If Israel’s far-right Kach party were American and Republican, they would be this week’s Schmuck Republicans.
On Friday evening, I was informed of a website called Masada 2000, run by members/supporters of the Kach party (founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in NYC in 1990.) The website, just like the political party which launched it, is virulently anti-radical-Muslim and anti-leftist. This, I will readily admit, is something I can understand, having read parts of David Horowitz’s book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, and being currently in the middle of Jamie Glazov’s new book United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.
I was informed of a page on the website called the “S.H.I.T. List,” where that four-letter word serves as an acronym for “Self-Hating and/or Israel-Threatening” Jews. Listed are infamous leftist anti-Israel and/or Palestinian-sympathizing luminaries, e.g., activists like Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin; Israel-denouncing professors like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, and practically anyone employed by UC-Berkeley; Hollywood types like Rosanne Barr and Ed Asner (Et tu, classical musician David Barenboim??? Why!?); far-left rabbis like Michael Lerner; and other assorted “peace” activists (meaning activists who support the Palestinian cause and blame Israel for all the problems in the Middle East as readily as they blame the United States for the world’s ills.)
By all accounts, such people should be called out and excoriated by American Jewry at large. Their actions and statements against the Jewish people and against Israel (not to mention against Americans and the U.S.) are hateful and indefensible.
But then Masada 2000 goes waaay too far: First, the actual blurbs on these individuals are not pretty; they’re completely bereft of the Jewish value of derech eretz (“way of the land,” i.e., decent, respectful, civilized behavior) and are a textbook case of l’shon ha-ra (“wicked tongue,” i.e., malicious gossip—even gossip which is true). Photos of individuals that appear on the list are distorted in the style of the John McCain Atlantic magazine incident. Even yours truly, who has on this blog castigated left-wingers with whom I disagree, try to refrain from over-the-top stuff like this.
Secondly, and most importantly, the list appears to include anyone who does not endorse Kach’s far-right position on Israel and the Middle East conflict. That’s how they manage—proudly—to accumulate nearly 9,000 names on their S.H.I.T. list.
Someone apparently thought it appropriate to go through a directory of rabbis in the Reform Movement (the most liberal of the Jewish denominations) and insert virtually every name into their list. If there are any anti-Semitic/Israel or pro-Palestinian statements or actions these clergypeople are responsible for, Masada2000 more often than not does not cite them. Presumably any Reform rabbi is guilty by association (Incidentally, while they are very rare, I do know some Reform clergy who are staunchly right-wing.)
As someone who has recently renounced his affiliation with the Reform Movement due to its leftist politics, I was nevertheless disturbed to find dozens upon dozens of my own friends and coworkers on the S.H.I.T. list.
Why these Reform rabbis are on this list is beyond me. Unlike with the other names I mentioned above, Masada 2000 provides no citations of statements these rabbis might have made to make them personae non gratae of the Jewish people. It seems the Kach wing considers them guilty simply by their affiliation with the Reform Movement. Perhaps it’s because the position of many Reform rabbis is to favor the Two-state Solution in the Middle East, which Kach is adamantly against.
Let me make this perfectly clear: There is no way such individuals deserve to find themselves on any list that includes the likes of Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamin, and Ed Asner—all of whom by word and by deed disgrace the Jewish people and the State of Israel (and who, not coincidentally, generally have nothing nice to say about the U.S. either.)
To be sure, I have challenged my liberal rabbi friends for their support of liberal causes even when they seem to trump Jewish values or just plain common sense, and I have been particularly critical of their support for Barack Obama. Indeed, just last week, in light of President Obama’s moral-relativism-dripping Cairo speech and his weak-kneed approach to the Iranian election protests, I expressed my disappointment in my Obama-supporting Jewish friends (including clergy.) But such individuals don’t go out of their way to jeopardize Israel or denounce Jews, as others do. These are the only people who belong on such a list.
Ah, you might be thinking: I’m being biased because of my personal relationship with these Reform rabbis. Well, perhaps. But would I be friends with any of these individuals if I really thought them to be self-hating Jews and deliberately Israel-threatening? Of course not. Would I ever pal around with Jews who organize and attend rallies “in solidarity” with the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation, and so forth? Never.
Shame on Kach and the organizers of this hateful website for lumping decent—albeit, in my estimation, misguided—liberal Jewish leaders with the ultra-leftists who are truly enemies of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I am proudly conservative and proudly Jewish, but such a party does not represent me.