Israel is now in its 75th anniversary this year, how incredible is that, considering that a short while before the first Independence Day its very existence was in question? Meanwhile, Jews worldwide are also struggling to maintain their own identity while the tide of Anti-Semitism threatens their very existence. It’s like the story of Israel’s birth pangs is being adapted for G-d forbid a more morbid outcome for those living in the Jewish Diaspora.
Is it possible or even desirable to stem this relentless onslaught against our kin in foreign lands? I say desirable because the view from outside looking in at our lives in Israel is often clouded with misinformation and even blind hatred against the existence of an entity that runs counter to the idea that Jews can belong in a Diaspora. Accordingly, the question of it being possible to do something positive to help our brothers in distress is somewhat also dependent upon recipients being receptive to such assistance.
Meanwhile, sadly as usual, many Jews do a great job of turning against each other.
Despite the fact that reform, conservative, and other less orthodox streams of Judaism include those considered fully Jewish from the most fundamental of Jewish laws, the mere membership of an alternative branch of religious adherence marks them as an enemy by more orthodox followers. But, this is not a one-way tirade. Leaders of these same sects equally target the orthodox. I stress the leaders, as by its very definition, being a follower means having to follow a leadership. Where does that leave those in between whose feelings of animosity is often something that stems from an external source, in this case another branch of Judaism?
It’s often overlooked that these same followers are raised in an environment that encourages them to strongly feel the pangs of bitterness towards those raised in other Jewish ‘sects’ and so the righteous justification of their cause grows without restraint. Where has this led us?
The Curse Of Demonization
This continuous hatred against other Jews has led to previously unheard of depths. Jewish settlers are demonized, based on their own faith and geographical location. Facts on the ground, like the thousands of innocent babies that also happen to be raised in Jewish settlements, the unrecorded good deeds that include Settlers enjoying friendly relations with local Arabs, and much more, get conveniently left out of the dialogue from those preaching another form of Judaism. On the other hand some in the right wing often regard the act of being right, almost as a religion of its own. That leads to demonizing Jews who belong to the same sects as those who demonize them. Therefore, is being a member of an alternative Jewish culture, in itself, part of the double-edged sword that tears our people apart from within?
The gay movement is perhaps one example of how membership of an entity can render the individual lives of its followers secondary to that of the movement. It has always been a known fact that adolescence involves experimentation, a journey of self-discovery, which shouldn’t be harnessed and sidelined to suit the goals of politically minded leaders. But this is precisely what happens. Each person has the right of choice, and that includes experimentation. It also includes their Jewish birthright that fully explored, can lead to another more conventional lifestyle. But these same followers are also trapped in a movement that can only thrive by holding their subjects to a concept that begs for not only universal acceptance, but like most ‘us and them’ environments, a need to undermine anything that is not part of their own homemade culture. Accordingly, orthodox Jews only see the external façade of these movements while simultaneously despising and demonizing its followers, regardless of individual lives. Conversely, those trapped in these movements are denied the chance to explore Jewish concepts about sexual issues. Next, what of really external issues that can effect all the above-mentioned movements, however remotely associated with Judaism.
The Holocaust taught as well. Jews of all persuasions, homosexuals, among others deemed as society outcasts, all shared the same tragic fate. And today, despite many fringe Jewish groups aligning their cause with declared enemies of Israel, they too are targeted by the same bedmates based on showing any form of Jewish identity in the first place. Then like any person with their back to the wall, they seek a way out through associating more with their prosecutors by going to new extremes of justification for their self-righteous beliefs. This is the foundation of the anti-Semitic verse anti-Zionist dialogue.
Israelis will blame Jews in the Diaspora for their predicament, many stating with righteous indignation that the State of Israel is actually the root cause of Anti-Semitism in the first place. Ouch! And so the schism grows.
We will explore this question further in the next part of this article. Meanwhile, we should take to heart the none to subtle difference between how we perceive ourselves, that is how Jews view other Jews, as opposed to how non-Jews regard us. When a point of view gives way to physical abuse, then the difference becomes much more distinct and worrisome. The Jewish nation as a whole is still reeling from the aftermath of the atrocious Holocaust. As long as we still have survivors in our midst who can testify that what happened is not just something we can close the pages of a history book to make it all go away, then as a collective people, we still have the opportunity to learn the dreadful lesson of a not too distant past. The question however is how we interpret those events and put things into action to prevent any repeat in our own times? We can more easily tackle the external threat from those seeking our collect time harm. They can be identified, isolated, and subject to a plan to block their demonic efforts. But what of the internal threat, from Jews subjecting other Jews to damnation? And this is precisely what we are having to face in our daily lives.
Questions Outweigh Answers
There are no simple answers seeing how divided we’ve become. Nothing new there really! But, that shouldn’t prevent us from seeking solutions to finding common ground, if nothing more than standing united against external threats of a more physical nature.