Bari Weiss, the conservative NYT opinion page editor, is a romantic Zionist. She believes that Israel has united the Jewish people. Last night that passion overcame her when she said that “you better believe” that the leftwing non-Zionist Jewish group IfNotNow welcomed rightwing Israeli officials coming to Pittsburgh to express condolences in the wake of the Oct. 27 massacre at the synagogue — because all were expressing the unified spirit of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel.
Weiss’s comments came after Batya Ungar-Sargon of the Forward said on a panel in a New York temple last night that Israeli officials were “gaslighting” American Jews by flying into Pittsburgh and diverting blame from Donald Trump, when American Jews blame Trump, because American Jewish values are civil rights.
Bari Weiss then broke in.
Our values are other things other than civil rights, Batya. Our values are also the fact that we are alive for the Jewish return to political sovereignty– the idea that we would celebrate that! I’m sorry… — I was in Pittsburgh, I’m from that community, I spent the week there, I was bat mitzvah’ed in that synagogue. I could not tell you — even among the Jews who were showing up for IfNotNow and Bend the Arc and protesting Trump– you better believe they liked the fact that Ron Dermer and Naftali Bennett showed up in the same way that Israeli officials show up after the shooting of a Hypercacher in France.
It’s sending a message that we are all one, Am Yisrael [the people of Israel]. To politicize that I just think is wrong.
IfNotNow said today, “we were not grateful” to see Education Minister Naftali Bennett and ambassador Ron Dermer come to Pittsburgh. IfNotNow pointedly slammed Bennett at the time for his intolerance of refugees, attitudes it said the synagogue killer shared, and it said that Bennett does “not speak” for American Jews.
IfNotNow is deadset against the Israeli occupation and Trump’s policies on refugees. It is even more critical than Ungar-Sargon of Bennett and Dermer, both of whom sought to use the Pittsburgh massacre to demonize support for Palestinians.
Weiss’s need/desire to unify the Jewish community around the suffering in Pittsburgh obviously has a political component, despite her view that the event should not be politicized. We should all be Zionists and rejoice in Jewish sovereignty in Israel. Her comments last night often had this emotional appeal, for instance when she called on Israel to abolish the official rabbinate, so that American Jews will feel welcome in Israel.
Ungar-Sargon said that young American Jews reject the occupation. She said Bennett’s “fantasy of Israel has an apartheid component to it,” on the West Bank; and she said the Jewish Agency should direct all its efforts to ending the occupation.
P.S. Thanks to Dave Reed for noting that David Klion smartly hopped on this today; I was there last night and planned to get to it later…