I have long argued that the Jewish community has allowed itself to be treated in ways that other communities would never tolerate.
Far too often we fail to push back against the tide of unfair behavior aimed at us – a tide that rolls in from so many directions it can be overwhelming. Most often the target is the State of Israel, which is subject to regular onslaughts of unfair and biased coverage in the social, political and media spheres.
Israel, for example, is constantly held not just to a higher standard, but an impossible one. I need only remind you of Israel’s recent wars in Gaza where the Jewish state was admonished for providing basic security for its citizens while Hamas was given a pass for initiating the conflict, repeatedly violating cease-fires, and targeting Israeli civilians while using their own as human shields.
There is also the equally severe sin of stereotyping and generalization. Critics of the Jewish state will harp on sins of an Israeli individual, such as the despicable, deadly burning of a Palestinian home a few years ago, when in reality those lone-wolf attacks, which are a disgrace to all that Judaism represents, say little of a government that dedicates itself to the rights and safety of Israelis and Arabs alike.
There is no dispute that drawing upon one particular case to judge a general whole is both unethical and logically groundless. Yet, no matter how blatantly such unjust arguments are made against the Jewish community and Israel, they don’t seem to fade.
A recent example of such stereotyping appeared in The Washington Post just a few weeks ago. It was penned by a rabbi.
In an article protesting the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s decision to reject testimony on Jewishness from 160 American rabbis, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, who was on the list, launched an attack against not just the rabbinate, but Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community as a whole – a broad term he uses interchangeably with the narrowly defined institution of Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate.
For the record, I am absolutely against the blacklist, which rightly received widespread condemnation. It’s an embarrassing mistake that seems to have been carried out by a low-level bureaucrat. But Rabbi Steinlauf made things worse by launching a general attack against the ultra-Orthodox that uses unacceptable stereotypes.
Alarmingly, he based much of his polemic on a single experience he had at a Shabbat lunch when he was 19. By “much,” I mean nearly half of his…