Dr. Sean Maguire could not bring himself to attend one of those pretentious alumni events his school held every so often. However, due to the insistence of his recently-reconciled friend Professor Gerald Lambeau, that these affairs were not as stuck-up or vainglorious as he had thought, he was considering attending. In a dive bar in South Boston he finally relented, looking up at Gerald and saying, “why don’t you come, I’ll buy you a drink.” Gerald, with a smug look on his face replied “the drinks at those things are free.” Now it is Dr. Sean’s time to be smug, as he looked back at his old pal and said, “I know Gerry, I was being ironical.” Professor Lambeau was unable to suppress his arrogance, and in doing so, made the case for the very point he was arguing against.

The fact that this conversation actually took place between Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgard in a scene from Good Will Hunting does not make the point any less cogent. Often times, when people are defensive or unsure of their true ideals, they can end up unwittingly arguing against themselves. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and the Jewish Federations of North America both committed that very mistake this week.

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Both Goldberg and the JFNA rallied this week against a new ad campaign by the Israeli government to bring Israelis living in America back home. The mounting pressure, due to these mischievous and/or misguided sentiments, eventually led Prime Minister Netanyahu to cowardly pull the ads.

In one video (now removed from Youtube), assimilation is addressed as a child fails to realize that it is Channukah, and instead tells her grandparents that it is Christmas. Goldberg derisively labeled this “in-your-face” advertising. Aside from the fact that the entire point of advertising is to be in everyone’s face, the simple truth is that the message of this ad rang completely true. Perhaps Goldberg and the JFNA didn’t receive an invitation to this year’s Maryland University Jewish Community ‘Chagloween’ party, commemorating the classic biblical occurrence of Moses and his barely-there costume on Old Hollows Eve. Perhaps they can discuss this disdainful commercial at the next birthday party someone from the Modern Orthodox community throws at the ‘almost-kosher’ California Pizza Kitchen. Assimilation is real, and the fact that the Israeli government cares enough to want to protect its citizens from it is a source of great pride for me as a Jew, regardless of where I live.

Why shouldn’t the Israeli government try to bring more Jews home? Is it so far-fetched to assume that an American Jew may have a problem fully appreciating the pain felt by an Israeli on Yom Hazikaron, like in this ‘controversial’ ad?


I have been living in Israel for five years now and I know that I will never fully understand the sorrow of this day on the same level as a Sabra.

The JFNA claims that they are “strongly opposed to the messaging that American Jews do not understand Israel.” Goldberg, not to be outdone, cannot help but add parenthetically that “intermarriage can be understood as an opportunity” (an opportunity to once and for all eradicate his obvious shame of being Jewish perhaps?).  Their dishonesty (Goldberg intentionally mistranslated “they will not always understand” as “they will never understand”) or disillusion is exactly the danger the Israeli government is trying to save their people from by beckoning them home. Mr. Goldberg and the JFNA have made the point for them. Jews like Goldberg and the leaders of the JFNA are precisely the problem with American Jewry. It is tragic that Bibi truckled to the pressure of these confused and overly sensitive American Jewish personalities.

So shame on Jeffrey Goldberg and the JFNA, but also, thank you both for showing everyone just how deeply your heads are buried in the sand and what exactly we are up against. And yes, when I say thank you I am being ironical.
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