Monthly Archives: September 2006

Ideas should be the focus of the debate, not character

There has been a lot of response to my recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, a Breach in the Dam, and my post on BlogsofZion.
It has even engendered dissent on BlogsofZion by Sam, which is a very good thing–BlogsofZion is meant to be a forum for argumentation and discussion, and I welcome a debate based on ideas.
What I do not welcome–and what I think is unfortunately the norm for some people–is a character debate that tries to dirty ones opponent instead of presenting a systemic analysis of why the argument is wrong. In that regards, I have posted my response to Dan Sieradski’s mudslinging below.
I hope we can move to a day where disagreement and dissent is encouraged, and that people can argue respectfully while disagreeing wholeheartedly.

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New Jews and Loss of Peoplehood

My article providing the ideological context for what I claim is an anti-Peoplehood reaction by the New Jews to the Lebanon War has been published by the Jerusalem Post.
My main point is as follows:

The good news is…that Jewish education works. A generation of young Jews around the world have internalized the message that “being Jewish” means fixing the world in its totality, without regard to race, religion or nationality.
The bad news for the Jewish state and people is that this generation of American Jews have taken from their education that acting Jewish means doing justice without regard to nationality or peoplehood.
While it feels good to support all peoples and all victims, the nature of the world in which we live in – where Hizbullah amassed thousands of rockets and attacked Israel; where Iran edges towards nuclear weapons; and where over a third of Israel’s Jews, and, surprisingly, 20 percent of New York Jews live under or close to the poverty line – makes an ethics of universalism simply irresponsible at the moment.
It is at times like these that we who care about our families need remember the inherent obligation of peoplehood: Justice means providing full support to those whom you live with, those who would die for you, and the people whom you came from, no matter what the world thinks.
THE NEW JEWS seem to have forgotten this obligation. Shaped by the Diaspora, educated into multiculturalism and a universalistic morality, these young Jews equate their Jewish identity with global social justice. Even at a time of war they organize a benefit concert for all the war’s victims, even if it means necessarily reducing the amount of aid provided to those who sacrificed for our welfare.

[W]hat looks like a trickle today is really a breach in the dam of peoplehood – which will do no good for the Jews, or the cause of fixing of the entire world, when these Jews become the leaders and donors of the Jewish community as a whole.
It is time for the Jewish community to realize that the next generation will be what we teach it, and that the emphasis on universalistic social justice, while appealing, is no more than junk-food Jewish education: It feels good, the kids love it, and it won’t hurt on occasion – but without the particularism of peoplehood the Jewish community will soon find itself undernourished and unable to survive.

I am reproducing the entire article below, in case it gets taken offline–but do check it and the discussion it engendered out online first.

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