Here at Jewschool we have a long, illustrious history, 11 1/2 years of rambunctious, playful, earnest, free-thinking, alternative riffing on contemporary Jewish life. It’s worth taking stock of where we’ve come from, and in that light, the Jewschool editors are now inaugurating a new feature: Jewschool Throwback Thursdays. Every week, one of us will dig up a classic post from the Jewschool vault that we think is still timely and relevant, or that would benefit reconsideration, with some years of growth and maturity.
One of the signature features of Jewschool culture is criticizing things we think are destructive in the Jewish world, airing our dirty laundry out of the belief that it can be cleaned. This becomes especially contentious when it comes to criticism regarding Israel. In recent months, the Jewish world has seen a great deal of mudslinging and controversy over “Open Hillel” battles, un-invitations of speakers deemed too critical of Israel, or not critical enough of advocates of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, etc., and Jewschool has covered this closely. For this kick-of Throwback Thursday, we bring you a classic piece from five years ago by our current Editor-in-Chief articulating, in as clear and forceful a way as I know, why we criticize the Israeli government when we feel it deserves it. The piece drew a blizzard of comments in its time; we hope it stokes conversation again now:
Why I Post the Worst of Israeli News
by Kung Fu Jew, Thursday, February 19, 2009
It’s a selective reading of news, I know, to pick out the parts of our community most shameful for public review, as if there were nothing else redeemable about Jews, Judaism, Jewish culture or Israel. Even though here on Jewschool it should go without saying that, though we question the assumptions and priorities of Jewish life as we see it, we do this because we are engaged and care deeply about Jews, Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel. But I’ll explain a little more.
There are compelling realpolitik and pragmatic reasons for discussing our dirty laundry in public. Not only do Israel’s true-to-life detractors feed off these events, making it important to distance ourselves from said events and to understand how we are perceived by others. But it’s also impossible to do otherwise these days. And it’s important to shake off their fence-sitting the Jews who politely demure from facing our own culpability regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Posting these things is pushing something clearly indefensible forward and saying, “Our shit too stinks.”
Those realpolitik and pragmatic reasons are not under discussion right now.