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Monday, July 4, 2022

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About Tough, Left-Sided Love

It might very well be that opinions go in and out of fashion, as Isi Leiblersuggests in his “Liberal Jewish Israel Bashers.” Some opinions withstand the test of time, others don’t. It used to be in fashion to be racist, chauvinistic, or a hippie; today, God help you if you’re either. What’s in or out is no indication of what’s right or wrong, and if it happens to be in style, among certain circles, to speak against Israeli foreign policy, it does not necessarily mean it is a false, “mindless”chatter, just as it does not necessarily indicate a trulyprogressive one. To oppose the left wing’s main arguments is one familiar, healthy story; but to disqualify their opinion as a mere trend, as a vain attempt at being popular, is another, somewhat desperate one. I’m sure that in his own circle, Leibler’s political point of view thrives above all others, yet no one is claiming he does not genuinely mean it (do we not genuinely believe in a woman’s right to vote just because everyone else does?). In his self-professed frustration, however, Leibler presents his readers with a false dilemma: the liberal Jews and Israel bashers—ignorant or malicious? —when, in fact, they need not be either: they might very well be idealists, just like him.

Leibler presents us with a list of facts that, in his opinion, must have escaped the liberals’ attention, or else they would, without doubt, join his camp. But does he really think these facts exhaust the story? Aren’t there plenty of facts that he, himself, conveniently neglects to mention, perhaps fearing they would not help his case? For example, when he characterizes as “outrageous” the “tendency among Jewish liberals to hijack the memory of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as a means of discrediting Netanyahu,” should he not mention, in the same breath, that only one month before the assassination, Netanyahu spoke at a 1995 Jerusalem rally where signs calling for the murder of the Yitzhak Rabin—dressed in an SS uniform!—were displayed before his very eyes? And can anyone forget Netanyahu’s standing in the midst of a raging crowd, repeating, in reference to Israel’s left wing, what I would dare call (à la Leibler) a “mindless mantra”—“Hem Mefahadim” (they are afraid), and the ecstatic crowd, jumping up and down, joining him in one huge chorus? Wasn’t that not only intimidating but in very bad taste as well? Is it then indeed so far-fetched to categorize Netanyahu as an extremist? My opinion is not that he is one; my point is only that those who say he is also have a ground to stand on.

Sadly enough, Leibler is right—Israel is, indeed, now more isolated than ever before. But is the solution to Israel’s isolation an immediate stop to all Jewish criticism of its government’s actions? Should the Jewish people, at this time of crisis, come together in blind support of the Israeli government, or should they, in the spirit of the Talmud, question, argue, and weighdifferent perspectives? For too long now, it seems to me, the right has claimed a monopoly over loyalty and love of land, as if their way was the only way to love. But if one arrives at the conclusion, just or unjust. that the occupation (which Leiberpersistently puts in quotation marks, as if this was the liberal’s own invention) is destructive to Israel, isn’t it then one’s duty to fight against it? And would that person not, in her mind, fight out of love just as the one fighting on the opposing side does? The rightists try and push their agenda through American politics, demanding that the American government support Israel; why, then, shouldn’t the liberals do the same, and ask that Americastand up to Israel, if only for Israel’s own good? The Bible teaches us that “Chosechshivtosonebno” (He that spareth his rod hateth his son) —if the leftists think that punishment in the form of foreign pressure, even sanctions or boycotting, would put Israel in its right place and on the right path, then they have the moral duty to act out on their beliefs without being singled out as traitors. This might be a type of tough love, but it is a love nonetheless.

Israel is one of the youngest countries on earth, yet it belongs to one of its most ancient people. In this sense, it can be thought of more as our “daughter land” than our motherland. We ought to love it and deserve to be proud of it, but precisely for that reason we should not, as all sensible parents know, permit it to do as it pleases. And, I’m afraid, if wekeep doubting each other’s motives rather than each other’s opinions, conclusions, or lines of action, we might end up putting our precious daughter through a most messy, traumatic divorce. It’s time we understood that Israel can be loved from all directions—from the right, from the left, and, hopefully, from above.

Dana Moore Bronxville,
New York

Dear Editor,

Allow me to say that I have always been quite an admirer of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but do you really feel that his donation of $1 Billion to his alma mater really warrants page one coverage??  Weren’t there any more important and relevant articles that could have taken its place?? From watching the news, I do know that there are many pertinent issues that deserve to be highlighted. Perhaps you might want to consider this the next time you decide what your cover stories are going to be.

Sincerely

Jonathan

Surfside, Florida

Dear Editor:

In your last issue, I was disgusted to learn that one of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers actually had the audacity and bad taste to run such a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon.  While some claim that portraying Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a critical light is permissible, as any world leader can be taken to task, the gist of this hideous cartoon speaks volumes.  Netanyahu is pictured bricking Palestinians into a wall, but what is neglected is that he has tried everything in his power to get them to the peace table; to secure their future as an independent nation and has been shunned at every turn. Not only does the cartoonist harbor anti-Semitic feelings, but his hatred has blinded him from the truth. Shame on him !!

Sincerely

Ida Horowitz

Brooklyn, NY

Dear Editor:

Your report on the tragic circumstances surrounding the eviction of the Sixteenth Street synagogue in Manhattan are truly heartbreaking.  The photo of the men davening outside in the bitter cold was just unreal. I really don’t understand the legal wrangling behind this story but it smells like sheer avarice to me on the part of the developer of the residential units.  When Mr. McBee said that he is mourning for his shul, he should be comforted in the fact that others are mourning for it as well. A shul is akin to a home, and the people who inhabit it are like family members. Their pain is our pain.

Sincerely

Moshe Aaron

Forest Hills, NY

Dear Editor:

After reading your last issue, I am most concerned about the growing anti-Israel sentiment at Brooklyn College. When I was a student there back in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a thriving and quite activist Jewish presence on campus. If something such as a BDS event would have happened back then, then I think such folks as Brooklyn College Hillel Rabbi Meir Fund might have done something about it or perhaps Rabbi Kahane of the Jewish Defense League. Yes, times have certainly changed and I only wish Jewish students would take as big of an interest in Israel as they do to getting the best grades and pursuing their career goals.

Sincerely

Jennifer

Gramercy Park, Manhattan

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