I didn’t fully process this, but last week the hardworking Laura Rozen reported that Michael Oren spoke fearfully about the Iranian threat in a Washington-area temple on Yom Kippur, and that his talk was moderated by Jeffrey Goldberg.
This event captures the full disaster of Jewish identity.
Consider first: both these guys have a screw loose when it comes to anti-Semitism. Goldberg, of Long Island, has said that anti-Semitism is a river running under American society and on that basis as a young man, believing the Diaspora was the disease and Israel the cure, he moved to Israel and served in the Israeli army (before coming home to prosecute his career). Michael Oren’s youthful experience in NJ is similar; and seems to have been foretold by the fact that his family emigrated here here from the Ukraine, the scene of pogroms. He makes the US sound like pogrom central, in Haaretz:
I was the only Jewish boy in a Catholic neighborhood, and in the 1960s, anti-Semitism was almost a daily experience for me. Once they shattered the windows of our house, another time they wrote hate slogans. I was quite an outsider because of my Judaism and I had fistfights with the Catholic children in the neighborhood.
Reminds you of your childhood, right? Both these men have "the Maccabees forever in their mouths," as Kafka said of fervid Zionists 100 years ago.
And that’s the Second important point, the militarism. Why is a synagogue giving up such space to two gonzo Jewish warriors on Yom Kippur? Because: Jews don’t serve in the military here in anything like non-Jewish #s, we feel guilty about this basic dereliction of duty, as society conceives duty, and we make up for it through this projection on to warrior figures.
Note what Netta, the wonderful Shministim, or army refusenik in Israel, said at NYU the other night (hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink) about how she cries when American Jews confront her for not caring about Israeli society, a society she loves: These people have no more connection to Israel than the star of David around their necks, Netta said.
So American Jews project all these feelings on to a fantasy land half a world away they’ve never been to. That is the place where Jews fight. And that makes us inferior to them and gives us no right to question their worldview.
Interesting that the Shministim is largely a feminist event, curated by Code Pink, led by women. Maybe they will lead us out of this forest of violence.
The Jewish Identity Project is coming to your door!!