Becoming increasingly disrespected, threatened and isolated

We are a deeply divided community allowing important issues to separate us and concentrating on internal Jewish organizational firing squads.

By EDWARD S. BECK
September 1, 2013 21:53
4 minute read.
Boycotting Israel

Israel boycott 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

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 self-determination.

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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 threats.

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 way.

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 weaves.



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 threats can.

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 differences.

I have watched organizations become increasingly less connected with grassroots members and more focused on the myopic visions of a few leaders.

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 in mind.

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.

4) A 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 purposes.

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 conquered.

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 East.


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