Take off That Mask. (Israel: Two E-Mail Communications)

By Gordis, Daniel | Midstream, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

Take off That Mask. (Israel: Two E-Mail Communications)


Gordis, Daniel, Midstream


March 16, 2003

Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Jill,

When The New York Times carries a story about a student newspaper at the Jewish Theological Seminary refusing to print a D'var Torah, something of interest is clearly happening. So, curious, I dug around the web a bit, found your submission, and read it with interest.

Given that JTS--hardly a bastion of rabid Zionism these days--had refused to publish it, I expected something really outrageous. But on the surface, it wasn't nearly as troubling as I'd expected. You're concerned about the fair treatment of Israeli Arabs. So am I. You're deeply troubled by the deaths of Palestinian civilians. So am I. You want Israel to be better. So do I.

So do many Israelis, Jill. Many of us are troubled by precisely the things that trouble you. That's why, for a while, I found myself feeling that the whole thing was a tempest in a teapot. OK, so it was a bit political for a D'var Torah, and a bit left. But still, why the outcry?

But I read it again, and again. And over a couple of days, I found it making me more and more uncomfortable. So I asked myself, given that there is so much that I, like many Israelis, actually agree with in your piece, why does it leave me with such a feeling of discomfort? There are, I think, three dimensions of the epistle that strike me as troubling. I'd like to tell you why.

Before I do so, though, let me assure you that the critique that follows isn't about you. We've never met, though I look forward to doing so. My comments here aren't personal at all, but rather, are directed at a certain form of public discourse about Israel, which, I think, is reflected in your D'var Torah. What I'm addressing is a way of speaking about Israel that is found in the public utterances of groups like "Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace" (which you represent) and the American Jewish radical left, in general. Please read my letter in that spirit.

The first thing that troubles me about your piece is your certainty that Israel is simply wrong. Your tone implies that Israel has alternatives that are readily apparent to anyone with even a modicum of moral sophistication. Where I live, we muse on our predicament all the time; but unlike you, none of us can seem to think of any easy answers.

When the army accidentally killed two Jewish security personnel last week in a torrent of bullets, both the press and many of our friends began to wonder what that says about the behavior of the army in cases that we don't hear about, when the people being pursued are Palestinian, not Jews. The people we talked to over Shabbat (religious, and by no means anywhere near "left," if that will help dispel any stereotypes here) were deeply concerned. They were sad, perplexed.

But Jill, there's an enormous difference between our friends who live here and the American Jewish left you represent. Here in Jerusalem, we have those conversations in full knowledge that the alternative to this IDF "full court press" in the hills just outside our neighborhoods isn't obvious. For when the army lets up, our buses explode. When security measures are loosened just a bit, our children don't make it home from school. So we struggle, and we agonize.

But I don't feel any struggle in what you write. And your colleagues certainly don't agonize. You just assume that we're callous, that we're comfortable with all the results of our actions. You write as if Israel has made a choice to be evil. No, you don't say that, but that's what you imply. You imply that we're motivated by hate, by disregard for Arab life. Perhaps that's true of a small percentage of radical-fringe Israelis, but it's not the case for the overwhelming majority. Most of us are animated these days by something completely different.

This week is Purim. Today, the last school day before the Purim school vacation, thousands of kids went to school in costume. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Take off That Mask. (Israel: Two E-Mail Communications)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.