Saturday, May 8, 2010

J Street and Tikkun

I last covered parts of this topic here, in a piece called American Zionism at a Crossroad.

This weekend, folks on my shul's e-mail list are discussing the merits (or not) of Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun magazine and of the Zionist advocacy group J Street.

It's fair to say J Street and Tikkun are on the left hand side of Jewish and Zionist advocacy. It's not fair to say they are anti-Zionists and self-hating Jews.

The questions that started the discussion can be paraphrased thusly:

A) Are J Steeet and Tikkun good for the Jews and for Israel, or not?

B) Should J Street and Tikkun be "respected and loved" or "shunned and denounced"?

At first I was tempted to answer yes to both questions and be done with it.

My wise (and wise-guy) friend Barrett did exactly that. We are on opposite sides of the issue, but, as he pointed out, answering each question with a simple yes just states the tautology that a universe is made up of its elements.

Still, I got a little worked up. When I was done with my answer, I realized I had a blog post:

(A) Michael Lerner and the Tikkun community are surely part of the answer. Zionists in the peace camp will eventually win the day. We are not self-hating Jews, or traitors or dupes or fools. We are as ardent in our love for Eretz Yisrael as our brothers and sisters on Zionism's right wing. And as zealous.

Abba Eban was right. So far, the Palestinians have rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

But the day will come. When it does, the Tikkun community will play a bigger role than AIPAC. AIPAC's lifeblood is a sea of greenbacks raised by scaring American Jews and spent to scare American politicians.

Tikkun treads a different path. Their approach strikes me as more effective, over the long haul.

With J Street, it's too soon to tell, but I'm impressed, so far.

(B) Both J Street and Tikkun merit a lot of respect. Let's hold off on love for the moment. Let's save that for a discussion of dark chocolate, lox or rare flank steak.

I'm not a big fan of shunning and denouncing. In retrospect, we look pretty silly on Spinoza.

The institutional Jewish community's Stalinist purge of any employee who dared support the Breira movement in the 70's wasn't our finest hour either.

As a matter of fact, in looking for background to provide on Breira, I'm struck by how little has changed. Mark Silk, of Trinity College's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, says it better than I.

Shabbat Shalom,



Anonymous said...

J Street and Tikkun should, indeed, be shunned. They are more copncerned with demonizing Israel than with standing up for her!

David in DC said...

So the fundraiser for New Jewish Agenda at your house in Brooklyn has been called off?

dmarks said...

"AIPAC's lifeblood is a sea of greenbacks raised by scaring American Jews and spent to scare American politicians."

There's more than a whiff of Jewish control conspiracies in that statement....

dmarks said...

Also, I'm not surprised that Breira got laughed out of the public area. I did some reading on them. They existed at a time when the Palestinian leadership was completely in favor of exterminating the Israelis. How can there be any compromise on that, or with "Palestinian nationalism" which then was defined completely as Palestinian imperialism (the strong desire to invade Israel and perpetrate a new Holocaust).