Anti-Semitic epithet worse than most realize
Apart from the supporters of those who use the phrase, I believe many people fail to grasp the significance of the epithet “fake Jew” (“Anti-Semitism in District claims one resignation,” May 3).
When D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman was called “fake Jew” by a spokesman from the Nation of Islam, her level of Jewish observance and synagogue attendance were not being questioned. Rather, Abdul Khadir Muhammad was questioning the actual legitimacy of all Jews, especially those of European descent.
It’s a common trope among modern anti-Semites. Their thesis — if I may call it that — is that modern Jews are not related to the Jews of the Bible, but are instead usurpers who have appropriated the religion for some unstated reason. Depending on which anti-Semite is talking, the “real” Jews are the Black Hebrews, Palestinian Arabs, various European groups, etc. In any event, it’s important to understand that the phrase “fake Jew” is being used to de-legitimize both Zionism and the Jewish people as a whole.
Jewish state can do better when it comes to PR
Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett has written an encouraging piece about the need to review and invest in Diaspora-Jewish relations at this important time (“Why Israel is investing in Diaspora Jewish education at this time,” May 3). The one area where Israel needs serious improvement is in its public relations. An example is when Jewish high school students across the United States staged protests against Israel’s detention of a Palestinian teenager for slapping an Israeli soldier.
While the Israeli government may have been justified in its action against this young Palestinian, they must seriously address the perception of these Jewish teenagers, who perceived that Israeli authorities were acting as oppressors and occupiers. According to one of these protesters, they were “applying the Jewish values we learned in Hebrew school and around the Shabbat dinner tables: We must respect, protect, and honor not only Jews, but Palestinians, as well.”
There is a difference between justice and revenge. If Bennett is serious about improving relations between Israel and the Jewish diaspora, he must lead efforts to present how the Israeli government enacts policies that pursue the former, rather than the latter.
Disengagement is the real Diaspora danger
Although I disagree with many of Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett’s views, I concur with his statement, “My main concern is the 75 percent of U.S. Jews, or more, who don’t care enough to be mad at Israel” (“Why Israel is investing in Diaspora Jewish education at this time,” May 3).
It seems to me that many who are disengaged from Israel are disinclined to believe that the increasingly overt anti-Semitism occurring in this country and many other parts of the world might ever affect them or their offspring. The issues surrounding D.C. Council member Trayon White are just one local example.
As Bennett states, Israel is the nation-state for all Jews, citizens or not. If anti-Semitism in the United States were to eventually take hold to the degree that it has in some other places, these currently disengaged Jews — or their children or grandchildren — might find that Israel is a place they’d like to be. And they might wish they’d engaged with Israel sooner.