Saturday, December 24, 2005

Good Jews, Bad Jews . . . and Uncle Jake?

I found this article in Commentary Magazine. It's a disturbing little article on how some European Jews have found common cause with the anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian/pro-terrorist/Jew-haters.
Can the disease that is Zionism be cured? Yes, Rose and others assure us, but only by a thorough-going renunciation. In the pre-Israel past, she writes, “dissident voices” in the Jewish world warned against the terrible consequences that would flow from the effort to win a state for the Jews; although silenced and repressed then, they are needed more then ever today, during the Jews’ “dark night of the soul.”

No one can say that such voices have not been forthcoming. In the August 8, 2002 Guardian, 45 Jewish signatories, in a widely hailed act of public abjuration, repudiated their right of return to the Jewish state on account of its racist policies. Since the statement’s original publication, it has been signed by over 80 more individuals from around the world. One of the organizers subsequently explained that what motivated him to act was the “pitiless violence” of his “blood relatives,” i.e., the Israeli people—the “violence,” as he put it, of the “traumatized former victim, clinging to past wounds from generation unto generation.”

The publicity attending this and similar initiatives by European Jews, abetted in some cases by their Israeli counterparts, has been very great. There was tremendous excitement in Europe over the declaration by 99 Israeli academics that their government was planning an imminent “full-fledged ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian people (a charge that was not withdrawn when the alleged genocidal atrocity failed to occur), and again over the refusal of a few hundred Israeli army reservists to serve in the administered territories. There was even greater excitement when several European Jewish academics turned up among the instigators of a movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and yet again when a number of Jewish politicians called for the boycott of Israeli commercial products.

Among the latter group was the British parliamentarian Oona King, who in June 2003, comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza with the Nazi treatment of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, spoke of her personal “shame” as a “Jewish person” (her father is Jewish). A year later, Gerald Kaufman, another member of the British Parliament, called for a boycott of Israeli goods on similar grounds, as, in South Africa, did Ronnie Kasrils, a government minister: “As a person who was born Jewish, I am morally obliged to speak out against what is being done by the Zionist state of Israel to the Palestinian people.”

Many others have likewise seen it as their specifically Jewish duty to denounce Israel. Their ranks include all three proponents of a motion, “Zionism is the real enemy of the Jews today,” aired at a public debate in London early this year. One of them was the historian Avi Shlaim. Like others before him, he too felt the need to advertise his Jewish virtuousness by writing about it for publication. In a subsequent op-ed in the International Herald Tribune, he justified the implacable anti-Zionism on which he has based his academic career by appealing to a faith he does not appear ever to have practiced: “One of the greatest accolades in Judaism,” he instructed his readers, “is to be a rodef shalom, a seeker of peace.”

[ . . . ]

Unlike the case in pre-Enlightenment Europe, present-day anti-Semitism does not expect Jews to abandon their religion. Today’s Europe is a self-consciously multicultural society. Although it cherishes secularism above all, it respects, if somewhat warily, religious pluralism. What the enlightened sector of today’s Europe would like Jews to do, in exchange for fully approved membership in the circle of approved opinion, is to renounce a core component of their identity: that is, their sense of Jewish peoplehood as expressed through their attachment and commitment to the democratic state of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise.
Unfortunately we have those "Good Jews" here in the United States and even in Israel. My only comment for them is, remember that the "Good Jews" who helped the Nazis were not spared the gas chambers. Their turns only came a bit later.

I was going to proudly claim my status as a "Bad Jew". Then I read this Dennis Prager column. The column opens with:
Jews who support the Christian right are "Uncle Jakes."

So says a pro-Israeli Jewish official in his recent column for the Israel Policy Forum, a pro-Israel organization. "Uncle Jake" is M. J. Rosenberg's term for Jewish equivalent of "Uncle Tom." Just as the left sees conservative blacks as traitors to African-Americans, so it sees conservative Jews as traitors to the Jewish people. I am the "Uncle Jake" most criticized in the Rosenberg column.

That a Jew on the left would use this term to describe Jews who support conservative Christians gives one an idea of how irrational, how hysterical are the arguments of the Jewish (and non-Jewish) left. And lacking a rational basis, they frequently rely on name-calling.
Of course I had to read Mr. Rosenberg's column. The origin of Rosenberg's "Uncle Jake" is as follows:
The concept of Jews taking positions hostile to the Jewish people in order to stay faithful to some political agenda is not an especially new phenomenon. Jews on the left have often gone along with stands hostile to Jews, Judaism and Israel to avoid being out of step with their political allies.

In fact, the very first article I ever had published, in New York's left-wing "Village Voice," was an attack on leftist Jews who were, like me, opposed to the Vietnam War but, unlike me, supported the left’s agenda on everything, including Israel.

"These are our Uncle Toms," I wrote "And our shame."

I even coined a name for them. "Let's Call Them Uncle Jakes," I wrote. (I chose the name Uncle Jake because, in 1969, Jake was a stereotypically uncool Jewish name. That was before a studly character on the hit show Melrose Place in the 1990's was called "Jake Hansen" and well before a Jewish actor named Jake Gyllenhaal became the hottest young star around. Nowadays Jake is a cool name for kids, Jewish and not).
While there are Jews who, as we've seen from the Commentary article do work to subvert Judaism, the name calling really bothers me. It's infantile, counterproductive, and as when Margaret Cho referred to Michelle Malkin as a "race traitor" because Malkin had the audacity to deviate from the Left's "minority as victim of white racist oppression" script, and write a book in defense of the WWII internment of Japanese Americans (which Cho never read), it can be just stupid. Speaking of which, later, Mr. Rosenberg informs us that:
Most of today's "Uncle Jakes" are on the right

[ . . . ]

Right-wing Jews, have not only endorsed the right’s view on Christmas, they have signed on the dotted line to endorse the entire Christian Right agenda: opposing abortion, poverty programs, progressive taxation, laws that protect gays, affirmative action, the environmental movement, and feminism. The list goes on and on and will be added to each time the Christian Right comes up with a new issue (like Terry Schiavo) to use as a wedge for dividing Americans from each other.

[ . . . ]

Prager himself gives part of the answer when he says that, for Jews, "the one issue that overwhelms all others is the security of Israel." For Prager, it's simple. The Christian Right supports an uncompromising hard-line on Israel and despises the Palestinians; therefore Jews should support the Christian Right.

He conveniently ignores the fact that Christian Right support for Israel is largely based on a religious belief that Christ will only return after Jews are all in Israel accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ.
But, as Dennis Prager retorts,
That is the lie about Christians that the left spreads to prevent Jews from knowing the truth about Christian support for Israel: that it is rooted overwhelmingly in the beliefs that G-d promised the return of the Jews to Israel, that Christians are grafted onto the tree of Israel, that G-d blesses those who bless the Jews, that Israel is a humane democracy and its enemies are bloodthirsty and backward regimes.

To Rosenberg, conservative Christians are a caricature.

Rosenberg's charges that Jews who support Christian conservatives do so from nefarious motives and that Christians who support Israel do so from nefarious motives is typical of the left. They judge motives, not deeds. And the reason is clear. They are so certain of their moral superiority, they can only deduce that all those who differ with them are bad people. That's how a Jew who has devoted his life to the Jewish people can be called an Uncle Jake.
I wouldn't put myself in the same league as Dennis Prager when it comes to service to the Jewish community, but I'm prepared to go beyond "Bad Jew" status. You can call me Uncle Jake.

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