in their own town. So the fact that this type of freak accident doesn’t happen here… at least not in fairly recent times, doesn’t make a real strong case for making this woman a martyr for the cause.
Yes, it IS for us to decide who’s death is an issue. YOU’ve already decided it’s an issue…
The government murder of Iranian protestors… now that’s an issue. The imprisonment of Chinese dissidents… that’s an issue. Hamas’ round ups and murder of Fatah supporters… that’s an issue. The accidental death of a Palestinian by-stander who happened to be at a weekly protest that always turns violent…. ?
I rest my case.
I would also add Eli Valley, whose Stuart the Jewish Turtle cartoons appear in the Forward. A bit more obscure than the other examples, but when i saw them I thought, wow criticizing Israel and making fun of Abe Foxman is actually becoming hip! http://www.forward.com/articles/129046/
@Cheryl, to get back to my point of how things are changing. There are youtube videos of all these protests unlike in previous Intifadas so people can test your claim that Israel is only responding to violence. While you seem to have drawn that conclusion, I don’t think that is going to by and large what people do. The protests at most threaten the Wall, if Israeli soldiers were not there it might be damaged but could easily be rebuilt. My director and colleague were live twittering from the scene (another option that previous protesters did not have) , it was clear that there was far more tear gas than usual before anyone reached the wall. The reason was not for a greater threat of violence but of more internationals and Israelis attending the demos. Israel’s own Supreme Court has ruled the wall should be moved to save this village’s land. If Israel is a democracy, it should not be using the same brand of teargas as Angola and North Korea and using it a weekly protest, not a big one like RNC.
Here’s a video from last week’s protest:
There’s a plethora of videos posted by both Israel and Palestinians… & you’re right… people should watch them & decide for ourselves… Regardless of source, the videos show 1) That it is not a “Wall” but a wire security fence at Bil’in… so using the term “Wall”, repeatedly, is inaccurate & misleading; 2) Palestinian protestors are clearly pre-warned about engaging in violence and the videos… from both sides… show Palestinians initiate violence,throwing rocks and metal objects and attempting to damage the fence… also take note of the masked faces and note the flags… which are not PA flags but those of known terrorist groups.
This time, btw, instead of teargas the IDF used skunkgas…
You state, “The protests at most threaten the Wall, if Israeli soldiers were not there it might be damaged but could easily be rebuilt.”
However…in all the videos, rocks and other projectiles are NOT being tossed NOT at this “Wall” as you refer to it, but over the security fence at people on the other side. Also, Palestinians have breached the Egyptian security barriers in the past causing a lot of damage and creating havoc. That security barrier is there to keep suicide bombers & other terrorists out & keep Israelis safer… & in that it has succeded protecting both Israelis and Palestinians who intend no harm.
So, are you arguing that the Israelis should just let the Palestinians destroy the security fence? That IDF has no right to patrol her borders, to protect her people from those who intend to harm them? You seem to be justifying that the Palestinians have a right to throw stones? And that Israel has no right to prevent Palestinians from storming its borders?