Of Grease Monkeys and Birthers

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Intolerance Everywhere: You never know when you will learn a stern lesson about the opinions held by many fellow Americans.
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Intolerance Everywhere: You never know when you will learn a stern lesson about the opinions held by many fellow Americans.

By Leonard Fein

Published August 04, 2012, issue of August 10, 2012.
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Here, I might have launched into yet another sermon on civility, but as it happens, such a sermon was preached by someone with whom I’ve had major differences in the past. I am referring to Rabbi Daniel Gordis, who was among the 41 people gathered by the Israel Policy Forum to express their vehement opposition to the conclusions of the Levy Commission report, the report that insisted on Israel’s sovereignty from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river. Gordis, writing in Tablet magazine on July 26, says, “[W]hat has genuinely shocked me has been the level of vitriol, blatant intellectual dishonesty, and expectations of conformity.” And his illustrations are more chilling than my examples:

“I have realized for several years that Daniel Gordis is just a weasel whose antagonism toward Israel is hidden under a patina of faux religiosity…. Gordis is a sick and twisted affront to the Jewish People, the worst kind of hypocrite, and a two-faced human mistake.

Or, as Giulio Meotti an Italian journalist, declared:

Unfortunately, the settler public has been marked with the scarlet letter of murder and expulsion and now, their ethnic cleansing has also received the imprimatur of influential Jewish rabbis and Israeli personalities like you.”

Or: [A] widely read blogger taken seriously by some people I take seriously, Tweeted, “Daniel Gordis loses all credibility by signing on to pro-Hamas group Israel Policy Forum’s letter.”

And then Gordis goes on to observe, “Even if we ignore the absurdity and incitement of calling the IPF ‘pro-Hamas,’ there’s an important issue here: If a person makes one move with which you disagree, must they immediately ‘lose all credibility’? For some, apparently so.”

Why had Gordis signed the letter in the first place? “I saw no reason to breed further hemorrhaging of American Jewish support for Israel or an international outcry by adopting a report that many would see as cementing the current status quo, leading to rampant accusations that Israel is becoming an apartheid society. Israel does not need that.”

And he concludes, “[A]s Tisha B’Av looms, we would do well, I think, to ask ourselves what kind of a Jewish world we’re defending and whether, even if we’re successful at preserving the Jewish State, those whose loyalty we desperately need will want to have anything to do with us.”

Bravo, Daniel Gordis. Birthers and those who maliciously or simply sloppily accuse others of “self-hatred” or “hypocrisy” pollute discourse. If they are too dense to be ashamed of themselves, the rest of us should resolutely shame them.

Contact Leonard Fein at feedback@forward.com


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