Sequestering young people in religious/ethnic schools breeds alienation and hatred (Magid takes on Beinart)

Shaul Magid
Shaul Magid

This is interesting. Peter Beinart is now getting criticized by a member of his own camp, another liberal Zionist. Shaul Magid is famous in Jewish circles. He was on the J Street rabbinical board (in his Beinart review he says he felt betrayed by J Street’s capitulation), he is a scholar of Jewish history at Indiana University. He writes in Religion Dispatches that Beinart ignores the fact that the settlements are directed, authorized, and approved by Israelis. This point has been made before but Magid is very clear:

The settlements are not distinct from the state, they are an integral part of it.

Israel is a legislative democracy (its flaws notwithstanding), so its elected officials must be viewed as representing the majority of the population. This may be more complex in a parliamentary democracy but it is still the foundation upon which we call something a democracy. Israelis elected a parliament that supports the settlements. Polls indicate that if elections were held in Israel tomorrow the coalition would be even more rightist. Israeli high school mock elections held in 2009 gave present Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a settler and vocal advocate of the settlement movement, a clear victory as Prime Minister.

Given that, whatever polls say regarding a majority of Israelis’ “willingness” to end the occupation, when they go to ballot box as a collective, they indicate otherwise. American Jews need to take seriously the real likelihood that Israelis (not just Netanyahu) simply do not want to end the occupation for all kinds of reasons. For many American Jews this causes cognitive dissonance—but they may have to deal with it.

This raises the issue of why American Jews simply don’t throw in the towel on the Jewish state and say, Let’s have what we like over here: democracy!! (Shaul Magid, what’s the answer to that challenge?)

Then Magid goes on to hammer Beinart’s segregationist views as the views of his grandmother’s generation. (As I’ve said before, Beinart is the kind of young person old people love). What’s fascinating about this argument is that Magid, who is a really smart guy, sought to segregate his own children, and then discovered when his son was grown up that he’d missed out on diversity. Wasn’t that obvious?

Second, when Beinart speaks of intermarriage he speaks as if he’s from his grandmother’s generation. Intermarriage is a reality American Jews will have to deal with. It’s not going away nor, I would argue, should it. American Jews intermarry at a rate commensurate with many other minority populations in America (excluding blacks and Latinos), so is Beinart suggesting ethnic groups should only marry one another? Or is he saying that intermarriage between a Polish Catholic and a Korean Presbyterian is fine but that Jews should only marry other Jews? It may be that the intermarried Jew cares less about Israel, but rectifying this reality by making an exceptionalist claim about the Jews, making them “anomalous” (a label with ominous anti-Semitic coattails) is not the answer.       

…the case Beinart makes for more Jewish education should make those on the left a little uncomfortable….

Having sent three children through a Jewish school system in Boston (modern Orthodox, Conservative, and non-denominational) I can personally attest that one of the real deficiencies in the otherwise laudable effort to make young Jews literate in the tradition is that they grow up interacting almost exclusively with Jews, have only Jewish friends, and know about the world around them primarily through a Jewish lens. You can have all the classes you want in global community, tolerance, liberalism, etc., but when it’s a classroom of Jews being taught by a Jew using mostly Jewish resources (and on vacation many of these children go to… Jewish summer camps!), that message may not resonate very far, whatever the noble intensions.

My son, now 28, recently told me he didn’t have a non-Jewish friend until he was in 12th grade when he first attended a public high school. Non-Jews were simply the “other.” … Beinart’s strong advocacy of sending one’s children to schools where everyone is the same in order to teach them how to be generous to those who are different requires a bit more scrutiny. Would he advocate a society where all ethnic groups only went to school with their own? This is the case in Israel and it has contributed to the creation of a society filled with alienation and hatred on both sides, precisely the kind of society Beinart rightly criticizes in the book.

…sequestering young Jews so that they only learn with one another, marry one another and have children who will do the same is hardly the way to create a liberal humanistic society that can offer a viable alternative to the problems contemporary Jews face.

Beautiful argument. Though I do find it remarkable that a Jewish scholar would be so immured in a Jewish world as to wake up to this truth only after he’d segregated his own children. Wasn’t this a truth we learned in the ’70s? The Jewish discourse is actually somewhat primitive on this score. And given our power and status in U.S. society, the conversation is actually unseemly. 

Allison Deger has a post up about Joseph Dana’s  great review at the National of Beinart’s book. I want to add my two cents (and thanks to Annie for passing the Dana along).

The essence of Dana’s critique is the problem posed to Beinart by Joseph Dana himself– a good Jewish intellectual who loves Jewish history and culture but who sees Jewish renewal in a commitment to democracy, not exclusivity. Dana:


Perhaps the actual crisis of Zionism is the fact that liberal Zionist writers, who deeply care for Israel, are unable or unwilling to accept that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly being defined as a battle over rights and equality between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians are coalescing around nonviolent boycotts targeting Israel’s system of inequality while Israel is destroying its own democratic foundations in an attempt to protect its ideology of exclusion. Rigorous critique of Zionism, not Israeli settlements, is the first step towards safeguarding Israel as a haven for Jews while preventing the country from sliding deeper into moral bankruptcy.

This is a wonderful insight because it gets at the undemocratic nature of Beinart’s discourse. He seems to want to limit the Israel conversation to Jews attached to a Jewish homeland. But Palestinians and leftwingers have a very different discourse. Isn’t it actually democratic to let them speak?

Dana also takes this jab:

Evidently not strong enough for him to emigrate from New York to Jerusalem, Beinart has a deeply emotional relationship with Zionism…

I love this argument. Why don’t people make it more often? The truth is that Beinart is as useful to the Jewish state here as he is in Israel, maybe more useful because Israel has always been dependent on world powers. It does not have the consent of its neighbors or subjects. So it must grapple the U.S. to its soul with hoops of steel.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Media, US Politics

{ 151 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. seafoid says:

    “…sequestering young Jews so that they only learn with one another, marry one another and have children who will do the same is hardly the way to create a liberal humanistic society that can offer a viable alternative to the problems contemporary Jews face.”

    I have the feeling that Israelis have given up on liberalism now that the wagons are circled. Name one Israeli government minister or Kadima front bencher who would qualify as liberal in the West. Liberalism appears to be a diaspora thing .

    It’s very sad to note the absence of any significant Israeli cultural critiques of a doomed system.

  2. seafoid says:

    “Sequestering young people in religious/ethnic schools breeds alienation and hatred”

    It doesn’t have to. Government policy is more important. Religious schools can be a positive force in society. Israel is dysfunctional because of the army and the settlers.

  3. Dan Crowther says:

    Here’s my thing about the “inter-marriage” bit — it seems like its assumed that the jewish parent loses out on the deal when it comes to the religion of their children. As in “if I marry a christian, my kids will be christians” — I never got this, seems like a defeatist argument. Personally, I think inter-marriage offers a unique opportunity to “show-off” judaism, its teachings and traditions. Think of it like a try-out.

    In my hometown, there are lots of mixed faith families, so to me, discussions of “inter-marriage” are dated, to put it charitably. Judaism’s slogan should be “the more the merrier” and maybe with more non-ethnic jews in the jewish fold, we might work past this deep tribalism, where two people who love each other are in some quarters considered a threat to the larger group.

    • hophmi says:

      “Here’s my thing about the “inter-marriage” bit — it seems like its assumed that the jewish parent loses out on the deal when it comes to the religion of their children. As in “if I marry a christian, my kids will be christians” — I never got this, seems like a defeatist argument.”

      It’s really pretty simple. Roughly 80% of the people in the United States are Christians of some denomination. It’s 1.7% Jewish. And in addition to that, Judaism as a religion requires quite a bit more than Christianity day-to-day in terms of dietary requirements, prayer, Sabbath observance, and so on. It’s quite hard to understand what all of this means in reality unless you’ve lived it and watched others cope with it, particularly outside New York. Jewish kids in public school who want to observe their religion must make very hard choices that their Christian friends do not have to make to observe theirs. Observing holidays requires missing class. Playing on certain teams or being in the school play might require practicing on Saturday. Eating in the school cafeteria can be a problem. This is the tip of the iceberg.

      You could argue that by holding kids out of public school, you decrease diversity and lose the chance for Jewish students to contribute to the fabric of a community and gain a broader view of the world around them. But these arguments don’t hold water.

      First of all, most of the Jewish parents who send their kids to public school are quite assimilated. Their children are not giving the community the benefit of their background because they simply don’t know it very well and their parents either don’t teach it to them, or don’t know it themselves.

      Second, even if a child comes from a knowledgeable family that is moderately observant, asking a primary school student to make choices like these is asking an awful lot, and it’s unfair, because his fellow students do not have the same challenges.

      Parochial school addresses some of these problems. Outside of very religious communities, most Jewish kids who go to parochial schools go on to secular colleges, where they make friends of all religious and ethnic backgrounds just as Catholic kids from parochial school do. The kind of schools Beinart has in mind are not hardcore Talmudic academies. They’re more along the lines of prep schools that are as strong in secular studies as they are in Judaic studies, schools like the Heschel school in New York, an independent, progressive day school, or the Hannah Senesh school in Brooklyn.

      You really need to have an understanding of Beinart’s background and the state of Jewish parochial education to understand what he’s talking about. He and I are really quite similar in outlook; both of us are observant Jews who are not orthodox in practice but desire an intellectually vibrant, progressive brand of traditional Judaism that has come in recent years to be exemplified in the independent minyan movement that has taken off in places like NY and DC, where people in their 20s and 30s, many graduates of the best schools in the country (Kehilat Hadar, the most famous of these, has roots in the Harvard Hillel), have gotten together to form prayer groups that are lay-led, feature intellectually rigorous learning and questioning, and so on. Many of the people in these groups were educated in Solomon Schechters, the network of day schools in the conservative movement, and in New York, a number of them attended Jewish summer camp at Camp Ramah. Others have public school and prep school backgrounds. They have diverse groups of friends, and they take their religion seriously.

      Unfortunately, schools like Heschel and Senesh are not the norm, and they are extremely expensive, and outside of NY, there’s significantly less access to Jewish education. So we are not talking about a choice between segregation and diversity. We’re talking about a choice between teaching our children our religion and not teaching it, or compromising it to the point where it doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning. Most Jews choose the latter, and as a result, Judaism in America has become almost exclusively the province of the Orthodox community.

      It’s not REALLY about intermarriage. It’s simply about the fact that Jews in this society have little concept of who they are and where they come from. Intermarriage is a symptom, not a disease; I don’t care about intermarriage because I’m a religious fanatic. I care about it because Jews generally don’t intermarry to spread their faith; they intermarry to minimize it. Society is not richer for Jews knowing less about themselves. It’s poorer.

      • RoHa says:

        “It’s simply about the fact that Jews in this society have little concept of who they are”

        You mean they are in a worse position than poor old Kim er Sung?
        “Am I Isaac Goldstern? No, doesn’t sound right. Mo Green? Debra Weingarten? Napoleon Solo? ”

        ” and where they come from.”

        A little talk with their fathers might help with that.

        But if that is not what you mean, please explain what you do mean. I really do not know what else “who they are and where they come from” could mean.

        • eljay says:

          >> … I don’t care about intermarriage because I’m a religious fanatic. I care about it because Jews generally don’t intermarry to spread their faith; they intermarry to minimize it.

          1. Jews who inter-marry because they’ve found someone to love troubles you, because their inter-marriages don’t spread the faith. (Damn those self-loathing anti-Semites!)
          2. You’re less concerned about the happiness of your fellow human beings than you are with your religion.
          3. You are a religious fanatic. (No surprise there.)

        • hophmi says:

          @Roha: I mean they generally know little about Jewish tradition, history, customs, or practices. Many know something about American cultural Judaism, but eating a bagel does not make someone Jewish.

          @eljay: Yes, I care about my religion. People interested in perpetuating it seem to have little problem finding other Jews to love. Divorce rates in the orthodox community are significnatly lower than outside of it.

        • yourstruly says:

          being more concerned about one’s religion than about the happiness of your fellow human beings is analagous to being more concerned about the colonial entity israel than a just and peaceful world.

        • eljay says:

          >> @eljay: Yes, I care about my religion.

          Right. You care more about your religion than you do about the happiness of your fellow human beings. Got it.

        • RoHa says:

          “I mean they generally know little about Jewish tradition, history, customs, or practices.”

          That I understand, although I don’t see the connection between that and “who they are”, etc.

          Anyway, you think this ignorance is important?

        • RoHa says:

          Hop and his ilk seem to care more about their religion than they do about the happiness of their “fellow” Jews.

        • hophmi says:

          I think three of you now have said I care more about my religion than about the religion of my fellow Jews.

          Nothing I have said here suggests that. I simply believe there is value in maintaining my tradition, and that makes me no different from anyone else who believes that secular culture often leaves something to be desired. I’m not forcing my choices on anyone.

        • eljay says:

          >> I think three of you now have said I care more about my religion than about the religion of my fellow Jews.

          I said you care more about your religion than you do about the happiness of your fellow human beings.

          >> Nothing I have said here suggests that.

          Your expression of concern that intermarriage “minimizes” the Jewish faith suggests that. (If you cared more about the happiness of your fellow human beings than you do about your religion, intermarriage wouldn’t trouble you.)

          >> I simply believe there is value in maintaining my tradition …

          And, evidently, your faith as well. In either case, nothing is stopping you from maintaining either of them.

        • hophmi says:

          “I said you care more about your religion than you do about the happiness of your fellow human beings. ”

          You care more about your politics than you do the happiness of your fellow human beings. How about we avoid the ad hominem nonsense?

          “Your expression of concern that intermarriage “minimizes” the Jewish faith suggests that. (If you cared more about the happiness of your fellow human beings than you do about your religion, intermarriage wouldn’t trouble you.)”

          Obviously, I think there is potential for one to be happier retaining some of the faith rather than chucking it. That seems to be what happens in most intermarriages; the faith gets chucked, and usually the Judaism more than whatever the other faith is.

          “And, evidently, your faith as well. In either case, nothing is stopping you from maintaining either of them.”

          And I’m not stopping anyone else from doing what they want.

        • Mooser says:

          “How about we avoid the ad hominem nonsense?

          Considering that you have no idea exactly what the phrase means, but have adopted it as your second-place shibboleth now that “Anti-Semite!” won’t work, no I don’t think you’l be avoiding “ad hominem nonsense” at all. In fact, I bet we’ll see a lot more of it.

        • eljay says:

          >> You care more about your politics than you do the happiness of your fellow human beings.

          Wow, that would be so right…if it weren’t so completely wrong.

          My politics is freedom, equality, kindness and respect. I believe that all my fellow human beings should be entitled to receive – and to offer – these things.

          And intermarriage doesn’t bother me in the slightest. IMO, love and dedication between two people is – and, more significantly, should be – more important than any religious or ethnic or racial divide.

          Oh, and I also don’t believe in religion-supremacist states. If you believed in freedom, equality, kindness and respect, you might understand why. But you don’t, so you can’t.

      • Elliot says:

        It’s really pretty simple. Roughly 80% of the people in the United States are Christians of some denomination. It’s 1.7% Jewish. And in addition to that, Judaism as a religion requires quite a bit more than Christianity day-to-day in terms of dietary requirements, prayer, Sabbath observance, and so on.
        You’re missing a key word here, hophmi. Most Americans are secularized, not religious. At least, not in the sense that you use the term.
        Mainstream American Catholics today would have been branded as bad Catholics not so long ago. Fish on Fridays, marrying outside the faith and so on. Most identifying Jews are not religious in the way that you describe. They’ll go to the high school football game on Friday night – a very unJewish thing to do – but will light Shabbat candles, attend a synagogue, support Jewish causes and so on.

        Beinart seems to have a hold on the imagination of Jews (and Christians?) because he espouses the all-Jewish, only Jewish ideal. (The keyword that journalists use to communicate that is: “Orthodox”.) I sympathize with the goal of studying Jewish text but not more than that. If the Orthodox way is so desirable, people should just choose that rather than deferring to Beinart on matters that concern all of us.

        • elliot, some people just won’t take no for an answer. when i entered israel they asked me what my religion was, i said none.you can’t get into israel without a religion. this is probably where that 80% christian idea comes from. silly. how many of those 80% even believe in original sin?

        • hophmi says:

          The 80% christian idea comes from wikipedia.

        • link to en.wikipedia.org

          According to recent surveys, 83 percent of Americans identify with a religious denomination…..The majority of Americans (60% to 76%) identify themselves as Christians,

          fyi the 76% figure comes from a Trinity College survey, the 60% (59.9 actually) figure comes from The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) link to thearda.com

          it’s only a difference of about a 50 million people anyway. no biggie.

        • Elliot says:

          Sounds right. Israelis deserve the reputation that Mormons have. Thank your stars you are not related to an Israeli Jew. They would have asked you to become a citizen and take out an Israeli passport.
          I speak from personal experience.

        • hophmi says:

          “Beinart seems to have a hold on the imagination of Jews (and Christians?) because he espouses the all-Jewish, only Jewish ideal. ”

          Not true. Where does he say this? Did you read the book? Beinart is not articulating an orthodox vision at all.

      • seafoid says:

        Judaism should drop the limitation that only if your mother is Jewish you can be. I saw this self defeating mechanism amongst the Parsis in India. The community is contracting and may not survive this century.

        If Jews marry goys the kids should be recognised as Jews. Imagine the nightmare scenario- you are an attractive Jewish lady and there’s only one male Jew left in the world and it’s Danny Danon.

        Wouldn’t it be far better to find a sympa goy and start over ?

        • RoHa says:

          “If Jews marry goys the kids should be recognised as Jews.”

          Why? If they don’t follow the religion, what is the point?

        • seafoid says:

          The “Jewish only if your mother is” is what justifies the occupation in the eyes of many Israeli sociopaths like Danon who say that Erez Israel has to be held and the biggest thing that he cares about is saving Jews from intermarriage in the Diaspora.
          So it’s feeding bigotry and the departure of half of judaism from its own ethical foundation.

          link to aljazeera.com

        • hophmi says:

          “Judaism should drop the limitation that only if your mother is Jewish you can be. ”

          OK. It’s not a huge part of the problem, and Reform Jews at least have already dropped it.

          “I saw this self defeating mechanism amongst the Parsis in India. The community is contracting and may not survive this century. ”

          Yes, but the part of the Jewish community that has not dropped it is by far the fastest growing part.

          “If Jews marry goys the kids should be recognised as Jews.”

          That’s up to the parents. And in a society that is overwhelmingly Christian, it’s unlikely to happen all the frequently. And whether it does or not may not matter much; the label is less important than the level of engagement.

        • seafoid says:

          “Yes, but the part of the Jewish community that has not dropped it is by far the fastest growing part. ”

          ..as well as the most ignorant, the least productive, the most welfare dependent ..

      • jonrich111 says:

        “It’s not REALLY about intermarriage. It’s simply about the fact that Jews in this society have little concept of who they are and where they come from. Intermarriage is a symptom, not a disease; I don’t care about intermarriage because I’m a religious fanatic. I care about it because Jews generally don’t intermarry to spread their faith; they intermarry to minimize it. Society is not richer for Jews knowing less about themselves. It’s poorer.”

        I agree with you. As a Jew, my identity is primarily enthic/cultural and religious second. I think that it is important to teach Jewish history, traditions, culture and identity to the next generation. Intermarriage is a symptom of assimilation. Ideally, inter-marriage could bring MORE people to Jewish identity, it could increase our numbers by exposing our culture to more people. But today, it is primarily used as a means of abandoning Jewish identity and not teaching it to your children.

  4. hophmi says:

    Several things. First of all, Magid overstates Beinart’s argument. Beinart is not a segregationist. If there was a way to educate Jewish children in their religion without parochial schools, I’m sure Beinart would not be opposed to it. The fact of the matter is that outside of the day school community, children do not generally receive good Jewish educations. It also does not make Beinart a “segregationist” to favor giving Jewish children a parochial education. Are parents who choose to send their kids to Catholic schools “segregationists?” Parents who choose to send their kids to Islamic schools? Parents who send their kids to elitist private schools? Parents who send their kids to public schools in districts that are disproportionate white or black?

    The word segregationist is false and inflammatory.

    You also, frankly, show a complete disregard for the choices and needs of religious Jews that necessitates some of the insularity that, say, Christians do not have to worry about. Jews require kosher food. Kids cannot get kosher food in a non-kosher camp. They cannot get a kosher lunch in a public school. They cannot access activities that take place on Saturdays, which many do. Are religious Jews wrong to want these things for their children? Are they “segregationist” because they choose to feed their children kosher food? Should religious parents deny their children these experiences just to satisfy some left-wing elitist’s vision of diversity?

    And in Europe, where much higher percentages of Jewish children attend some sort of parochial school, there is no problem with their assimilation into the general culture of their societies that I know of.

    No matter what our communal success, we are still a religious and ethnic minority, and our challenges are not all the same as are Christian brethren.

    What is your plan for conveying our tradition, Phil? Do you think it’s worth educating Jewish children? Or would you rather not convey the Jewish religion at all?

    Second: The experience of Shaul Magid’s children is not the experience of everyone who went to day school. I went to day school and went to arts camp during the summer and had plenty of non-Jewish friends. There are, again, challenges for people who observe, from kosher food to standards of morality. I myself am not orthodox, but having grown up around orthodox people, I can attest to the shocking ignorance of most left-wing Jews who are not observant, both from the standpoint of religious knowledge, and from the standpoint of the challenges faced by those they criticize for their insularity.

    Parents who care enough, particularly those living in urban areas, should have no trouble whatsoever ensuring that their kids play with a diverse group of children.

    • Keith says:

      HOPHMI- “Jews require kosher food.”

      Putting aside the obvious qualifier that only those Jews who keep Kosher “require kosher food,” it seems to me that one of the primary purposes of Jewish dietary laws is to make breaking bread with Gentiles both difficult and unlikely. Also, as you point out, it provides a basis for Jews to restrict their activities to those involving other Jews to maintain being Kosher. When the Rabbis concocted these laws that was their intent. Segregationist? You betcha!

      • Elliot says:

        1. Keith –
        Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) including restrictions on imbibing alcohol with Gentiles were clearly designed to delineate the Jewish community and create a social boundary with Gentiles.
        That is why, as the Jewish (along with Christians) have become secularized and more open, these rules have been relaxed. The vast majority of Jews are able to make personal choices in observing traditional kashrut while still maintaining social ties to non-Jews. In a world with eco-consciousness, not to mention siliac and allergies, kashrut – as practiced by most Jews – does not create a social barrier.

        2. I don’t have a problem with Beinart and other Orthodox Jews doing their thing. Particularly since the flight of the American middle class to the segregated suburbs. How much more segragated is a Jewish school compared to an all-White, all upper middle class school?
        But the admiration that the mainstream press has for this (“Did you know Beinart is Orthodox”) is symptomatic of a lack of faith that liberal Jews have in their own Jewish choices. No real harm done in American, but this dovetails with American Jewish support for Israel’s own all-Jewish fantasy. And that truly is dangerous.

        3. How odd that the birth of Israel’s national settlement project – the grand project of creating an Israeli suburbia in the West Bank wastelands – coincides with the flight of American Jews from cities to suburbia. No wonder American Jews – and Americans in general – endorsed the West Bank settlements.

      • hophmi says:

        @Keith: Jews are not the only religion with dietary laws; Muslims have them as well. I know plenty of Jews who break bread with Gentiles and have no trouble observing those laws.

        @Elliot: I don’t believe most liberal secular Jewish Americans can be said to have made a choice. I think for many, the choice was made for them. And Beinart’s not Orthodox. His whole argument is that non-Orthodox Jews need to do a better job of being engaged unless they want a Judaism that is solely the province of very religious people, and the Jewish community as a whole needs to do a better job of creating the opportunities for liberal American Jews to be engaged. Beinart wants more liberalism, not less.

        American Jews have not largely endorsed settlements, and repeating it over and over again will not make it true.

        • Elliot says:

          hophmi -
          To the extent that most people do what they have always done you could say most people don’t make choices about their lives. That includes the Orthodox too.
          But I find that attitude condescending. Sure they made a choice. America as a whole made a big choice to lower the boundaries between religions and to secularize religion.

          On the issue of settlements see Anita Shapira and Akiva Eldar ‘Lods of the Land.” Without American Jewish endorsement there would be no West Bank settlement problem today. I agree that, today, most American Jews likely oppose settlements in a general sense but they have never taken responsibility for the way their name was used – and continues to be used – to enforce settlement activity.

        • RoHa says:

          “Jews are not the only religion with dietary laws; Muslims have them as well.”

          But they are much less restrictive, and so far less of a social barrier. Muslims happily share meals with non-Muslims, without any concern for ritual pollution from presence or touch. Perhaps because Muslims are not supposed to drink wine anyway.

        • hophmi says:

          “But they are much less restrictive, and so far less of a social barrier. Muslims happily share meals with non-Muslims, without any concern for ritual pollution from presence or touch. Perhaps because Muslims are not supposed to drink wine anyway.”

          Jews happily share meals with non-Jews.

        • Mooser says:

          Having missed a few meals in my life, I eat anything put in front of me. And I’d rather die than tell somebody their food isn’t good enough for me. Offering food is an almost universal gesture of friendliness and hospitality. It is hardly ever to be turned down.

    • eljay says:

      >> What is your plan for conveying our tradition, Phil? Do you think it’s worth educating Jewish children? Or would you rather not convey the Jewish religion at all?

      Why should he have to convey the Jewish religion? By so many Zio-supremacist accounts – yours included – “Jewish” is much more than just a religion or faith: It’s a nation, a people, an ethnicity, a culture, a community and a tradition. Hell, we’ve heard plenty on this site about atheist Jews. So why are you hung up on Phil having to convey the Jewish religion?

      • hophmi says:

        “Why should he have to convey the Jewish religion?”

        Well, Phil says he’s a Jew and that he cares. He uses inflammatory language to criticize Beinart’s call for wider Jewish education. So I’m asking what his idea is. I’d like to know Phil’s position on Jewish education.

        • Mooser says:

          “I’d like to know Phil’s position on Jewish education.”

          Phil Weiss has been appointed New York State Commissioner of Jewish Education? Oy, what an honor! No wonder his views on Jewish education are so important to you Hophmi.
          And to think, I would have suspected you were just trying to start a pointless and distracting argument.

          But really, Hophmi, is Jewish education really necessary? I mean, the biggest Jewish education experience takes place a few days after birth, and is damned well not gonna be forgotten.

        • hophmi says:

          “Phil Weiss has been appointed New York State Commissioner of Jewish Education?”

          No, but he has criticized Beinart’s vision as segregationist. I’d like to hear Phil’s position on Jewish education.

          “But really, Hophmi, is Jewish education really necessary? I mean, the biggest Jewish education experience takes place a few days after birth, and is damned well not gonna be forgotten.”

          Forget you, Mooser.

        • eljay says:

          >> eljay: Why should he have to convey the Jewish religion?
          >> hophmi: Well, Phil says he’s a Jew and that he cares.

          He is, and he does say that, yes.

          >> He uses inflammatory language to criticize Beinart’s call for wider Jewish education. So I’m asking what his idea is. I’d like to know Phil’s position on Jewish education.

          I get the part about “Jewish education”. But you asked whether he is interested in “convey[ing] the Jewish religion”. Given that…
          - you and your co-collectivists have stated that “Jewish” is a nation, a people, an ethnicity, a culture, a community and a tradition; and
          - atheist Jews on this site have explained that religion is not an essential part of “Jewish” (otherwise, they couldn’t be atheists);
          …I still don’t understand your specific focus on religion in your question to Phil.

        • Mooser says:

          “Forget you, Mooser.”

          But you can’t, can you? I’m just amazed! I never thought that in 20th Century America, somebody would have put that much effort into making themselves so damn freakin’ provincial. Did you get that word. Hophmi? It’s P-R-O-V-I-N-C-I-A-L.
          No, maybe I shouldn’t be amazed, a great percentage of the Christians around me who can afford it, and many who can’t (well enough to do it in style) are doing the exact same thing. Right down to the day schools and everything. I congratulate you on your assimilation.

    • lyn117 says:

      Its actually quite hard to buy non-kosher food, unless you’re buying bacon or something. Practically everything in the the grocery store is kosher. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get kosher food at many public schools, but anyway you can always bring your own lunch. I’d be surprised if today any camp didn’t offer kosher food, tho maybe not the strictest kosher food. Certainly when I was going to summer camp the Jews could go off to the weekly worship service separately from the other kids, and that was well over 30 years ago.

      BTW I know a fair number of Jews who love bacon.

      • hophmi says:

        “Its actually quite hard to buy non-kosher food, unless you’re buying bacon or something. ”

        It’s certainly easier now than in the past. Most religious Jews in the United States look for a kosher stamp.

        “I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get kosher food at many public schools, but anyway you can always bring your own lunch. ”

        Sure.

        “I’d be surprised if today any camp didn’t offer kosher food”

        I’m not sure why you’d conclude that. I don’t think that’s accurate, and kosher food is not just a question of the food itself, but the utensils and where it’s cooked. It’s not a simple problem.

        “Certainly when I was going to summer camp the Jews could go off to the weekly worship service separately from the other kids, and that was well over 30 years ago. ”

        I guess that depends on where you go to camp, but for observant Jews, a weekly worship service may not be enough. Observant Jews pray every day.

        “BTW I know a fair number of Jews who love bacon.”

        I’m sure you do. The question is whether you understand the desire of some parents to pass religion on to their children and can appreciate it.

        • Mooser says:

          “I’m sure you do. The question is whether you understand the desire of some parents to pass religion on to their children and can appreciate it.”

          Oh, I do! My wife’s family haqs passed the secret ritual of smoking the most ownderful bacon and pork sausages, along with a lot of knowledge on local shellfishing, down through the generations, and I am the beneficiary of their religious fervor.

  5. hophmi says:

    “I love this argument. Why don’t people make it more often? ”

    Because it’s a red herring and could be just as easily used against Palestinians who live abroad.

    Zionism never posited that every Jew had to move to Israel now. There is a place for the diaspora in the ideology.

    • sciri21 says:

      Although I agree with your defense of Jewish education, I don’t agree that Dana’s argument is a red herring. The point isn’t that Zionism requires all Jews to move to Israel, it’s that Beinart’s choice to live in America belies his arguments for why a Jewish state is necessary. Besides Beinart, the Israeli govt. has to beg Jews around the world to make “aliyah” and to convince Israeli expats to return.

    • Elliot says:

      Zionism never posited that every Jew had to move to Israel now.
      That’s simply not true. The founder of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion demanded that all Jews move to Israel. In the meantime, they should accept that they are not living a fully Jewish life. See his correspondence with Simon Rawidowicz and his history of events in the the late 1940s (במערכה, if you read Hebrew).

      • hophmi says:

        “The point isn’t that Zionism requires all Jews to move to Israel, it’s that Beinart’s choice to live in America belies his arguments for why a Jewish state is necessary.”

        Not any more than a Greek’s argument for why a Greek state is necessary should depend on where he’s currently living.

        “That’s simply not true. The founder of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion demanded that all Jews move to Israel.”

        David Ben-Gurion is not Zionism. He’s an important Zionist, but he’s not synonymous with Zionism. It is not a central assumption of Zionism that ALL Jews will move to Israel.

    • Mooser says:

      “Because it’s a red herring”

      I knew this was going to turn into a Kosher-foods discussion. I shoulda brought a plate.

  6. Pixel says:

    “Though I do find it remarkable that a Jewish scholar would be so immured in a Jewish world as to wake up to this truth only after he’d segregated his own children. Wasn’t this a truth we learned in the ’70s?”

    I agree.

    So, why do you think, Phil, that was the case for Magid?

  7. Thanks very much Phil- great post. Hmmm… Hamlet reference serves also to reflect back on Beinart’s soul-searching?

    • Mooser says:

      “Hamlet reference…”

      Food, food, food, that’s all anybody cares about. Anyway, are they better than the big ones?

  8. RE: “For many American Jews this causes cognitive dissonance—but they may have to deal with it.” ~ Shaul Magid

    MY COMMENT: Now where, oh where, have I heard this before? Oh, now I remember!

    SEE: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE & DEFENSE MECHANISMSlink to mondoweiss.net

  9. RE: “Rigorous critique of Zionism, not Israeli settlements, is the first step towards safeguarding Israel as a haven for Jews while preventing the country from sliding deeper into moral bankruptcy.” ~ Joseph Dana

    FOR INSTANCE, EXCERPTS FROM “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle
    East:

    (excerpts). . . “In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” ~ John Quigley, ‘Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice’
    “It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference. . .

    CONTINUED AT – link to mondoweiss.net

    ALSO SEE THESE EXCERPTS FROM ‘The Hidden History of Zionism’link to mondoweiss.net

  10. Keith says:

    PHIL- Fascinating post. A lot of food for thought.

    Let us begin by noting that in the roughly eight centuries of Classical Judaism, the Jews were a people apart in the fullest sense of the term. They lived segregated from their surrounding Gentile communities, wore distinctive clothing, were easily recognizable and, except for the elites, avoided social interaction with Gentiles. About two-hundred years ago, during the enlightenment, some Gentile Kings greatly restricted the coercive power of the Rabbis over their respective Jewish community, and applied pressure for Jewish assimilation into Gentile society. Many Jews welcomed this, and there was a splintering of the Jews into Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reformed Jews and Secular Jews. So, beginning about two-hundred years ago, the Jews began to assimilate in the Western Europe, the process slowly moving eastward. Zionism was a response to both anti-Semitism and, more significantly, assimilation which posed an existential “danger” to Jewish tribalism.

    Nowadays, Jews are fully integrated into American and European society. Nonetheless, Zionism, in conjunction with organized Jewry, exploiting the Holocaust to the fullest, have constructed significant barriers to Jewish assimilation. While fully integrated and highly prosperous, many Jews are ideologically united in tribal solidarity as a consequence of Zionist support for the Jewish state of Israel. In other words, Zionism permits the Jews to be both integrated into the surrounding community while remaining ideologically and psychologically a people apart. This whole process is greatly facilitated by Jews isolating themselves from non-Jews by limiting themselves to Jewish clubs, Jewish associations, Jewish schools, Jewish camps and trips, etc. When not in contact with “the other,” it is possible to conjure up all manner of ideologically induced bias. One of the best ways to counteract prejudice is through contact with your fellow human beings so that you come to recognize their essential humanity. So yes, Shaul Magid is quite correct to recognize the value of diversity, albeit after the fact. Beinart’s emphasis on Jewish schools indicates to me that he is a supporter of Jewish tribalism, Israel and Zionism a means to that end. And while intermarriage may be the bane of Zionists and Rabbis alike, it is hardly a necessary precondition to Jews viewing Gentiles as their fellow humans rather than as their eternal persecutors.

    Phil said: “This raises the issue of why American Jews simply don’t throw in the towel on the Jewish state and say, Let’s have what we like over here: democracy!!”

    That is a key question, isn’t it? Why do an overwhelming number of the American Jewish elite support Zionism and Israel? Without this support, Israel could not behave the way it does, but why the support? I believe it indicates that most American Jewish elites want Jews to be an integrated people apart. They want to maintain Jewish tribalism because they perceive that it somehow benefits them. A well organized and highly motivated group which facilitates Jewish elite power-seeking. The iron law of oligarchy is that a disorganized majority is always controlled by an organized minority.

    • hophmi says:

      @Keith: It was not the choice of Jews to live apart. It was the edict of Christian communities in Europe who excluded Jews from their societies.

      • Keith says:

        HOPHMI- “It was not the choice of Jews to live apart. It was the edict of Christian communities in Europe who excluded Jews from their societies.”

        According to Israel Shahak, “The legal status of a Jewish community in the period of classical Judaism was normally based upon a ‘privilege’ – a charter granted by a king or prince (or, in Poland after the 16th century, by a powerful nobleman) to the Jewish community and conferring on it the rights of autonomy – that is, investing the rabbis with the power to dictate to the other Jews. An important part of such privileges, going as far back as the late Roman Empire, is the creation of a Jewish clerical estate which, exactly like the Christian clergy in medieval times, is exempt from paying taxes to the sovereign and is allowed to impose taxes on the people under its control – the Jews – for its own benefit.”

        Methinks that your characterization of historical Jewish exclusivism as simply a product of Christian discrimination is a triumph of ideology over historicity. The situation varied from time to time and country to country with various interrelated factors coming into play, however, to simply describe all or most of Jewish history as a response to Gentile anti-Semitism is to regurgitate Zionist mythology. The reality is that during the classical period the Rabbis and other Jewish elites desired the Jews to be a people apart. Nowadays, Zionism unites the Jews in tribal solidarity with the strong support of most of organized Jewry and much of the Rabbinate.

        • hophmi says:

          Keith, Israel Shahak is not a scholar of Jewish history, and he’s not thought of as an objective or mainstream voice in the field. I’ll leave it at that.

          If you’d like to read a respected, good book about Jewish history, I suggest “A Short History of the Jews” by Germany’s widely-respected Jewish Studies scholar, Michael Brenner.

          It is true that Jews technically often lived under the protection of the crown, enabling many Jews to be free of the feudal system that often crushed Christian peasants. Often, the crown protected the Jews in exchange for heavily taxing them; when the crown felt that Jews were no longer profitable, the Jews were often expelled. But it is also true that the more remote Jews were from the crown, the less protection the crown offered. Thus, Jews were frequently massacred by their Christian neighbors, from the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the Khmelnytsky massacres, to many other instances of persecution.

          Nowhere did I suggest that all or most of Jewish history is a response to Gentile antisemitism. That said, it is simply incorrect to posit that it was the choice of most Jews to live apart. Jews did not put themselves in the Venice ghetto. They did not force themselves to wear distinctive badges. They did not exclude themselves from the guilds. They did not expel themselves from country after country. And they did not force the Church to adopt a replacement theology that held them responsible for deicide.

          History suggests that the freer Jews are, the more they interact with those around them. That was true for Jews living in Muslim and Christian communities, as well as Babylonian Jews at the time of the writing of the Talmud.

        • Mooser says:

          Hold on Keith! You are flagrantly breaking the rules, damn it! Don’t you know that both the “Jews live apart because they want to (scary Christmas decorations theory) and therefore Israel” and “Jews were forced to live apart by evil Gentiles, and therefore Israel” belong to Hophmi, to be used at his discretion?
          You can’t win by cheating, Keith. Why won’t you argue honestly like Hophmi? Those two concepts and their conclusion (and therefore, Israel) are simply not yours.

        • Keith says:

          HOPHMI- “Israel Shahak is not a scholar of Jewish history, and he’s not thought of as an objective or mainstream voice in the field. I’ll leave it at that.”

          You’re correct, Shahak is no Bernard Lewis. That is what makes this radical dissident scholar so valuable. If you pursue main stream Jewish historians, you will get primarily conventional mythology camouflaged with footnotes. That is the problem. How many Mondoweiss commenters continue to maintain that the Jews have endured 2000 years of irrational persecution at the hands of the Gentiles, with no context provided? If Genghis Khan had massacred a village containing 100 Jews and 1000 Gentiles, would Jewish history record that as a pogrom resulting in the death of 100 Jews? How about your reference to Jews massacred during the Crusades? Is that how Jewish history regards the Crusades? The massacre of Jews, nothing more? Or World War II, the killing of 6 million Jews while the world stood by, nothing more? This is ahistorical myopia designed to reinforced Jewish tribal solidarity based upon tales of eternal anti-Semitism.

          “It is true that Jews technically often lived under the protection of the crown, enabling many Jews to be free of the feudal system that often crushed Christian peasants.”

          They weren’t “free” of the feudal system, they were an integral part of the feudal system that often crushed Christian peasants. Which, I might add, contributed significantly to feelings of anti-Semitism among the peasants. Furthermore, “…classical Judaism flourishes best under strong regimes which are dissociated from most classes in society, and in such regimes fulfill one of the functions of the middle class – but in a permanently dependent form. For this reason they are opposed not only by the peasantry…. But more importantly by the non-Jewish middle class….” (Israel Shahak) In other words, many “pogroms” were, in fact, peasant revolts which were brutally suppressed with considerable bloodshed, none of which seems to enter the Jewish mythology of eternal and irrational persecution.

          “That said, it is simply incorrect to posit that it was the choice of most Jews to live apart.”

          Most Jews? The elites decide, the rest go along, or else, particularly during that period of history. Jeez, I hope that you are not suggesting that during most of classical Judaism that the Jewish elites wanted nothing more than for Jews to assimilate? How about now? Israel was created by the Zionists as an experiment in brotherly love? The tribe expanding to include all of humanity?

          Hophmi, you have tried to have your cake and eat it too. Most of your comments to me have been a regurgitation of Jewish suffering and anti-Semitism, as if Jewish privilege didn’t exist and normal (for that historical period) conflicts didn’t arise, with a few qualifiers thrown in to make it sound balanced. The “freer Jews are, the more they interact with those around them.”? Why don’t you run that by the Palestinians? The trouble with your historicity is that it doesn’t jibe with the facts on the ground.

    • yourstruly says:

      …”a disorganized majority is always controlled by an organized minority”…until the disorganized majority organizes itself, which is happening now within the jewish community.

  11. RoHa says:

    “Sequestering young people in religious/ethnic schools breeds alienation and hatred”

    Gosh!
    Really?
    Who’d have thought it?

    • hophmi says:

      Again, it depends on the school and the type of education. This is less true of more progressive day schools that have a significant commitment to a universalistic interpretation of Tikun Olam, like Heschel and Senesh.

  12. whoa, from magid’s review of beinart’s book

    An academic colleague, who grew up in a non-religious but traditional home and went to a progressive Jewish school in a major North American city, believes he was 16 before any non-Jew ever entered his house (apart from “the help”).

    people are strange
    when you’re a stranger.

    • marc b. says:

      this is the part that’s sets me off, annie. despite claims to the contrary, segregation is not simply a method for maintaining ‘uniqueness’ but implicitly establishes a hierarchy. so in that case, the world consisted of ‘us’ and ‘the help’.

      • not sure what to make of it marc. it seems sheltered but i suppose it is not that uncommon, and not just for this one ethnicity. there are probably other families that only associate with ‘their kind’. i think it is sad tho.

    • hophmi says:

      Yeah, you know what, Annie? It’s an anecdote. I went to day school too, and I interacted with plenty of Gentiles. You don’t seem to know all that much about people with these kinds of experiences, so why don’t you stop assuming?

      • assuming what? that people are strange when one is a stranger?

        I went to day school too, and I interacted with plenty of Gentiles

        has one ever entered your house.

        • marc b. says:

          I went to day school too, and I interacted with plenty of Gentiles.

          that’s funny. where have i heard this before? ‘i’m not a racist. some of my best friends are fill in the blank.‘ you’ve got the calculus inverted, hophmi. most of us wouldn’t evaluate an interaction on the basis of a ‘jewish/gentile’ dichotomy in the first place.

          @Keith: It was not the choice of Jews to live apart. It was the edict of Christian communities in Europe who excluded Jews from their societies.

          first of all that’s an overly broad, overly simplified statement of what occured between christians and jews in europe. second, how do you square that comment with calls for the need to maintain separateness between jews and gentiles in modern europe and america in order to preserve a ‘jewish identity’? btw, i agree with you that there is broad support for zionism in america, one of the points of zionism being to maintain a relationship amongst disparate jewish identities who otherwise would have nothing in common.

        • Mooser says:

          “I went to day school too, and I interacted with plenty of Gentiles”

          And I bet your parents paid all those dry-cleaning bills without a single complaint. With speed, accuracy and distance you displayed, you coulda been in the big leagues!

          Yes, you went to “day-school” Hophmi, and it shows. It shows like hell, and it’s pretty goddam pathetic, a slap in the face to every Jew who struggled so your parents could use their money to make an idiot out of you. And I’m sure your manners make you welcome everywhere there are no anti-Semities, too.

      • marc b. says:

        it’s not an anecdote, hopmi, it an individual description of a wider, while not necessarily universal phenomenon, a description repeated elsewhere, by others. and save the condescending ‘it’s a jewish thing, you wouldn’t understand it, annie’, attitude. she happens to be quoting someone from within the community, and yet you’ve reduced her comment to a personal individual assumption. and how is it that the experience of magid’s colleague is an irrelevant anecdote, while your slice of life is somehow more broadly descriptive of the ‘jewish experience’?

        • hophmi says:

          @Annie: “has one ever entered your house.”

          I think that’s a nasty question; I have no responsibility to prove my diversity to you by telling you about who entered my house. But yes, many non-Jews have been in my house, and no, I’m not talking about the help.

          @marc: “that’s funny. where have i heard this before? ‘i’m not a racist. some of my best friends are fill in the blank.”

          Oh please. That is not what I said. The claim was that day school students do not have Gentile friends. It’s simply false.

          “you’ve got the calculus inverted, hophmi. most of us wouldn’t evaluate an interaction on the basis of a ‘jewish/gentile’ dichotomy in the first place.”

          That’s wonderful for you. Like most of the rest of the world, I’m a product of my community. I grew up in a mostly Jewish community. So most of my small group of friends are similar to me in some way. Like anyone who identifies as part of a community, I gravitate toward other members of that community with whom I have something in common. That makes me no different from Christians, Muslims, African-Americans, Greeks, Iranians, or any other grouping, and it does not mean I exclude anyone.

          “first of all that’s an overly broad, overly simplified statement of what occured between christians and jews in europe”

          I’m sorry I don’t have room here for an entire overview of Jewish history, but citing Shahak is not exactly an argument. There are plenty of respected books about Jewish history around. Shahak’s isn’t one of them.

          “second, how do you square that comment with calls for the need to maintain separateness between jews and gentiles in modern europe and america in order to preserve a ‘jewish identity’? ”

          Whose calls? Jews and gentiles are not separate in modern Europe or America, and calling for Jews to be better educated religiously is not the same as calling for separateness. Beinart’s argument is not to separate Jews to preserve Jewish identity. It’s simply a call for Jews to do a better job of educating their children Jewishly.

          “it’s not an anecdote, hopmi,”

          It’s the definition of an anecdote – “my friend says that . . . ”

          “save the condescending ‘it’s a jewish thing, you wouldn’t understand it, annie’, attitude”

          No problem, I didn’t say it. Annie looks silly extrapolating from what one person says and concluding that people who goes to day school are strangers from other communities.

          “and how is it that the experience of magid’s colleague is an irrelevant anecdote, while your slice of life is somehow more broadly descriptive of the ‘jewish experience’?”

          It’s not. But I do come from a place that has perhaps the largest Modern Orthodox community in the world, I have a pretty intimate knowledge of what is available in terms of Jewish education, and thus have insight into what Beinart is calling for and how easy it is to misread it. Most people do not know a whole lot about Jewish education in this country or the day school system and the problems associated with it, nor would I expect them to. Beinart’s call is quite a nuanced one, and I understand it to be a call for a Jewish education that reflects the pluralistic and universalistic values of most Jewish Americans, which many orthodox day schools (and there are many, many different kinds of those) often do not. I can’t understand how that exclusivist or segregationist, particularly given what I know about the kinds of schools Beinart has in mind and the lives graduates of those schools generally go on to lead, which is anything but exclusivist or separate.

          Sadly, I’m not sure there is a space for ideas like this anymore. Religion, like everything else, has been polarized in a way that it wasn’t before. Beinart’s call for a pluralistic intellectually-engaged Judaism may have few takers outside of the independent minyan community and the shrinking Conservative community. It’s crucial to understand what a tiny space Beinart inhabits as a non-Orthodox traditional Jew (which is how I’d describe myself as well), and how uncomfortable that space can feel in a world where it seems like the choice is between a vibrant, intellectually narrow orthodoxy and the staid, withering world of Conservative and Reform Judaism, which is dying off through a combination of assimilation and a lack of energy intellectually or otherwise. The independent minyan movement Beinart discusses at the end of his book is today the serious attempt to reinvigorate non-Orthodox Judaism, and, at least in New York, it’s been relatively successful.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          thanks Hophmi for the patient description of that world. though i was struck looking at beinart’s book last night that it ends with a sentence that mentions God. i do wonder how secular JEws will relate to that. the cohort they’re engaged with in christian life is similarly non-religious.

        • Mooser says:

          “Religion, like everything else, has been polarized in a way that it wasn’t before.”

          Well, stealing land and dispossesing people and even murdering people in its name has a tendency to do that, y’know? Sure, you would think people would simply accept the simple fact that ‘it’s our turn now’, but they just won’t. And funny, it’s the people you’ve stolen from and murdered who are the most polarised of all. Oy Gevalt, there’s no limit to the crazy ideas the Gentiles have.

        • marc b. says:

          “it’s not an anecdote, hopmi,”

          It’s the definition of an anecdote – “my friend says that . . . ”

          no, the importance of the example is not limited to that of anecdote when it’s being used as an example of conduct describing a broader phenomenon, which in fact was what was being done. in your typically condescending fashion, you’ve implied, complete with counter-example, that magid’s colleague’s commentary is indicitive of nothing but his own limited personal experience, when the commentary has broader significance. that your personal experience is not completely consistent with magid’s colleague is really what is irrelevant since no one has ever claimed that that person’s experience was universal. and your belittling criticism of the limited value of ‘anecdotal’ evidence doesn’t prevent you from extrapolating from your personal experience (“I grew up in a mostly Jewish community . . ..”) to generalizations about the whole of humanity (“That makes me no different from Christians, Muslims, etc., etc.”) if it suits your argument.

          “save the condescending ‘it’s a jewish thing, you wouldn’t understand it, annie’, attitude”

          No problem, I didn’t say it. Annie looks silly extrapolating from what one person says and concluding that people who goes to day school are strangers from other communities.

          no, you’re right, you didn’t use the exact words ‘it’s a jewish thing . . ..’ you said that annie didn’t “know all that much about people with these kinds of experiences,” meaning people who go to jewish day school. so what you really meant is ‘it’s a jewish day school thing, you wouldn’t understand.’ and, again, ‘annie looks silly extrapolating . . .’, yet you conclude that the experience described by magid’s [jewish] colleague is indicative of nothing.

          “second, how do you square that comment with calls for the need to maintain separateness between jews and gentiles in modern europe and america in order to preserve a ‘jewish identity’? ”

          Whose calls? Jews and gentiles are not separate in modern Europe or America, and calling for Jews to be better educated religiously is not the same as calling for separateness. Beinart’s argument is not to separate Jews to preserve Jewish identity. It’s simply a call for Jews to do a better job of educating their children Jewishly.

          yes, there are calls for a variety of measures to be taken to maintain separateness between jews and gentiles. yes, the apparent necessity to preserve a jewish identity through jewish education requires the emphasis of distinctions between jew and gentile, the establishment of parameters for appropriate relationships between jew and gentile, etc. identity is never simply about ‘we are this’, identity is always formed in opposition to something else.

          “and how is it that the experience of magid’s colleague is an irrelevant anecdote, while your slice of life is somehow more broadly descriptive of the ‘jewish experience’?”

          It’s not. But I do come from a place that has perhaps the largest Modern Orthodox community in the world, I have a pretty intimate knowledge of what is available in terms of Jewish education . . .

          good god. really what do you know about magid’s colleague that makes him/her less capable of insight about the jewish experience, or a particular facet of the jewish experience, than you? how easily you slip into the role of spokesperson for, whom exactly? in my experience, there are a significant number of non-gentiles who have by choice led an extremely insular life, and who believe that their choice is necessary to preserve their concept of what it means to be jewish. that is their prerogative, but don’t pretend that it hasn’t affected their view of ‘the other’.

        • No problem, I didn’t say it. Annie looks silly extrapolating from what one person says and concluding that people who goes to day school are strangers from other communities.

          no i didn’t. i have no problem with people going to religious private schools whether they are catholic, jewish or whatever. often times it’s the best education available. i copy pasted the entire sentence because it was the culmination and what seemed surprising to me was no non jew ever even being in the house (except the help) and when hophmi responded about the day school my response was directed exclusively toward the house comment. school is 5/6 hrs a day, the house is all the time including weekends. it almost seems one would have to have a willful policy to not ever have a non jewish person in ones house, ever…for it to have spanned 16 years. i have not read the rest of hophmi’s comment. but instead of addressing what i wrote, he is addressing what he’s extrapolated.

          besides, it seems like people are picking a scab over what i said, “people are strange when you’re a stranger.” is not really that controversial. often people do seem strange when they are strangers, as many people who have traveled to a foreign country for the first time for a little while til they catch their bearings.

          next, i said it seems sheltered but i suppose it is not that uncommon, and not just for this one ethnicity. there are probably other families that only associate with ‘their kind’.

          again, the reference to “families that only associate”. meaning the home. so i extrapolated nothing about kids going to private schools.

        • hophmi says:

          I was speaking generally Mooser, not just about Judaism, and in the case of Judaism, Israel doesn’t have very much to do with it.

        • hophmi says:

          “yet you conclude that the experience described by magid’s [jewish] colleague is indicative of nothing”

          I’m not saying that. I said originally that I think Magid overstated the case a bit. It’s true that kids in parochial school can be sheltered, but I don’t think that has much to do with Judaism.

          “yes, there are calls for a variety of measures to be taken to maintain separateness between jews and gentiles. yes, the apparent necessity to preserve a jewish identity through jewish education requires the emphasis of distinctions between jew and gentile, the establishment of parameters for appropriate relationships between jew and gentile, etc. identity is never simply about ‘we are this’, identity is always formed in opposition to something else.”

          I disagree; I don’t think it requires emphasizing distinctions between Jews and Gentiles. In terms of what we believe and observe, Jews are different from Christians and Christians are different from Jews. But teaching Jews about Judaism is not the same things as emphasizing how they are different. Your argument is circular; we teach about Judaism, and therefore we define ourselves by how we are different. That seems to deny us agency.

          “good god. really what do you know about magid’s colleague that makes him/her less capable of insight about the jewish experience, or a particular facet of the jewish experience, than you?”

          I can only go by my own experience, which encompasses more than my 16 year old kid, which is the only reference Magid made to his friend. It encompasses growing up in a Modern Orthodox school, praying at a conservative temple, teaching at a Reform Hebrew school, praying at independent minyans, interacting with Jews across the political and religious spectrum, including Jews that are totally assimilated, Jews that are haredi, chassidic, Conservative, Reform, Modern Orthodox, etc.

          “in my experience, there are a significant number of non-gentiles who have by choice led an extremely insular life”

          No question about it. They are generally in the haredi and chassidic communities. What you have to understand is that this is not the community Peter Beinart is talking to or about, and the kind of Jewish education they generally offer, which deemphasizes secular studies altogether, is not the kind offered in the average Modern Orthodox day school or the kind Beinart has in mind when he talks about the high cost of Jewish education. Generally, Haredi and Chassidic schools are much less expensive than their modern orthodox and non-denominational counterparts.

        • hophmi says:

          “school is 5/6 hrs a day, the house is all the time including weekends. it almost seems one would have to have a willful policy to not ever have a non jewish person in ones house, ever…for it to have spanned 16 years. i have not read the rest of hophmi’s comment. but instead of addressing what i wrote, he is addressing what he’s extrapolated. ”

          Day school is generally 8 hours a day for elementary school students and 9-10 for middle and high-school students in your average modern orthodox day school. It’s a double curriculum. In high school, my last class ended at 5:10. In many schools, students have the option of staying until 6 for additional study.

          I agree that what happens at home is very important, but it is much harder when a child cannot do things with his peers.

        • oh, and it’s not a nasty question. if it’s not applicable to you then why are you addressing it. my original comment was even not made to you, and when you responded you reduced it to the school, skipping the glaring part, and then chastise when i asked if it was applicable to you (“has one ever entered your house”). so this is not even applicable to you because, according to you, you have had many non-jews in your home.

          so answer me this, what is wrong with me thinking it is strange for someone to not have a person of another ethnicity in their house? if you read something that said, there were never any jews in a persons house for 16 years, and someone said strange..would you jump down their throat?
          what a drama queen.

        • I agree that what happens at home is very important, but it is much harder when a child cannot do things with his peers.

          what does ‘cannot do things with his peers‘ have to do with never having a non jew step inside the house? there are 365 days in a year. 16 years is over over 5000 days. i think you are evading my point, take the last word.

        • Elliot says:

          Hophmi –
          You label yourself “non-Orthodox” which explains your dialog with the Orthodox. Outside of Israel (where you have no choice but to identify as either Orthodox or non-), most Jews would identify themselves otherwise.

          You’re right about the intellectual poverty in the Reform movement but not about its strength. “Withering” is way off the mark. The short version is: suburban Judaism thrives – all the hand-wringing and communal anxieties notwithstanding.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          thanks elliot; helpful

    • Mooser says:

      Let’s see, in America you can use your affluence to buy a sense of ethnic or racial exclusivity, at least socially. Thank God nobody except the Jews have availed themselves of this.

  13. Elliot says:

    lyn17 –
    You can get kosher bacon too if you really want to fit in and still observe kashrut.
    The argument that keeping kosher is only possible in a segregated community is bogus. Like intermarriage and anti-semitism, these really are vestiges from Beinart’s grandparents’ generation. (ok, his parents’ generation. His family is South African after all, not American).

    • hophmi says:

      “The argument that keeping kosher is only possible in a segregated community is bogus. ”

      That is not at all what I am arguing, for the record. But it’s not common practice in your average public school. Very, very consciencious parents can send a child to public school and handle Kashrut at the same time; it is easier than it has been in the past. But it’s hard, and it can be a big burden on a young child, a burden that they do not have if they spend their day around other kids who keep kosher or in a school where kosher food is the norm. That’s not the same as holding them back from the rest of the world. It’s simply giving them a stronger foundation for engaging it later on. Similarly, segregation is not necessary to keeping the Sabbath. But it’s easier when you’re in a community of people that do it.

      • Philip Weiss says:

        hop i saw your disquisition on persecution earlier, ghettoization, but can you own any part of jewish separation reflecting that impulse on our part? and the whole kashrut thing, you know a lot of that has as its intention separation. that’s been my feeling. we eat different stuff. so we can’t mingle

        • hophmi says:

          “hop i saw your disquisition on persecution earlier, ghettoization, but can you own any part of jewish separation reflecting that impulse on our part?”

          In the haredi and chassidic communities, yes. That’s their choice. But not in the Modern Orthodox community and certainly not in the non-orthodox community.

          “and the whole kashrut thing, you know a lot of that has as its intention separation.”

          Yes and no. I mean, you could say vegetarianism is separatist too; it’s a lot more restrictive than kashrut is. But that’s our religion. It’s what we practice. It’s not meant to restrict anyone or seal us off from others any more than vegetarianism is meant to segregate herbivores from carnivores.

          Remember also that Christianity came after, not before. So it’s not totally inaccurate to say that Christians separated themselves from their Jewish brethren by choosing the lower standard, not the other way around.

          Most modern orthodox Jews a generation ago had no problem going to a non-kosher restaurant and ordering a piece of fish or pasta and a salad. Today, it’s much less common to see that in New York, in part because there’s been a proliferation of kosher restaurants. I’d guess it’s more common outside of the New York metro area, though.

        • eljay says:

          >> Yes and no. I mean, you could say vegetarianism is separatist too; it’s a lot more restrictive than kashrut is.

          As a vegetarian, I call complete bullshit on your comment. In the 6-1/2 years I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve had no problem dining anywhere, any time, ever. (Ditto my wife, who’s been vegetarian for a lot longer than I have.) And, quite frankly, as long as there’s a bottle of red wine or a couple of cold pints of beer in the picture, food is not even an issue. :-)

          Veganism, on the other hand, is a tough gig. But vegans do it out of respect for animals, and that’s something I find much more sensible and, to be quite honest, more worthy of respect than avoiding certain foods – or products such as styrofoam cups and aluminum foil – because some gawd that humans invented centuries ago “said” it should be so.

        • Mooser says:

          “I’d guess it’s more common outside of the New York metro area, though.”

          You might be surprised at what happens outside your own province, Hophmi!

        • it’s not totally inaccurate to say that Christians separated themselves from their Jewish brethren by choosing the lower standard, not the other way around.

          do you believe christians chose a lower standard?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “So it’s not totally inaccurate to say that Christians separated themselves from their Jewish brethren by choosing the lower standard, not the other way around.”

          LMAO, “lower” standard? So you actually think that your religion’s set of arbitrary dietary taboos are a “higher” standard than some other religion’s set of arbitrary dietary taboos?? How about “different” or “less taxing” or — considering some of the wastefulness in stocking separate cookware, servingware, etc. — “more reasonable” standard?

        • hophmi says:

          Wow, so it’s ok to accuse Jews of being “segregationist” for choosing to observe kashrut laws, but if I refer to Christendom’s choice not to observe those laws as a “lower standard”, people get politically correct.

          Actually Woody is not politically correct, because somehow my religion isn’t “reasonable” and his critique is purposeful, whereas mine was not.

          It’s actually not accurate to talk in terms of standards. My religion has a set of rules regarding what foods we can eat; Christianity does not. The religions are just different. I hope I didn’t offend the fragile hearts here by referring to it as a lower standard. Mea culpa.

          I wasn’t trying to criticize Christianity. One of the ideas behind Christianity was a liberalizing of Jewish observance. The discarding of kashrut is a good example of that.

          That said, I obviously believe in what I practice, and won’t make any apologies for that, just as I wouldn’t expect a Christian to apologize for whatever he or she practices.

        • hophmi says:

          “Veganism, on the other hand, is a tough gig. But vegans do it out of respect for animals, and that’s something I find much more sensible and, to be quite honest, more worthy of respect than avoiding certain foods – or products such as styrofoam cups and aluminum foil – because some gawd that humans invented centuries ago “said” it should be so.”

          I’m not sure what you’re talking about in terms of styrofoam cups and aluminum foil. Jews use both.

          I’m glad you find value in veganism; there are some Jewish thinker that have argued for vegetarianism. The point is that vegans do not follow their rules to separate themselves from others any more than we do.

        • Citizen says:

          Thanks, hophmi, I always wondered, growing up as a Roman Catholic, why I had to eat fish on Friday–no meat, ever!

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “My religion has a set of rules regarding what foods we can eat; Christianity does not.”

          Not at all accurate. Some Christian groups have food taboos. (Examples include Catholic prohibition on meat eating on certain Fridays and Mormon prohibitions on alcohol and caffeine.)

          “Actually Woody is not politically correct, because somehow my religion isn’t ‘reasonable’ and his critique is purposeful, whereas mine was not.”

          Yes, when I find a practice which is worthy of critique, I will critique it, even if the person who is promoting that practice does so for religious reasons. Just because you claim the mantle of religion does not turn a critique-worthy practice into something immune to critique. Your religion does not own my mind and my opinion.

          And yes, your practice of having two sets of dishes is unreasonable, if otherwise essentially harmless. It’s your right to follow it, and it’s my right to criticize it. (And if you don’t want the critique, then describing others’ beliefs as a “lower standard” was probably a bad idea. If you’re going to critique others — which labeling their standard as “lower” absolutely is — then you, yourself, cannot expect to be immune from criticism.)

          “I hope I didn’t offend the fragile hearts here by referring to it as a lower standard. Mea culpa.”

          LMAO. As you are someone who takes great offense at things you deem antisemitic, even when they objectively are not, you labelling others’ reaction as the product of “fragile hearts” as quite amusing. I’m going to wait for the day to see your reaction when someone refers to Islam or Christianity as a “higher standard” of adherence to the will of god, or somesuch comparison, and see how your “fragile heart” reacts. I wonder if a “nonpology” like you did here would suffice…

        • eljay says:

          >> I’m not sure what you’re talking about in terms of styrofoam cups and aluminum foil.

          My wording was inaccurate. I should have said:
          >> But vegans do it out of respect for animals, and that’s something I find much more sensible and, to be quite honest, more worthy of respect than avoiding certain foods – or requiring special religious approval for products such as styrofoam cups and aluminum foil – because some gawd that humans invented centuries ago “said” it should be so.

          My apologies for the confusion.

          >> The point is that vegans do not follow their rules to separate themselves from others any more than we do.

          Fair enough. My point is that they follow their rules for reasons that are less fanciful (that is, based in fact, not mytho-religious fiction).

        • hophmi says:

          “Not at all accurate. Some Christian groups have food taboos. ”

          OK Woody. I was speaking generally. Generally, Christian sects do not have significant food restrictions, and obviously, a restriction on eating meat on Friday or a ban on alcohol is a little different from the rules of ritual slaughter in the rules of food preparation. Judaism is closer to Islam in this respect.

          “Yes, when I find a practice which is worthy of critique, I will critique it, even if the person who is promoting that practice does so for religious reasons.”

          You have a right to your opinion, but you seem to suggest that I don’t have a right to mine.

          “Your religion does not own my mind and my opinion.”

          LOL. Calm down. You attacked kashrut as a set of “arbitrary taboos” and then attacked me for saying Christianity as adopting a lower standard. Just be consistent.

          “And yes, your practice of having two sets of dishes is unreasonable, if otherwise essentially harmless.”

          OK, Woody, you don’t have to do it, so it shouldn’t bother you.

          “And if you don’t want the critique, then describing others’ beliefs as a “lower standard” was probably a bad idea.”

          I think I explained what I meant by that. It was not meant as a critique of Christianity.

          “I’m going to wait for the day to see your reaction when someone refers to Islam or Christianity as a “higher standard” of adherence to the will of god, or somesuch comparison”

          Again, I’ve explained what I meant. It’s not a judgment. Maybe it would make you feel better to call the Hebrew National hot dog people and complain about their commercials, though. link to youtube.com

          Seriously, I meant nothing by it.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “You have a right to your opinion,”

          Do I? Are you sure that I don’t have to be “politically correct” around you?

          “but you seem to suggest that I don’t have a right to mine.”

          Go worship squirrels for all I care. But if you do, don’t expect that I won’t critique that belief, especially if you suggest that people who worship badgers are doing a “lower” form of religion.

          “LOL. Calm down. You attacked kashrut as a set of ‘arbitrary taboos’ and then attacked me for saying Christianity as adopting a lower standard. Just be consistent.”

          There is nothing inconsistent. Kashrut is both arbitrary and a taboo. Those are facts that simply exist. I’m not saying that it is “higher” or “lower” than any other arbitrary religious food taboo.

          You want to play the martyr, here; I get it. But if you had some character, you would say, “regardless of what I think about the subject, I was wrong to say that someone else’s religion’s standards were lower than mine and I apologize to all the people who noticed my offensive comments and I apologize for blaming their reasonable offense on their ‘fragile hearts’.” If you had character.

          “OK, Woody, you don’t have to do it, so it shouldn’t bother you.”

          It doesn’t bother me.

          “I think I explained what I meant by that. It was not meant as a critique of Christianity.”

          No, you didn’t. You simply backed off and said, “oh, wait, it’s not a ‘standard’ after all.” You were expressing blind bigotry, perhaps unconsciously, and got called on it. Grow a pair and just admit your bigotry and that it was wrong.

          “I’ve explained what I meant. It’s not a judgment.”

          Really? So if I said that your religion practices exhibit a “lower standard,” you would be okay with that? You can’t accept an arbitrary food taboo being called an “arbitrary food taboo,” but you wouldn’t see “lower standard” as a judgment??

          “Maybe it would make you feel better to call the Hebrew National hot dog people and complain about their commercials, though. link to youtube.com”

          You’re trying to cover up your bigotry by pointing to a commercial for hot dogs? Really?

        • so it’s ok to accuse Jews of being “segregationist” for choosing to observe kashrut laws, but if I refer to Christendom’s choice not to observe those laws as a “lower standard”, people get politically correct.

          hops, please don’t pan this off on ‘politically correct’. it’s not the same as segregationalism which can be viewed as a choice. “the lower standard” is a very clear value judgement. but who am i to know. christians think you can’t get to god without christ so they probably think worshiping god sans christ is a lower form of worship too. but if someone said judaism was a lower standard of worship they would probably be accused of anti semitism. it wouldn’t be panned off as simply politically incorrect. it would be considered an insult.

          and i understand you meant nothing by it. apology accepted.

        • hophmi says:

          “Go worship squirrels for all I care. But if you do, don’t expect that I won’t critique that belief, especially if you suggest that people who worship badgers are doing a “lower” form of religion.”

          Did I say anything like that?

          “There is nothing inconsistent. Kashrut is both arbitrary and a taboo. Those are facts that simply exist. I’m not saying that it is “higher” or “lower” than any other arbitrary religious food taboo. ”

          And I’m saying that I was not trying to issue a value judgment by describing a standard as lower. In law, a lower standard simply means that it’s easier to meet, not that it’s inferior.

          “You want to play the martyr, here; I get it.”

          I do? Wait, let me get out my 2×4′s and my nails. I hear no game of martyr is complete with them.

          “But if you had some character, you would say, “regardless of what I think about the subject, I was wrong to say that someone else’s religion’s standards were lower than mine”

          Well, if I had intended lower to mean inferior, I would. But I didn’t. And given the blase attitude people here take toward critiquing Judaism in pretty offensive ways, frankly, it’s a little silly to repeatedly ask for my apology, even after I apologized if people got the wrong impression.

          “You were expressing blind bigotry, perhaps unconsciously, and got called on it. ”

          No, I wasn’t. You want so badly for that to be true, don’t you?

          “Grow a pair and just admit your bigotry and that it was wrong. ”

          No need, because I didn’t say anything that was wrong.

          “Really? So if I said that your religion practices exhibit a “lower standard,” you would be okay with that?”

          Depends on the context. I view Kashrut in legal terms. If say, we were talking about the requirements to be a cleric, I might say Roman Catholic Christianity has a higher standard than Judaism does, because priests must go through nine years of higher education and rabbinical programs do not require a college degree. If we were talking about daily prayer, I might say that Muslims have a higher standard to meet because they pray five times a day and Jews only three. I synonymize higher with harder and lower with easier for purposes of this discussion.

        • hophmi says:

          ““the lower standard” is a very clear value judgement.”

          Not in the legalistic sense. Kashrut is not part of worship. It’s part of observance. People don’t observe the same way. Some forms of observance are harder; some are easier. Some have a higher bar, some lower. There’s no value judgment involved in describing the standard of a particular practice to be met as higher or lower.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Did I say anything like that?

          Yes.

          “And I’m saying that I was not trying to issue a value judgment by describing a standard as lower.”

          So you claim.

          “In law, a lower standard simply means that it’s easier to meet, not that it’s inferior.”

          And if we were talking about law, rather than religion, that might be meaningful.

          “I do? Wait, let me get out my 2×4′s and my nails. I hear no game of martyr is complete with them.”

          Wow, really? You’re going to try to fight against the notion that you didn’t intend to express anti-Christian bigotry by expressing even more anti-Christian bigotry??

          “even after I apologized if people got the wrong impression.”

          You never apologized. You said that you hoped that the fragile hearts didn’t get the wrong impression, and tacked a “mia culpa” (which means “my fault,” not “I’m sorry”) on the end. In other words, you blamed those who took offense; you never apologized.

          “You want so badly for that to be true, don’t you?”

          No, I’m used to your bigotry by now.

          “Depends on the context…. I synonymize higher with harder and lower with easier for purposes of this discussion.”

          Except “higher” and “harder” are not synonyms, nor are “lower” and “easier.” And you’ve already said that when you’re talking about these religious practices that “[i]t’s actually not accurate to talk in terms of standards.”

          So instead of simply apologizing for the first of your two bits of anti-Christian bigotry on this thread, you expect everyone here to believe that you purposefully used the wrong word as a synonym to describe the “standard,” even though you admit that it is wrong to discuss it in terms of standards.

          So you’re saying that, in your case, two wrongs here actually did make a right??

        • hophmi says:

          “So you claim.”

          I forgot. Good faith doesn’t apply here. My mistake.

          “And if we were talking about law, rather than religion, that might be meaningful. ”

          Religions have rules too. I think of Kashrut as a set of rules I follow, not as my religion.

          “Wow, really? You’re going to try to fight against the notion that you didn’t intend to express anti-Christian bigotry by expressing even more anti-Christian bigotry?? ”

          What is anti-Christian about making a wood and nails joke? Were you born without a sense of humor?

          “Except “higher” and “harder” are not synonyms, nor are “lower” and “easier.” And you’ve already said that when you’re talking about these religious practices that “[i]t’s actually not accurate to talk in terms of standards.” ”

          In law they are. Higher standard means harder standard to meet. It does not mean better standard to meet. Actually, it’s not just law. If you go to the DMV, and you have to fill out 10 forms to get a new driver’s license and 2 forms to renew your license, the first standard is higher and second is lower. Which is better?

          “So instead of simply apologizing for the first of your two bits of anti-Christian bigotry on this thread”

          LOL.

          “you expect everyone here to believe that you purposefully used the wrong word as a synonym to describe the “standard,” even though you admit that it is wrong to discuss it in terms of standards. ”

          It’s less precise than it could be, because one religion has a whole complex set of rules regarding food and the other one does not. It’s simply different. But it’s not wrong. What is wrong is to cynically call me a bigot because you disagree with my symantic choices.

          “So you’re saying that, in your case, two wrongs here actually did make a right??”

          I’m saying you’re a silly goose, that you say crazy offensive things all the time to me, and that I am not remotely convinced that you actually take offense at anything I said.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I forgot. Good faith doesn’t apply here. ”

          Wrong. Good faith doesn’t apply to you (among others). You’ve earned that.

          “Religions have rules too. I think of Kashrut as a set of rules I follow, not as my religion.”

          Great. And religious rules have nothing to do with law. So your lame defense about the equivalency between “lower” and “lesser” in the law is irrelevant.

          “What is anti-Christian about making a wood and nails joke?”

          You really, honestly don’t understand why making a joke about crucifixion in the context of martyrdom would be seen as extraordinarily offensive to Christians? Here’s a hint, they consider the crucifixion of the Lord, God, Jesus Christ, to be among the top two most important moments in the history of the universe. (or the top one, if the crucifixion and resurrection are considered one larger event.)

          “ Were you born without a sense of humor?”

          So said every bigot in the history of the world when called on their slurs and racially offensive jokes, regardless of whether they were anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-Asian, etc., etc., etc.

          “In law they are.”

          BFD. We’re talking about religion, not law.

          “If you go to the DMV, and you have to fill out 10 forms to get a new driver’s license and 2 forms to renew your license, the first standard is higher and second is lower.”

          Only an illiterate (or someone trying desperately to fit a square peg into a round hole) would describe being required to fill out “more forms” or a “larger number” as being a “higher” or “lower” standard.

          “It’s less precise than it could be, because one religion has a whole complex set of rules regarding food and the other one does not. It’s simply different. But it’s not wrong.”

          Then it’s a shame for you that you couldn’t control your bigotry long enough to write “different” instead of using terms of judgment.

          “What is wrong is to cynically call me a bigot because you disagree with my symantic choices.”

          No cynicism about it, as your crucifixion “joke” demonstrated your bigotry.

          “you say crazy offensive things all the time to me”

          Feel free not to read them. It’s a free country.

          “and that I am not remotely convinced that you actually take offense at anything I said.”

          Whether I take personal offense or not is irrelevant. Your lament is the equivalent of a white person, who complained of a racial “joke,” getting the reply, “What do you care? You’re not black…”

        • hophmi says:

          “Great. And religious rules have nothing to do with law. So your lame defense about the equivalency between “lower” and “lesser” in the law is irrelevant.”

          In my religion, the rules are known as law. Thus the term, Jewish law and in Catholicism, Canon Law. LOL, how long are we going to go back and forth with this?

          “BFD. We’re talking about religion, not law.”

          As I said before, the definition of law is not restricted to something passed by a government body.

          “Only an illiterate (or someone trying desperately to fit a square peg into a round hole) would describe being required to fill out “more forms” or a “larger number” as being a “higher” or “lower” standard.”

          ROTFLMFAO. And getting out my tiny violin.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “In my religion, the rules are known as law. Thus the term, Jewish law and in Catholicism, Canon Law.”

          Again, BFD. We’re not talking about law, so even if a religion uses the word “law” it doesn’t thereby excuse your bigoted statement by pointing to inapplicable legal terminology.

          “how long are we going to go back and forth with this?”

          I was going to go until you make at least two more anti-Christian bigoted statements, to make it an even four. Maybe you’ll insult the Virgin Mary, or Saints Peter and Paul…

          “As I said before, the definition of law is not restricted to something passed by a government body. ”

          And, again, irrelevant. Even if we were to stipulate that “lower standard” is a valid legal term (I have my doubts, but feel free to cite Black’s), so what? “Loathsome disease” is a valid legal term concerning defamation, but if you described someone’s religion as a “loathsome disease,” your insult isn’t excused because “it’s a legal term.”

          “And getting out my tiny violin.”

          You should get out more. That expression doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        • hophmi says:

          “Again, BFD. We’re not talking about law, so even if a religion uses the word “law” it doesn’t thereby excuse your bigoted statement by pointing to inapplicable legal terminology. ”

          BFD is not, repeat, not a counterargument. None of this is a BFD. That’s why I’m LMFAO.

          “And, again, irrelevant. ”

          It’s quite relevant.

          ““Loathsome disease” is a valid legal term concerning defamation, but if you described someone’s religion as a “loathsome disease,” your insult isn’t excused because “it’s a legal term.” ”

          I think you’re either dense or willfully nonsensical. First of all, I didn’t describe Christianity as a loathsome disease. Secondly, I’m not asking you to excuse something I said because I used a legal term, I’m asking you to eexcuse it because I interpreted it as a legal discussion.

          “You should get out more. That expression doesn’t mean what you think it means.”

          It means I could not care less that you take offense, because it’s clear that you’re doing it in the most cynical way.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “BFD is not, repeat, not a counterargument.”

          I didn’t posit it as a counterargument, but as a commentary on your continued excuse-making for your bigotry.

          “First of all, I didn’t describe Christianity as a loathsome disease.”

          I didn’t say you did. In fact, I specifically phrased it in the context of a hypothetical example. I would suggest you stop playing the martyr, but I would be afraid that you would use the comment as an excuse to further insult Christians.

          “”I’m asking you to eexcuse it because I interpreted it as a legal discussion.”

          But, again, it wasn’t a legal discussion, it was a religious one, and no amount of excuse-making about how certain religions term their doctrines and rules “laws” will change that. If you made an error in that regard, any normal person would have appologized for it yesterday. Your intransigence on the issue, and the fact that you didn’t apologize but insulted those who were offended by your offensive comment, demonstrates that your “I thought it was a legal discussion” excuse is simply disingenuious.

          “It means I could not care less that you take offense, because it’s clear that you’re doing it in the most cynical way.”

          Then in that case, I shoudl have added, “or you can’t read,” because not only did I not express in any way that I took offense, but I, in fact, expressed that whether I took offense or not is irrelevant.

        • Citizen says:

          Re: “Religions have rules too. I think of Kashrut as a set of rules I follow, not as my religion.”
          Gee, most folks would think if you went to the bible to explain and/or justify your stance on an issue, that you were basing your opinion on your religion. You know, like Hagee does, or M Bachmann? Or tons of rabbis in Israel and in USA who cite the Torah (when the Talmud is the generally accepted interpretation of the Torah). But U go by rules, independent of religion. What is the source of your rules, those you live by daily, hophmi? I was told when I was a kid that I could not eat meat on Friday. Nobody ever really explained why. How about your dietary rules? Please explain why you adhere to them. Thanks.

          “Most of the basic laws of kashrut are derived from the Torah’s Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Their details and practical application, however, is set down in the oral law (eventually codified in the Mishnah and Talmud) and elaborated on in the later rabbinical literature. While the Torah does not state the rationale for most kashrut laws, many reasons have been suggested, including philosophical, practical and hygienic.”

          Which rationale do you use to justify your daily eating habits?

        • hophmi says:

          “But, again, it wasn’t a legal discussion, it was a religious one, and no amount of excuse-making about how certain religions term their doctrines and rules “laws” will change that.”

          And again, religious and legal are not mutually exclusive. I’m really not trying to be disingenuous. I really, truly did not intend to put down Christianity by talking about standards. It was a comparison of RULES, not BELIEFS. That is why I think of it in legal terms, not religious terms.

          “I would suggest you stop playing the martyr, but I would be afraid that you would use the comment as an excuse to further insult Christians.”

          I’m not playing the martyr. This is getting very silly. I didn’t mean to insult Christians. I simply meant to compare two different practices in terms of the amount of rules to be followed. That’s all. Period. End of discussion.

        • hophmi says:

          “Gee, most folks would think if you went to the bible to explain and/or justify your stance on an issue, that you were basing your opinion on your religion. ”

          The rules of kashrut are post-biblical. Again. And again. I was simply comparing two sets of rules, not making any kind of value judgment.

          “What is the source of your rules, those you live by daily, hophmi?”

          Difficult question to answer. I imagine, like most people, I’m a product of my environment. I live by my own set of values, or try to at least. Those come from all over the place. Some are based in religion; I pray, I keep kosher, I observe Jewish holidays. Some are based in secular culture; I value free speech; I value the Constitution. Some are informed by both religious and secular culture; I believe in one’s obligation to one’s fellow man, I believe in doing for others, I believe in treating people with kindness and compassion.

          To put it on a more elemental level, I have said from time to time that the major difference between our culture and Judaism is that we live in a rights-based society, and Judaism is an obligation-based religion. So I say that my sense of obligation is primarily religion-based and my sense of self is American culture based. But it’s a combination of the two, and my life is informed by both.

          I wonder how other people of faith would answer this question. Christianity makes a division between the sacred and the profane that Judaism does not, and so perhaps it is easier for some Christians to define what part of their lives are informed by religious values and what part are not.

          Judaism does not make that division; in Judaism we can find a rule to govern each and every action one performs for almost every situation. So very religious Jews might well argue that their values are wholly formed by religion. Islam is closer to Judaism in the sense that it is a pretty legislated faith.

          “How about your dietary rules? Please explain why you adhere to them. ”

          Kashrut is notoriously difficult to explain in rational terms because it’s a law that has no rational explanation; there are a few of these in the Torah, maybe 8 or 9 of the 613. (Another one is the Parah Adumah, or the laws of purity and the sacrifice of a red cow.)

          I believe in G-d; I’m a Jew, and I’ve chosen to keep kosher as a result of that. Explaining why is difficult for me. I can only really explain in the negative; I would feel wrong if I ate non-kosher food. I’m no paragon of consistency (no one is), but it’s a practice I’ve chosen to follow.

          “Which rationale do you use to justify your daily eating habits?”

          I guess philosophical, although generally kosher meat tends to be better because of all of the hoops one flies through to make a piece of meat kosher. I think we’re at the point where most kosher meat consumers are not Jewish, and this may be one reason why.

          I hope that helps somewhat. I am a person who is always struggling with faith. I try to do justice to my religion and my sense of personal freedom, and it is often complicated for me to navigate it all.

        • Citizen says:

          Well, here’s where some of the beliefs, rules, reasons for keeping kosher: link to www2.kenyon.edu

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “And again, religious and legal are not mutually exclusive.”

          In this context they are. There are religion and there is law. Some religious rules are called law, but calling a dog’s tail a leg, as Lincoln so famously noted, doesn’t mean the dog has five legs.

          “I’m really not trying to be disingenuous. I really, truly did not intend to put down Christianity by talking about standards… I simply meant to compare two different practices in terms of the amount of rules to be followed. ”

          Yeah, but isn’t it interesting that of the million different ways you could have chosen to express what you claim you meant (hey, how about “less onerous food restrictions” or “few rules”… those took me all of 1 second to think up), you JUST SO HAPPEN to choose the one that is an insult and, when called on it, instead of expressing mortification at your words and sincerely apologizing – as any normal person would who was acting in good faith – you declined to apologize and accused those you insulted of being frail hearts. Then, to add insult to injury, you fling around another anti-Christian slur.

          Forgive me for doubting the sincerity of your profession of innocence.

          “That’s all. Period. End of discussion.”

          Great. Slink away if you want. No one’s stopping you.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I guess philosophical, although generally kosher meat tends to be better because of all of the hoops one flies through to make a piece of meat kosher.”

          More likely it is because kosher slaughter is not done on an industrial scale. Factory farming, and things like feeding cows corn, is what is destroying American meat production. I am not aware of anything in the kosher rules (and hoppy, please feel free to enlighten us if you do) which would make a difference in the quality of a piece of meat from animals raised in identical conditions, where the only difference is the manner of slaughter.

          But, anyway, the best meat, taste-wise, is pork and pork products like ribs and bacon. Pork is the king of all the meats. (Although I had a bison steak once that was the Platonic ideal of what a cut of meat should be. It was like what beef would be if it got its wish…)

      • Elliot says:

        Thanks for the clarification. My comment actually wasn’t directed at you.
        I have no beef with the Orthodox way of life at all. I know Orthodox Jews who are engaged with the world and have progressive political commitments. (They feel like an embattled group within their Orthodox community, but that is their battle.) All that is fine.
        My issue is with the rest of us – the vast majority of Jews – who romanticize Orthodox purity. It goes hand in hand with sentimentalizing a pure Jewish past in the shtetl.

        The grave danger of such indulgences is in wanting Israel to be that all-Jewish place. That’s a step away from allowing the disenfranchisement of Palestinians and turning a blind eye to ethnic cleansing. American Jews like Israel the way it is – with Palestinians tucked away out of sight.

        This is not about Orthodox Jews – those who care have an ethical commitment and social norms. But the rest of us project our purist fantasies on to that lifestyle.

  14. RudyM says:

    On the intermarriage issue. . . It seems to me that people who are blase about religious intermarriage tend to be people who either hold a very liberal version of their particular religion or are just pretty nominal “believers.” My brother or sister would never have married a non-Christian; their Christian faith is simply too important to them. Is it really so odd to want the person you share perhaps your most intimate relationship with to have a similar view of the world and to share the same values and the same general goals?

    I don’t think people who want to marry others of the same religion are “fanatics,” I think they just really believe what they believe, and haven’t embraced a watered down version of it. I find: “yeah, I believe my religion is a revelation from the creator of the universe, but it’s no big deal” to be a far more perplexing attitude.

    This is more of a response to some of the comments than to the post itself.

    (I’m thing here mostly of the monotheistic religions. I could see how it might legitimately be less of an issue for religions which, even in their original form, accept that there are different religious paths to the truth.)

    • jonrich111 says:

      “My brother or sister would never have married a non-Christian; their Christian faith is simply too important to them. Is it really so odd to want the person you share perhaps your most intimate relationship with to have a similar view of the world and to share the same values and the same general goals?”

      While I agree with you about the importance of meeting someone who shares your values and identity, I don’t think Jewishness can be reduced to just a religion and compared to Christianity. Unlike Christianity, Jewishness is primarily an ethnicity — a people — not a religion. Even the religion of Judaism is not prostyltzing like Christians and Muslims. Jews are a small minority of less than 1% of the population and we do not replenish our numbers by converting people like Christianity does. So teaching our historical memories and culture to the next generation is crucial. Jews worry about inter-marriage not because we are “tribalists” but because we are worried that inter-marriage will be an excuse to abandon Jewish identity and raise children as assimilated Gentiles, not as Jews.

      • Citizen says:

        jonrich111, s0 I guess you empathize with all ethnic folks who want their own offspring to marry within their ethnic group? And dwell on and in the history and culture of said group? Assimilation is death? Interesting, for Americans to ponder.

        • jonrich111 says:

          Of course I empathize with the desire of ethnic groups to retain their distinctiveness, to resist the pull of assimilation to abandon their heritage. Being Jewish is different than interracial marriage. Jewishness isn’t a skin color or physical trait. It is a learned culture and can be assimilated out of existence.

          Most white folks only marry other whites. Most do not marry outside their own background. So why are minority ethnic groups expected to be more tolerant of inter-marriage than most whites are? I am fine with inter-marriage and I believe people should be free to marry whoever they want — love is love. But inter-marriage can be problematic when it comes to assimilation. I would prefer INTEGRATION — a way in which both dominant and minority groups could come together and engage in an equal cultural exchange and share with one another. Assimilation puts all the presser on the minority ethnic group and none on the dominant group. That’s what I find upsetting about it.

  15. Tribalism is a derogatory term for what Beinart is proposing. When we see photos of Native Americans (Indians) forced to don white shirt and tie, and white men’s apparel and to forget their language, we see it as coercive assimilation. And correctly so. When we see Arab masses turning to their Islamic roots we consider it a natural (and therefore a positive) reaction to the pressures of Western coercive globalism and the lingering effects of Western colonialism. But when Jews react to the assimilation of the West then you label it tribalism and see nothing positive in it.

    Maybe when the vast numbers of Jews came to America between 1880 and 1920 they made a wise and natural decision to throw off the yoke of the rabbis and the religion that held them back from a natural life. Then again, maybe when the black and Latino portions of America stood up for their ethnic pride in the 1960′s and 1970′s there was something to learn there as well.

    The urge to assimilate and the urge to identify are both natural (from my perspective). Sometimes people ignore one and pay attention to the other and there really is no such thing as a perfect medium.

    Reaction to the abyss that the Nazis brought upon the Jewish body in the first half of the 20th century, combined with other abysses (including Stalinist and post Stalinist Russian coercive assimilation) can lead conscientious Jews to bemoan the lost opportunities of Jews who might have added to the Jewish conversation, but instead choose the wide world instead of our small pond. We each make choices and the choices of our parents and our grandparents shape our choices as well.

    Beinart’s primary argument is regarding an American Jewish constituency that cares about Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. Those Jews who care about democracy are not being educated to care about “Jewish” and thus the natural constituency for this cause is not being nurtured. That is his argument.

    • RoHa says:

      “When we see Arab masses turning to their Islamic roots we consider it a natural (and therefore a positive) reaction to the pressures of Western coercive globalism and the lingering effects of Western colonialism.”

      I don’t. I see it as a negative reaction to those things. I see it as an attempt to resist change, to cling to the past, and reject the world, and thus something to be deplored.

    • Mooser says:

      “We each make choices and the choices of our parents and our grandparents shape our choices as well.”

      Wonderful! So it’ll be three generations of Jews in America that have only a sentimental attachment to Israel, if even that, very soon. So long, Zion.

    • Mooser says:

      “Maybe when the vast numbers of Jews came to America between 1880 and 1920 they made a wise and natural decision to throw off the yoke of the rabbis and the religion that held them back from a natural life. Then again, maybe when the black and Latino portions of America stood up for their ethnic pride in the 1960′s and 1970′s there was something to learn there as well.”

      First of all, I am happy those “black and Latino portions of America” were able to extend their 1960′s and 70′s influence back to the 1880-1920′s, it speaks very well of them.

      But second, chump, it wasn’t their “ethnic pride” pride they “stood up” for, although it is perfectly expected of someone like you to frame it like that. It was ‘racially’ based laws and their outcomes they were fighting against, the same kind of laws that permeate Israel They were not fighting for the right to wear a dashiki or pancho.
      But naturally, any discussion of that would immediately lead to a discussion of Israel’s racially based society and legal system, which adds some theology-based courts to the mix, for added abuse, mostly internal, but abuse still the same.

    • jonrich111 says:

      “But when Jews react to the assimilation of the West then you label it tribalism and see nothing positive in it.”

      I agree with you 100%. Try wearing a yarmulke not just at a religious function but in everyday life. The sheer amount of questions, confusion, disturbed looks, and sometimes anger you will get is astounding! Of course, this would vary depending on what part of the country you live in. In NYC this probably isn’t an issue. But I live in Georgia, and 99% of the people here barely even know what a Jew is, and most have never seen a Jew wearing a kippah before.

  16. Citizen says:

    Do we need to invite Al Sharpeton and David Duke to this thread? How about all those old Catholics that had to eat fish on Friday and get let out early from public school to go to Catachism (sic)? Come back with ash on their forehead?

    Mormons?

    Take a trip to Potsville, IA?
    Wherever

    Some people like more choice than others.

    • Mooser says:

      “Do we need to invite Al Sharpeton and David Duke to this thread?”

      Oh, he’ll probably come if invited. I don’t think he’ll take offense at having his name spelled incorrectly.

  17. “So it must grapple the U.S. to its soul with hoops of steel.”

    Excellent word picture.

  18. jonrich111 says:

    My views on inter-marriage are summed up by a Larry David quote: “We don’t come to your side. You guys come to our side. Jews don’t convert.” I think that ideally, inter-marriage could be used as a way to increase the Jewish population. It can be a great way to expose new people to our values, to share Jewish thought with the world. But all too often, inter-marriage is assimilation. Many inter-married Jews abandon their identity completely and raise their children as Gentiles. I speak from personal experience. I grew up in an inter-married family in the deep South and though I have always identified as a Jew, I did not have a traditional Jewish upbringing because of my gentile father and his influence over us. We were VERY assimilated. I rejected Christianity early on, but Jewish identity was always hidden. Except for the major holidays, Jewish identity was not explored. It wasn’t until I reached teenage years and began to explore my background in great detail that I began to develop a Jewish consciousness. And it is something of a social tragedy to have a part of yourself that is hidden, kept secret. It puts you at a great disadvantage and brings feelings of isolation and loneliness, and a basic denial of self-worth. I think my journey since childhood has been a great process of self-exploration that has really liberated me in many ways. But most inter-married Jewish children are completely isolated and unaware of their Jewishness. It is a painful process and there are a great many costs that we should all be aware of.

    • Citizen says:

      “We don’t come to your side. You guys come to our side. ”
      Is there any reason why this stance should not be taken by any group with equal emotional assurance? Ever know anyone who was raised as a Jew and only belatedly discovered he was also something else?
      Most intermarried couples I know have values that don’t favor either religion or ethnic group. They like it that way, and so do their offspring. They like aspects of both, not so much, other aspects of either. Their choice. Choice, ever hear of it? It does not merely apply to food or how one wears their hair or gets it cut.

      • jonrich111 says:

        “Ever know anyone who was raised as a Jew and only belatedly discovered he was also something else?”

        Yes, two of my cousins did this. They were both raised Jewish but converted to Christianity when they got married and are now raising their children as Christians.

        I really don’t think you can do an “either/or” thing with Jewish/Gentile identity. You are either Jewish or you are a Gentile. You can’t be both. If you are a Christian you cease to be a Jew. They are mutually incompatible concepts IMO.

        When you say it is just a “choice” thing, what you are missing is the societal pressure to assimilate. Christians are the privileged group over Jews in America. They are the religion/culture that dominants American life and society. The social pull is therefore much greater for Jews to abandon their identity in favor of Christian culture. If you are one of a small number of Jews growing up in a predominently Gentile world — surrounded by non-Jewish friends, peers, co-workers, institutions, etc. then you are more likely to abandon Jewishness and assimilate than a non-Jew would be to explore Jewish culture.

        • Elliot says:

          I really don’t think you can do an “either/or” thing with Jewish/Gentile identity. You are either Jewish or you are a Gentile. You can’t be both. If you are a Christian you cease to be a Jew. They are mutually incompatible concepts IMO.
          I agree that Christianity and Judaism are mutually exclusive. All the evidence of people trying to make such syncretism work notwithstanding, theologically, Christianity negates Judaism and vice versa. You can’t be both without living out an internal conflict.

        • Citizen says:

          Elliot, I tend to agree with you. One self-identifies as a Jew or a non-Jew. I know many white American non-jews who never heard the word “gentile.” But they’ve all heard the word “jew.” And yes, those who identify as a christian think that means a type of person who is not a jew. But have you ever tried to talk to a self-identified member of Jews For Jesus? I have. The ones I talked to never met a real jew in their life, but they think they may have jews in their family tree–they support Israel right or wrong, and love baby Jesus. Go figure.

        • edwin says:

          Elliot/Johnrich: Religious Society of Friends (British style) has had a component of Jews for a very long time. The Religious Society of Friends, while Christian, does not have a creed. They also do not do conversion. Perhaps Christianity is stranger than you think.

          Perhaps you are borrowing trouble. Religions are not cast in stone. Religious beliefs are not cast in stone. People can be whatever they wish to be.

        • edwin says:

          Jews for Jesus – Met one who studied under a Rabbi as part of a group for a while until the Rabbi kicked them out.

    • most inter-married Jewish children are completely isolated and unaware of their Jewishness.

      source?

      • jonrich111 says:

        link to interfaithfamily.com

        “33% of children in intermarriages are raised as Jews”

        “Intermarriage can be an opportunity to sustain and even grow the Jewish population both quantitatively and qualitatively. If more than 50% of interfaith families raise their children as Jews, interfaith families will actually increase the size of the Jewish population.”

      • Citizen says:

        I dunno what his source is, Annie. I do know that, having married a Jew, I know inter-married Jewish children in my extended family, as well as my own nuclear family, and not a one of them is isolated and unaware of his or her Jewishness. They look at both religions as optional, and find things to like and dislike about both religions as practiced, and some, intellectually also.

    • RoHa says:

      “And it is something of a social tragedy to have a part of yourself that is hidden, kept secret.”

      Are you sure it was really there?

      “But most inter-married Jewish children are completely isolated and unaware of their Jewishness. ”
      If they are integrated into the society around them, how are they isolated?
      If they are unaware of their “Jewishness”, in what way are they Jews at all? Why should they be bothered with it?

      • jonrich111 says:

        “If they are unaware of their “Jewishness”, in what way are they Jews at all? Why should they be bothered with it?”

        This is a perfect example of an assimilationist attitude. Why shouldn’t whites have to be “bothered” with their white identity, with Christian culture and values? Should they just give it up entirely as well? Why are we expected to be the ones to abandon our traditions and not you or anyone else?

        Jewish identity is not a “bother” — it is something to be proud of. It is uplifting and liberating and it is a positive influence on the world. Besides, even if a kid is not raised Jewish it is still part of their heritage.

        My Rabbi once said that Jews do not have history; we have memory. History is just facts and figures, dates and numbers. Memory is a lived experience. We tell stories about our past in the present so as to keep our people alive. And we hope that one day, in the future, our stories will be told after we are gone. Jewish identity is about legacy — the hope to leave the world better than we found it.

        • Cliff says:

          Cherish your Jewish whatever. I’m all for it. Just don’t inflict it on another group of people and don’t codify it into law that discriminates against other ethnic groups.

          All discussion here pertains to the Israel-Palestine conflict and comes back to the Nakba.

          The on-going Zionist colonial project.

        • sardelapasti says:

          “This is a perfect example of an assimilationist attitude.”
          Exactly. Why not? If you are a human being, that’s the only thing that counts. Except if you happen to be a religious kook or nationalist idiot.

          “Why shouldn’t whites have to be “bothered” with their white identity, with Christian culture and values? Should they just give it up entirely as well?”
          You betcha. Especially the white identity part.

          ” Why are we expected to be the ones to abandon our traditions and not you or anyone else? ”
          What traditions? Are you so deeply religious? Or are you talking about some picturesque Polish-Russian-Bessarabian old-country culture… oh sorry, I forgot how you guys despise your traditional mother-tongue language, too, you just compulsorily replaced it by some newly-engineered language!

          In fact, the only identity that Zionists are defending is, to use your words, “their white identity”. Just like the South Africans, Jim Crow, and these other guys we were not to mention.

        • Citizen says:

          “We tell stories.” Yes, you do. “History is just facts and figures, dates and numbers.” Really? The Tooth Fairy is a story too. Recall the adage that “history is written by the victors?” Does this not acknowledge the story aspect or narrative of any history book too? And does not historical research often discover things left out of former official history books? Hence, a new story, with more information ignored by former story tellers. And so on. The general definition of a story is that it is a piece of fiction, as in “story-line.” Or “narrative.” Human memory is very faulty as lots of scientific tests have shown over and over again. It’s not unwise to take any story somebody tells you with a few grains of salt, to say the least. Ever question a court witness in a criminal case?

        • hophmi says:

          “oh sorry, I forgot how you guys despise your traditional mother-tongue language, too, you just compulsorily replaced it by some newly-engineered language! ”

          Hebrew is not a new language.

          “In fact, the only identity that Zionists are defending is, to use your words, “their white identity””

          That would come as news to Jews who hail from Arab countries.

        • jonrich111 says:

          “Exactly. Why not? If you are a human being, that’s the only thing that counts. Except if you happen to be a religious kook or nationalist idiot.”

          So all Jews are either religious kooks or nationalist idiots? Being Jewish does not limit my ability to identify as human being — quite the opposite. Being Jewish allows me to feel a connection between my people and the humanity as a whole.

          I think your speaking from white privilege here. You think we can all just assimilate into this “color-blind” post-racial, post-religious, post-ethnic society? That is impossible and undesirable. Ethnic diversity has much to offer the world and uniformity is never desirable.

          “I forgot how you guys despise your traditional mother-tongue language, too, you just compulsorily replaced it by some newly-engineered language!”

          First of all, Hebrew is not a newly-engineered language. It is a 2,000 year old language that has been used for religious prayers by Jews. Secondly, It is racist to lump all Jews together into the same category as if we have no diversity of thought/opinion. I love Yiddish and use Yiddish phrases in my daily conversations all the time. The only time I ever speak Hebrew is for rituals and prayers, not conversation. Blaming all Jews throughout the world for the actions of Zionists in Israel 60 years ago is absurd and wrong.

          “In fact, the only identity that Zionists are defending is, to use your words, “their white identity”. Just like the South Africans, Jim Crow, and these other guys we were not to mention.”

          Zionists are defending their JEWISH identity — not white identity. Unlike Jews, white South Africans and white Southerners were not persecuted minority groups who chose national liberation as a means to emancipate themselves from oppression. White Europeans have been “otherizing” Jews for centuries — which was why Zionism was created in the first place! It is true that Jews have unwittingly discriminated against Palestinians in the process of our national liberation. But Jews did not come to Israel out of a desire to persecute others. It was callousness on our part and we are still working on healing and getting over the trauma of our history in order to see past our own persecution and unite together with Palestinians as neighbors who love and care for each other.

        • jonrich111 says:

          “The Tooth Fairy is a story too.”

          In the past decade, the social sciences have been undergoing what is called “the narrative turn.” This means that we are beginning to realize that human beings are story-tellers — that we inherently use narrative to make sense of our reality and define who we are. Few people think all the stories throughout Jewish history are literally true. That would be missing the point. These are narratives based on historical events which often have little documented evidence. The purpose of these stories is to be interpreted for their meaning. It is about the subtext, not the literal.