The synagogue in Brooklyn where our dues go — Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill — co-sponsored an event last week which I did not attend. The event was entitled “How Do We Talk About Israel: the Rabbis’ Dilemma,” and was co-sponsored by an entity “Institute for Living Judaism in Brooklyn” (ILJB).
First of all: how and why is Israel a “dilemma” ? It is not a dilemma for the majority of American Jews (if you can trust the polls), and certainly not for the many thousands who attend AIPAC meetings, attend Salute to Israel parades, and have voted, in their majority, against Finding Fault With Israel (FFWI) candidates, like Bernard Sanders and Jill Stein. Yes, I know, there are FFWI groups like JStreet and some others, but, to go by the published figures, all these FFWI formations, taken together, are in a minority. Perhaps a significant minority by now, but a minority nonetheless.
Now back to the “How Do We Talk” event. The speakers, all described as rabbis, are also described in a Jewish Week ad as “5 prominent Rabbis” (sic), The ILJB website further calls them “leading members of the rabbinate.” How does one become, after ordination, a “leading” or “prominent” rabbi ? I never heard of these people before, and neither does an internet search reveal either leadership or prominence for any of them. At the very best these adjectives are puffery, at the worst they are an attempt to mislead.
On the other hand, an internet search of these five shows that at least four of them are associated with Finding Fault with Israel groups. Two are listed as part of JStreet; one is part of the New Israel Fund; a fourth is part of T’ruah. None of the five, insofar as I could find, are associated with no-nonsense pro-Israel work. Would you find any at an AIPAC conference or on a Salute to Israel parade ? I doubt it.
Now I realize that in my “progressive” part of Brooklyn there are many Jews who are inclined in a FFWI direction, and I would welcome productive and courteous discussion with them. But when a forum is so clearly stacked, count me out !