Rabbi Yoffie offers racism first, so as to have his warning heeded by Israel

on 11 Comments

Must Rabbi Yoffie first offer racism to be taken seriously in Israel– and then offer ignorance?

In Haaretz, the rabbi wisely warns: “Israel’s leaders’ defiance of reality is the real danger.” The racism:

Extremism of a particularly vicious variety is a Palestinian disease for which a cure has yet to be found.
The ignorance (“never object to a reprimand from an Israeli colleague”?):
“American rabbis should never object to a reprimand from an Israeli colleague, particularly one who has helped us to think about Israel in new and important ways. But I urge Rabbi Gordis to remember that if he is concerned about confronting reality, there are realities that he is not addressing.”

The Yoffie piece is evidence of my assertion that a divorce is coming between US and Israeli Jewry. Yoffie sees it too:

Far from being wild-eyed liberals, most American Jews have sensible, pragmatic views on Israel and the likelihood of peace, but they are confused and incredulous at the myopia of Israel’s political leaders – a dismay that far eclipses the ‘faults’ of U.S. Jewish leaders as identified by Daniel Gordis.

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11 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    December 11, 2012, 11:12 am

    Without a view of the original (I do not subscribe to Haaretz) I cannot judge all this. But the Israel-worship (golden-calf-worship?) of so many American Rabbis and the abject cowardice of the rest who (presumably not worshiping) do not “speak evil” to Israel’s racism, imperialism, war-crimes, anti-democracy (even for Jews) is astounding. The “circle the wagons” efforts to censor other rabbis who speak out — in preference to joining in principled discussions — is abhorrent. Perhaps all this fear is part of the effect of what some are calling Israel’s (and I’d add: AIPAC’s) fascism.

    Fear of suffering retaliation, terrorist attacks, etc., can indeed silence people. But if rabbis have anything to distinguish themselves from cheer-leaders (who are generally at least cuter or more handsome), it should be attention to ethics and concerns for human rights. If these folks cannot speak truth to power, what earthly use are they?

    • john h
      December 11, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Yes, Israel-worship is golden-calf worship. And that includes the “speak no evil/always justify” folk, whether Jews or others, including the so-called “Christian Zionists”. All of them bow the knee to the Zionist god they have made.

    • braciole
      December 11, 2012, 8:58 pm

      If the pay wall kicks in, search for the page using the headline on Google and use the link there. It works most times for me but it might be like the NY Times pay wall and allow only a limited number of visits from Google per day but there’s never much I want to read there.

  2. Mooser
    December 11, 2012, 11:38 am

    Gosh, I thought I knew a little something about the English language. But I never knew “myopic” could be used as a synonym for “criminal”.

    • RoHa
      December 11, 2012, 8:10 pm

      Heck, Mooser, you only have to look at me to see it. I’ve been myopic and astigmatic all my life. These days I’m presbyopic as well.

      (Presbyopia is a particularly grim and miserable Scottish form.)

    • piotr
      December 13, 2012, 2:01 am

      Mooser, sometimes it helps to learn another language first. Some difficult phrases:

      intellectually incurious — very stupid, used mostly for Presidents of USA

      complex character, frequently misunderstood — mean bastard

      In the same vein, I think that myopic also means cretin, but used mostly for less august personages than President of USA

      However, who is the stupid person here may be a subject of reasonable debate. In a nutshell, Zionist liberals agree with their less liberal friends that it is a patriotic duty of Israelis, and the tribal duty of other Jews, to assure that Israel can get (or does) as much as it can get away with. But what does it mean? Liberals have a certain mental construct used to predict that some actions of SoI will be detrimental perhaps not now, but in some unspecified future. Less liberal Zionist have more empirical approach: why not try it first and see what happens.

      One can also suspect that many liberals make those projections as a kind of wishful thinking, and they actually mask their moral impulses as pragmatism.

  3. seanmcbride
    December 11, 2012, 11:56 am

    What Jewish leaders from Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism — the Jewish religious establishment — need to ask themselves is this: do they really want Judaism to become associated in world public opinion with:

    1. AIPAC
    2. apartheid
    3. arson
    4. assassinations
    5. attacks on children
    6. attacks on women
    7. black ops
    8. censorship
    9. Christian Zionists
    10. collective punishment
    11. ethnic cleansing
    12. ethnic fanaticism
    13. false flag ops
    14. house demolitions
    15. Islamophobia
    16. land theft
    17. Mossad
    18. neoconservatives
    19. olive tree uprootings
    20. passport thefts
    21. price tag attacks
    22. racism
    23. radical wealth inequality
    24. religious fanaticism
    25. segregation
    26. shady billionaires
    27. spitting on Christians
    28. spitting on women
    29. torture
    30. vandalism
    31. verbal abuse
    32. war crimes
    33. warmongering
    34. West Bank settlers
    35. World War III

    Do they? Shouldn’t Judaism be strongly opposed to all these things?

    Eric Yoffie’s voice needs to be accompanied by thousands of other voices from mainstream Judaism. They need to start the difficult process of disentangling Judaism from Zionism before Zionism takes down Judaism with it.

    And they need to give up the fantasy that Zionism is going to reform itself from within — that is not going to happen. Israel is going to continue to migrate towards the extreme racist and fascist right — all the social, cultural and demographic indicators are there in plain view in front of one’s nose.

    • peeesss
      December 12, 2012, 2:01 am

      One’s Humanism should oppose what The State of Israel has committed these past decades, generations . The Jewish State, by the way, as Netanyahu constantly affirms, as do others. The Jewish religious establishment has had 30, 40, 60 years and more if one recalls the writings of the early Zionists and the ambition of “having a land with no people for a people with no land” to dissassociate themselves from this inhuman record. And hasn’t many if not most of the Jewish religious establishment perpetrated this fallacy even more so with its invoking of Gods promise to the Israelites based on their , dubious , interpretation of , “Holy” Scriptures. All the actions and scenarios presented have been in the public domain for decades except for the last, WWIII. It appears the leaders of the Jewish State of Israel are adament in having that also come to pass with their infatuation on Iran.

  4. seanmcbride
    December 11, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Regarding Daniel Gordis, who is an important Jewish religious leader, see Jerry Haber here:


    Readers: This is a long post, so here it is in a nutshell: I argue that in his recent book, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, implicitly endorses the involuntary expulsion of Israeli Arab citizens in the future as a way to solving what he calls “Israel’s conundrum”, i.e., what to do about its Arab citizens. I try to understand what leads Dr. Gordis, a well-known rabbi and author with whom I agree on many things, to this conclusion. I note that discussion of the “transfer” option, which once was considered taboo by Jews, has now gone mainstream. Dr. Gordis’s favorable discussion of “transfer” is in a book that won the 2009 National Jewish Book Award in the category of “Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.”

    In his book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win A War That May Never End, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Gordis does not explicitly endorse “transfer” – the euphemism for the involuntary expulsion of Israeli Arab citizens – to resolve what he calls “Israel’s conundrum,” its “Arab problem”. But the tenor of his discussion clearly implies that he sees such expulsion as a very live, if painful, option – perhaps the only real option available.

  5. seanmcbride
    December 11, 2012, 1:28 pm

    Richard Silverstein on Daniel Gordis:


    Gordis wants to posit an Israel that has a right to be Judeo-centric and a right to accord superior rights to Jewish citizens. That is how he even flirts with the Kahanist transferist program advocated by Avigdor Lieberman and the Israeli far-right. That a mainstream American Jewish rabbi should be speaking about transfer as if it is an unfortunate, but necessary concept that may be necessary to preserve Israel as a Jewish state indicates how far to the right Israel discourse has gone both in the U.S. and Israel. This rabbi, who speaks favorably of the notion of forcibly expelling hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens from their homeland, is toying with Jewish fascism. But you wouldn’t know it by the generous accolades on his book cover from the likes of Cynthia Ozick and Natan Sharansky.

    And here is Daniel Gordis in his own words:

    Therefore, despite the great pain, these potentially agonizing solutions to an undeniable problem have to be raised… Those who seek to restore purpose to Israeli life will have to decide how to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority. For it is that majority that enables Israel to serve as such a beacon of hope for Jews. That, in turn, invariably will entail more than rhetoric. It will require abandoning the pretense that Israel is just like other countries, the charade that claims that Israel can deal with its minorities precisely as other democracies do…If Israelis genuinely believe in that purpose, they will then have to be willing to discuss what they are actually willing to do to protect the existence of the state that has saved the Jewish people.

    • talknic
      December 13, 2012, 8:36 am

      ” to protect the existence of the state that has saved the Jewish people”

      Uh? I wasn’t saved by Israel. Israel and its belligerent, ongoing usurping of the people of Palestine, is do more to divide the Jewish people than any event in our history.

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