Three days ago I wrote a Post about the absurd futility of Financial Resource Development at JFNA and many, many of you turned the discussion to an often angry, often vituperative tirade about respective positions on the Iran Deal. It was not nearly the intelligent discussion we often have on these pages.
Friends, we find ourselves, individually and collectively, in the midst of a damaging firefight, as American Jews are gathered in a circular firing squad ready to fire...and firing...at each other. In my memory, which as you know goes back a long, long way, never have I seen our Jewish mishpacha so divided; so divided against ourselves. Too many of us, way too many, have come to view the Iran Deal "debate" as a zero sum game and we, as a Jewish polity, are being badly, badly damaged.
Setting aside your opinions on Ambassador Michael Oren's book, Ally, today's circumstances and internal bickering remind me of Oren's retelling of a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Netanyahu, where Oren brought the leadership of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council together with the PM. As Oren described it, this so-called "leadership," ignored the Prime Minister, and just began screaming at and over each other until Oren intervened at the top of his voice. The bi-partisanship that used to characterize American Jewish political engagement has been sacrificed at the alter of partisanship -- "you are either with us or we're against you." Yes, we can thank the Obama Administration for part of this conversion; but, at the end of the day, we truly have ourselves to blame. Those of us on the far right within the Jewish polity, mainly Republicans but not all, think nothing about characterizing those of us who are progressive, liberal Jews, mainly Democrats but not all, as abandoning Israel, fearing characterization as "Fifth Columnists," and similar. Aipac is being weakened not by the histrionics of John Kerry, but by us...by us, and stands accused by some of you of embracing this dispute with our government as a cynical fund raising ploy while "pressuring federations." Meanwhile the leaders of JFNA are in their usual position -- cowering in a corner for fear someone will demand to know the organization's position when, as always, it has none. And, many consider having no position to be the best place to be and condemn all those on either side.
The partisanship doesn't end there. When one of those Congressmen who has historically been a strong, strong supporter of Israel, vote-after-vote, Sander Levin, indicated early-on that he would vote in favor of the "Iran Deal," friends of mine sent out vile and vituperative e-mails and texts stating, in effect, "we will get him" in the next election. This is what we are doing toward our friends. Favor the Deal? You're "J-Street;" you're "anti-Israel." Oppose the Deal? You're "pro-War." There is no middle ground; there is only the screeching of the Carolyn Glicks on one hand and the screed of the Jeremy Ben-Amis on the other. Pick a side or you're with the enemy; pick a side and you are the enemy. It's all shrill; it's all shameful.
Friends, it's going to be nigh impossible for the Jewish polity to pull back together when the current issue subsides, as it will, into history. Things might be different if anyone at all had sufficient respect at our communal and national institutions to be listened to and if those self-same leaders had the courage to speak out, to demand that we find unifying principles around which we...all of us...could coalesce and go forward. But, of course, all of this is happening at a time that our organizational leadership apparently command no respect whatsoever.
In a rational world each of us and all of us might examine the Iran Deal and understand that there are arguments both pro and con (yes, I wrote that); perhaps stronger on one side than the other, but certainly pro and con. That kind of understanding should lead to a civil discussion among intelligent Jewish men and women but it doesn't and it hasn't -- not in the media and not in so many of your Anonymous Comments on this subject on the pages of this Blog and elsewhere. We need leaders today who will urge us to first reject the extremists on both the left and the right so that we can have serious, reasoned discussion and debate. The time for pointing fingers at each other in our communities must come to an end.
Yes, I long for that day when our leaders were men and women of such strength that they would and could move us toward tolerance and civility in our public (and private) statements. On these pages I have often longed for the leadership of a Shoshana Cardin...but, instead we are afflicted with human weakness, men and women who believe that placing their heads in the sand rather than standing tall is leadership; men and women who have done nothing to merit the respect that would obligate us to listen. So...they...do...nothing. They are waiting for someone else.
Some of you seem to misunderstand whose Blog this is and believe that insulting me with misstatements entitles you to space here while you hide behind your Anonymity. Thus, one of you wrote in response to this Post:" Attack people who care about Israel because they didn't jump to condemn the administration and then call for peace and quiet. That's leadership." The so-called "Commentator" who totally misrepresented what has appeared on these pages will no longer have his/her "Comments" appear on these pages.
Then there was the even more moronic Anonymous one who misrepresented so much that he/she will never again have his/her Comments appear on these pages. Just so he/she will know whom I am referencing, you are the one who believes that only your opinion is relevant; that I insulted all "communal servants" (a strange characterization by referencing the Court Jews in our system); and that I am under the influence of Aipac.
Both of you, are entitled to your opinions; you are not entitled to make up your own "facts."
Do not write again because, sadly, you don't want debate or discussion; you demand only acquiescence to your preformed views, to your hate of all those who disagree with you.