Spread The Love: Support Jewish Unity

Israel’s upcoming withdrawl from the Gaza strip is doing a great deal to gouge deeper rifts between Jewish people. Both the left and the right are at each other’s throats, be it online in forums like Jewschool, or on the streets of places like Jerusalem.
Whether you’re in favor of the disengagement or against it, there’s no reason for folks to cross boundaries into the vicious areas where their rhetoric and behavior tend to roam. Regardless of whether we agree on the subject of biblical claims to Eretz Yisrael, the value of settlements, the security risk posed by the withdrawl, or any other issue pertaining to the disengagement, we are still one people, obligated by Torah to love each other — particularly in contradiction of our “natural” proclivities.
Rav Kook taught that only ahavat khinam (unconditional love) would end gault (exile) and bring the Jewish people’s redemption. Thus I urge us all to rise above our anger, our frustration, and our sadness, and seek out the compassion, forgiveness, and love in our hearts, and extend these feelings to our fellow Jews. The next several months will be an incredibly trying experience for our people, and it is important that we recognize each other’s humanity, understand each other’s feelings, and respect each other’s differences, as we work through these difficult times.
If you support this sentiment, I invite you to please add the graphic below to your own website and to link back to this post. The blue represents the chosen color of the pro-disengagement movement and the orange the color of the anti-disengagement movement. The text reads “v’ahavta l’rekha kamokha” — “love your brother as yourself.” This is a time like no other in which we need to grapple with this concept, and integrate it into our individual worldviews.

Please, search out your heart, and spread the love.
[Update] I’m apparently not the first to have this idea.

25 thoughts on “Spread The Love: Support Jewish Unity

  1. No doubt, Ahavat Yisrael is tantamount, and of course our enemies aren’t Sharon or Peres and it’s mighty important to keep that in mind.
    A friend of mine, a NY’er in Israel was recently at a PEACEFULL demonstration, not blocking traffic, just waving orange flags and shouting “Jews dont expel Jews” etc. A group of non-Jewish Ukranian IDF just tore through the crowd, beating viciously many demonstrators, my friends nose was broken, his face gashed AND he spent two days in prison. My friends this is crazy! This is literally like communism! Even super-lib John Brown would agree that peaceful demonsrations are cool. If this would happen in the US riots would erupt!
    We must look at what is happening from an honest perspective. I am against the ‘disengagement’ s adamantly as can be, I went and visited there recently and I cry for those brothers and sisters of mine. As Moby is stressing I dont hate those who are pro this thing I just strongly disagree.
    But Israel is a Jewish a Democracy, but is appears that there is systematic deriliction (at best) in the government.

  2. … there is growing evidence of a hard core of “professional protesters” on the left, that go from demonstration to demonstration like groupies – and then self-sanctify themselves with “free speech” claims when they damage property or disturb the peace.
    There is also evidence that the left is using the threat of violent “counter protest” to shut down OTHER people’s free speech. Numerous examples of that on campus, especially regarding those with pro-Israel views.
    Here in Israel (what remains of) the left is having one last, violent tramp over the Israeli body politic. Yes, it looks more and more like Soviet Russia – the media is concentrated in a few hands, delivering ideologically slanted “news”. The Supreme court and Attorney General’s office obviously ideologically recruited.
    Unfortunately for the lefties, Israel is sufficiently democratic – and the “great unwashed” are surprisingly sophisticated. The Rest of Us to know and understand exactly what is going on. We know that we voted for the exact opposite of what is being implemented.
    Whatever happens this summer, the left is going to get pounded into powder in the next elections.

  3. Mobius-
    What would the ground rules be for spreading the love? Presumably prior to now you’re not happy with the statements and/or actions of at least some segment(s) of the Jewish population. Which statements or actions are OK, and which are not? (And let’s keep in mind that even with Ahavat Chinam, we’re not required to tolerate EVERYTHING. There are too many sources that indicate that some things cannot be tolerated. Ahavat Chinam would include, presumably, showing love to people who have never done anything, good or bad, to you; tolerating minor offenses or slights; and giving the benefit of the doubt.)
    I ask this as a question, not as a challenge.

  4. There is also evidence that the left is using the threat of violent “counter protest” to shut down OTHER people’s free speech. Numerous examples of that on campus, especially regarding those with pro-Israel views.
    This refers perhaps to “Protest Warriors”, in the States a support group for overweight white kollege konservatives for kraist who literally protest the First Amendment itself. All philosophy gurus who can misquote Hobbes and Plato no doubt.
    Actually, there is a consistent schmear about raging anti-Semitism that is visible only to certaion extreme right-wing Jews and their allies. Look, we’re going to be honest for a minute, and if you misinterpreet it as racism that’s your problem, but:
    –American academia is at all levels packed disproportionately with Jews of all ideological stripes. If there really was outright Nazism on campus, we would hear aboput it, then hear more about it, then second and third generatrions of books would be published, then we would hear about and discuss it some more, then there would be retrospective documentaries.
    –We’ve been hearing these charges of outright Nazism and campus, but we’ve never heard them from a source we’d call credible, and recently on Eschaton a large number of academics mentioned both that the charges were going around and that they were totally groundless.
    –The ADL and various Israeli lobbies made a concious decision a long time ago to try to defend Israel by attacking the Left as a “new anti-Semitism” and with an insidious Third Reich charge in new dressing, the idea of the “self-hater” (so-and-so supports the efforts of so-called international law only because he is a self-hating German and wants to see his own nation suffer, etc). These characters play as fast and loose with the meaning of what ought to be a simple concept as the Holocaust deniers. Jew-hatred should mean willling harm to Jews on the basis of their identity but they’ve brought in such racist poppycock as the equation of world Jewry and the government of Israel (in other words, the granting of dual loyalty), the idea that certain hatreds are somehow more urgent than others, and certain oujtright attacks on the very idea of history itself. By that last we refer to a scholarly book on “Jewish Self-Hatred” which admits in the beginning that it is not interested in class and economic reasons behind racist violence and considers these unimportant! Needless to say the author is into psychology and the fast-paced, evidence-dependent, cutthroat world of the humanities. (Recently Foxman actually backed off this idea he’d been pushing for thirty years, but only in form; you may have heard Colin Powell’s repetition of he idea that criticism of Israel is not hatred of Jews, but at the same time it is if you do not subscribe to Israeli exceptionalism and Holocaust uniqueness).
    –This is a crap charge. We have seen much air-headedness on the left, for example the IDF-infiltrated ISM or compare Michael Neumann’s latest on the futility of demonstrations in Counterpunch, but it must be remembered that violence and silencing of dissent are fundamental bases of all rightist ideologies, indeed they are necessary and defining qualities for the idea of the separation of power. So what is this horrified outrage over the left with no accompanying word for the right? It’s a fake scandal, it’s like one of these stories the ADL collects where somebody (often, literally an old lady) thinks they overheard something in a supermarket, and that proves that violent anti-Semitism is on the march in New York. Come on.
    This comment about the Israeli government being secretly infiltrated and controlled by “the Left” (which is another Nazi charge in new dressings — the central accusation against the Jews was not just that they were Jewish but their supposed Communist fifth columnist actions) is about as sane and respectable as the calls they get on C-Span about Jewish-infiltrated Warshintun being divided between Communists and Socialists! People, get hip! One segment of USrael is dominated by a particularly virulent strain of Rethugs, and the other is completely owned by ARIEL SHARON dismissing Cypriot scandals and receiving support and plaudits from Peace Now! Where is this infiltration?!
    As for the other wing of USrael, the “left” has almost never been represented in American elections (Bobby Kennedy? Paul Wellstone? EV Debs–hey, wait a minute…) and whatever loss the pro-war, pro-torture, pro-Israel, pro-welfare reform and pro-“decency” Democrats suffer will be due to Diebold and old-fashioned vote shenanigans.
    That said we love you rightist thugwads, really, think about it for a minute: our various socialist plans for the world would benefit y’all with every other taxpayer.

  5. Today i was walking home from school, and by the large Southern Jerusalem intersection of Piyer Kenig, ‘Emeq Refa’im, El‘azar Hamoda‘i and Yohhanan ben Zakai there were two kids in orange and two kids in blue handing out ribbons of their respective colors to supportive passersby, and having fun and getting along with each other! It was so beautiful i asked them if i could take their picture, and they put their arms around each other’s shoulders with orange and blue ribbons swaying in the breeze.

  6. Velvel-
    That’s not so easy. It’s doable when someone is one or two political gradations away – a conservative, liberal and centrist should be able to get along – but what about those we consider beyond the pale? (I don’t think I need to give examples.)

  7. Israel’s upcoming withdrawl from the Gaza strip is doing a great deal to gouge deeper rifts between Jewish people.
    Au contraire!!!
    I’m actually beginning to see that this evil ‘disengagement’ plan has a great wide silver lining. It’s been a very long time since so much of am yisrael has acted so cohesively for a cause. The anti-expulsion banner is led by the national-religious types, but the non-religious are the silent majority of the orange anti-expulsion support. Religious Israelis (including ultra-orthodox) only make up about 20% of the population, and the Arabs another 20%. We know that the anti-expulsion group is at 40%, and the pro-expulsion is at 50% – meaning – that a minority of Jews support the evil and inance plan. Most Jews have their heads on straight and are coming together even stronger.
    If anything, all this publicity of the ‘disengagement’ is exposing others to the lies and dangers of unlitaterly retreating under-fire with no assurances of ‘peace’.
    Am Yisraeli Chai’ – chazak v’neetchazek!

  8. remember folks, josh — a west bank resident — is also the guy who believes that leftwingers put swastikas on herzl & ben gurion’s graves to make it look like the rightwingers did it (even tho these people are walking around wearing orange ‘jude’ stars). to say he’s a credible source would be a stretch.

  9. mobileh – you’re such a typical leftie!
    Josh points out that the vast majority of Israeli Jews is united in opposition to the expulsion – the same vast majority that gave Sharon his victory, plus additional MOR Israelis who are disgusted with the corruption of both Sharon and the Labor party.
    Unable to counter on facts, you do what any leftie does – try to discredit Josh with an ad-hominem denunciation.
    In the middle of a thread about brotherhood and mutual respect!
    OOOOOOOwwoooowoooo, lookout little childrun’s, Josh the settler boogie man is gonna get you!
    Patronizing, tranparent, pathetic.
    This is why you folks will continue to lose elections.

  10. I found your post about the two coloured badge when googling “hitnatkut”. I wanted to say thanks for linking to the thing I wrote along similar lines on my blog.
    The situation in Israel is a tough one, and unity is the only way forward, whether you agree with what’s going on or not.
    I will link your next time I write a post. You be interested in adding each other to blog rolls?

  11. Religious Israelis (including ultra-orthodox) only make up about 20% of the population,
    of jerusalem maybe. i bet the number’s smaller than that in the rest of the country. and i’d like to see a single shred of evidence from a non-partisan source that that is the “religious” percentage of the entire population. i’d also like to know what constitutes “religious” according to your figures. i bet non-orthodox observant people don’t count.
    and the Arabs another 20%.
    who probably haven’t even been polled.
    We know that the anti-expulsion group is at 40%, and the pro-expulsion is at 50% – meaning – that a minority of Jews support the evil and inance plan.
    ending the occupation of gaza is evil, huh? but occupying gaza… that’s a holy and righteous act, right?
    he has no sources. he has mere speculation. and he spouts settler rhetoric which is based only on the settler’s own delusions.
    gaza will turn out just like yamit. the right will radicalize gaza and the day after the pullout abandon the people whose lives they’ve destroyed in the process, going home to their jerusalem and gush apartments, because, at the end of the day, it’s not their problem.
    the right is using gush katif. the farmers which constitute the majority will be happy to take compensation if it’s for the right amount.
    no words from ben-david about telling people who support the disengagement that they favor evil and that their heads aren’t screwed on right. there’s your brotherhood and mutual respect. it’s ok to say whatever you want if you’re a righty (and we’ll make excuses for you allll day long if you do). but if you lean left, you better watch what you say, or we’ll skewer you.
    who’s patronizing, transparent, and pathetic?

    ok j, here’s a partial answer to your question. loving your brother does not mean shutting up and smiling when they talk shit and misbehave. tokhakha is halakha. granted, none of us know how to give proper tokhakha. but someone’s gotta take a stand somewhere.

  12. Highly observant Jews are not even 20% of Jewish society in Israel, much less all of Israeli society.
    Jewish 76.8%, Muslim 15.7% (mostly Sunni), Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.7% (end of 2002). [5]
    Official figures do not exist as to the number of atheists or otherwise non-affiliated individuals, who may comprise up to a quarter of the population referred to as Jewish. According to one study, 6% of Israeli Jews define themselves as haredim (or Ultra-Orthodox); an additional 9% are “religious” (orthodox); 34% consider themselves “traditionalists” (not strictly adhering to Jewish halacha); and 51% are “secular”. Among the seculars, 53% say they believe in God. [6]

    click here to read more

  13. Ronen – I am not sure where the wiki you quote gets its numbers. Some of the figures jibe with official Israeli statistics, some don’t.
    And of course the real grey area is the definition of “traditional” – most Israelis labeling themselves “traditional” have a level of observance and a set of beliefs that would place them in the Conservadox wing of American Jewry, lodged right up against the Orthodox.
    The Israeli government (Central Bureau of Statistics) is at:
    They list the following for 2002:
    5.9 percent Haredi
    10 percent Orthodox
    13 percent Traditional – “Religious”
    28.5 percent Traditional – “Not So Religious” (yes, that’s a direct translation! Only in Israel…)
    42 percent Secular
    In the past school year 2003/4 enrollment of Jewish children in elementary school broke down as:
    22 percent Ultra Orthodox
    20 percent Religious National
    58 percent Secular
    for middle and high schools:
    18 percent Ultra-O
    17 percent Relgious National
    65 percent Secular
    I assume that the small number of “Tali” schools (traditional stream within the secular school system) is lumped in with the secular school system.
    But a breakdown by actual religious beliefs and practices yields a much different picture. The most commonly quoted study is the Guttman Institute’s 1996 survey, but similar results were found in longitudinal studies by Ben-Gurion and TA Universities:
    A solid 70 percent of Israelis:
    keep kosher homes
    fast on Yom Kippur
    light Hanuka candles
    attend Passover Seder
    believe in G-d
    at least 50-60 percent of Israelis:
    – light Sabbath candles
    – make kiddush on Friday night
    – don’t usually work on the Sabbath
    – believe in the Divine origin of the Torah on Mount Sinai
    – believe in the chosenness of the Jewish people
    – believe in the efficacy of prayer
    Despite the PR circus around the topic of civil marriages, 90 percent of Israelis marry using the Jewish ritual.
    The report is well summarized here:
    It also seems that “secular” is not so secular. A few pertinent quotes:
    Many of these “traditional” Jews differ from the Orthodox only because they will drive their cars on the Sabbath, use electricity, watch television, or go to a soccer game or the beach, frequently after attending religious services in the morning and the evening before. Many of the men don tefillin every morning, others cover the spectrum of observance. What is critical is that all are committed to a major religious component in the definition of their Jewishness and the Jewishness of the Jewish state.
    The fourth and second smallest group consists of those who define themselves as secular, some 20 percent of the Jewish population. These are people whose beliefs are secular. Their practices, on the other hand, may be quite similar to those of many traditionalists, only they maintain those practices for family and national reasons rather than accepted religious ones. The fact that Jewish religious observance has such a strong national component makes it a major component of Jews’ national identity even if they no longer see themselves as believers in the Jewish religion.
    The Guttman study shows that three-quarters of the 20 percent follow the most common traditional religious practices. Only a quarter, or 5 percent of the total Jewish population, say they observe no religious practices whatsoever, a figure which is belied by figures that show that 98 percent of Israeli Jews have mezuzot on the doorposts of their houses and 92 percent circumcize their male children, to mention only two of a number of observances that are so deeply entrenched in the culture that hardly anyone thinks of them as religious observances.
    …almost all the elites in Israeli society ? cultural, intellectual, political, and economic ? are found within the secular 20 percent, so that they frame the picture that outsiders get of Israel.
    Israel is thus a much more “religious” society than is implied by the bald percentages of “Orthodox” Jews. And it’s clear from the school enrollments that there a major demographic shift is underway.
    This parallels developments in American Jewry – Orthodox have gone from a sliver constinuency to fully 1/3 of affiliated Jews – and that’s using a very broad definition of “affiliated” that equates joining a JCC pool with synagogue membership.

  14. Mobius says
    “ok j, here’s a partial answer to your question. loving your brother does not mean shutting up and smiling when they talk shit and misbehave. tokhakha is halakha. granted, none of us know how to give proper tokhakha. but someone’s gotta take a stand somewhere.”
    Looks like we’re back to square one. All sides see their opponents as talking shit and misbehaving. Are you making a serious call for unity, or just trying to come up with a way to silence your opponents?
    I was talking to a vaguely liberal Jewish girl once (not once in my life, just once in this story!), and she was very insistent that Jews be unified. I asked about which principles Jews should be unified under. Do I have to tell you the answer? Naturally, I counter-proposed that Jews become unified under conservative principles. She was much less enthusiastic about unity after that.
    It’s easy to want unity. Coming up with ground rules that have the mutually beneficial effect of decreasing animosity while not interfering with political differences is hard.
    I didn’t mean “not easy” in the sense that it’s difficult to accomplish the goal. I meant conceptually not easy. Start with the most extreme case – someone carrying a sign saying “Hitler was right”. Should we not hate this guy (assuming he’s basically sane)? Should we treat him as just another opponent? Now work your way back from this extreme. Aren’t some people beyond the pale? And in fact, deciding who is beyond the pale is often an aspect of the respective political outlooks. Is a call for unity therefore necessarily a ‘neutral’ policy, or is it just more political advocacy?

  15. Start with the most extreme case – someone carrying a sign saying “Hitler was right”.
    Okay, we’ll stick our foot in it: what if the issue at hand is something where this crackpot can be counted upon to help? After all, Stalin, Tito, Mao and Minh could be counted upon when the issue was Hitler (…and …the other Tito). We despise Libertarians and Scientologists for similar reasons, pretty much that they enjoy power and wealth totally out of proportion to how seriously they take politics and religion respectively. However, no less a figure than Chomsky has credited Libertarians with publishing him when no one else would, Libertarians actually did do a little wee bit for free speech and against this ten commandments thing, and Scientologists … well, there must be something good about them in terms of … oy.
    To get to the root of the thing, what you all should really have started at bit only implied with this crazy talk of other people being crazy is that it is not really possible to have a conversation with someone whose presuppositions are radically different. Those must be sorted out first. Cf Lakoff and framing.
    James Baldwin once ad a conversation with Robert Kennedy in which, after explaining that black people at that point were pretty much afraid of the government that had raped them for three hundred years and didn’t exactly see it as an object of loyalty and veneration, Kennedy looked at him with big stupid white eyes and asked, but wouldn’t blacks be good liberals and totally forego violence and hateful sentiment as a matter of form? In other words, he hadn’t been listening — or he had, and had heard differently every word.
    Of course we’re against this wierd idea of “civility”, for reasons that become clear here: for the settlers to compare the IDF to Nazis for withdrawing, not invading and holding, other land, is nuts, it’s indefensible, and therefore putting up with that craziness is just as indefensible. Not to mention “civility” is the watchword for anyone on the “wrong” side but never anyone on the right; when does this politeness get extended to us? But it might be different if we needed those settlers to help us defeat Saddam Hussein’s army of sub-sand bioterrorist robot drones…

  16. Ben David
    So there are multiple stats out there, so what? Your stats still confirm that J’s original point, that a minority of Jews support disengagement, is highly unlikely. Furthermore, since Israel is a democracy, the “Jewish majority” figure is propogandist at best. Israel must do whatever is in its national interest.

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