Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Glass Houses on Yom Kippur

As we get ready for Yom Kippur and begin contemplation of such heady matters as atonement, responsibility and unity, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what Sultan Knish is up to these days. As always, I was not disappointed, and quickly found something to get the old bile going. Sultan, in his ever-so-black-and-white binary way, has important news for all of us. Not surprisingly, it's pretty much the same old message as ever: there is a right and a wrong, and guess who's who?
In the same way that for Americans in general the 2008 Presidential election at the committed activist level serves to winnow out those who understand what America is and what it is meant to be from those who despise what America is and seek to destroy it-- the election winnows out those Jews who have a Jewish identity from those who have a liberal identity wrapped in foil thin Star of David gift wrap.

How fortunate that elections offer objective demonstrations of who does and doesn't understand "what America is." This is particularly funny since Sultan is by his own admission voting for the (twice-) lesser evil, first having supported Giuliani, and then Romney, over McCain. Question: if you're voting for someone you don't really like and have major disagreements with, who really exactly is the one that "really" understands America? You or your candidate? Or do you split the difference?

The assimilationist agenda of liberal American Jewry has metastasized with each succeeding generation to produce two Jewish Americas, one of committed religious Jews and one that has reduced Jewishness to an ethnic joke in the service of a liberal creed.

Long live inane stereotypes. Because Jews, of all people, know just how easy people fit into "one or the other" categories. And stereotypes flow the other way, too. We could just as easily pick on the "committed religious Jews" as being the ones who don't mind supporting pedophilia in yeshivas or inhumane "kosher" slaughter as long as they can brag that their kid's learning Talmud or they don't have to pay extra for their kosher hamburgers.
A river now flows between us and many of those on the other side of the river are not even Jewish in the ethnic sense and few are religious in any sense. Their belief system is liberalism, their synagogue is the activist's bus, their prayer book was written by Saul Alinsky and their messiah is Barack Hussein Obama.

As usual, Sultan is big on rhetoric and low on facts. My prayerbook informs me it was written by the "Mishkan T'Filah siddur committee," which includes a Yoel, David, Peter, Elliot, several Elyses, Simons and Samuels, and, God help us, someone named Yeroham, but not a single Saul. Incidentally, how many liberal Jews had even heard of Saul Alinsky before a few weeks ago, much less worshipping the pearls of wisdom he apparently excretes?
I have never had much in common with their kind, but today I have nothing in common with them at all, for the commonality of a people must be based on a mutual commitment to that people, and in their list of commitments Jews come worse than last, not simply neglected but sacrificed time and time again on the altar of liberalism.

Whether it is bus bombs going off in Israel or rioting mobs besieging the Jewish community of Crown Heights, time and time again they have stood with the Arafat's and Dinkins', the Sharptons' and Abbas' over their own brothers, which makes them no brothers of mine.

Here we get to the core of the problem, which people like Sultan do not appear to understand. The issue is not just mutual commitment to the greater idea of "the people", but also on mutual respect for each other and everyone that makes up that people. It is undebateable and undeniable that as the Orthodox world moves increasingly rightward, their distrust, hostility and antipathy towards their Jewish brothers and sisters who are different than them grows exponentially. The few sane voices in the Orthodox world who beg for understanding (because tolerance is apparently too far a stretch of the imagination) are marginalized and attacked by their own as being potential traitors to the cause.

There is a legitimate argument to make about liberal Jews not always supporting their Orthodox counterparts in their struggles. But I see very little evidence that supporting non-Orthodox Jews in pretty much anything (except, of course, becoming Orthodox) is even on anyone's radar in the Orthodox community. Different ventures by liberal Jews which DO seek to make their Judaism matter (be it new Reform prayerbooks or the new Conservative hechscher) are ridiculed or dismissed as pale imitations of the real, authentic, Torah-true product. There certainly are causes which should unite all Jews- but the Orthodox are not the only members of the Jewish people whose causes matter. Not all Israeli issues are necessarily or automatically
"pan-Jewish issues." And, let's be honest, not every issue is one on which all Jews can, or must agree in order to still be considered "good Jews." The right, be it religious or Zionist, does not always get to set the terms of the debate.

Sultan cannot decide which group of Jews he has more disdain for: he sneers over the grandchildren of today who suposedly have zero connection to Jewish values (it's not like those prophets cared about things like justice, right?) while also carping over betrayals in the 1940s of all those Jews who refused to vote FDR out of office.
Little wonder then that it is the senior citizens that represent the toughest demographic to hack because they have still preserved more Jewish values than their degraded grandchildren...

Sultan seems to have forgotten that the same Jews who were doing nothing (or not enough) during the 1940s are the same ones who have apparently "some" Jewish values today (apparently not voting for blacks is a "value;" who knew?) He is also confused when it comes to things like cause-and-effect; if today's young Jewish liberals are so degraded it is because they are the descandants of those original immigrants who, for all sorts of reasons, left the shtetl and its mindset behind. Values are a funny thing. I would not necessarily call most of my values Jewish per se, but they are family values. Then again, most of my family has not been Orthodox in over four generations. So who's to blame?

Sultan says Yom Kippur is a time for liberal Jews to forget their materialistic trappings and to repent for their worship of false idols. Fair enough, but they are not the only ones who have sinned, they are not the only ones who have fallen short. At least some of us are honest enough to admit our fallibility. Sultan says the Jewish identity of American liberal Jews is dead, and that the only ones who will live on will be those who cling to their people, ideals, beliefs, culture and identity. Ironically more liberal American Jews are doing this today than ever before. But Sultan and people like him do not want to see or admit this, because we are still not kosher enough for them. Luckily, we do not- and never have- needed sanction or approval from the Orthodox. Let them think of us what they will. We have endured. And we will keep going. But make no mistake: brotherhood is, and has always been, a two way street, and on the age-old problem of Jewish (dis-)unity, there is still plenty of blame to go around.

P.S. For a bad time, take a look at the post comments, too. Best line: "[liberals] are entirely true to their 'real' nature which isnt jewish at all."

Yeah, I feel really encouraged to come together and bond with these guys. Can't you just feel the brotherhood?


Jack said...

Too bad Sultan is such a happy guy. ;)

The Truffle said...

He really is unhinged, isn't he. And that sidekick of his, Lemon Lime Moon, is a couple of bricks short of a load as well.

When they say they have nothing in common with you, you should by all means take it as a compliment.

BBJ said...

Gosh, between me and my grandparents, I don't know how either Judaism or America is still standing. We keep recklessly voting for Democrats.