Leading sociologist says ‘the enemy’ includes ‘disloyal’ individualistic young Jews who push human rights

on 34 Comments

A year ago, an Israeli wrote a piece for Commentary asking whether young rabbinical students are turning on Israel, and last week J Street held an educators’ panel about rabbinical students, and by extension young Jews, questioning Israel.

I wanted to pass along the following excerpts of the discussion because you will see how important “loyalty” to Israel is within the American Jewish community. Steven Cohen is the leading sociologist of changes in American Jewish attitudes towards Israel. And here he speaks of human-rights-oriented Jews as “disloyal” individualistic crazy enemies of the Jewish collective– meshugayim (I think; pardon my bad Yiddish).

P.S. Cohen describes himself as a liberal hawk. 

While the panel expressed generally liberal views, you will read here about the congregational pressures on young rabbis to stay in line on Israel. I always say the Israel lobby is representative of a generation of conservative Jews. Well, to hear these educators, observant Jews, the ones who sustain congregations, don’t want to hear any dissent on Israel.

Cohen of Hebrew Union College:

Indeed, we have and will continue to have an ongoing conversation… in which the older and/or the more rightwing people say about the younger and more leftwing people the following: ‘We are oriented toward collectivity… you are oriented toward individuality. We are oriented toward loyalty and you are oriented toward morality, we are oriented toward security and you are oriented toward human rights… we are oriented to protecting the Jewish people from the outside… ‘

[The rightwing] looks at the left and says, you know you guys aren’t exactly loyal. The leftwing says, ‘You know what, you’re really not that committed to human rights.’

So this conversation has a reality to it…. We [the left] have our meshugayim… Our meshugayim really are disloyal, they really don’t care about security, they really are individual, they’re not collectivists, they really act in such a way as if they don’t know that the whole world is listening in to the Jewish conversation. It really is true… These people are an embarrassment to us. In fact in my mind they too are the enemy.

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann:

As president of Hebrew College, it doesn’t always make me comfortable how younger rabbis are ritualizing this relationship [with Israel], it makes me feel uncomfortable… I think our rabbinical students… are facing a Jewish community in which the conversation about Israel is fraught with a tremendous amount of tension, anxiety and animosity. Literally, I think all of us can give you stories about rabbinical students going out into the field, who are terrified of the question coming from the synagogue search committee, asking them about the relationship with Israel, their attitude to Israel, how they’re going to foster a commitment to Israel among the congregation. Not that they don’t have those commitments. But because the way they’re going to choose to express them, understand them, and manifest the complexity is something that is not always accepted and many people feel quite uncomfortable with that… [Because of the emergence of J Street] It’s going to be a more diverse, varied and complex conversation.

Rabbi Renni Altman, associate dean and director of rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College:

[T]he topic of Israel is still challenging for… rabbis in congregations who, you know, will get, you know, what for– threatened, chastised, not chastised, but they have a diversity within their congregation, and how they speak–I think that’ a problem– there’s not enough in terms of an ability to speak in a nuanced way to talk about Israel….

There is a lot of kneejerk reaction out in the pews. It’s hard to come up and say something that to many of us wouldn’t be that challenging but anything that is heard of in any way as critical of Israel is too often assumed to be disloyal, etc. And believe me this is discussed among all the rabbinical conferences, in how to deal with it, but it’s very difficult and challenging to do so.

Cohen again, responding to Eric Alterman on the supposed liberal tradition in the rabbinate:

I think you have an exalted image of the influence and prominence of rabbis prior to 67. Heschel… Arnold Jacob Wolf. there are names scattered through… We’re living through a recession. And people don’t want to get fired and move their families around. and they shouldn’t necessarily split the congregations over things that although morally critical are one of several issues that are their responsibility

Speaking from the audience, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, the first woman ordained a rabbi in the Conservative tradition, described changes in the construction of Jewish identity that were going to sweep this conversation. Young Jews “take more pride [than her generation did] in being global citizens.” They live in a “post ethnic world that might be frightening to people my age.” It used to be that Jews wanted to stay inside the Jewish collective. “That is no longer critical to Jewish identity.”

Beautiful intervention, Rabbi!

Finally, a startling comment about Israel from Rabbi Altman. Her students go to Israel for a year of study. And guess what they find: 

You talk to my students, they feel like everywhere they go in Israel to talk about being Reform Jews, the  very essence of their identity is questioned or worse defiled. That in itself is challenging.

About Philip Weiss

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34 Responses

  1. Bill in Maryland
    April 4, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College: “These people [the meshugayim] are an embarrassment to us. In fact in my mind they too are the enemy.”

    Sorry Steven, but John Brown was a little meshugenah also, and I will take Liza Behrendt and Rae Abileah and Medea Benjamin and their leadership over J Street any day- yes, you have to be a little crazy to be out in front as they are!

    • Krauss
      April 4, 2012, 3:13 pm

      Cohen’s words are not only wrong – they are immoral and frankly even a little bit frightening.

      Because you don’t want to side with Jews at all costs – even when human rights are trampled – you are now suddenly ‘part of the enemy’? How can this guy even call himself a liberal, much as Alan Dershowitz can and doesn’t get called out on it?

      This isn’t a Jewish issue. Time has moved on, folks. Why should, say, French people ignore human rights just because the abusers are from the same ethnic fold as they are? That’s the essence of what Cohen is demanding of Jews. That’s tribalism over liberalism, which isn’t a genuine liberalism to begin with.

      I sincerely hope that this is merely a generational issue, but even so, I don’t hear Gentiles talk like this his age where I live. Something’s wrong.

      • seafoid
        April 4, 2012, 4:52 pm

        Time has moved on alright but Israel hasn’t.

        “We are oriented toward loyalty and you are oriented toward morality”

        I thought Judaism was about morality. What’s all the mitzvah stuff for ?

      • Charon
        April 5, 2012, 12:49 am

        Yeah, and this: “We are oriented toward collectivity… you are oriented toward individuality”

        I thought Judaism was about free will too. It’s even been discussed as a paradox. Maybe individualism and free will aren’t the same thing in his mind, but they are to me. You can be an individual without the selfish aspect. This collectivism is something be promoted all around the world. Like anonymous comes to mind. Sounds too borgish for me. Group think is not where I want to be. We’re not bees.

      • piotr
        April 5, 2012, 3:44 am

        You have free will so obeying the Lord can be rewarded and disobedience, punished. Resistance is futile, Charon.

  2. stevieb
    April 4, 2012, 1:34 pm

    I don’t think the choice is ‘staying in the Jewish collective’ or complete rejection of it based on the immorality of Israel. The choice is what type of Jewish collective is it going to be? Zionist or Torah Judaism? But then, I’m not Jewish – but that’s how it looks to me…

  3. Les
    April 4, 2012, 1:39 pm

    I repeat myself about Zionism doing a 180 degree turn from justice for all.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    April 4, 2012, 1:46 pm

    RE: “It used to be that Jews wanted to stay inside the Jewish collective. ‘That is no longer critical to Jewish identity’.” ~ Rabbi Amy Eilberg

    MY COMMENT: That’s completely “beyond the pale”, so to speak!


    (excerpt)…This ‘pale’ is the noun meaning ‘a stake or pointed piece of wood’. That meaning is virtually obsolete now except as used in this phrase, but is still in use in the associated words ‘paling’ (as in paling fence) and ‘impale’ (as in Dracula movies).
    The paling fence is significant as the term pale became to mean the area enclosed by such a fence and later just the figurative meaning of ‘the area that is enclosed and safe’. So, to be ‘beyond the pale’ was to be outside the area accepted as ‘home’.
    Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement in Russia in 1791. This was the name given to the western border region of the country, in which Jews were allowed to live. The motivation behind this was to restrict trade between Jews and native Russians. Some Jews were allowed to live, as a concession, ‘beyond the pale’.
    Pales were enforced in various other European countries for similar political reasons, notably in Ireland (the Pale of Dublin) and France (the Pale of Calais, which was formed as early as 1360)…

    SOURCE – http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/beyond-the-pale.html

  5. American
    April 4, 2012, 2:50 pm

    ‘I think our rabbinical students… are facing a Jewish community in which the conversation about Israel is fraught with a tremendous amount of tension, anxiety and animosity. Literally, I think all of us can give you stories about rabbinical students going out into the field, who are terrified of the question coming from the synagogue search committee, asking them about the relationship with Israel, their attitude to Israel, how they’re going to foster a commitment to Israel among the congregation’

    Fostering a commitment to Israel among the congregation? Reminds me of something I saw on the AIPAC site about stepping up their outreach to synagogues. AIPAC probably sends them Israeli flags to fly.
    I guess synagogues are now where Jews go to worship Israel.
    Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.

  6. Talkback
    April 4, 2012, 5:01 pm

    (It’s “meshuggeners”.)

    • wondering jew
      April 7, 2012, 8:31 am

      I agree. In Yiddish it is meshuggeners.

      But in Modern Hebrew it is Meshuga’im. And in fact it is a word with a Biblical Hebrew origin. Samuel 21:16. When David fled Saul who wished to kill him, he hid out among the Phillistines and because he had been a warrior who had killed many Phillistines, some of them thought him worthy of death and they brought him to their king. David feigned madness (Hamlet feigned madness too). And the king of the Phillistines said to those who brought David to him, “Am I lacking crazy men that you brought this one to be crazy in my house?” (inexact translation). And the Biblical word for crazy men is meshuga’im, and such is the modern Hebrew word as well.

  7. justicewillprevail
    April 4, 2012, 5:36 pm

    American Jews don’t actually need Israel. Shocking, eh? They have a choice whether to support it or ignore it, but the notion that they need it, and they must obey the decrees which come out of that benighted country, is, in the contemporary world, ridiculous. I would suggest that if Israel wants loyalty, they earn it through their actions and principles, rather than demanding it, using blackmail, smearing and hysteria, in order to support a rotten, apartheid system which no American would countenance at home.

  8. pabelmont
    April 4, 2012, 7:56 pm

    I am filled with admiration for young idealistic (human-rights oriented) Jews who seek education and work as rabbis — in the current climate. Hedge funds would be safer work * * *

    As to the statement: “we are oriented to protecting the Jewish people from the outside… ‘”, some questions:

    Please ask these right-wing communitarian anti-human-rights-ers exactly how Israel’s settlements protect the Jews of Israel (or the Jews anywhere else). Israel is a more dangerous place for Jews — we are told — than anywhere else. So we might even ask a harder question: How does ISRAEL protect Jews anywhere else? If the USA stopped being friendly to Jews, do you really think Israel would be a safe haven? (And until such time, don’t you really prefer the USA to Israel?)

    And doesn’t intransigence about settlements (and occupation and against Palestinian statehood in WB&G) make the ultimate loss of USA support more rather than less likely?

    • piotr
      April 5, 2012, 4:05 am

      Some are even brave enough to try hedge funds.

      I think that the story of settlements protecting Israel is taken from the movie “The Desert of the Tartars” (Italian: Il deserto dei Tartari). Newer stories are about Jews molding their destiny (collective) and reaching an elevated state. Solemn authorities assure that you become more Jewish in Israel and the degree of Jewishness you can reach in a settlement can be surpassed in one way only: at an outpost.

      Hilltop outpost is to Jews what Nirvana is to Buddhist.

  9. Shingo
    April 4, 2012, 8:55 pm

    At least Cohen is honest enought to admit that Zionism is immoral and inhumane. That’s progress.

  10. chris o
    April 4, 2012, 10:11 pm

    I, too, was offended and a bit alarmed by Cohen talking about the “enemy.” And I think his use of Collective vs. Individual here is totally off the mark when he says that Jews who question Israel in any way “really are individual, they’re not collectivists.”

    Maybe they have just expanded the Collective beyond the tribe to all humanity under the principle of universal human rights and justice for all. Or perhaps such demands for unwavering ethnic loyalty seem completely out-of-place and bizarre in 21st Century America. If they were such individualists, they would not even care about the whole issue.

  11. RoHa
    April 5, 2012, 1:54 am

    1. Is he saying that concern for human rights is somehow detrimental to “Jewishness”? If so, that seems like a pretty good reason for condemning “Jewishness”.

    • ErsatzYisrael
      April 5, 2012, 9:48 am

      Does it make me an evil anti-Semiticish if I condemn the entire nonsense-notion of “Jewishness”?

      And would it be against God if I was to refer to former Christian, now born-again Agnostics, as Christianish? No, wait, aren’t Agnostics better thought of as being Atheistish!? Oh Poo. Now I confoozed. :/

      • RoHa
        April 5, 2012, 10:55 pm


  12. RoHa
    April 5, 2012, 1:54 am

    2. “they really act in such a way as if they don’t know that the whole world is listening in to the Jewish conversation.” Sorry to puncture his bloated sense of self-importance, but most of the world isn’t listening in to the Jewish conversation. Most of us have better things to do, and even if we don’t, we just don’t care anyway. (Which is why most of us don’t fuss over the Jewish idea that we are all filthy subhumans whose very touch will curdle wine.)

  13. RoHa
    April 5, 2012, 1:54 am

    3. “the very essence of their identity is questioned or worse defiled”

    What the bngger are these flaming “identity” things – Jewish or otherwise – that everyone is getting worked up about?

  14. Annie Robbins
    April 5, 2012, 2:40 am

    i don’t even know where to begin because my reactions to this entire conversation is so strong, so very strong. i got my mind blown following the link, especially to the commentary mag. i learned some stuff that’s really heartwrenching and so very very sad.

    who knows who will follow my train of thought but i will begin here..what Rabbi Renni Altman said about there’s not enough in terms of an ability to speak in a nuanced way to talk about Israel…. It’s hard to come up and say something that to many of us wouldn’t be that challenging but anything that is heard of in any way as critical of Israel is too often assumed to be disloyal, etc.

    we have to trust, we have to teach what we know to be true and is in our hearts and then trust when these true people go out into the world they will be leaders of the new generations. we cannot obsess about their loyalty to the truth as they see it.

    i followed the commentary link and it was a mindblower. to think all this freaking out he did over what? over this???:

    “For Yom Ha-Zikaron, our kavanah [intention] is to open up our communal remembrance to include losses on all sides of the conflict in Israel/Palestine….On this day, what do you remember and for whom do you grieve?”

    to open up our communal remembrance to include losses on all side. to open up..to open ones heart and ones mind/conscience to include others. for this Gordis freaks out. for this he accuses the parties were treated with equal weight and honor in the run-up to Yom Ha-Zikaron.

    there was no request to treat anyone , or make any measurement wrt equal weight. it was to open ones awareness/heart to see the pain and suffering and sacrifice of ones adversary. this is what every samuri learns to honor. how is that not what any wise noble empathetic compassionate person would naturally seek to understand and incorporate to become whole?

    and this is part of the conclusion of that warped commentary by Daniel Gordis:
    (my bold)

    All this is simply a reflection of the decreased role of “peoplehood” in Judaism. What we are witnessing is a Protestantization of American Jewish life. By and large, today’s rabbinical students did not grow up in homes that were richly Jewish. More often than not, these students came to their Jewish commitments as a result of individual journeys on which they embarked. They sought meaning, and found it. They sought prayer, and learned it. Their Jewish experience is roughly analogous to a Protestant religious awakening. The Protestant religious experience is a deeply personal one, not a communal one. Worship in the Protestant tradition is about reaching for the divine, while in the Jewish tradition, it is no less about creating a bond with other Jews. In Protestant liturgy, history is almost absent, while in the Jewish prayer book, it is omnipresent. The replacement of communal faith by personal journey among today’s young Jews is a profound reflection of the degree to which Christianity has colored their sense of what Judaism at its very core is all about.

    What American Protestant feels any instinctive loyalty to a Protestant in Taiwan? Can one speak of “the Protestant people?” One can’t, really. Judaism is different—or, at least, it was different. What these students did not learn on their Jewish journeys, because they were not raised that way, was the instinctive Jewish sense that Judaism is, at its core, still a matter of “us” and “them.” To this generation’s students, that claim strikes a horribly discordant tone. To be sure, Jewish tradition is extraordinarily nuanced and generous when it comes to the question of how Jews are to treat non-Jews. But it is a simple matter of fact that Jews have always been taught to care, first and foremost, for other Jews.

    Judaism is, at its core, still a matter of “us” and “them.”

    really? at its core? y’know..this strikes me as horribly sad. horribly. this is simply not my experience of the core of the being of the jews i know. at the core of judaism there is something in there about humanity, all of us. i know there must be. the jews i know are not all faking it, that’s not possible. there’s a better core out there than “us” and “them.”

    To love all of humanity equally is ultimately to love no one. To care about one’s enemies as much as one cares about oneself is to be no one. There needs to be priority and specificity in devotion and loyalty. Without them, we can stand for nothing. And without instinctive loyalty to the Jewish people, Jewry itself cannot survive.

    y’know, maybe the kind of people who say things like this have something to learn from people like Rabbi Amy Eilberg and the rabbi who mention the intention to open up remembrance to include losses on all sides . maybe there’s something beautiful in judaism, something that can heal the world instead of a dividing message. not the part of judaism that teaches ‘us and them’ but the part that teaches to open ones eyes and hearts to what heals and binds us, with compassion, to a better future.

    people do not need an ability to speak in nuance when they are speaking the truth from their heart. teach/learn the most important lessons the religion has to offer and then have trust and faith those who have the calling will go out into the world and serve in the best way they can. somehow, we will find a way thru this together, all of us. not ‘us and them’ but all of us together.

    • justicewillprevail
      April 5, 2012, 4:33 am

      Great commentary, Annie. I couldn’t agree more about the warped, perverse admission that it boils down to a desperate need to define the world as ‘us and them’. That is the essence of what these people are fighting for – separatism and an explicit sense of superiority (and thus entitlement). How retrograde and damaging to want to inculcate this in your kids, to stand apart from the world, encourage suspicion and hatred of ‘them’, at the same time as demanding special entitlements and privileges for ‘us’. If you flip this round, believing that ‘them’ are as entitled to such self aggrandising vanity and exceptionalism, then you justify anti-semitism. In other words, anti-semitism is no different to these Jewish attitudes to the ‘other’, ie non Jews. And thus anti-semitism is incubated in such medieval attitudes. It is incompatible with the modern world, a kind of fundamentalism. No wonder they are opposed to universal human rights, and equality of all under the law – their philosophy is that they have superior rights.
      I find it abhorrent, oppositional, and a recipe for hatred, war and violence of the kind we see Israel justifying all of the time. No wonder they want to keep it quiet.

      • marc b.
        April 5, 2012, 9:54 am

        bizarre, absolutely bizarre, this ideology. what is so infuriating about it is the condescension, the mixture of lies and narcissism. commenters here who promote this species of ‘jewish’ identity simultaneously promote the notion of uniqueness as superiority and then expect ‘outsiders’ to believe that they also support the ideals of a liberal democracy. this is utter crap of course. what they are promoting is a racial hierarchy, and one of the whips they crack to keep the troops in line is the threat of ostracism through accusations of disloyalty, which is just a variation on the pathological ‘self-hating’ meme. i’m catholic and my father was french, but i can’t imagine that my reaction to the murder of french school children would have been any stronger if they were catholic kids rather than jewish. according to these jerks, this is somehow a defect of character. and what about this ‘loyalty’ to israel oath for non-israeli jews? and is there such a thing as a non-israeli jew in this framework? we have a rabbi ostensibly absolving jews of any sin if that sin ultimately benefits israel, and others claiming that all ‘jews’, as they define jewishness, are one with the tribe of israel, both as a nation state and collective people.

        i don’t know if anyone here has read nathan englander’s collection of short stories ‘what we talk about when we talk about anne frank’. the writing is uneven at best, but englander does paint some interesting psychological portraits of his vision of jewishness, and the seeming contradictions of identity, although his standards for bona fide ‘jewishness’ are pretty clear. see this from a NYT review:

        As for “Free Fruit for Young Widows,” it recounts how a teenage survivor of the death camps, who’s seen his mother, his father, his sisters and grandparents all killed, returns home to find his childhood nurse, Fanushka, and her family occupying his parents’ house. After overhearing Fanushka’s plot to kill him (so as to keep custody of the house), he waits until everyone is asleep, then executes her entire family, including a 1 ½-year-old child (“because he did not know from mercy, and did not need to leave another of that family to grow to kill him at some future time”).

        the review in TNR is a bit more probing:

        This story is surpassed in sensationalism by “Free Fruit for Young Widows.” Englander’s battering ram is here deployed from the opening sentences. A platoon of Israeli soldiers in 1956 are having lunch at a remote site in the Sinai when one of them raises his gun and shoots four of the others in the head. To his horrified mates, he explains that these were actually Egyptian commandos wearing French-supplied uniforms like those of the Israelis. (We are not told how he detected their true identity.) As the narrative moves forward in time well beyond 1956, we learn that there are still greater horrors lying behind this one. The shooter, a man named Tendler, is a survivor of a concentration camp, and he saw his father, mother, three sisters, and grandparents killed in front of him. When he returns to his home after the war, he is warmly greeted by the Christian family that has moved into the house, but then he overhears them plotting to kill him in his sleep before he can reclaim his property. His response is to anticipate them early in the night by shooting every single member of the family. His final victim is an infant: “That last bullet Tendler left in the fat baby girl because he did not know from mercy, and did not need to leave another of that family to grow to kill him at some future time.”

        One might reasonably infer that Tendler’s grief has transformed him into a homicidal maniac, but the problem is that Englander’s treatment of the Holocaust, here and in other stories, like his treatment of anti-Semitism and even of sex, does not leave any firm ground for a moral or even a psychological perspective. A man who witnessed Tendler’s killing of the Egyptians tells Tendler’s whole story to his son, trying to explain why he has a kind of reverence for the Holocaust survivor. Of the son it is said that “it was on that day that Etgar Gezer became a philosopher” and decided that “Professor Tendler was both a murderer and, at the same time, a misken [poor guy].” Two assumptions here are equally objectionable, exemplifying Englander’s weakness of moral imagination. The first is the notion that the exposure to barbaric extremes puts one in touch with the dark profundity of existence, and so in itself makes one “a philosopher,” like Tendler, who holds a chair of philosophy at a university. (In this way Englander’s readers are invited to flatter themselves for reading his fiction.) The second assumption is that having it both ways is not an evasion but the expression of an encompassing view of grim realities. Tendler in the story underwent unspeakable suffering, but then he murdered a whole family, finishing with a baby girl. Does he really retain his status as a poor guy? Is it this combination of victim and killer that makes him a philosopher?

        Here Englander is normalizing the homicidal behavior of ‘the holocaust survivor’ (like he softens the rabid settlers in the title story, ‘what we talk about . . .’) , the pinnacle of jewish identity in the modern era. This is ‘shooting and crying’, on a serial level, no one being spared, not infants, not other jews. (Englander’s conceit that the murdered Israeli soldiers were actually ‘egytpian commandoes’ is a crude attempt at disguising contempt for the ‘enemy within’, i.e. ‘self-haters’ or those jews simply not loyal enough to the cause. what a collection of shite.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 5, 2012, 3:15 pm

        interesting comment marc. i recall seeing a movie at one time with the plot of the child coming back and overhearing the family plot his murder and killing someone. it is blurry but i remember this. it was a boy, in the kitchen. strange deja vu

      • marc b.
        April 6, 2012, 9:16 am

        thanks annie. the psychology of the exploiters of the holocaust, and anne frank in particular, is some mindbending stuff. englander’s title piece has four jewish friends, a reform couple and a ultra-orthodox couple, playing the ‘anne frank’ game (which i believe englander claims to be an invention of his family, but is a pretty common parlor game), the question to be answered being, which of your gentile friends would hide you in the event of another holocaust, and which would turn you in. you can see the potential for some black humor, but the underlying premise is pretty offensive, i.e. that every gentile, even/especially your friends are murderers in potentia. shalom auslander’s ‘hope: a tragedy’, which i haven’t read yet, has a cranky anne frank living in the attic of a jewish family in contemporary america. auslander sets out a less reverential relationship between jews and frank. from a UK Spectator review:

        As Hope: A Tragedy opens, Kugel, Bree, Jonah and his moribund old mother have moved to a converted farmhouse in Stockton — a town attractive precisely because nothing ever happened there. History has passed it by. It feels safe.

        But then their new home turns out to have a strange smell. A scratching noise can be heard through the vents. Rats? Or, worse, the serial arsonist who has been burning down farmhouses like this one all round the area? When Kugel climbs into the attic to investigate, he finds neither a nest of rats nor a clanking pipe, but an unsavoury old lady pecking away at a typewriter. He asks who she is, and she tells him she’s Anne Frank. Their first conversation ends badly. He announces he’s going to call the police and stomps off:

        Kugel stopped at the head of the attic stairs.
        And let me tell you something else, he said.
        She continued to type, paying him no attention.
        I don’t know who you are, he said, or how you got up here. But I’ll tell you what I do know: I know Anne Frank died in Auschwitz. And I know that she died along with many others, some of whom were my relatives. And I know that making light of that, by claiming to be Anne Frank, not only is not funny and abhorrent but it also insults the memory of millions of victims of Nazi brutality.
        The old woman stopped typing and turned to him, fixing that hideous yellow eye upon his.
        It was Bergen-Belsen, jackass, she said.
        Kugel continued to glare at her, even as he felt a flush of shame colour his face. He turned and began climbing down the stairs.
        And as for the relatives you lost in the Holocaust? she continued.
        Kugel stopped and looked at her, and when she did, she yanked up her right shirtsleeve, revealing the fading blue-black concentration camp numbers tattooed on the inside of her pale forearm.
        Blow me, said Anne Frank.

    • bintbiba
      April 5, 2012, 8:28 am

      annie, love it

      “not ‘us and them, but all of us together’ ”
      as always, annie, well said!!

  15. Justice Please
    April 5, 2012, 5:07 am

    “they really act in such a way as if they don’t know that the whole world is listening in to the Jewish conversation.”

    Well, that is only a problem for racist, supremacist Jews. If you are a good human, you have nothing to fear from scrutiny.

  16. dahoit
    April 5, 2012, 9:06 am

    Curious;Does a liberal hawk eat everything and anything,while a conservative hawk picks and chooses?
    Intellectualism is dead(among unintelligentsia,it exists among the outcasts) in America,Western Europe and Israel.Its been consumed by Zionism and the cult of speciallity.

  17. yourstruly
    April 5, 2012, 10:01 am

    so sociologist steven cohen considers jewish youth who value human rights and morality more than loyalty to israel to be both an embarrassment and the enemy? what, is he looking at himself in the mirror before making such ridiculous statements, because if truth be told, he and his israel firster associates are the ones who are the enemy – the enemy of those of us who seek a just and peaceful world in which each of us is equally important not only in the day to day but in the total scheme of things. all inclusive societies, that is, with no have nots nor left outs, and therefore most definitely not a world in which there’d be much interest in enthnosupremacist colonial entities such as israel. why would there be, what with the entity’s delegitimization itself having opened the way to new and exciting possibilities for life on earth. and by the way, said dream is not restricted to the young only but is for all ages.

    • marc b.
      April 5, 2012, 10:57 am

      i’d go further, yours. a ‘sociologist’ with a personal agenda, particularly given what cohen is ‘studying’, isn’t really a sociologist at all. his religious/ethnic/etc. identity completely undermines his professional identity.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 5, 2012, 3:17 pm

      so sociologist steven cohen considers jewish youth who value human rights and morality more than loyalty to israel to be both an embarrassment and the enemy?

      i noticed that myself. odd.

  18. Kathleen
    April 5, 2012, 10:56 am

    The you are either with us or against us…the “enemy” has been used by many dangerous and deadly cults through history. On the other hand protect Israel for gods sake based on internationally recognized borders. Do not support or protect the illegal settlements, daily humiliation of Palestinians, bulldozing of homes, olive trees etc.

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