Over the past several years, we've opened up our pulpit to writers and thinkers who have openly criticized the policies of the Israeli government, in an effort to advance the idea that the sooner we move toward a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians, the better off we'll all be. We've had Tom Segev, Benny Morris, Akiva Eldar, Gershom Gorenberg, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Haim Watzman--all from the Israeli left side, so that the critique would be an internal critique, attempting to model reflection and self-criticism; and in addition, invited Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian intellectual, such an aggrieved act that an editor at Commentary said I had shamed the Jewish community by inviting him into our synagogue. The center was recently represented by Jeffrey Goldberg and in November, along with J Street & Peace Now, we'll have Aaron David Miller, the ADL and the AJC. At least we're trying to model true dialogue as an internal Jewish value here. (It mattered little to Commentary, which still refuses to come, sadly, when I tried to explain that Khalidi spoke about the Seder he goes to each year for the past twenty-five years. No difference: both left and right prefer demonization to true dialogue, it appears.)
Mondoweiss, the internet love handle for Phil Weiss, who was at the Khalidi talk with his posse (hey, that's how he rolls) has recently posted on his blog that I, along with another Brooklyn "progressive" rabbi, Rabbi Ellen Lippman of Kolot Chayeinu: Voices of Our Lives, have caused great consternation among the progressive anti-Israel community because we don't support the Ahava Products Boycott that these crusaders for justice think will be just the right slingshot to fell the Goliath of the occupation.
I really wish I didn't have to take this stuff seriously.
First, there's the delusional aspect. Hand lotion and mineral soaps, apparently, are the cause of grave injustice. This is a position taken by Code Pink and Jews Say No and Brooklyn for Peace and Mondo himself, all of whom, I assume, have scrutinized the wage and health-care contracts of every single piece of clothing, household product and food (don't forget food, this is Brooklyn, afterall) that they buy. The pure of heart are deeply concerned that the area upon which Ahava products are made is in "illegally occupied territory" that, regardless of any negotiations past, present or future, will still remain in Israel after a settlement.
Unless of course Mondo et al achieve their truly desired result which is the complete eradication of Israel as a Jewish state. You don't even need to scratch beneath the surface of this ersatz movement to understand its motivations--the creation of a bi-national state, which demographically means the end of Israel as a Jewish state within a generation or two. No reasonable person believes that Israel will buckle under the pressure of the refusal of John Mearsheimer's disciples to use, say, Nivea or Jergens because it's the more morally pure choice; this is a clear, strategic effort to erode Israel's legitimacy by killing through a thousand cuts. It's a slow, relentless, I dare say, gnat-like pestering, that's designed to annoy and frustrate on one hand, but when you follow the links or the comments on their blog posts, enables the worst conspiratorial anti-Semitic thinking in American today.
Jews control the media; Jews control the banks; Jews control government. Jews controlled Bush; Jews control Obama. The purity of the politically correct hand-lotion movement for a Free Palestine allows into its echo-chamber that other infamous kind of purity talk--a nation free of its annoying, evil Jews.
So, yeah, I think the boycott is stupid. And useless. But because its tools of technological transmission allow for virulently hateful things to be said about Jews, it takes on a particularly dangerous form of political discourse--screaming at the top of its lungs while listening to its own internal soundtrack of self-righteous back-slapping.
What they'll say is: You Jews/Zionists always bring up anti-Semitism whenever we criticize Israel. I don't say that. And the people I've opened my pulpit to prove that point, Mondo. Including you, who has rested his posterior in one of our seats because "Mine House Shall Be A House of Prayer for All Peoples." But when you lack the courage of your own convictions by allowing for the vile spread of anti-Semitism on your blog AND argue for the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state, it is you who is living inside of an "orthodox" bubble of intolerance.
By the way, speaking of bubbles bursting, I really enjoyed watching you get schooled by Stephen Colbert.
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