Jews all over the world and in Israel are facing a set of serious crossroads
this year as we head into the New Year.
Whether we accept it or not and
whether we like it or not, we are becoming increasingly Disrespected, Threatened
and Isolated (DTI) as a people by forces both within and outside of Judaism.
This is not the first time in history this is happened, but if we don’t learn
from the past, we may be condemned to live with the very predictable results of
losing our religion, our peoplehood and our right to
The external threats are well known and include,
anti-Semitism, religious fundamentalism, political isolation through public and
silent boycotts, quotas, stereotyping, terrorism and even genocidal threats.
Cruel as these may sound, we have survived these before.
It is the
internal threats and lack of agreement over communal purpose that very much
threatens our traditional strengths and ability to withstand the external
What was once an old joke about Jewish people is now a fissure
in the dyke that may not stop the floods of destruction when the dam gives
Two Jews, three opinions, the joke goes. That joke has become a
reality that may be prove the undoing of our people.
The fact of the
matter is that as a community we are so deeply divided and disrespectful to one
another we have stopped talking to one another and only preach to our own choirs
without threading the fabric of internal coalitions and strengthening the
We are a deeply divided community allowing important issues to
separate us and concentrating on internal Jewish organizational firing squads,
where sometimes your point of view is on the firing squad and some time it’s up
against the wall. Either way, we are hurting ourselves in ways that no external
I have spent my entire life in volunteer Jewish communal
service with US-based organizations, international Jewish organizations and
Israeli-based organization and I am seeing a growing disconnect of common
purpose, duplication of effort and waste of increasingly limited resources, as
well as marginal effectiveness of efforts by organizations, many of which are
spending more and more money while losing more and more effectiveness because of
inability to appeal to our better natures, but only to our fears and
I have watched organizations become increasingly less
connected with grassroots members and more focused on the myopic visions of a
Many of us have become too comfortable, too complacent or
simply too busy to hold organizations that supposedly represent our interests
accountable for actually representing our interests.
We are solicited
annually at this time of year by scores of charities and organizations
representing the alphabet soup of Jewish organizations, from the American
Association of Active Jews to the Zionist World Association of Active Jews, and
from A Street to J Street to Z Street, each claiming to have our best interests
While it is good to have choices, these organizations frequently
present diametrically opposed prescriptions for solving problems for which Jews
need to be united and of singular purpose. The unintended consequence of having
so many organizations allegedly representing our best interests is that they
further divide and splinter us and our resources, thus diluting our overall
effectiveness to speak with common purpose.
To this end, we must have our
Jewish communal organizations, as many as possible, come together on statements
to educate our own people as well as the rest of the world on: 1) The right of
Jewish people to self-determination, national liberation and a sovereign state
of Israel within safe and secure borders.
2) Our own statement as to what
constitutes anti-Semitism and what does not.
3) A statement on the
inappropriateness of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.
statement of common purpose for all the signatories to these messages and an
invitation to all Jews and people of good will to support these common
It is good to have within group discussion, debate and even
disagreement, but at the end of the day, we must be focused and present to the
world a united voice, or the external threats to our existence may become forces
which we cannot resist as we have in the past. It is a sad fact that we are
becoming increasingly divided and my concern is that we do not become once again
With that concern, let wish all the hard-working volunteers
and professionals in all Jewish organizations a happy and healthy New Year,
filled with renewed purpose, resources and successes for all of us.The
writer is president emeritus and co-founder of Scholars for Peace in the Middle
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