Mezvinsky’s choice (and the existential threat!)

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Israelis are angry about the Chelsea wedding.

They didn’t like the mingling of Jewish and non-Jewish ritual, they’re fearful about assimilation and the future of the Jewish people. The thought didn’t occur to them that he wanted a bigger pool than his own small tribe, and maybe he fell in love? Haaretz headlines a piece by Israel Harel, "WASPs at Last." (Harel should take a look at some of my pieces on my intermarriage!) This scolding ensues:

The numerous intermarriages attest to a desire to shake off the burden that Jewish identity entails – even in its minimalist Reform version – and assimilate into the American melting pot.

At Ynet there is also a patronizing lecture about assimilation and other bad stuff we Jews are doing, this one titled, The Jew and the Shiksa, which I’d remind you is a derogatory phrase that borders on the scatological (Leo Rosten in his book The Joys of Yiddish says it comes from Hebrew for "blemish" and promptly applies it to a servant girl). 

But Ynet’s writer Yisrael Wolman is shrewder than Harel and he concludes that there’s nothing Israelis can do about it and, worse, they better not do anything about it. Yes, it’s all about the Israel lobby in the end, isn’t it? (My emphasis on the brother Madoff bit. Wow; Madoff really was all about the Jews?)

The more interesting question is what we can do: Regrettably, it appears that we can do very little. This problem is the hot potato of community leaders: They understand that the key has to do with guiding the parents, initiating Jewish social ventures, and of course, high-quality Jewish education. Much of the money that was spared after the collapse of our brother Madoff is currently invested in this struggle.

On the other hand, we Israelis have the power, as always, to cause damage: Fostering our alienation to the world’s second-largest Jewish center, ignoring its feelings, and disparaging its means of worship may accelerate the assimilation process and crudely sever a possibly last source of hope and solidarity.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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