Why is it that the tendency of the Jewish community is to splinter over the tiniest of disagreements, to near battle stations when issues as critical as the existential threat to Israel posed by Iran’s nuclear capabilities become an issue of contention? Our ancestors are, no doubt, terribly puzzled over the petty infighting that has emerged into public displays of disaffection. We used to keep our infighting private — if Jews were arguing among themselves, it was never something we’d share with the outside world.
Now there is a visceral response to air each seemingly minute grievance through real or virtual bullhorns. it’s not just our ancestors who are puzzled; the rest of the world is too.
For example, there was a recent hullabaloo over whether or not to attend the Chanukah party thrown by the Conference of Presidents of Major american Jewish Organizations. A generation ago, we would all have
attended proudly, bragged about our affiliation with whichever organization we were involved and noshed politely on latkes. This year, not only did Jewish organizations not attend, they actually boycotted it. Why? Because it was held in the trump international hotel in Washington. Really? The president-elect was not even on the guest list!
What kind of statement is made when we boycott our own events? How on earth did the Jewish Federations of
North America — as middle-of-the-road an organization as they come — get sucked into this mess and decide not to attend the party?
I’m disappointed in the way we are treating each other, the way we respond to membersof our own community.
Our bickering is on display to people outside our own “community.” They view American Jews as being splintered. Politicians view segments of the Jewish community rather than the community as a whole.
Are we really big enough to be segmented?
Perhaps our Jewish community should take a deep breath. Instead of shooting from the hip and assuming that the incoming president portends doom and gloom, maybe we should see how he is prepared to govern. instead of taking nuanced views about how Israel should or should not behave or the role that Jewish organizations should play in building up (not tearing down) the U.S.- Israel relationship, maybe we should judge the measure of the man and his administration by the policies he enacts.
Whoever was advising Jewish organizations to boycott the Chanukah party may not have had the community’s best interests at heart.
Bonnie Glick is a veteran diplomat and businesswoman. She lives in Bethesda, Md.