[Not only] A failure of good manners
I. A short homily:
"Derech Eretz" is Talmudic code for civil, polite and thoughtful behavior. Something like "good manners". The third chapter of Pirkei Avos says that if one doesn't behave with derech eretz, one doesn't have Torah (Torah being a catch-all term for scholarship, knowledge, wisdom, responsibility).
I would expect any Jewish person, and especially if in a position of influence and visibility, to be extra aware of this dictate, which is not religious, but social - a sphere no less important in Judaism than the relationship between a man and his maker.
II. So here is this story:
The facts surrounding the New York City rally organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, to protest the visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and demonstrate opposition to the Iranian government’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons, are slowly trickling out.
Governor Sarah Palin, on behalf of the Republican presidential ticket, was invited and accepted.
Senator Hillary Clinton was invited presumably to represent the Obama team but then withdrew in a fit of pique, we are told, upon learning that Palin would be there.
An effort was extended to Senator Joe Biden but he was otherwise occupied.
A group of liberal Jewish groups then prevailed on the rally organizers to disinvite Palin.
III. What I think:
It was a disgraceful behaviour, if for no other reason than it was boorish and in direct disregard of elementary “derech eretz” (good manners).
To is painful and embarrassing to observe how easily Jewish organizations can be manipulated and cowed into doing the wrong thing! I’m quite aghast at the lack of thoughtfulness and enduring principle that such stupid confused decisions manifest.
It is my opinion that much of the blame rests with the campaign of intimidation and silencing that has been going on in recent years against such Jewish organizations by the likes of Jimmy Carter and Mearsheimer and Walt (probably dancing with joy over this). They certainly succeeded in rattling Jewish-American nerves to such a degree that they can no longer think correctly.
J-street, the “new Jewish Lobby”, is hard at work at making American Jews to act against their interests, their common sense and ethical judgment-- and simultaneously encouraging the breach of the principle of derech-eretz. And for what? To appease the ire of one political party!
This is certainly not an example of wisdom, or leadership.
Eric Trager on "Contentions" brings in a deadly important angle to which I was not paying
But the organizations behind the National Coalition to Stop Iran Now deserve far greater condemnation–not only for giving in to the Obama-Biden campaign’s petty political demands, but for staging a rally that presents concerns regarding Iran as a strictly Jewish issue. Indeed, this rally is now the exclusive enterprise of Jewish groups–The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, UJC, UJA, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Meanwhile, the fact that the only public figure speaking at the rally is an Israeli parliamentarian–Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik–compounds this issue.
With such bumbling idiocy, I foresee a day coming soon when the State of Israel will have to distance itself politely but firmly from its American Jewish allies.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
[Not only] A failure of good manners