Critical as I often am of The Forward, it does occasionally provide some gems. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always push hard enough, even when it does turn over the correct stone. Even a blind pig will find an acorn once in a while.
Having extensively mixed my metaphors, what am I talking about? This. Apparently, the Israeli government wants to drop a few hundred million dollars to save American Judaism to help American Jews figure out how to be Jewish. Or something.
It’s like mansplaining, but about Israel. It’s “Israelsplaining”!
I have a couple of words for the Israeli government here. The first one starts with an “F,” the second with a “Y.”
As The Forward’s editorial board points out, there’s a real risk that what Israel is doing is basically an attempt to make the American Jewish community look like what Israel thinks it should look like. Apparently, even the Hartman Institute is worried about this.
Israel, you’re worried about Jewish continuity? Great! Fund American organizations that have had success at that. I can think of a number of them.
The problem is that, after all this time, Israel seems still to think that it has the answers for what Jewish life should be. In the 1940s and onward–even, among many Israelis, to the present day–the answer to Jewish life was “move to Israel” and “the ingathering of the exiles.” It’s explicit in Ben-Gurion’s writings, and those of many others.
That is an impossibility, and always has been–for any number of reasons.
The Forward’s editorial board is worried that the agenda may be to make the American Jewish community something that suits to Israel’s tastes or interests. Would this mean the total AIPAC-ification of the American Jewish community? If so, I’m not on board. Nor would many Jews of my generation, a number of whom have become increasingly disaffected with much of the “acceptable” discussion of Israel within the leadership of the American Jewish community.
And that, by the way, supports yet another of The Forward’s concerns. The Forward asks whether something called “The Prime Minister’s Initiative” will do anything more than get money from alte kakers (my term) and disaffect younger Jews. I’d say that’s a pretty safe bet.
The bottom line here is that younger Jews don’t want the Israeli government funding efforts telling us how to be Jewish. They want meaningful Jewish experiences that fit into their views of their own lives and their place in the world; get them in first. If you don’t, all the Prime Ministerial initiatives in the world won’t make a damned bit of difference.
Hey, Israel, go home; you’re drunk.