Emily Hauser is sharp, intelligent, and red-hot angry — and she’s absolutely right. She lived for years in Israel, and now the Israeli government wants to delegitimize her as a Jew. So she’s doing exactly what American Jews are not supposed to do vis-a-vis Israel: speaking truth.
An excerpt from her post “Bad Jew“:
Most American Jews are Reform, secular, atheist, Reconstructionist, Conservative — in short: anything but Orthodox. And yet everything about the Israeli handling of religious issues within Israel’s borders is predicated on the assumption that there is but one way to be a Jew, and that is Orthodox. My Conservative wedding? Unacceptable. My friend’s Conservative conversion? Unacceptable. Burial in anything but an Orthodox fashion? Literally impossible (unless you take the body to a friendly kibbutz).
This fact has served to anger me since before my (Orthodox) conversion, and the years have not lessened that anger one iota. It is simply wrong to dictate to the citizens of a democratic state how they may or may not conduct matters of faith, who they may or may not marry, who (in short) they are. You may think you’re a Jew, they seem to say, but you’re no Jew. And I have a law passed by the legislative body paid for by your taxes to back me up.
In recent days, though, my anger has turned to full-on fury as I have considered a fact that long escaped me: These same people? This Israeli government so anxious to hand me and mine over to the tender mercies of the Orthodox rabbinate — the, let’s be honest, ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, peopled by men who follow dress-codes set in (if I’m not mistaken) 16th century Poland — this bunch of secular, nationalist, opportunistic politicians for whom matters of faith matter not in the least? These people?
They are the very same people who tell American Jews, over and over and fucking over again, that they had best be all about official Israeli policy regarding the conflict. They had best be all about the occupation and the settlements and the constant war-footing and the refusal to accept any (any) responsibility for the results of the refusal to actually resolve the conflict. Indeed, American Jews must not only be mentally and emotionally behind all of this — they must also send their money east, to support it, and dog their Senators and Congress members to do likewise.
Else they are very bad Jews indeed.
To summarize: The Jewish State is happy to take American Jews’ money and stir us up to create political pressure to support endless war — but our prayers?
In fact Emily has been speaking truth on her blog for the past year, especially about Israel and Palestine, which is why she’s on my list of Recommended Sites. But the depth of feeling in this post is something else.
I love her anger. It’s purifying. It’s freeing. And because it comes from someone so deeply involved in Jewish faith, it cuts to the bone. So read her full post here, and then if she lights the same fire in you, start forwarding it like crazy!
Aw Lesley, you’re the best! Every once and a while, one just comes flying out, if you know what I mean. They seem to write themselves in my head, and fly out my fingers.
Thank you very much. From the comments at my place, it seems I’m not the only one who feels this way….
I must add that as a Bad American Jew (BAJ), I feel very caught-in-the-middle — my Jewish friends are quick to call me a Bad Jew due to my humanist-leaning belief structure (and laziness re: practice, to be completely truthful), and my non-Jewish friends are either overly fascinated by the fact of my Jewishness, or otherwise prejudiced against me for a set of beliefs that I may or may not adhere to, regarding religion and politics. How come the existence of various sects of Christianity is acceptable, but “a Jew is a Jew is a Jew”? (Pardon me, Gertrude Stein.)
Excellent questions — will follow up in a post. Thanks, Nancy.