Who Is A Jewish Traitor?

Joshua Halberstam asks tough questions in this week’s Forward.

In this politically heated season, some Jews are eager to label others Jews, including political leaders, as traitors; many more refuse to think in these terms altogether, finding the entire exercise distasteful. But we can’t afford either this rush to judgment or such easy dismissal of the challenge. Traitors endanger the core commitments by which a people identifies itself. To the extent that we as a community — and each of us individually — are unable to define Jewish treachery, we are unclear about what really matters to us.

To be sure, stipulating what counts as Jewish treachery is no easy task. The criteria are not obvious. Do intentions count? Are we talking about threats to Judaism or to the Jewish people (the ancient tricky distinction)? Is communal consensus determinate?

Read on…

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