Apr 10, 2018

Shame on Israel

A Guest Post by Dr. Harold Goldmeier

Israel advocates get their undies twisted in knots when enemies tag Israel an apartheid state. Polish officials set off a firestorm that threatens diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland by accusing Jews of collaborating with the Nazis. Words matter.
Yet, Jewish leaders in Israel and the Diaspora are unruffled and feckless at the bigoted, racist and misogynistic hate speech from Israel’s Chief and leading rabbis. I heard it all before in the 1960’s working the US Civil Rights Movement.
Shame on Israel.
Shame on the government.
Shame on our Jewish community leaders.
Shame on Chief Rabbi Yosef.
Ignoring hate speech encourages it. It molders the society. Hate speech embeds self-aggrandizement that leads to demagoguery.  Bigots attract followers like flies to dung. Next, they block the entrances to schools and lunch counters. They make the “others” sit in the back of the bus. They even run for President of the United States and rise to positions of power excluding Jews from equal rights marches.
A spokesperson for Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef recently justified to the Times of Israel (March 20, 2018), the Rabbi was quoting the Talmud when referring to black people with a pejorative and “a black person a ‘monkey’.” Reminds me of the white preachers and ministers using God to justify slavery and defy desegregation.
Say such a thing today in any Western democracy and you’re sacked from politics. The hater is a pariah in business, among the media, and in most pulpits. I hear no such shock and dismay in Israel. I see no action being taken that might reassure minorities and women the government and society do not tolerate haters.
There are no demonstrations outside Rabbi Yosef’s offices or home, at least those being covered in the media. Reporters are not hovering demanding at every turn explanations and further comments. There is no pot boiling over his remarks.
Torah scholars know words matter. They pick over every letter, word, and expression in the Torah and commentaries to define how Jews must act. It’s the words that define Judaism. Is Rabbi Yosef saying there is no place in Judaism except for white folk? Careful, Rabbi Yosef.  I’m told there are Ashkenazim who think only Caucasians are truly Jewish. Sephardim are on the outs. 
Where does the bigotry end? It doesn’t. It becomes institutionalized. There are reports some Rabbis will not marry black couples. There are other reports, Sephardi boys and girls are not allowed in schools run by Ashkenazim.  It’s the words that deracinate, promote hate and bigotry, that justify and enshrine institutional racism.
Bad stuff happens when the “others” are belittled. Segregation. Separate but equal becomes the meme but the “others” never get their fair share or parity. When women not living Judaism like “our” women are denigrated and called “animals,” what’s the next step? Slaughtering them like animals when they walk through the community? When rabbinic leaders paid by the State of Israel consider women not fit for public service or careers, as Rabbi Eli Sadan and Israel’s various Chief Rabbis are alleged to have said, words turn into actions. One rabbi claims that educated and financially successful women feel so independent they do not want marriage and husbands. They forsake their role in family life where they belong. Another Chief Rabbi attributes a lion’s share of damage to the country “due to loss of morality,” because of women in combat units of the IDF.
Moreover, hate speech is the tool of useful idiots believing their words make them stronger and more popular. They care little if their mean-spiritedness undercuts the legitimacy of a society striving for stability, equality and fraternity already a nation among nations that delegitimize Israel.
The ebb and flow of battles following official reports to uproot institutional racism in Israel leave hatemongers free to raise their voices unhampered. Dealing with institutional racism is the easy part. Taking down those who espouse bigotry and lust after the recognition racist speech brings is the hard part.
So it will be interesting to learn if the findings in the new report from the Israel Government Unit for Coordinating the Struggle Against Racism spur any more reaction than previous reports? We know recommendations from the reports largely languish and fade away, but will the findings and comments finally beget action? Will Israel's Ethiopian Chief Rabbi Yosef Hadane ever be included in photo ops with the other Chief Rabbis of Israel or will Rabbi Hadane continue being treated with benign neglect?
Dr. Seuss said it, “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” It’s time the government establishes an independent Ministry to Combat Hate and Racism with the power and free-hand to indict haters and racists with jail time and fines.


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14 comments:

  1. Sylvester McMonkey McBeanApril 10, 2018 2:14 PM

    If you are going to cite Seuss, why not quote from Sneetches, his epic tale on racism.

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    Replies
    1. good point but I'm satisfied with the quote I used.

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    2. If you are going to quote me, please quote me correctly.

      "Unless someone like you cares a WHOLE awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not"

      Delete
    3. Once-ler CorrectedApril 11, 2018 2:45 PM

      "Unless someone like you cares a whole AWFUL lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not"

      Delete
  2. He never called black people monkeys. And yet somehow you have quotation marks there.

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    Replies
    1. Rabbi Yosef was making a point about a bracha and cited a commentary or explanation allegedly about a white couple having a black child or a human couple having a monkey as a child. Linking the 2 is feckless, racist and hurtful as if a black child born to a white couple is some horrible event? American’s regularly employ “monkey” as the worst kind of slur to blacks. It is no less an offensive epithet than “hook-nosed kike” for our people.

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    2. But you admit he didn't say what you claim he did?

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  3. Wow -talk about hate speech. Maybe speak to a Rov or a shrink about your issues. What absolute Chutzpah to talk about Rabbonim like that. If you have a question about an approach, find out the Torah way to approach it - or find a religion that matches what YOU think is the right approach - but this is clearly not it.

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    Replies
    1. do you go thru life hiding in the shadows Anonymous? I wrote no hate speech and no ax to grind with rabbis, Chief or others. You're the problem with the way Judaism is practiced today--you discount critical thinking. I guess you check everyday for the latest chumra and psak so you can keep up with every rabbi.

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  4. Yasher koach to both Nachum and the above Anonymous for their truthful responses.
    The author of the above post is the one who is truly bigoted and one of those Jews who are the self-haters! It is because of those like him that we, the Jewish people, suffer so much because we do not adhere to the righteous Rabbis (the real ones) teachings (Torah), which then brings us so much anti-semitism and also not yet meriting the coming of Moshiach tzdkeinu!

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    Replies
    1. That's your answer for everything? How shallow. You are sick

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  5. H.Goldmeier: Your opinions are shallow. You have the gall to disparage righteous rabbis and that's not 'sick'?

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  6. this is libel, he never called black people monkeys

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  7. Good Libel in order to straightjacket rabbis from now on
    Plain and simple!
    Call this for what it is !

    ReplyDelete

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