Author Topic: Confessions of a Self-Loather  (Read 3462 times)

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Offline weelittlefishy

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Confessions of a Self-Loather
« on: February 06, 2014, 03:40:11 PM »
Confessions of a Disengaged Young Jew

How Birthright and Hillel Turned Me Off to Israel

http://forward.com/articles/192104/confessions-of-a-disengaged-young-jew/

I don’t have strong opinions about Israel. I can’t say whether the country’s risks justify the force it often employs, nor can I say whether its greatest threats come from within or without.

It’s strange to begin a column by revealing one’s indifference on a topic. I know. Though what interests me isn’t what one should think about Israel, but how I got here. And that’s something on which I have an opinion.

This resistance to taking a stand on Israel was born of my experience going to Israel-themed programming at my college Hillel, and later on a Birthright trip. These two institutions aim to foster attachment to Israel among young adults. Unfortunately, they had the opposite effect on me.

I went to Hillel and on Birthright because I was looking for a source of unbiased information on, and sober insight into, the country. I naively believed that I could rely on the Jewish community to educate me. I wasn’t looking for a diversity of opinions so much as I was hoping to find a place where I could leave all the noise behind and feel comfortable and safe. I just wanted facts, presented by someone who did his or her best to be fair. I found nothing of the sort.

Having left Hillel and Birthright uninformed, my indifference eventually became willful. I just couldn’t juggle the experience of Tel Aviv’s lively beaches, the serene intensity of Friday evenings at the Kotel, and the sadness and shame I feel when I hear about life in Gaza and the West Bank. So instead of finding a way to reconcile these discordant realities, I detached. Israel just wouldn’t be my problem to solve.

As we debate whether or not Hillels should open up their doors to anti-Zionists, we should keep in mind that according to the recent Pew Research Center study on American Jewry, more and more young American Jews are moving in my direction, distancing themselves from Israel altogether. This isn’t so much about Zionism versus anti-Zionism as it is about not bothering at all.

Having a diversity of opinions would help, but what might be more effective would be to give people with my mindset a rhetoric-free place to learn. What disappointed me most about my experience with Israel education in the Jewish world is that nobody seemed to trust me with facts, or believe that I could handle nuances or contradictions. I could.

I went on Birthright in 2004, on a trip called “Behind the Headlines.” I chose this one hoping to do exactly that, to get the backstory on Israel. Imagine my disappointment, then, when, a few days into the trip, our bus traveled alongside a very tall, very long wall and the trip leader felt no need to explain what it was there for and who was behind it. This was the moment when I realized that not only were we not going behind the headlines, we weren’t even going to cover them.

The trip wasn’t a total bust; I met my husband there. But to this day we remain a little ashamed of this shared history. There is something unsettling to both of us about the fact that our love blossomed amid all that denial and, for us, guilt.

In response to the Pew study’s findings that young American Jews are more likely to be critical and less likely to feel attached to Israel, Jewish leaders claimed that those suspicious Jews are probably just uninformed. But seldom do any of these leaders stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, they could be trying a little harder to provide Jews with more of a knowledge base.

I know I must take responsibility here, too. There were, of course, opportunities to educate myself along the way, books to read, lectures to attend. But without any base, I didn’t know where to begin, or whom to trust. I knew that when it comes to Israel, everyone’s got their agenda, and I was scared that I wasn’t informed enough to see through it.

Lately though, with every spritz of my SodaStream, or every news report about the expansion of the settlements, my willful indifference has begun to no longer feel right. I am starting to think that as a Jew, I might have a responsibility to pick a side and take a stand. Distancing, which once let me avoid Middle East politics, now just makes me feel complicit. The next step is figuring out where to start.

Elissa Strauss writes about gender and culture for the Forward and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elissaavery



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Offline fibrogirl

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Re: Confessions of a Self-Loather
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2014, 04:49:56 PM »
I like the comment which said that the writer's Judaism was "left wing activism on a bagel".

  When I was a teenager in the late 80's and 90's I would have done anything for a the opportunities the writer got. I was the only one of 2 Jewish 17 year olds in my city in Britain and had quite a hard time.
There was no birthright or internet.

If she wanted "balance" why did she go on birthright?
The whole point of that is to bring people closer to Israel, not to give critical lefties "balance".
« Last Edit: February 08, 2014, 08:24:55 PM by fibrogirl »

Offline kahaneloyalist

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Re: Confessions of a Self-Loather
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 12:35:05 AM »
I've always felt very close to the Chabad position in regards to Jews detached from Torah, that we cant give up on them and must try to do kiruv, and I still feel in my heart they are right. But lately I have increasingly found myself exhausted with the self-hate, the desperate desire to be liked and accepted by the Goyim.

Every time I see one of these articles I cant help but think what is the point? Not about Eretz Yisrael, or even the Jews there, misguided as they can be. But the self hating Jew in the exile is so tiresome. I just dont know if there is anything to be done about them anymore.

But I cling to the example of the Tzadik HaRav Meir Kahane zt'l who never gave up on even the most assimilated and self hating Jews. So I must try to follow his path.
"For it is through the mercy of fools that all Justice is lost"
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Offline weelittlefishy

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Re: Confessions of a Self-Loather
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 10:23:12 PM »
I've always felt very close to the Chabad position in regards to Jews detached from Torah, that we cant give up on them and must try to do kiruv, and I still feel in my heart they are right. But lately I have increasingly found myself exhausted with the self-hate, the desperate desire to be liked and accepted by the Goyim.

Why in particular do they do this with the "Palestinians"? Blind conformity to Leftist ideology? Don't they realize the rampant anti-Semitism on the political left? These people are insane and want the fate of Israel in the hands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Surely they know what that would mean??!!

These people will NEVER accept them. The issue is even worse than race relations in the US. Whites try to pacify blacks who are never happy with anything and want everything which they'd even then not be satisfied with. These Islamist psychos are far worse than even this!!!!!
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Offline kahaneloyalist

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Re: Confessions of a Self-Loather
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2014, 09:31:22 PM »
Why in particular do they do this with the "Palestinians"? Blind conformity to Leftist ideology? Don't they realize the rampant anti-Semitism on the political left? These people are insane and want the fate of Israel in the hands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Surely they know what that would mean??!!

These people will NEVER accept them. The issue is even worse than race relations in the US. Whites try to pacify blacks who are never happy with anything and want everything which they'd even then not be satisfied with. These Islamist psychos are far worse than even this!!!!!

The self-hating Jews have been poisoned by centuries in the exile. They are shorn of Jewish ideals and desperately crave to be loved by the Goyim. Without Torah what can you expect, and they have no Torah.
"For it is through the mercy of fools that all Justice is lost"
Ramban