Letters | Aug. 12, 2020

1

Start capitalizing already

Surely WJW will join newspapers around the country, among other media, and capitalize the word “Black” when writing about people of color, just as you would for Jewish and Christian, etc. The very informative and personal article about Tracey Nicole speaking [“NoVa Moishe Houses discuss black Jewish experience,” Aug. 6] should have been a perfect place to start.

The Washington Post has already begun using the capital B and I noticed the word referencing White people was also capitalized. Both are necessary now.


HARRIET PLATT
Rockville

Nothing but the news

I have been a WJW subscriber for decades and I much prefer your previous approach to the current magazine of personality profiles. I like seeing what the different synagogues and organizations are doing.

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

MARJORIE KRAVITZ
Rockville

Peter Beinart, Seth Rogen and the future of Judaism

In his article, “If you are not Zionist or Orthodox, are Beinart and Rogen the ‘woke’ handwriting on the wall for Diaspora Jewry?” (Voices, Aug. 6), Eric Mandel sharply criticizes Peter Beinart and Seth Rogen for their criticism of Israel and warns that only those Jews who are Zionists or Orthodox will survive into the future.


Peter Beinart, a long-time liberal Zionist, wrote in The New York Times that, because of Israel’s continued occupation of the land that advocates of a two-state solution saw as a future Palestinian state, he now advocates a “one-state solution” in which there would be equal rights for all, whatever their religious faith or ethnic background.

The alternative, he argued, would be South African-type apartheid. In the case of comedian Seth Rogen, who spent his youth attending Jewish schools and camps, he said he had been repeatedly lied to when he was told that Palestine represented “a land without a people for a people without land.” Instead, he discovered that when Zionists began to settle in Palestine in the late 19th century, it was, in fact, fully populated.

In his article, Mandel asks “…whether these are indicative of where the American Jewish Diaspora is headed.” Without Israel and Zionism, he argues, Judaism is likely to disappear. What he does not acknowledge is that opposition to Zionism was once the dominant view among American Jews and is becoming the dominant view once again, most dramatically among young people.

Judaism, he seems not to recognize, is a religion of universal values, not a nationality. Americans of Jewish faith are American by nationality and Jews by religion, just as other Americans are Protestant, Catholic or Muslim. Despite the claims of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel is not the “homeland” of American Jews. Indeed, Zionism, which places the State of Israel, rather than God, as central to Judaism, represents a form of idolatry, similar to the Golden Calf in the Bible.

The divide between the values of most American Jews and those embraced by the Israeli government is becoming increasingly clear. American Jews believe in religious freedom and separation of church and state. Israel is a theocracy with a state religion. Reform and Conservative rabbis are forbidden by law to conduct weddings, or preside over funerals and conversions. There is no civil marriage in Israel. If a Jew and non-Jew wish to marry, they must leave the country to do so. American Jews believe in democracy. Israel has occupied the West Bank for more than 50 years, in violation of international law. Its inhabitants have no right to vote for the government under which they live.

The one way Judaism will not survive in America is if it substitutes Zionism for the universal Jewish moral and ethical tradition. Jewish criticism of Zionism’s ethnocentric worldview has a long history. In 1938, alluding to Nazism, Albert Einstein warned an audience of Zionist activists against the temptation to create a state “imbued with a narrow nationalism within our own ranks against which we have already had to fight strongly even without a Jewish state.” Political Zionism, argued the philosopher Martin Buber, “…blasphemes the name of Zion. It is nothing more than one of the crude forms of nationalism.”

Mandel may not be aware of the long history of Jewish opposition to Zionism. Judaism has made an extraordinary contribution to the world. The Hebrew Bible is an intrinsic part of both Christianity and Islam. It is to trivialize that great contribution and tradition to tie it to any state, as he has done in this attack on Peter Beinart and Seth Rogen.

ALLAN C. BROWNFELD
Alexandria
The writer is the publications editor, American Council for Judaism.

McConnell is no democrat

In “Voters, Unite!” (Editorials, Aug. 6), WJW cites Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as an advocate for democracy. But the same Brennan Center that WJW pairs with McConnell notes that he hasn’t once brought up the Voting Rights Act for a vote.

And the Senate matched the House $3.6 billion COVID-19 election security appropriation with $0. The Brennan Center stated: “Federal funding for safe elections can make sure we avoid a democracy crisis in November.”

McConnell, defender of elections?

MARK CZARNOLEWSKI
Silver Spring

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1 COMMENT

  1. With respect to Allan Brownfeld’s letter above, Brownfeld joins the ranks of Peter Beinhart, Seth Rogan and approximately 80% of American Jewry in relying upon an insidious false narrative that, in turn, is based on ignorance and sheer stupidity. He states that opposition to Zionism was once the dominant view among American Jews and is once again becoming the dominant view. He forgets or ignores the fact that these were in large measure effete Jews who feared a backlash from their gentile neighbors if they were too vocal or expressed too much pride in their Zionist heritage, much like today’s “liberal Zionists” or, more accurately, anti-Zionists.
    Adding insult to injury, he states that Zionism is a form of idolatry. Stop “woking” and instead wake up, sir! Zionism is an inseparable and essential part of Judaism. If you have any familiarity at all with the Torah, Mr. Brownfeld, you should recognize that the entire mission assigned to the Jewish people, certainly after being freed from slavery in Egypt, is to establish a Jewish NATION from which they will become a LIGHT unto the other nations of the world.
    The reason why the divide between the values of a majority of American Jews and those of Israeli Jews is becoming greater is in large measure because those American Jews are comatose regarding the fundamental significance of Zionism to world Jewry.
    Yes, Judaism along with its essential Zionist component, has made a tremendous contribution to Western civilization especially as regards Torah-inspired morality and justice that forms the foundation of Western society and the Judeo-Christian values upon which our Constitution was based. So, Eric Mandel is absolutely correct. Sadly, Allan Greenfeld and the majority of the American Jewish Diaspora are lost in a sea of valueless and ephemeral “social justice,” that has befuddled many other Americans who value ignorance over knowledge.
    MARC CAROFF
    Virginia Beach, VA

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