The wicked sons

Jews who disparage Israel and their fellow Jews are today’s wicked sons and daughters.

Peter Beinart (photo credit: J Street)
Peter Beinart
(photo credit: J Street)
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Peter Beinart called for Jews not only to boycott Israeli products produced beyond the 1949 armistice lines, but also to lobby more broadly against Israeli economic interests. Though he undoubtedly intends his position to catapult him to prominence among liberal American Jews, this argument instead firmly plants him in the small fringe camp of Jewish pseudo-intellectuals who set themselves apart from, and usually above, the rest of their people.
These Jewish Israel-detractors almost always wrap themselves in their Judaism before lashing out at their fellow Jews. Beinart writes in his op-ed, “I am a committed Jew.
I belong to an Orthodox synagogue, send my children to Jewish school and yearn to instill in them the same devotion to the Jewish people that my parents instilled in me. Boycotting other Jews is a painful, unnatural act. But the alternative is worse.”
The alternative to which Beinart alludes, of course, is supporting Israelis’ rights to elect their own leaders who set their own policies in the democratic state of Israel.
In this same column, Beinart admits Israel is not the “worst” human rights abuser, though he does not acknowledge that in fact Israel has among the best human rights records, certainly in the Middle East if not in the world. But he insists that even so, a boycott might make Israel a more perfect democracy. You see, Israel should be held to a separate, unachievable standard.
In December, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman backhandedly proclaimed his Jewishness, writing, “I’d never claim to speak for American Jews, but I’m certain there are many out there like me... who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today.”
The thrust of Friedman’s column was that the freely-elected prime minister of Israel is leading his nation toward corruption of the very character of the state, as defined by Friedman. He opines that the score of standing ovations Netanyahu received in Congress last year were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” In other words, Jews and their money control the Congress of the United States.
Friedman later tried to walk back the “bought and paid for” phrase, choosing to substitute the words “engineered by.” One can assume Friedman means that, even without using their money, Jews are wily enough to twist the American government to their aims.
M. J. Rosenberg, of Media Matters Action Network, takes it a step further by invoking his connection to the Holocaust.
“My wife was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany to Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust.
Many in the family didn’t, including my wife’s uncle, for whom our oldest son is named, who was caught by the Nazis putting up posters in Warsaw urging resistance. He was gassed in Maidanek along with his young sister, just engaged to be married.”
This is the same posting in which Rosenberg vows he will no longer use the term “Israel-firster,” originally coined by historian Abram Sachar with one meaning that Rosenberg employed with a distinctly different and thoroughly pejorative denotation, namely that American Jews who disagree with his views disloyally put the interests of Israel above the interests of the United States.
Though Rosenberg will no longer slander others as “Israel-firsters,” he will refrain only because the term “has proven to be a distraction” from his argument that American Jews who disagree with his views disloyally put the interests of Israel above the interests of the United States.
Beinart, Friedman, Rosenberg and others in this clique of Jewish Israel-detractors decry charges of anti-Semitism. Yet they actively hold Israel and Jews to an unattainable double standard, promote the idea that Jews secretly control, or attempt to control, global politics and disseminate charges that Jews are a disloyal fifth column. To say this is not anti-Semitism is to say The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is not anti-Semitic.
These Jewish Israel-detractors disparage “geriatric” pro-Israel Americans, pretending to speak for young, cool Jews. How ironic, then, that they personify a concept illustrated in the Haggada, written, according to scholars, in the third or fourth century.
Israel’s Jewish defamers are the embodiment of the Wicked Son who, had he been in Egypt at the Exodus, would not have been redeemed. What makes this son wicked and unworthy of redemption? Only that he sets himself apart from, and above, the rest of his people.
The stories in the ancient Passover ritual may be unhip for the self-referential yet one can hardly deny their truth and timelessness.
As for today’s wicked sons and daughters, Jews who disparage Israel and their fellow Jews, who have an oversized platform but a minimal following, it is time for the truly pro-Israel Jewish community to turn to another page in the Haggada and chant, “Dayeinu.”
We have had enough.
The writer is international letterwriting director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Any opinions expressed above are solely her own.