US intermarriage rivals Iran as a ‘grave’ threat to Israel — says NYT columnist

Israel/Palestine
on 44 Comments

RosnerThe recent Pew poll on American Jewish identity documented a declining attachment to Israel– and stirred handwringing at a Zionist panel at Yeshiva University last week, chiefly from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach who called the Pew findings “devastating, catastrophic” (as Alex Kane reported here).

And it is stirring fears in Israel as well. Here is Shmuel Rosner writing in the Times about the poll. Note that Rosner (left, from his website) is honest about the importance of the “powerful” Israel lobby for Israel’s ability to do whatever it wants.

The American Jewish community has always given Israelis the feeling that they have powerful family abroad, that they are not alone. And naturally Israelis fear the possibility of disengagement between these two communities. Yet the realities of the increasing interfaith marriage reported by Pew might lead to exactly that: an eventual decline in the American Jewish community’s affinity for Israel.

The Jews that tend to marry non-Jews in greater numbers are more inclined to feel less “connected” to Israel, according to the report. Since Pew found that this sector is growing, the fear of an eventual decline in American attachment for Israel is understandable.

Since Pew found that younger Jews feel less “connected” to Israel, the fear of an eventual decline in American attachment for Israel is understandable.

In a discussion last week in a Knesset committee meeting, the director general of the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, Dvir Kahane, said that dealing with American Jewry is an issue as “strategic” as Israel’s dealings Iran, asserting that the changing character of America’s Jews poses as grave a challenge for Israel as Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

Shmuley Boteach said the American intermarriage numbers in the Pew survey (58 percent of Jews marry out) are so “frightening” that he had to put together a forum on them in a hurry.

According to Wikipedia, Rosner is married to another Israeli, who is surely Jewish, and they have four children. My question is why the Times regularly runs this right winger’s opinion on these subjects, and has not published John Mearsheimer, the American political scientist who did more than anyone to put the Israel lobby on the political map. The Times regularly ran Mearsheimer’s opinions until he came out against the Iraq war.

About Philip Weiss

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

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44 Responses

  1. edwardm
    October 30, 2013, 12:19 pm

    “Dees Boys is Masegenated! ” – (oh Brother where are Thou?)

  2. amigo
    October 30, 2013, 12:22 pm

    Maybe Adelson could set up a fund to reward Jews who marry Jews.

    What,s love got to do with it.

  3. Justpassingby
    October 30, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Oh those gentiles, we dont want those in our blood!

  4. pabelmont
    October 30, 2013, 1:56 pm

    This is the worst (or wurst) nonsense (or baloney) I’ve read in a long time. The issue is not and never was whether a lot of American Jews married this way or that way or not at all.

    The issue is whether a VERY, VERY FEW VERY, VERY RICH (mostly Jewish) guys continue to twist the arms of **ALL** American politicians in national government to FORCE them th kow-tow to Israel’s hard-line.

    If you’ve got AIPAC, what does it matter who marries whom?

  5. eljay
    October 30, 2013, 2:02 pm

    >> … Diaspora Affairs Ministry, Dvir Kahane, said that dealing with American Jewry is an issue as “strategic” as Israel’s dealings Iran, asserting that the changing character of America’s Jews poses as grave a challenge for Israel as Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

    Yeah, it’s tough to maintain an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” when your base of hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist supporters is dwindling. :-(

    God *damn* those self-loathing Jews who choose to place their interests in life, love, family, friends, faith and happiness over the interests of Zio-supremacism, Zio-supremacists and the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State”.

  6. Krauss
    October 30, 2013, 3:31 pm

    In some sense, the numbers are worse for the Rosners of the world.
    Non-Orthodox Jews are 90% of the American Jewish population, and they intermarry at rates around 71%.

    The people who have the money are non-Orthodox Jews. Most Orthodox Jews belong to the Haredim, although the Modern Orthodox have similar, if not slightly higher, earnings and education as their secular brethren. And as such, money depends upon the non-Orthodox.

    Another wrinkle: it’s not just the intermarried share, it’s also how many are married at all. There’s been quite a drop in the amount of people getting married in the past 10 years, mirroring the general American trend. When you get married, have kids and so on, you tend to move more towards the center(or center-right) as issues such as neighbourhood safety suddenly become much more important and communitarianism takes its natural place.

    If less people get married, there will be less focus on giving money to Jewish and Israeli causes.

    But then again, does Israel need that cash? Its not clear to me that it does. Of course, every nation wants some extra. But Israel’s defence budget is in the low single digits as a proportion of their GDP these days. It has come down quite a bit.
    I think the bigger issue is the political support. They need American Jews to spend that dough to bribe all these Congresspeople so that they will vote on hardline positions and keep using that security council veto on everything. That’s what they really fear.

    • RoHa
      October 30, 2013, 9:14 pm

      “If less people get married,…”

      [Ahem!]
      “People” is plural in this context, so it should be “If fewer people get married,…”

      Aside from that, I don’t think it is the getting married that makes the big difference, but the having children. That is what makes neighbourhood safety, good schools, etc., suddenly become much more important. I’m not sure why that would affect cash for Israel. People with children usually have less cash, or fewer dollars, to send to the other side of the world, anyway.

  7. seafoid
    October 30, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Change the rules on who is a Jew. This rabbi driven stuff is nuts.
    If Jews fall in love with goys, all the better. Widen the gene pool.

    • hophmi
      October 30, 2013, 5:20 pm

      If most of you cared enough about the religion to do stuff like that, I would take you seriously. But I don’t get the sense that you’d be upset if people gave up the religion and simply secularized completely.

      • seafoid
        October 31, 2013, 5:20 am

        I can’t see Likud judaism making it, hoph. There has to be a better way.

  8. talknic
    October 30, 2013, 5:57 pm

    People ought not allow themselves to be dictated to by other folks fears

    It ain’t nobody’s business but our own.

    Say …… What happened to shared American values, multiculturalism, freedom of choice, self determination?

    • hophmi
      October 30, 2013, 6:16 pm

      “Say …… What happened to shared American values, multiculturalism, freedom of choice, self determination?”

      Nobody’s questioning any of it. Freedom of choice (and speech) allows people to advocate the position that Jews should optimally marry other Jews. There’s actually widespread acceptance of intermarried couples outside of orthodoxy.

      As I’ve said before, intermarriage is not a huge problem; and the halacha against it is actually a bit thin. The problem is that intermarriage tends to correlate with full assimilation, i.e., you give up the vestiges of being Jewish. If this correlation did not exist, I doubt people would be upset over intermarriage.

      And, I maintain, as I have many times, that this is a completely different problem for Jews, who number around 15m, than it is for Christians or Muslims, who number in the billions. When one of us marries out of the faith and decides to raise his children as nothing or in another religion, we feel it that much more. It has nothing to do with any particular bias against another way of life. It’s a matter of self-preservation.

      I suspect anyone would feel similarly if the issue were more mundane, like politics. If you were an ardent environmentalist, and all of your children married coal magnates, or if you were an ardent socialist, and your children married laissez-faire capitalists, I don’t think you’d be especially pleased, and I think you’d wonder about how you can better transmit your customs and values in the future.

      • RoHa
        October 30, 2013, 9:17 pm

        ” It’s a matter of self-preservation. ”

        It is a matter of preserving the group. But if members of the group don’t want to preserve it, why should it be preserved?

      • miriam6
        October 31, 2013, 6:45 am

        RoHa@:

        It is a matter of preserving the group. But if members of the group don’t want to preserve it, why should it be preserved?

        Most Jews see their heritage as something they wish to preserve something of at least to pass on to their kids if they have them – even if they do marry out.

        Look at Israelis and you see every skin colour represented amongst the Jewish population – evidence that Jews have mixed with non – Jews but have still preserved their Jewishness/ Judaism over many centuries.

        The ones who wish to cut all ties with their Jewishness – well so what?
        They become part of some other community of their choice.

        Why should a tiny minority of opting – out Jews determine the future of traditions , communities and a religion like Judaism that has survived for thousands of years anyway?

      • amigo
        October 31, 2013, 8:30 am

        Zionism has stolen Judaism.

        Be concerned about that.

      • eljay
        October 31, 2013, 8:31 am

        >> Why should a tiny minority of opting – out Jews determine the future of traditions , communities and a religion like Judaism that has survived for thousands of years anyway?

        1. A tiny minority of opting-out Jews won’t determine the future of traditions, communities and a religion like Judaism that have survived for thousands of years, and that have done so without the dubious benefit of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State”.

        2. The survival of traditions, communities and a religion like Judaism does not justify Jewish terrorism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands, and the creation and existence of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • seanmcbride
        October 31, 2013, 12:48 pm

        miriam6,

        What does Judaism mean to you? What are the unique values it promotes that you most care about? How does contemporary mainstream Judaism differ from Zionism (Jewish ethnic nationalism)?

      • RoHa
        October 31, 2013, 11:17 pm

        “The ones who wish to cut all ties with their Jewishness – well so what?”

        Exactly. What’s the big deal about? If they are a tiny minority, then Jewishness will continue. If not, then tough.

        If people lose their interest in cheesecake, the West Brisbane Cheesecake Photography Club will decline and eventually vanish. It might be a matter of regret for me, but my regret does not justify me into bullying the sons of the current members into joining, let alone urging them not to join the local theatre group.

        And this is a far more trivial matter than marriage.

        How much less, then, is it justified to bully people to set aside their hopes for happiness in a marriage of true minds simply to maintain the “traditions , communities,” and so forth of Jewishness.

        link to mondoweiss.net

        Let it go.

      • Donald
        October 30, 2013, 11:17 pm

        It’s a rare thing when I find one of your comments completely reasonable, but it just happened. Probably one of the signs of the impending apocalypse or something.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 30, 2013, 11:25 pm

        Nope, it’s base bigotry and a pathetic paternalism. No one gives you a veto on the selection of their spouse, even if it means that your culture disappears as an active matter.

      • hophmi
        October 31, 2013, 11:00 am

        “Nope, it’s base bigotry and a pathetic paternalism. No one gives you a veto on the selection of their spouse, even if it means that your culture disappears as an active matter.”

        Save your breath. No one’s claiming a veto.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 31, 2013, 12:00 pm

        “Save your breath. No one’s claiming a veto.”

        If you’re not unquestioningly accepting THEIR choice of how they live THEIR lives, you are, whether you want to admit it or not.

      • hophmi
        October 31, 2013, 12:40 pm

        “If you’re not unquestioningly accepting THEIR choice of how they live THEIR lives, you are, whether you want to admit it or not.”

        LOL. I have to unquestioningly accept everyone’s life choice or else I’m “vetoing” it?

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 31, 2013, 1:25 pm

        “LOL. I have to unquestioningly accept everyone’s life choice or else I’m ‘vetoing’ it?”

        If it’s family and you love them, then, yes, if you don’t accept what they want for their lives, then yes, you are claiming a veto over their choices. What good are you, what kind of person are you, if you don’t support your family at a time like that?? What kind of monster puts the interest in abstracts like an ethnic grouping over the feelings and concerns of actual, flesh-and-blood people??

      • Hostage
        October 31, 2013, 2:46 pm

        “Save your breath. No one’s claiming a veto.”

        As they say Hoppy, go to Israel and “Tell it to the Judge”. The Jews there are subject to a veto. If they can afford to leave the country, they can always find religious freedom somewhere else.

      • miriam6
        October 30, 2013, 11:48 pm

        hophmi@;

        I think you’d wonder about how you can better transmit your customs and values in the future.

        Good post Hophmi.

        Unfortunately we do live in Western societies that claim to be pluralistic and tolerant – and yet those same societies seem increasingly uncomfortable and intolerant of the idea that parents raise their kids in accordance with values that the parents themselves feel are most important to transmit to their kids and the next generation.

        We can see that in Europe in intolerance towards Jewish / Muslim religious customs like circumcision etc.
        We see it in arguments that say that dabbing water on a child’s head in order to baptise it really amount to child abuse because the child has no say in the matter.

        Everywhere in Western society there are efforts being made to undermine parental self – confidence whenever possible and to spread the idea that parents should instead adopt whichever / whatever politically correct and fashionable mode of thought that just happens to be circulating at the time.

        Which can only serve to undermine the natural instincts that parents have about how best to raise their children.

      • talknic
        October 31, 2013, 5:16 am

        @ miriam6 “We can see that in Europe in intolerance towards Jewish / Muslim religious customs like circumcision etc.”

        Nonsense. It’s intolerance to the barbarity of un-necessarilly mutilating baby boys … even if the parents are atheist.

        “We see it in arguments that say that dabbing water on a child’s head in order to baptise it really amount to child abuse because the child has no say in the matte”

        Quote? Source? Anything?

        “Everywhere in Western society there are efforts being made to undermine parental self – confidence whenever possible and to spread the idea that parents should instead adopt whichever / whatever politically correct and fashionable mode of thought that just happens to be circulating at the time.”

        Uh? Isn’t that what we’re seeing in this fear of intermarriage, which BTW seems to have more to do with Israel than anything else “US intermarriage rivals Iran as a ‘grave’ threat to Israel”

      • hophmi
        October 31, 2013, 11:03 am

        “Nonsense. It’s intolerance to the barbarity of un-necessarilly mutilating baby boys … even if the parents are atheist.”

        A secular authoritarian POV on display here. Define a practice you don’t like as “barbaric.” Then ban the practice.

        “Quote? Source? Anything?”

        Richard Dawkins has called christening a form of child abuse.

      • talknic
        November 2, 2013, 3:09 am

        hophmi “A secular authoritarian POV on display here. Define a practice you don’t like as “barbaric.” Then ban the practice.”

        A medical and humanitarian POV is not necessarily secular or authoritarian. Take murder for example… Meanwhile to mutilate a baby for one’s own religious or cosmetic preferences without consideration of the child’s rights IS completely authoritarian

        “Richard Dawkins has called christening a form of child abuse”

        In typical idiotic apologist style you offer no quote, no verifiable source for this claim “We see it in arguments that say that dabbing water on a child’s head in order to baptise it really amount to child abuse because the child has no say in the matter” Why am I not surprised…

      • Tex Tradd
        October 31, 2013, 4:20 am

        This strikes me as one of the more thought-provoking posts I have encountered on this site. I think identity is going to cohere around some combination or other of elements: ethnicity, tribe, faith, class, culture, sub-group, outsider vs. insider, etc.

        I’m not Jewish or Zionist, but I sense that something important would be lost in the world if the bland homogenizing forces of “liberal” culture and postmodern capitalism turned today’s Jews into only somewhat vaguely differentiated urban consumers.

        In a free society, true love will have it’s way, which crosses barriers the purists may try to impose. It is a beautiful thing to see happy mixed-ethnicity babies on the bus with their proud mamas. On an optimistic day I fantasize that my country can overcome our bitter history of racism and ethnocentrism because more and more of us can bring home our lover who is “other” to our families and find acceptance. The younger folks these days seem to be there already, and I notice some coffee-colored kids who have way less hang-ups then people my age would about “crossing the color line”. Yes and yes.

        But all the same, people, there is nothing wrong with romantically preferring your own kind, and nothing wrong with a parent wishing that their child fall in love with someone of their own tribe. True liberal progress would involve welcoming those that cross the lines as well as those that embrace difference and ethnic particularities.

        It takes all kinds…..does it not?

      • eljay
        October 31, 2013, 10:44 am

        >> … there is nothing wrong with romantically preferring your own kind …

        I agree. But there’s plenty wrong when your romantic preference causes you to set aside concerns about justice, morality and equality – among other positive values – and, instead, to support, excuse or justify your kind’s immoral and unjust actions or behaviour.

        >> … and nothing wrong with a parent wishing that their child fall in love with someone of their own tribe.

        I agree. But there’s plenty wrong with guilting or forcing your kids into relationships with someone of their own tribe.

      • hophmi
        October 31, 2013, 12:42 pm

        “I agree. But there’s plenty wrong when your romantic preference causes you to set aside concerns about justice, morality and equality – among other positive values – and, instead, to support, excuse or justify your kind’s immoral and unjust actions or behaviour. ”

        Huh? What does marrying another Jew have to do with setting aside concerns about justice, morality, and equality?

        “I agree. But there’s plenty wrong with guilting or forcing your kids into relationships with someone of their own tribe.”

        No one is guilting or forcing them outside of orthodoxy, where it’s almost never necessary to begin with. They’re free to make they’re own choices, and people are free not to like it.

      • eljay
        October 31, 2013, 1:07 pm

        >> Huh? What does marrying another Jew have to do with setting aside concerns about justice, morality, and equality?

        You (intentionally) mis-read my comment. I didn’t say that marriage to a Jewish person (or to a person of any other tribe or faith or ethnicity or nationality or civilization) in and of itself causes one to set aside one’s concerns about justice, morality and equality.

        >> No one is guilting or forcing them outside of orthodoxy …

        You (intentionally) mis-read my comment. I didn’t say that kids are being forced or guilted, I said that kids should not be forced or guilted.

      • hophmi
        October 31, 2013, 1:31 pm

        “You (intentionally) mis-read my comment. I didn’t say that marriage to a Jewish person (or to a person of any other tribe or faith or ethnicity or nationality or civilization) in and of itself causes one to set aside one’s concerns about justice, morality and equality.”

        I didn’t intentionally do anything. That’s what your comment said. In any event, I’m not sure who you think is being forced or guilted, here. Obviously, there isn’t a lot of forcing going around when the intermarriage rate is 58%.

      • eljay
        October 31, 2013, 2:17 pm

        I didn’t intentionally do anything. That’s what your comment said.

        No, that’s not what my comments said, so if you didn’t intentionally mis-read them, you need to brush up on your reading and/or comprehension skills.

      • RoHa
        October 31, 2013, 11:19 pm

        @ Tex Tradd

        “I fantasize that my country can overcome our bitter history of racism and ethnocentrism”

        Which country is yours?

      • Tex Tradd
        November 1, 2013, 1:08 pm

        US of A.

      • eljay
        October 31, 2013, 8:04 am

        >> If you were an ardent environmentalist, and all of your children married coal magnates, or if you were an ardent socialist, and your children married laissez-faire capitalists, I don’t think you’d be especially pleased, and I think you’d wonder about how you can better transmit your customs and values in the future.

        Your children’s happiness should matter more than your selfish desire to pass your customs and values on to future generations.

        And, quite frankly, when one’s customs and values include justifying, excusing, supporting or advocating for terrorism, ethnic cleansing, colonalism and supremacism, they’re not worth passing on.

      • Hostage
        October 31, 2013, 9:31 am

        Freedom of choice (and speech) allows people to advocate the position that Jews should optimally marry other Jews.

        That’s okay, but when you make it compulsory, it’s an archaic and objectionable violation of human rights:

        Former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak has openly condemned Israel’s marriage laws as a “violation of basic human rights.”

        In his forthcoming book “Human Dignity: The Constitutional Right and its Derivatives,”Barak discusses Israel’s marriage policies, which are determined by religious law and thus, he says, infringe on the rights to human dignity, religious freedom and equality.

        link to haaretz.com

  9. Nevada Ned
    October 31, 2013, 12:23 am

    Once upon a time, European Jews were ghettoized, prevented from assimilating into the larger society.

    Now US Jews are increasingly assimilated, and are intermarrying in a high rate. For some strange reason this welcome development is viewed as a terrible thing by self-elected representatives of organized Jewry.

    My reply to the nonsense by hophmi is the following: why don’t you pass a law forbidding marriage between a Jew and a Gentile?

    There is precedent for such laws: in the US in 1960, about half the US states had laws forbidding marriage between blacks and whites, or between Filipinos and whites, or between Asians and white, etc. And of course, the precedent for banning marriage between Jew and Gentile is the Nuremberg Laws, passed in 1935 in Germany. (This may not be the kind of precedent that the hophmis of the world are seeking.)

    A while ago, right wingers in the Israel Knesset introduced a bill that would have outlawed sex between a Jew and a non-Jew. The bill failed to pass, but it had a surprising amount of support. Surprising to me, anyway.

    Israel is home to a burgeoning anti-miscegenation movement. For example, a right-wing rabbi, Shalom Dov Lifschitz, proclaims, “People must understand that Jewish-Arab marriages are part of the larger Israeli-Arab conflict. These (Jewish) girls are in distress, they are wandering the streets and the Arabs take advantage of them. They see it as their goal to marry them and ensure that their children aren’t raised as Jews. This is their revenge against the Jewish people. They feel that if they can’t defeat us in war, they can wipe us out this way. We must fight this threat as well; it’s a matter of national security.” (source: Max Blumenthal, Goliath, p. 319).

    This kind of racist rubbish get taken seriously in Israel, and gangs of hooligans have roamed Israeli beaches, warning Jewish women from dating Arab men. “Organizers hope this campaign will stop the phenomenon of mixed marriages,and restore the values needed to preserve Israel”. (Blumenthal, p. 317).

    I should add that I was raised as a Protestant, some of my family members have married Catholics, and one sister married a Jewish man. Was my sister planning to ‘wipe out the Jewish people’ or ‘endanger national security’ by marrying a Jewish man? Was Phil Weiss’ (non-Jewish) wife ‘planning to wipe out the Jewish people’ by marrying Phil? Sheeesh….

    Right wingers in Israel have the same kind of racist fantasies about Arab men and Jewish women that Adolph Hitler had about Jewish men and Aryan women.

  10. yonah fredman
    October 31, 2013, 4:25 am

    The Jewish people are not disappearing, but they (as a group) are changing. If one values Jewish tradition, then one naturally wishes to see those traditions continue on into the future. If one values the traditions one wants to see a future where Jews are still studying Talmud and Tanach, lighting candles on Friday night, holding Passover seders and lighting candles on Khanike (Yivo approved spelling).

    Some people see these traditions as so much flotsam and jetsam and wish them good riddance. Certainly we (as individuals) do not wish our governments to dictate our personal choices. Yet it also seems rather predictable (and indeed good) that some people view Judaism as something they would like to see continuing on into the horizon and past the horizon into the future.

    As far as support for Israel, I think the electoral college aspect of the Jewish vote is really marginal and the major question is campaign finance. And campaign finance is not going to change in the near term. So those Jewish contributors who back Israel will certainly have sufficient chance to skew the choices of the Congress and the President for the foreseeable future.

    Leave it to Phil Weiss to cite an op ed by Shmuel Rosner to ask, why don’t we hear more from Mearsheimer? Yeah, like that’s relevant as a reaction to the Pew poll. Not.

    • Nevada Ned
      October 31, 2013, 10:12 am

      If “one values Jewish tradition” as much as you do, the solution is very simple:
      Most American Jews are not members of any synagogue. So *force* them to join
      an Orthodox synagogue. (As long as we’re “valuing Jewish tradition”, might as well go all the way.) And while you’re at it, make attendance at religious services compulsory, every week (not just on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashona). Is that what you want?

      Nobody is forcing American Jews to sleep late on Saturdays, or watch college football on Saturday instead of going to services. Religion just doesn’t meet their needs.

      For that matter, lots of nominal Christians sleep late on Sunday and watch pro football* on Sundays, instead of attending Church. Or they show up only on Christmas and Easter.

      The high level of intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles (in the US) is possible, in part, because of the rise of religious indifference among both groups. Religion just plays a small role.

      I attended services at a synagogue in mid-town Manhattan about a decade ago, and the place was almost empty. Tens of thousands of Jews lived within a short distance of the synagogue, but there was perhaps a dozen Jews in the synagogue. This is today’s reality.

      *speaking of religions…

      • yonah fredman
        October 31, 2013, 9:27 pm

        Nevada Ned- The leap from valuing Jewish tradition and forcing Jews to attend services is a huge one. Let’s try to keep things logical and take small steps rather than reductive giant ones. Would that be possible?

  11. bilal a
    October 31, 2013, 7:45 am

    Intermarriage outside of a religious community is indeed a sign of the community’s declining meaning to its members; but what does it mean to a secularist who has already left , intellectually and morally ?

    It means the racial identity is diminished.

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