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Turning Our Backs on Israel

Turning Our Backs on Israel

When Jews attempt to separate themselves from their brethren in order to curry favor with the outside world, we're in trouble.


There was a chilling book review in the Wall Street Journal. It described the early life of the now famous author, Irene Nemirovsky, who perished at the hands of the Nazis.

In her earlier days, Nemirovsky has been a less-than-ardent supporter of her people. In fact she participated in a “rightist, ultra-nationalist and often anti-Semitic intellectual culture.”

At some point she converted to Roman Catholicism and married a man who had done the same. As the Nazi net began to close in around them, her husband penned a desperate letter to

the Nazi ambassador in France, pointing out that “even though my wife is of Jewish descent, she does not speak of the Jews with any affection…” We are not like them (the other Jews), he was asserting.

We are different. We are the good ones.

We all know the end of the story. Hitler and his Nazi machine of extermination didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in your philosophy or your personal religious views. He didn’t

want to hear about your intermarriage or whether you raised your children as Jews or not. If you had even one-fourth Jewish blood, you were doomed in his eyes.

It was, and is, a sobering thought. In a time of such targeted attacks on our people, it is excruciatingly painful to read about those Jews who tried to set themselves apart, who turned their backs

on their people and to see the ultimate foolishness of their delusion. You might think we would have learned our lesson and recognize the need to stick together. It would be a logical conclusion but, unfortunately, an erroneous one.

After Elie Wiesel took out his courageous full page newspaper ads in support of Israel (LINK to piece), another organization felt compelled to rebut his allegations, to suggest his support was unjustified,

to openly avow and assert another side – a side critical of Mr. Wiesel, Israel, and by association, the Jewish people. This same group (under the ironic guise of being “pro-Israel”) is constantly attacking Israel

in the press and trying hard to differentiate themselves from those Jews who support the land. We are different, they are saying. We are not like them. We are the good ones.

We need to be united against our external enemies and band together in order to reach our true spiritual potential.

There very well may be legitimate criticisms of some of the actions of the Jewish state. There is plenty to debate. But if we have criticisms, let’s make them internally. My concern is when dissent is made in public

where the goal is not the betterment of the Jewish people but rather to demonstrate to the non-Jewish world at large one's lack of loyalty to the Jewish people and Israel. We are different. We are not like them.

When we are governed by our concern for how the world will view us and an anxiety to make sure they don’t link us with our brethren with whom we disagree, then we have lost our way. We are in danger of writing letters like Mrs. Nemirovsky’s

husband: I’m not one of those who believes in a united Jerusalem. I have no affection for the 'settlers.' That assertion of separation in order to curry favor with the external society is how the seeds of destruction are sewn.

Our biggest strength is our unity. We are our own biggest enemies when we participate in our people’s fragmentation. We leave ourselves open and vulnerable. This has been true throughout Jewish history.

It’s so painful to watch this unfold before my eyes, to see this played out alongside the saga of the life (and death) of Irene Nemirovsky. The desire of some to separate themselves from their people is painful.

The disunity of our nation wounds. And to see my brothers and sisters (for they are our brothers and sisters) fall for such an illusion is an additional source of hurt. It took a Hitler to remind us that we are one.

Sometimes only when we are attacked from outside armies do we band together. But wouldn’t it better if we recognized our family through demonstrations of love and caring, through open discussion

and sincere desire to find common ground? It doesn’t matter how loudly or frequently we tell the world that we are different than our brethren, when anti-Semitism comes, we all share the same boat.

We are now approaching the holiday of Shavuot. When the Jewish people encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai in preparation to receive the Torah, they exhibited an unprecedented unity. They were like “one person with one heart.”

This is the true secret to our success; only when we acted as one did we merit the Almighty’s revelation and the gift of His Torah. We need to make our way back. We need to refocus our energies. We need to be united

against our external enemies and band together in order to reach our true spiritual potential.

Reading The Life of Irene Nemirovsky and observing the Jewish world today frightens me. It seems on the surface as if some things never change and some people never learn. And yet Shavuot is coming.

And that unique experience of unity has been embedded in the spiritual fabric of the holiday. That palpable sense of a people with one clear purpose is available to us every year at this time. That is our hope.

That is our opportunity. If only we can all reach out and grab it.

May 15, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 15

(15) Gerald J. Hurwitz, May 24, 2010 5:11 PM


Right on target; but preaching to the choir.

(14) Babs - Australia, May 20, 2010 3:02 AM

I agree

We are privileged to be living in these times when the Jewish people finally have their homeland. Israel belongs to the Jewish people by law, by war and by G-d and we should say thank you every day to Hashem for giving Israel back to us. We should do everything in our power to keep Jerusalem, in its entirety, as our capital and we should never take Israel for granted. Yes, as Jews, we should all unite to support Israel in every possible way to achieve this goal. After all, history has taught us that no one else is going to do it for us!

(13) Anonymous, May 19, 2010 6:55 AM

If you're looking for traitorous Jews who have turned their backs on Israel to curry favor with the outside world, look no further than South Africa's Judge Richard Goldstone

(12) Stanley Tee, May 18, 2010 11:58 AM

Name them

Why don't you name the supposedly "pro-Israel" group? I believe readers should know who they are. J Street claims to be "pro-peace" too (although I believe they have now dropped the "pro-Israel" claim), but purely on terms that would leave Israel in pieces.

(11) , May 17, 2010 8:41 PM

disappointing article as several seeming inaccuracies

"Our biggest strength is our unity."I may be mistaken but at Sinai[maybe Purim] was the last time we had true unity of purpose. God willing we'll attain it again. It is false to imply that Jews did not often assimilate out of harms way. Even during the Nazi horror half and quarter Jews had greater chances of survival and the Nazi/Amelakite model was not the norm throughout our persecution filled history. As is true today most often Jews only had to reject Judaism in order to become part of the mainstream society, and for those that did they, or if not tem their children and grandchildren completely assimilated. That to me is a tragedy but it has often been an option and sometimes taken. There are so few of us not only because of violence used against us. For some it's just been too hard or they had too little learning to know what they were losing[thanks to Aish,Chabad, NJOP and similar that's getting better] . As far as those who choose speak and write against Israel publicly today : "But if we have criticisms, let’s make them internally." They feel powerless to effect changes internally as the majority of Israeli Jews and those outside don't share their beliefs. They are working to preassure Obama and others to force Israel to accept policies against the will of the majority of the Jewish people. They know that can't be successful when done internally and going public appears to be a deliberate strategy to achieve their goals.

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