Israeli consul warns American Jews: ‘Our marriage is Catholic — no divorce’

US Politics
on 26 Comments

American Jews and Israel need marriage counseling but we can never get divorced, Dani Dayan, the Israeli consul general in New York, warned on Tuesday night. We “belong to the same people,” he instructed. “Our marriage is Catholic, there is no divorce.”

Dayan spoke at the Manhattan Jewish Community Center and addressed tensions between U.S. Jews and the Israeli government over religious questions. His warning is an indication of how much Israel depends on the political support of American Jews.

A few weeks ago, I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a rabbi– it was a kind of town hall meeting with the Jewish community in Cincinnati, and a rabbi, I think he was a Conservative one, spoke really from the bottom of his heart about how offensive Israeli decisions were regarding the Kotel [prayer at the western wall] and the giyur [conversion rules] and how painful they are for him and how offensive he finds them. And I quite identified with him, I could feel his pain, and I must admit, ashamed.

But then he concluded, saying, “And this was the last straw in our relationship.”

With that I couldn’t– I cannot agree. Our relationship has no last straw. Never ever has a last straw. Because what’s the meaning of a last straw? Because after that last straw, what? We cease to be brothers? We cease to belong to the same people? That is unacceptable. Not acceptable — We shouldn’t allow the notion of a last straw to exist.

I would say it in this way, We may be Jewish but our marriage is Catholic, there is no divorce in our marriage. We may need a lot and apparently we do need a lot of marital counseling, but– no divorce in our marriage. If there are problems, their only meaning is that we have to work even harder to solve them

That should be the first and foremost premise of our relationship.

Later, Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times Global editor, whom Dayan had introduced as a “very good personal” friend, pushed back against the idea, and said that Israeli leaders talk about getting a divorce from Palestinians even as they insist on a unity between Israeli and American Jews. Maybe the two Jewish communities are too different in values to stay together, she said; they are “light years apart.”

Natan Sharansky of the Jewish Agency bridled at Rudoren’s point. He said that Jews have “mutual history” for 3500 years, whether in Israel or America. That is very different from the “very serious practical problem” of how to get along with Palestinians, with whom Israeli Jews “don’t share the 3500 years of history.”

The exchanges are a sign of how dependent Israel is on American Jews for political cover. It is the American Jews who speak of a break: the conservative rabbi in Cincinnati, and Jodi Rudoren in New York. The Israeli leaders are angered. The desire for a divorce among young Jews is even stronger. And by the way, Dayan is a settler on Palestinian territory. Palestinians barely came up in the discussion, though Sharansky did mention a visit to Boston by Israeli politicians last March in which an American Jew said the country had lost her due to its massacres of Palestinians in Gaza. Sharansky was dismissive of that woman’s concerns, saying all Israelis care about their security first.

P.S. Sharansky also bridled at Rudoren’s assertion that he would not really take on Benjamin Netanyahu over religious issues, but has only done lip service against the Netanyahu government’s policies, so as to satisfy “your diaspora donors and other supporters.” Sharansky called that an “accusation.”

About Philip Weiss

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

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26 Responses

  1. Mooser
    December 1, 2017, 12:52 pm

    ” We may be Jewish but our marriage is Catholic, there is no divorce in our marriage.”

    Hey you know how it goes; “a khasuren die kalleh is tsu shayn”.

    What are you going to do, “Dayan”, instruct the Bishop not to forward our request for an annulment to the Vatican?

    I’m getting quite a laugh out of the relationship or “marriage” metaphor. I think we should charge Zionism with secular harassment.

    • Citizen
      December 1, 2017, 2:16 pm

      And religious harassment and perversion too, from the POV of somebody raised as a Roman Catholic.

      • Mooser
        December 1, 2017, 5:28 pm

        “And religious harassment and perversion too, from the POV of somebody raised as a Roman Catholic.”

        “Citizen”, don’t be so hard on Dayan. After all, we Jews have got to look somewhere for an example of marital fidelity! I mean, aren’t Catholics as faithful to their stereo-types as Jews are?

        Look, if he said it was like a Jewish marriage, we could say “I divorce thee” three times before he got done.

    • Boris
      December 1, 2017, 3:36 pm

      Well, Mooser, just like a wicked son at a Pesach table, you are always welcome by your family despite whatever you do.

      But you may not be welcome at the shul…

      • Mooser
        December 1, 2017, 5:25 pm

        “But you may not be welcome at the shul…”

        So the Reform Jews who cannot pray at the wall are the “wicked sons” of Judaism?

        “Boris” when is it going to get through your head that Israel depends entirely on American-Jewish life support? You better improve your manners, chump.
        Do you really think you can threaten us with “not be welcome at the shul”? Will we miss out on all the good deals?

      • Boris
        December 2, 2017, 8:19 am

        Looser,

        Support from people like you??? Are you kidding?

        As far as reform Jews are concerned, i remember how in the year 2000 they cancelled their Israel vacations. And so did Conservatives. Except for the Orthodox. The planes were flying empty.

        It is the Christians who are the biggest supporters of Israel in this country. I had seen them by the bus loads in Israel in 2000, like every year.

        Most of Reform Jews – especially the converted ones – don’t care about Israel, Jewish history, and their conversion is fake – just something to talk about at the dinner table. I remember there was no article in New York Times about a family – I think their name was McDonald – they converted to Reform Judaism and all they wanted was to pray at the synagogue and not discuss Israel.

      • Mooser
        December 2, 2017, 12:42 pm

        “It is the Christians who are the biggest supporters of Israel in this country. I had seen them by the bus loads in Israel in 2000, like every year.”

        You said it, pal, and you should know.

        But let me get this straight “Boris”: You are threatening non-Zionist Jews with the wrath of Christians?

        “Most of Reform Jews – especially the converted ones – don’t care about Israel, Jewish history, and their conversion is fake –”

        Most “Reform Jews weren’t born Jewish, and are ‘converted’?
        Unlike Russian Jews, of course.

        I remember there was no article in New York Times about a family – I think their name was McDonald – they converted to Reform Judaism and all they wanted was to pray at the synagogue and not discuss Israel.”

        You are absolutely right, “Boris”, there was no such article.

      • Mooser
        December 3, 2017, 3:06 am

        “But you may not be welcome at the shul…”

        Well, I hear the whistle but I can’t go, I’m gonna
        Go on down down to Israel, but “Boris” said:
        Whoa, no, Reform or Conservative won’t do!
        Well, I did not think that “Boris” could be so cruel!
        And I’m never going back, to my old schul.

      • Mooser
        December 3, 2017, 3:20 pm

        “Support from people like you??? Are you kidding?.”

        Better reconsider, a lot of Israel support got swallowed up in the 2008 recession and US financial collapse.

      • Mooser
        December 5, 2017, 1:09 pm

        “Support from people like you??? Are you kidding?” “Boris”

        Gee, this is a shock. I never thought an Israeli would reject my support because I’m not Catholic enough!

    • Rusty Pipes
      December 2, 2017, 6:35 pm

      Unlike many American Jews, Dayan seems unaware of how common annulment is among American Roman Catholics. Dayan acts more like Israel is the man in an Orthodox marriage, refusing to give his wife a Get. More and more American Jews are telling Israel, “I Divorce you” and walking away.

      • Mooser
        December 2, 2017, 11:28 pm

        “Unlike many American Jews, Dayan seems unaware of how common annulment is among American Roman Catholics.”

        Hey, why would Dayan want to deal in anything except religious stereotypes? They’ve done so much for us, so he will return the favor. He’s a fool.

        “Dayan acts more like Israel is the man in an Orthodox marriage, refusing to give his wife a Get”

        I shouldn’t say this, but that’s what makes the whole thing so disgusting, and in a way, very scary. What power does Israel think it holds over American Jews, to compel support when conscience and even legality say ‘no’?
        I can only think of one: the power to incite antisemitism, striking fear into American Jews.

      • oldgeezer
        December 3, 2017, 1:02 am

        @Mooser

        Nah… it is antisemitism. It’s a hatred of Jews solely because they are Jews who don’t adhere to his personal beliefs. That same antisemitism we see from the mayhems, dabakrs, etc around here.

        There is a litmus test you must pass to determine if you are the right kind of Jew. We see the same from neonazis who would consider someone like me a race traitor for not putting white people first above other considerations.

        Nothing new. They’re just dyed in the wool racists.

  2. MHughes976
    December 1, 2017, 2:04 pm

    The complaints of the Cincinnati rabbi sound to me like a displacement activity, treating the rules of prayer at the Kotel as if they were the mountain and the really serious matter, the treatment of the Palestinians, as if it was in comparison the molehill. As if a spouse complained about burned food and didn’t mention domestic violence.

    • yonah fredman
      December 1, 2017, 5:02 pm

      Mhughes- viewed from the outside, your comment makes sense. But from the inside it is blind to human nature.

      • Mooser
        December 1, 2017, 7:13 pm

        “But from the inside it is blind to human nature.”

        And what “yonah” doesn’t know from human nature isn’t worth knowing. He’s a regular Human Nature Boy.

      • MHughes976
        December 2, 2017, 5:42 pm

        I take the point, Yonah, that things that seem minor from outside the family may seem like matters of life and death inside. I do see that such is the nature of human groups. However, there seems to me to be something misleading in what he says. He’s working along two lines that don’t converge. The Palestinian problem is a last straw for some morally sensitive Jewish people, breaking their fraternity with Israel as a political entity, and I think that the good Rabbi, if himself a morally sensitive person, can’t be unaware of that. The complaints about the Kotel etc. may be very important to him but Dayan is right that these by themselves can’t really break fraternity or be a last straw because they only emphasise how dependent the rabbi and the Western Jewish communities are on spiritual resources and fountainheads that Israel controls.
        So I think he’s displacing his fear of lost fraternity by complaining of something that doesn’t quite turn that fear into reality.
        Perhaps all that is a bit of a rigmarole but I’ll try it on you.

      • Mooser
        December 2, 2017, 11:36 pm

        “dependent the rabbi and the Western Jewish communities are on spiritual resources and fountainheads that Israel controls”

        Huh? Are you under the impression that Israel is the Jewish Vatican? Or Canterbury? The “spiritual resources and fountainheads” of Judaism is the Jewish people, and they are anywhere. You are making us out a spiritual cargo-cult.

  3. lonely rico
    December 1, 2017, 3:21 pm

    > Dayan

    Because what’s the meaning of a last straw? Because after that last straw, what? We cease to be brothers?

    Faced with the criminality of your brothers Dayan, you must decide –

    If your moral principles (shalt not kill, shalt not steal …) are universal, you demand your brothers cease & desist, require that they be judged for their criminality.
    If however, your moral principles are contingent and do not apply to your brothers, let us hear no complaint if others choose (according to their principles) to murder your brothers.

  4. Mooser
    December 1, 2017, 3:53 pm

    ” We cease to be brothers? We cease to belong to the same people? That is unacceptable. “

    Of the brotherhood of man, we have no need. After all, we outnumber them.

  5. yonah fredman
    December 1, 2017, 5:04 pm

    In fact most American Jews are getting a divorce from the Jews, so the divorce from Israel is no big thang.

    • Mooser
      December 1, 2017, 7:08 pm

      “In fact most American Jews are getting a divorce from the Jews, so the divorce from Israel is no big thang”

      You bet, “yonah”! Israel doesn’t need American Jews, Israel can get whatever it wants from Christian Zionists.
      And of course, after the divorce, Israel will always get the same political support, and money from American Jews in spite of it. Alimony and child support must be paid.
      It’ll be one of those amicable divorces.

  6. Kathleen
    December 2, 2017, 4:36 am

    PW “His warning is an indication of how much Israel depends on the political support of American Jews” Along with economic support from American Jews for decades.

    If Dayan wants American Jews who are waking up to the human rights crimes that Israel has committed over seven decades and Israel to go into marriage counseling. The partners have to admit their serious and deadly mistakes, bare their souls and the facts, come to the negotiating table and compromise. Stop expanding old illegal settlements and making plans to build new one’s.

    With Israel there is no compromise as we witness more of the illegally occupied territories swallowed up by more illegal settlements. Appears that even the desperation and longing for a safe homeland for Jews along with the threat that decades of blind support and political and media cover that American Jews and others have been willing to provide for Israel is in decline is not enough for Israel to change it’s illegal and immoral ways. To be in marriage counseling Israel would have to become an honest, reflective and humble partner willing to work on changing their abusive and oppressive ways. Not happening,

    It appears there is a trial separation between some American Jews and Israel taking place as the sad and very deadly facts sink in .

  7. JWalters
    December 2, 2017, 4:47 am

    Dani Dayan’s deluded arrogance is beyond the pale.

  8. Kathleen
    December 2, 2017, 4:51 am

    Phil/others do you think that the spotlight on Flynn’s lobbying efforts to get Russia to vote against the UN resolution that Egypt drew up condemning Israel’s illegal settlements will possibly bring the push for requiring Aipac and other I lobbyist to sign up under FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) to the discussion table?

    Noticed the other day on Andrea Mitchell’s report during her program she and David Ignatius were dong their best not to bring up that part of Flynn’s foreign policy negotiations while Obama was still in office . They brought up Flynn’s lobbying efforts for Turkey and lifting sanctions against Russia, However they were silent about Flynn’s lobbying efforts with Russia that were for Israel .

  9. eljay
    December 2, 2017, 11:50 pm

    … Natan Sharansky … said that Jews have “mutual history” for 3500 years, whether in Israel or America. That is very different from the “very serious practical problem” of how to get along with Palestinians, with whom Israeli Jews “don’t share the 3500 years of history.” …

    Yup, it’s a very serious practical problem when an indigenous Palestinian population is unwilling to vacate their homes and lands so that people the world over who share the religion-based identity of Jewish can establish in Palestine a religion-supremacist state.

    Thank goodness gawd created and gifted unto Zionists “necessary evil” to help them resolve this very serious practical problem.

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