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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On American Jews and Moral Elitism

Another piece from my first blog, The Anti-Imperialism of Fools, worth revisiting

This article by Gil Troy sums up much of my thinking about the moral elitism that many well-meaning American Jews suffer. At its heart is a stubborn refusal to acknowledge that no amount of Israeli good will or sechel (intellect) - of which, these Jews see themselves as possessing in massive quantities - by Israel's leaders can magically bring peace to the Jewish state, and that, as Troy states, is has become un-pc to:
"acknowledge [in regards to Hamas, Hezbollah, and other radical groups] that we are dealing with a different culture and a murderous ideology,"
This ideology, it should be pointed out, doesn't share our assumptions about tolerance, pluralism, and peace.

But, Troy is also making a broader point about a Western Jewish world that has become so well-off, and lives in such freedom, comfort, and safety in the nations where they reside, that they have lost the sense of what it means to have to struggle for your existence, to have to take up arms and fight for your life, your family, your community, your nation, the right to live freely as Jews in a world (and certainly a part of the world) that is still hostile to such modest aims.

No matter how openly hostile Israel's enemies are to their existence, no matter how serious and complex the myriad of threats that Israelis face are, such a disconnect results in an inability to empathize with such fears - the very real concerns of Jews whose lives aren't as easy as theirs.

Still, many of these Jews insist, they do indeed feel bad about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do spend countless hours worrying about it, decrying the violence, and hoping for a resolution, to which Troy stresses,
"We need warrior Jews, not worrier Jews. Israelis should justifiably say: “don’t cry for us New York Jewry (and elsewhere). Our State, for all its challenges, is thriving. Our neighbors – and the world – need fixing.”
Among the more silly statements by an American Jewish organization during Israel's Operation Cast Lead - and one which perfectly illustrates the disconnect I'm referring to - was issued by the new left-wing Israel lobby group, J Street, when they issued a press release scolding Israel for its behavior and pointing out that, “only diplomacy and negotiations can end the rockets and terror.”

I'm truly baffled how anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of the democratic world's experience in the last century battling totalitarian and terrorist movements can seriously make such a claim. And - as a new Israeli who now must burden the real-world consequences of such facile notions about war, peace, diplomacy, and the right to self-defense - I nervously ponder the degree to which such ideas have planted roots and taken hold within the American Jewish community.