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WASHINGTON (RNS) A Wednesday hearing featured activists who fear that growing anti-Semitism in Europe threatens not only Jews, but other religious minorities and the ideal of tolerance in general.

12 Comments

  1. Daniel Hoffman

    Actions have consequences. When the world sees an 8 year old girl being called a “whore”, while walking to school in a long dress and a long sleeved shirt, because she did not meet the purity standard of the men whom the Israili and American governments pay to pray and study, the world says that Jews have no right to say they are morally superior to any other religious bigots. Israel has not exactly been a model of tollerance for Europe to look upon in awe and humility.

  2. Jews, as a group, are not lazy; they are workaholics. They are not just bright, they are very intelligent, and are very clever, as a group. I have been in Jerusalem, got lost, asked an Israeli for directions, and I was taken by the arm and led to my destination two blocks away. The Israelis were very gracious people. A problem develops for them, however, when the far right lead the political establishment. Unlike Rabin and others of the Labor Party, including Shimon Peres, the Likudniks are diehard Zionists who are ready to take the whole world into a war in order to maintain their hegemony in the ME vis-à-vis Iran, and all the others. Their clever propaganda has assured them of the rationale for their steadfast obstinacy in dealing with the Palestinians. When I saw at first hand how they treat the Palestinians, I lost any heart I had for their cause. We have literally armed them to the teeth, but they have no intention of living side by side with a bona fide Palestine. They have taken our country to a dead end with their maneuverings in the Congress, and in the Media, while their AIPAC oversees the bolstering of Israel in both establishments. This is raw political power they manifest. Now is recognizing this reality and saying these things anti-Semitism? Is it hate speech? Will it cast me in the shoe of being a perpetrator of hate crime with such speech? I should think not, but the likes of this congressman and others in the same boat think that it is, and that this is anti-Semitism, as such. It is not my definition of anti-Semitism.

    • Daniel Hoffman

      Kirby, we agree about Israilis in general being a wonderful people. As a progressive, I think it is unfair that anyone who is to the left of Sheldon Adledon and AIPAC has to defend themselves against the charge of anti-semitism. It’s like when we were called “un-American” and “traitors” because we knew the Republicans were lying about WMD’s in the runup to the Iraq war.
      What are your thoughts on Yesh Atid? I find reason for hope in them. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but their message of hope and respect is a breath of fresh air.

      • Daniel, it looks as though Yair Lapid wants to be PM. In this last election the party did very well and only time can and will tell where Lapid is actually coming from conceptually in ability to lead Israel into a really peaceful set of meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. My question re Lapid is how inclusive is he, really, when it comes to his vision for Israel’s future vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Again, only time will tell us. We can only hope and pray that Yesh Atid is on the right path. And they will have to have collusion with other parties to effect anything. Certainly, Netanyahu is not on the right path, and it almost seems to me that we will have to take Israel by the arm with strong arm, and walk it to the destination of a comprehensive peace so sorely needed not only in the ME but for the benefit of the whole world.

        • Daniel Hoffman

          Your point about Pallestinians is well taken. It is frustrating to me that Christians are literally spat upon daily in Old Jerusalem, by those who believe that their presence defiles it, and the police do nothing. The fact that American Christians don’t seem to mind is perplexing. A Christian whose ancestors have lived in the religion for centuries is called a “Pallestinian” and our press treats them as if they were a cancer to be excised from Israel.

          Yesh Atid, for all its merits, speaks of Pallistinians the same way Florida Democrats speak of Castro. Still, they do offer hope.

  3. Yes, Daniel, Israel has not always been a model of tolerance, but blaming it for anti-Semitism in Europe is false and dangerous reasoning. It is exactly the kind of reasoning the European left puts forward to justify the use of old racist stereotypes of Jews in their criticism of Israel.

    • Daniel Hoffman

      What you say is fair.

      The difficulty with identity politics, and my general objection to it wherever it may be found, is that when a group says that it is different others respond by saying that they are different, which makes the group upset because they are viewed as different. Resistance to assimilation is an overt rejection of the culture that you don’t want to assimilate into. If that culture responds by saying that you are not a part of it, why should that upset you? They are respecting the very request you made in the first place.
      A thin theory of identity politics can function in a pluralistic society. A thick one erects walls through that society and breaks it into factions.

  4. I am a modern Orthodox Jew who interacts in the secular and international world, as does my husband. How do we respond to social encounters when colleagues make stupid or insensitive remarks? So far, the best I can do is to remember to keep the high road. When I am cornered, I usually remark that people need to distinguish history from propaganda, and I try to be well read in history. “When you have read at least 5 books about Jewish History and understand what you are talking about then we will have that conversation” and make it clear that their behavior is hurtful.

    In one encounter, my husband remarked about the EU”s behavior during the Balkan conflicts and the individual quickly backed down and remained respectfully collegial afterwards.
    I would love to hear other peoples’ experiences in similar situations.

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