What Jewish education would teach

As these words were written, the genocidal regime in Gaza was still sending rockets and other missiles at the villages and cities of Israel, hoping to kill as many people as possible. Israel, of course, was still fighting back, hoping to spare as many of their people as possible from the deadly onslaught.

When Israel fights back, however, a great many people are offended. Noisily and en-masse, they take to the streets to protest and march with a festoonery of revealing flags, signs and placards, while chanting and shrieking nasty variations on the same murderous theme: “Free Palestine”, which of course means replace the Jewish State with a non-Jewish State, which of course means the Jews have no right to sovereign existence there, which of course means…..

As long as the marches and protests are without violence, the ugly screaming and hateful shouting are part of the heavy freight we carry for living in a free, democratic society. The demonstrations however, are infuriating because they are never advocate for Jewish-Arab coexistence, or inter-ethnic tolerance, or mutual national respect, or peaceful territorial compromise. They simply express vile calumny toward Israel.

And thus, what saddens as well as enrages us, is the participation in these plainly vicious anti-Israel demonstrations of many well-meaning, but not well-informed – young Jews. It leaves one to ask: if they knew more about modern and ancient Jewish history, would they shout such ant-Israel bigoted bile? Would they understand the horrific implications of the slogans they shouted?

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent, non-profit, professional policy planning think tank based in Jerusalem provides a powerful insight that bears upon these questions. In commenting upon The Pew Research Center’s new study of American Jewry, 

the JPPI points out that the greatest sense of shared commonality among and for other Jews is felt by Jews who affiliate with one of Judaism’s modern streams.

In relation to a sense of commonality felt by American Jews for Israelis, JPPI observed: “How many American Jews say they have “a lot in common” with Israeli Jews? One in five (19 percent). And how many say they have “something in common” with Israeli Jews? Another two-fifths (40 percent). A total of 60 percent feel some commonality with Israeli Jews. And it’s notable that Orthodox and Conservative Jews feel a marked sense of commonality, while the Reform feel it a little less, though still strongly. But those not affiliated with any religious stream, or who self-identify as Jews “not by religion,” are at the bottom of the commonality scale. Of the latter, only a third feel some kind of connection.”

We do not know and therefore cannot comment on exactly who – among our sons and daughters here and in the USA – are volubly and publicly joining the anti-Israel ranks. But we can justifiably speculate that youngsters more aware of their people’s “story” – our history, literature, traditions, and faith – that is, having benefited from affordable Jewish education would be less likely to believe, let alone chant, “Free Palestine.”

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The JPPI article can be read at:

The Jewish Camp of the Nine Percent

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Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.

GAJE, May 21, 2021

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