Monday, March 23, 2015

On Reaching an Existential Tipping Point

When I started this blog almost six years ago part of my my intention was to stimulate your senses, your memories, your emotions, to elicit a reaction from you, pro and con. One truth I wish all journalists, particularly bloggers, had was the understanding that they are not the sole repositories of truth. Divergent opinions exist and sometimes might even be more correct. Accordingly, I welcome feedback, either directly to me at or by posting a comment at the bottom of each blog by clicking on the “No Comments” link (I know it sounds counterintuitive but that’s how Blogspot works). 

Last week’s post on the existential threats facing Israel and the United States ( elicited more than the usual level of feedback including this heartfelt response from a friend whose identity will remain anonymous. Please favor it by reading it through and, if you are so moved, contribute to the dialogue: 

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am by no means a Bibi (Netanyahu) fan. I was actually quite upset that he was re-elected and thought it was time for him to go and maybe let some fresh ideas come through. Going to Congress, while it was an electrifying environment and moment, was ill-timed and, of course, the crude attempt to galvanize the electorate with the “NO” two-state solution was appalling. But in spite of that, Israeli voters do have a right to fear for their existence and we hardly could, from our cushiony high-chairs, dictate to them how to feel or tell them that they bought Bibi’s bridge. And, yes, the right-wingers here and abroad stand for many things that you (and sometimes even a center right/left person like me) can deride.

BUT my question is this…. it is a hypothetical but very real question, given the current trends and facts on the ground. At what TIPPING point do you say to yourself (forget about the blogging of it), that Obama and a growing number of Democrats no longer have any interest in Israel (no matter who is in power in Israel)? That Israel just gets in the way of a new wave of American contraction and isolationism (being able to defend militarily against a nuclear threat from Iran is not the “real” existential threat here). 

At what point does an American Jew say that Obama and my so called “parents’” Democratic Party no longer defends or represents my interests and I need to stand up against my own party to stop the Anti-Israel bashing or silence? At what point does the antenna go up or one wakes up from sleep and one realizes that, while anti-Israel criticism is acceptable or even a democratic right of speech, more and more of the world (including America) is using it as a veiled pre-text towards anti-Semitism and we are slowly but surely becoming collectively guilty of letting it grow by not speaking out against it or rationalizing to ourselves that it is Ok and either acceptable or will just pass?

Will that TIPPING occur when, as a result of academic boycotts, Jews are no longer allowed in certain schools? Will that TIPPING occur when a Jew is killed on campus for being a Jew? Will it occur when your grandchildren apply to prestigious colleges and are politely rejected (like in South Africa)? 

Will it occur when a school rejects a Jew from a student council because she is engaged in Jewish organizations (kind of happened already in California!!)? Or when a university board actually adopts a BDS resolution that applies to all of Israel? Or does it occur when police have to guard our shuls from possible attack (oh! Isn’t that already happening!), or does it occur when the police maybe no longer answer, or delay, the “protective” call and no longer investigate acts of anti-Semitism? At what point does mainstream Jewry collectively say, “We’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t end well!!”?

My point is not to say we are there yet (Israel is still overwhelmingly supported but Democratic support is decreasing and becoming increasingly “soft”), but rather at some point every Jew, no matter their ideological bent, should create a very clear marker of when that tipping occurs (I think we are pretty darn close to that tipping point in Europe). 

And don’t for a second think that American Jews aren’t nervous and thinking about it as we speak (it is topic number one among many center/progressive non-Orthodox Jews), as they hear every day of Obama threatening to stop supporting Israel in the UN and letting Israel hang to dry. These aren’t idle political threats. Obama is foretelling you his future actions (it is always his MO of taking a position and not let go of it) and is petulant enough to “teach Bibi a lesson” by throwing Israel under the bus.  

Do we really believe that anti-Israel sentiment is somehow good for American Jews? Can we just ignore it or somehow defend it if it grows and becomes very mainstream? Are we so na├»ve that we believe that one can divorce anti-Israel rhetoric from anti-Semitic rhetoric? Or when many performers sign on to boycotting all of Israel?  

So at what point do Jews who support Obama actually start to get a reality check and push-back against Obama’s veiled (well, it’s not so veiled anymore) non-support of Israel which purposely green-lights others to engage in anti-Israel behavior (or do we continue with the status quo type of thinking that this is all the right-wing’s fault), before some real intractable damage is done? Just asking!!!

I am just asking these questions, not to elicit debate or convince you of anything, but to maybe (I use that term lightly) make you think of where the line is and when is it actually crossed (I don’t expect an answer). If history is of any guidance, maybe it is better if one is delusional and over-reactive on anti-Israel or anti-Semitic sensitivities, than under-react and realize it when it is much too late.  I can with great certainty say, that my antennae are currently rising!!!  You’ll have plenty to write about over the next two years.