≡ Menu

The Closing of the American Jewish Mind

Last night I published a post dealing with my relationship with my local synagogue, the local StandWithUs pro-Israel loyalists, and a Twitter user who used my son’s impending bar mitzvah to insult me.

I made an error believing that an employee of the synagogue leaked private information about the event to the Twitter user. After correcting and updating the information in the post , and adding an apology, I republished it. Though all the information in the republished post was accurate–on reconsideration, I realized that a significant portion of the post dealt with old history, some of which I’ve even already recounted here. What wasn’t old history, my discussion of the growing dysfunction and irrelevance of many American synagogues, can be saved for another post. Undoubtedly, there will come a time when this will be appropriate to republish. Until then, I thought it best to remove it and leave this explanation in its place.

I apologize of course to those I wrongfully blamed and to those who may be confused by this unusual situation. The post of course, lives on, and can be easily found by those who travel the dark places of the pro-Israel internet.

Bufferfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail
youtube
{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Marc b. February 6, 2014, 3:49 AM

    Sad.

    Ps I think you meant Yeats’ ‘immortal’ words, not immoral.

  • Oui February 6, 2014, 3:55 AM

    Thank you for speaking out, yet my feelings are with your son, hoping all is well. The culture of shunning belongs with persons who feel insecure and need a group action for bullying tactics as is often seen in fringe elements of society.

    I was very surprised by this subject matter. It does remind me of a recent religious fatwa – Rabbis Threaten Kerry with ‘Divine Wrath’.

  • Renfro February 6, 2014, 6:57 AM

    With all due respect the “politically comfortable” part of this…”for a religious community in which we would feel comfortable politically, liturgically, theologically, and socially”…..is a core problem.
    Yes, we have other religious movements like the Christian Zionist, etc. that ‘insert themselves’ into US politics but this is a particular problem for Judaism and Jews because Israel, foreign country, has literally ‘infiltrated Judaism’ and Jews are seen as the main thrust of the Israel Lobby and US Isr-I/P-Iran-ME policy.
    This has also given rise to ‘other religions’ now also speaking ‘politically’ on Israel as in the Presbyterian and other mainline US churches taking on the I/P human rights issue…….creating a religious as well as political conflict.
    No, I don’t have a solution to any of this mingling religion with politics—I suppose now that this situation exist activist Jews opposed to Israel’s occupation of Palestine have no choice but to confront it in their synagogues.
    But every time I look at this US Jews-Israel- US-I/P can of worms what I think of is….’’Principiis obsta and Finem respice-’Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.
    How Judaism and US Jews eventually get out of this I dont know—likely it will take some kind of US-Israeli crisis to make everyone face up to reality.

  • Diane V. McLoughlin February 6, 2014, 7:37 AM

    There were Jews who picketed Judge Goldstone’s son’s bar mitzvah. The word shameful doesn’t cut it there, either – Goldstone being he guy who was asked to head an investigation into what exactly happened with the Operation Cast Lead and who concluded that the IDF were culpable in some incidences. If I recall, the heat was too much to bear in the longer term. After the group’s report was released he tried to backpedal somewhat. Ostracism, being cut out of community life, is powerful, and, I believe, a powerful threat to one’s physical health because of the intensely painful and toxic stress it induces, regardless of the practical consequences of rejection should people go so far as to deny advancement career-wise, and so on. Anyone who, for whatever just cause, chooses to sacrifice their comfort and stand before their community to attempt to warn them that we are in the way of going down a wrong road, risking rejection and harm from the very people he cares enough about to attempt to help them to see, are heroes.

  • Fred Plester February 6, 2014, 9:40 AM

    Suppression of dialogue between Jews and Muslims is meant to keep them apart, and at each other’s throats. This is even more obvious now in France than in the United States, where extreme right wing political groups are encouraging “tame” Muslims in the public eye (footballers, comedians) to dial up the antisemitism. If it’s fairly obvious that the French right wing encourages Muslims into conflict with Jews because they mean a great deal of ill to both the Jewish and Muslim communities, why is it unthinkable that the North American right wing might be doing the same sort of thing with the same intent?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/03/dieudonne-banned-uk-nicolas-anelka-quenelle

    Hopefully, the Home Secretary will also see fit to exclude any extreme Jewish figures who want to visit the UK to stir the same pot in the opposite direction, but it’s not possible to guarantee this under the present government. Although, it’s not as possible to predict their doing entirely the wrong thing with as much confidence as you could when Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was around, so that’s progress, of a strictly limited sort.

    BTW: if anyone doubts that “le Quenelle” is meant to be a Nazi salute:
    the traditional “Heil Hitler” was a slightly modified Roman salute, and the Quenelle is a slightly modified version of another, more military, Roman salute. (The raised outstretched arm was for gladiators, mainly and adopted by the Nazis because it suited mass spectacle better than modern military salutes). The French public seems to know instantly what is meant by le Quenelle, too.

    Its use gives encouragement and ammunition to precisely the kind of paranoid extremist who are engaged in trying to persecute Richard and his family away from their faith and tradition, and it is definitely meant to. Conflict and division are being deliberately engineered by those who have no intention of sticking their own heads above the parapet. Be sure of this, the European extreme right, and this is also true of the American right wing under a slightly thicker camouflage, has no more use for Judaism than Islam. They have no genuine attachment to Christianity, either, and would prefer some sort of invented neo-pagan mashup, just as Himmler did, if only they didn’t need Christian support in order to gain and hold power. And power is the only god being worshiped here, by any of the dominant factions.

    Richard should not be troubled by being cast out, because those excluding him, excluded God from their lives and their calculations, a long time ago.

  • yankel February 6, 2014, 10:34 AM

    Closing ranks requires closing minds.

    The essence of conservatism (Jewish variety included) is being an ape among the apes. Haven’t they asked yet to lie, da Costa style, on the shul’s doorstep for all to trample upon?

  • ben February 6, 2014, 12:17 PM

    I find the reform movement to be the most inclusive. Last year my rabbi at temple Emanuel in Toronto said she will do homosexual marriage ceremonies and to be a member of the shul you no longer have to be Jewish as a large bulk come from mixed backgrounds. This is an article from 2008 about my shul in reference to twinings…
    http://www.thestar.com/life/2008/11/24/twinning_builds_bond_between_muslims_jews.html?app=noRedirect

    I am really sorry that you are being singled out for your political beliefs. What is worse is the targeting of your son. This is unacceptable and against what it means to me to be a proud jewish Mench.

    Even though I most certainly disagree with your opinions about israel and Palestine I also think that competitive narrative are important and help achieve a balanced approach.

  • Rob Jacobs February 6, 2014, 1:09 PM

    Richard,

    The lashon hara that you spout is beyond belief. You have absolutely no hesitation attempting to damage other people’s reputation without any basis whatsoever for doing so. You insist that Beth Shalom go through one of its employee’s emails and Facebook, etc., communications without providing any real evidence that they did anything wrong – one of the most reactionary, right-wing, invasive things an organization could do, especially since you insist they do it without any regard to due process.

    And then, it turns out that you, yourself, outed your son’s bar mitzvah. You complain that on January 18, someone under the Twitter handle, “Anarcho-Zionist” wrote “Dickie, it took you 4 months to leap to the wrong conclusion. Distracted by the bar mitzvah planning?” You blame that disclosure on a conspiracy between StandWithUs, me, Hen Mazzig (who you insist on “outing” as Gay – you act like a right-winger constantly – and an innocent staff person at your shul.

    Look at your own twitter account first before you blame anyone. Your own entry on January 8, 2014, 10 days before the offending Tweet, reads , “Tikun Olam @Richards1052″: “Have just discovered shul where my son will B bar mitzvahed in 2 mons gave him wrong haftorah portion!! Angry duzn’t begin to describe feling [sic].” You wrote it. You disclosed publicly your son’s bar mitzvah. It was you, not me, not StandWithUs, not Hen Mazzig, not Congregation Beth Shalom, that told Anarcho-Zionist about your son’s bar mitzvah.

    But will you take responsibility for it? No. Will you apologize to those you’ve attempted to defame? No. Will you do t’shuva? No. We know what you’ll do. You’ll come back and attack me or Hen or the shul. You’ll do what you are doing on Twitter right now, with one tweet after another labeling Hen Mazzig gay. That’s the best you can do? Out someone?Wow!! You’ll do anything but accept responsibility for your actions, your errors, you defamation, your sad “research” made up of conspiracy theories with zero rational. Or you’ll delete this whole entry, including your accusations, because it shows how absurd you can be.

    • Richard Silverstein February 6, 2014, 2:06 PM

      @ Rob Jacobs: Unlike you, Rob, I actually acknowledge errors when I make them. If you read the updated post you’ll find a confirmation of that and an apology for the error.

      Unlike me, you don’t acknowledge or do teshuvah for defamation and motzi shem ra for which you are responsible. Why don’t you go back & reread your e mails to me along with those of David Brumer, who served on the SWU board when he accused me of having an obsession with gay porn. Here’s an excerpt from your oeuvre:

      …Get some therapy.

      [Someone should] try to help Richard before he really hurts himself and others

      Then this from you:

      So far I have never been anything but respectful toward you…

      I’ve been waiting years for your act of teshuvah. Guess I’ll have to wait a while longer.

      You’ve also conveniently ignored all the other material in my post for which you should answer. What about your own employee, Hen Mazzig, calling me a “piece of shit” publicly? Is that behavior of which you approve? Are you going to own that one since he’s your employee engaged in a Twitter war on behalf of SWU? I didn’t think so.

      How about sabotaging the Twinning Project? Are you going to deny that SWU supporters inside the shul exerted pressure to kill that? I didn’t think so.

      As for approving your comment. People who accuse me of needing mental help get banned here, as you were. I found your comment and approved it. Are you going to apologize for that hasty judgment as well? I didn’t think so.

      • ben February 6, 2014, 2:40 PM

        hmm it seems like the two of you need to have a good old public debate.
        I can understand the animosity between the two of you as I even at time interpret your blog as demonization of Israel. Moreover the last blog i posted in you said you hoped for the end of the two state solution and the implementation of ODS (one democratic state) which i then assumed meant no jewish state in the land of Israel.

        Since stand with us seems to be a pro “neo-zionist” organization (what i got from thier mission statement) it seems resonable that they would see you as the “bad guy” being a “post-zionist” and would do everything in thier power to silence you.

        i do not agree with this as I always find its better to have a public debate and let the populus decide who is correct.

        So Mr Jacobs if you can keep all the hosility at bay and say sorry for any words that caused harm can you have a proper debate with Richard without name calling?
        Not that you have to accept Richard I just think it would be healthy for two people who seem to be very emotionally convicted in thier respective points of view to “have it out” in a public forum… I would like to watch it on YouTube if that would be possible.

        • Elisabeth February 7, 2014, 7:05 AM

          ” it seems resonable that they would see you as the “bad guy” being a “post-zionist” AND WOULD DO ANYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO SILENCE YOU”

          You don’ t mean that I hope…

        • Deïr Yassin February 8, 2014, 1:51 AM

          @ Ben
          “Moreover the last blog I posted in you said you hoped for the end of the two state solution and the implementation of ODS (one democratic state)”
          I would really appreciate if you could find the exact article and quote Richard writing that. This has always been my personal preference but I’ve never read Richard writing that he hoped for such a solution, and I’ve been reading this blog for years !
          Saying that this is the logical outcome with current Israeli politics and ‘hoping’ for something is NOT the same thing, so please: a link to the article and a quote.

          • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2014, 10:52 AM

            @ Deir Yassin: I’m sorry to disappoint you since I have so much respect for you and wish I could agree with you. As far as I’m concerned, the direction in which events are headed (not necessarily the one I would prefer, but that’s beside the point since my preferences aren’t relevant) is toward a one state solution. That is thanks to Israeli rejectionism and refusal to negotiate in good faith. I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t say what the future holds. I want a solution that leads both peoples to be able to live in peace, justice and security. I want, I think, almost everything that you want.

            My preference would be two states, mainly because it would be the most conducive to gaining the support of most Israelis were it ever implemented. But frankly, if one state is what ends up happening, I believe there is a scenario in which this could happen and work successfully. It would be difficult in many ways, but it could work.

          • Deïr Yassin February 8, 2014, 11:56 AM

            @ Richard
            I know your point of view about the One versus Two State solution. I was just asking or rather challenging Ben who at least twice has claimed that you hope for a one state solution (and the disappearrance of Israel) to find that exact quote of yours – which he of course won’t find because you never wrote such a thing.

    • richard armbach February 7, 2014, 12:59 AM

      StandWithUs ? Thats a kind of diaspora hilltop youth isn’t it ?

  • Shoded Yam February 6, 2014, 1:15 PM

    My wife and I are both Israeli citizens and have both served in Zahal. We actually met in the Army. I’m an American by birth and my wife is a Sabra from a noted family. Our son who is 7 is also an Israeli. My wife and I have no interest as Israelis or as American citizens (my wife is naturalized) to see our child or the children of all of our friends and relatives, the light of our lives, sacrifice blood or substance, not in the service of protecting life or limb and in the defense of the homeland, but in the service of an interest free mortgage, discounted utilities and a make-work job. So when ever I hear some gasbag from the Men’s Club start bloviating about the situation, I always inquire; “tell me, got any kids serving in the IDF? Have you served?” Invariably, the answer is no to both, because as MJ Rosenberg once observed about people like me; ” we represent no one”, that is to say American Jews having served in the IDF of my particular vintage are not terribly thick upon the ground. My reply is always the same. Well when you do, let me know. Because until then, your fighting wars from your living room with other peoples blood. I don’t want my little boy to shed the blood of some Palestinian kid, and I don’t want any Palestinian mothers and fathers crying over their children and how dare some modern day Sammy Glick tell me otherwise

  • Rob Jacobs February 6, 2014, 1:16 PM

    Not going to post my comment, right? Proves me right.

    • Fred Plester February 7, 2014, 7:28 AM

      When it comes to proving yourself right, you appear to set your own standard of proof and that, mate, is the crux of your problems, or rather, the problems you create for the rest of humankind.

  • Diane V. McLoughlin February 6, 2014, 3:37 PM

    Sexual orientation between adults is irrelevant, and rather ironic for it to ever be used as somehow pejorative, between people arguing about their particular versions of equality, security and human rights.

  • jg February 6, 2014, 9:28 PM

    Here’s to you Richard!
    For speaking out, and being forthright, as always. Your actions reflect integrity, honesty and courage, even in the face of backlash, retribution and sham.

  • Kevin Herbert February 6, 2014, 11:00 PM

    All credit to you Richard.

    Your integrity was never in doubt for mine.

  • robert mullen February 8, 2014, 4:33 PM

    In another era and arena: Shades of Alan Bloom

Leave a Comment