by J. J. Gross (December 2022)
Women are often stereotyped as better manipulators and appeasers than men … —Yuval Noah Harari, SAPIENS
… there was no taboo stronger among Jews with our impoverished European origins and our tenaciously held American ambitions than the pervasive, unwritten prohibition against settling disputes by force. In that era, the common Jewish propensity was by and large nonviolent and nonalcoholic, a virtue whose shortcoming was the failure to educate the bulk of the young of my generation in the combative aggression that was the first law of other ethnic educations and indisputably of great practical value when you couldn’t negotiate your way out of violence or manage to run away. —Phillip Roth, The Plot Against America
Antisemitism is agnostic. It seeks any hospitable host through which to attack. To accuse it of being exclusively a feature of the fascist right, or the no less fascist left, speaks only about the bias of the accuser. To assign it to Islam, or Black Lives Matter, or Anitfa is no more or less true than assigning it to exclusionary country clubs, the Communist Party, British Labour, the Women’s March, or the Presbyterian Church.
Like herpes, the virus has been around forever and there is no known, or anticipated, vaccine or cure. Today its ugly head rears in a Krakow church, tomorrow at an Antifa rampage in New York City, the next day through the twitterings of a rap star, and always from the reliable, full-throated hate speech of a Louis Farrakhan.
Antisemitism is immune to elimination. Any Jew who thinks it can be brought to heel through advocacy groups like the ADL or Simon Wiesenthal Center, through the National Holocaust Museum or its myriad local copycats, through legislation by the German Government, or through the campus activities of a Hillel is delusional.
There is no defense against it. Offense? That’s something else entirely. We’ll get back to the power of offense later.
I would suggest that there are two super categories of antisemitism. They are best described as the masculine and the feminine.
Masculine Jew hatred is blunt, primitive, in-your-face and avowedly violent. The threatened bite of masculine antisemitism can seem deceptively dangerous because its amped up bark is so brazen. In the masculine camp you have everything from the KKK to the Nation of Islam, from your garden-variety rightwing hate groups and lone gunmen to the mullocracy of Iran. Like any macho brute, it thumps its pumped up chest, issues vulgar threats, bangs its drums and gets media attention often far in excess of the actual danger it poses. With masculine antisemitism, what you see is what you get, only less so.
Feminine antisemitism is very different. It is subtle, wily, underhanded, passively aggressive, cloaked and camouflaged in saccharine bromides of concern for humanity and universal love; love, that is, for everyone except Jews. This hatred is typically recast as opposition to Zionism, distaste for the so-called privileged (which most of its most militant activists are), or the objection to certain stereotypes that just happen to be, oh well, Jewish.
Feminine antisemitism is manifest in virtually every progressive movement from, yes, the women’s movement itself to the British Labour Party; from America’s Antifa to Germany’s Greens. It finds a willing host in just about every liberal European political party by way of their humanitarian generosity to groups whose sole raison d’etre is the elimination of the Jewish State craftily camouflaged as Palestinian rights.
Indeed, the entire ball of intersectional wax is firmly antisemitic by way of the slippery passive-aggression of anti-Zionism.
As the mirror image of its masculine counterpart, the bark—or purr—of feminine antisemitism is vastly less lethal than its toxic bite.
In fact, so deceptive is the feminine Jew hatred of the progressive, intersectional left, that many of its staunchest supporters—even instigators—are themselves Jewish. One need only think of groups like Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace and Bend the Arc, not to mention the leadership role played by Jews in every progressive cause, and especially in the extreme left corner of America’s Democrat Party.
Subtle fellow travelers of feminine antisemitism are abundant in nominally Jewish organizations such as the Reform movement and especially Reconstructionism and Renewal—movements that are supposedly engaged in the bolstering of Jewish life. Most deceptive of all are theoretically Israel-supporting organizations like J Street, Israel Policy Forum and New Israel Fund which do so much of the yeoman’s work for the greater intersectional movement, by providing it with the cover to signal its virtue.
The manifestation of feminine Jew hatred and the insidious role played by actual Jews is hardly something new. Jews figured prominently in the communist movement, often playing leadership roles—in Yiddish—while striving mightily to eradicate any vestige of bourgeois and religious values, often viewed as synonymous with Jewish. In the Soviet Union the all-Jewish Yevsektzia—the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party established in 1918—along with its Yiddish language journal EMES, were particularly vicious to their committedly Jewish brethren.
Feminine antisemitism is congenial for Jewish self-doubters, and especially for Jewish self-haters, because it is invariably housed under a universalist roof that advocates for the erasure of geographic, cultural, ethnic, even linguistic boundaries. Indeed, Jews were prominent among the original ideologues of universalist thinking.
Socialism, Communism, the labor movement, Esperanto were all attempts to build a new social and world order that jettisoned old-school values, class structure and social norms. It is doubtful any of these would have made much headway without the creative and intellectual genius of Jews.
Who were those Jews, and what was it that made universalism so appealing to them—and still does?
The mid-19th Century legal and social emancipation of Jews in Western and Central Europe, like the mid 20th Century legal and social emancipation of African Americans, was sudden. There was no incremental buildup. It was as if the walls of a huge prison had suddenly fallen. All the inmates were free to go, but no one knew where to go or how to get there. Few people on the outside were particularly inclined to welcome those who were newly liberated.
Emancipation did not mean that Jews (and a century later Blacks) were suddenly fluent in the vernacular, socially and economically integrated or even welcome, or possessed of the pedigree that could gain, at least for some of them, admission into better universities, restricted clubs, or more rarefied social and business circles. From the perspective of the gentile establishment, if Jews had been degraded and detested before, at least they posed no threat to the social order. They were safely disenfranchised in their ghettos, imposed or self-imposed, and largely limited in both movement and opportunity.
Hence it was hardly surprising that organized, ideological, unabashed racial antisemitism—masculine antisemitism—would surface in reaction to the perceived onslaught of masses of Jewish parvenus attempting to storm the gates of academic, social and economic opportunity.
Enlightenment and emancipation enabled many Jews to rid themselves of the shackles of religion and the control of their rabbis. But it hardly augured for a red carpet welcome by the greater society. Some Jews were able to access the academy where they clearly excelled. This hardly endeared them to their academic peers. If anything, it had an opposite effect. Yes, a Jew could become a very successful lawyer to the degree that law became a virtually Jewish profession, but this did not necessarily translate into an invitation to dinner at his client’s home.
Especially frustrated were the often sharp, quick-witted, talented offspring of more primitive, Yiddish speaking, traditional parents. Armed with nothing but an academic degree, if that much, these young men and women would find themselves running into an invisible brick wall and a career ceiling that was both very low and hardly made of glass.
The only way to fight such a closed world was by destroying it. And the only way to destroy it was by aligning themselves not with those who were their social betters but rather by whipping up the masses who were, without question, their social and intellectual inferiors—laborers and peasants. If the club’s doors were shut in their faces, they would destroy the club. If they were not allowed to be French, or German or Polish patriots they would abolish patriotism and create a new language that had no borders; a new language both figuratively and literally.
In other words they would embark on a feminine revolution, a rebellion fought (at least initially) not with swords and guns—a battle they could never start, let alone win—but with guile, imagination, craft, art, and ideology. And so, while some Jews may have convinced themselves of their professional and commercial success, at least measured in coin, a vastly greater number pursued the arts, philosophy, economics and journalism; fields in which one’s voice and pen could achieve a power her social and commercial gifts could not.
Such feminine rebellion came naturally to Jews. Having been rendered militarily impotent for nearly two millennia, Jews had unlearned the ability to fight mano a mano. For, indeed, at one time Jews were mighty warriors in their own land, and even prized mercenaries elsewhere in the world of antiquity. Instead they had become skilled in the circumlocuitous, subtle, wheedling art of shtadlanus (the combination of persuasion, cajoling and wheedling on the part of well-connected representatives of a Jewish community) needed in order to survive and even thrive until they would wear out their local welcome.
Jews are recognized for their mental acuity. This is usually understood to have resulted from centuries of literacy and the mind-sharpening study of Talmud. Yet, while this is certainly true, no less true was the evolutionary need to develop—as women did—an alternative to brawn when dealing with physically powerful, often violent, Jew-hating authorities and society.
Jews became skilled at the art of finagling. Robbed of the opportunity to succeed on their own merits, limited in their rights to earn an honest living through farming and skilled trades, they resorted to “shtick” both as a means of putting food on their tables and as a means of getting back at their oppressors. Again, this was feminine rebellion because the other sort was a non-starter.
As a young child of seven I found myself puzzled, even disturbed, by a cartoon story that appeared of the back cover of the children’s magazine Olomeinu published by the ultra-orthodox Torah Umesorah, The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools. The story told the legend of the holy Berditchever questioning his flock on Passover. He asked who among them possessed smuggled tobacco products, and nearly everyone raised their hand. He asked who among them had other contraband in their possession, and nearly everyone raised their hand. He then asked who among them had any chometz (unleavened foods prohibited on Passover) in their possession, and not a single hand was raised. The holy Berditchever looked up to the heavens and declared to the Almighty; see how your children ignore the laws of flesh and blood kings and freely engage in the warehousing of contraband, but they would never even think of keeping any chometz in violation of your Torah.
I was the son of very straight parents, and the thought of breaking any law was unthinkable. Yet, here I was being taught that cheating the government is perfectly fine, as long as we don’t cheat the Almighty.
Now I have no way of knowing if the Berditchever tale is even true. And, of course, I could not, at that age, make the distinction between life in 18th Century Ukraine and life in 20th Century America.
In all likelihood such Jews did not think of their behavior as criminal. Rather they considered it a prank, the sort of “shtick” which weaker people pull against their superiors—children against teachers, employees against bosses, Jews against the powerful goyim. At their core, they felt fundamentally helpless against the powers that be, so the only way to get even was by ‘pulling shtick.’ This feeling of inferiority remains unabated among very parochial Jews even if they are living in a free country, even—especially—if they are living in a Jewish country. There is always the “poretz” (local nobleman, feudal landowner, aristocracy), and there is only one way to get any satisfaction against THE MAN.
Shtick and finagling are a very feminine power play, a substitute—if a poor substitute—for fighting back with force against real injustice.
Among more enlightened Jews—ever since the emancipation—the gravitation to law as a profession was surely an outgrowth of this evolved feminine wile. Law is the major leagues of finagling and shtick, and provides the successful practitioner with an ersatz feeling of power that they could never achieve in the boxing ring or on the football field—especially since one’s mother would never allow them to become a boxer or a football player. There have been exceptions, of course, but they remain exceptions.
Among more worldly and secular Jews, the impulse toward universalism is so embedded that, like Duddy Kravitz’s uncle, they can be both capitalists and socialists at the same time; both rapacious $1,000 an hour corporate lawyers and supporters of Alexandra Occasio Cortez. Or as Milton Himmelfarb so aptly put it a half century ago, they earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans, except that today’s Episcopalians can only dream of earning like Jews.
In America, the Duddy Kravitz’s uncle phenomenon is so widespread that it even has a mass circulation and very pricey magazine of its own, the once venerable Atlantic. With its masthead and bylines overwhelmingly featuring Jewish names—it now panders to and promotes a leftwing mindset that recognizes not a scintilla of centrist, let alone conservative, probity while applauding, intellectualizing and lionizing every new manifestation of intersectional hysteria.
One would think such a magazine would attract advertisers of organic vegetables, earth shoes and second-hand guitars. Wrong. Virtually all one sees on the Atlantic’s glossy pages are ads for investment funds, products that enhance corporate profitability, super-expensive performance cars, $5,000 wrist watches, retirement plans for the very v-e-r-y well heeled, and special insurance plans for recreational vehicles and other such necessities for the ‘earns Episcopalian, votes Puerto Rican’ set. An awareness of cognitive dissonance? Not even an eighth note.
Today, there is no finer example of the Duddy Kravitz’s uncle phenomenon than George Soros who sees nothing wrong with being, in his own words, an amoral pursuer of money—the victims be damned—and a self-designated savior of the disadvantaged, so long as those disadvantaged are not Jewish and are, preferably, antisemitic. Soros is a purist in his universalism, and this allows no space for Jewish particularism or, indeed, Jewish anything.
George Soros is truly the ultimate universalist, the neo Marxist Jew and ur-example of Duddy Kravitz’s uncle; both capitalist and socialist/communist, exploiter and humanist.
Soros’s mother, the erstwhile Mrs. Schwartz, was, according to him, an antisemite despite being born Jewish. And he clearly follows her example; proof that there are Jewish antisemites, even self-proclaimed ones, and always—always—to be found deeply embedded in the intersectional world of feminine Jew hatred.
Soros, of course, had the ultimate role model in Karl Marx who, like Soros’s mother, was an apostate Jew and Jew hater who famously said “the social emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of society from Judaism.” He considered money “the jealous god of Israel, in the face of which no other god may exist.” Like Soros, he preached universalism and equality for the proletariat while striving mightily to enjoy, and raise his daughters in, bourgeois biedermeier comfort.
In Marx’s time, racial antisemitism was still in its infancy. Marx understood Jewishness as a religio-cultural manifestation, one which could be cured either at the baptismal font or by subscribing to a philosophy of universalist emancipation. Hence, in effect, it may be said that his antisemitism, like pretty much all-prevailing antisemitism then, was of the feminine kind.
That all changed with the emancipation and the emergence of full frontal, race-based, masculine antisemitism which reached its apex in the Shoah.
During the Shoah, Jews were bereft of any tools with which to fight for themselves. Having known only feminine ways of dealing with their enemies, nothing prepared them for an enemy like Nazism.
The very universalism that so many secular Jews had been espousing, especially as manifest in communism, was one of the justifications the Germans used for their genocidal agenda. At the same time, the wheedling shtadlanus of so many centuries was useless under the new circumstances.
The Judenrats (councils representing Jewish communities under Nazi control) are often singled out for opprobrium, even accusations of collaboration. One must not judge the Junderats harshly, for these were merely the final manifestations of shtadlanus, of court Jews—bereft of any court—attempting to somehow do something for at least some of their coreligionists. It never occurred to them that the new circumstances made such feminine proactivity utterly worthless.
In America as well, the likes of a Rabbi Stephen Wise were probably motivated by a certain concern for their fellow Jews in Europe. But the only method they knew was that of the ghetto; the wheedling, subtle, subrosa, unadvertised shtadlanus that resulted in a big fat zero in terms of saving Jewish lives.
Yes, there were some masculine Jews during the Shoah—the Bielski Brothers, Abba Kovner and his partisans, the Bergson Group, the Stern Gang and, of course, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. They were the first manifestations of a renewed masculine Jewishness that emerged from the novel Zionist ethos. And while it was too little and too late to achieve much against Auschwitz and Treblinka, this masculine Jewishness would lead to the eviction of Britain from the Jewish homeland and the emergence and power of the State of Israel—a masculine state if ever there was one, albeit a masculine state that retained the feminine guile of its ghetto forebears, thereby creating a unique and very potent alchemy.
Vladimir Jabotinsky (Revisionist Zionist leader and founder of the Jewish Self-Defense Organization in Odessa, precursor of the Irgun and Stern Group) was the first to truly envision, and call for, a masculine Jew.
The socialist Zionists of the pre-state yishuv remained universalist, assimilationist, Marxist Jews with a strong dollop of residual shtadlanus. Their approach to the British occupying authorities was one of wheedling and cajoling. They were in no rush to raise the flag on an independent Israel. Indeed many of those that they questionably hailed as intellectual luminaries—similar to today’s Peter Beinart —were opposed to a full Jewish state, preferring a universalist state in which the Jewish frog and the Palestinian scorpion would live in blissful harmony.
Jabotisnky rejected such thinking. He envisioned a new Jew, the Biblical “Ivri” revived:
Our starting point is to take the typical Yid of today and to imagine his diametrical opposite … because the Yid is ugly, sickly, and lacks decorum, we shall endow the ideal image of the Ivri with masculine beauty. The Yid is trodden upon and easily frightened and, therefore, the Ivri ought to be proud and independent. The Yid is despised by all and, therefore, the Ivri ought to charm all. The Yid has accepted submission and, therefore, the Ivri ought to learn how to command. The Yid wants to conceal his identity from strangers and, therefore, the Ivri should look the world straight in the eye and declare: “I am an Ivri!
One Of Jabotinsky’s disciples, a renegade who broke away from the ranks of Labor Zionism, was Abba Ahimeir who understood that the passivity of the leftist labor Zionists was a holdover of European (i.e. feminine) Jewishness. Ahimeir was the ideologue of the more radical faction of Revisionist Zionsim.
Ahimeir put it this way:
In our circles we speak … about the healthy qualities of the goy. We have created for ourselves an ideal kind of goy type, which may not exist in reality. By this we mean a person without a crooked mind, without the unique galut Jewish pilpul, without the complexes (of) people whose whole purpose in life is to “thread a camel through an eye of a needle,” or to raise a cow to the top of a roof, without knowing what they are doing. It is not for nothing that Jabotinsky fled from the “Ashkenazi” tribe within the yishuv …
Ahimeir was writing about Hillel Kook who epitomized masculine Jewishness. Kook, a/k/a Peter Bergson, was a member of the Irgun who came to the US during World War Two in order to counter the cowardly shtadlanus of Sephen Wise, and hoping to rouse America’s feminine Jewry from its torpor and indifference to the holocaust then raging in Europe. Ahimeir continued by writing:
The soul of Hillel is totally liberated from all these characteristics. In this sense he is the ultimate “goy”. He is absolutely free of any diaspora-psychological complexes.
The altogether too few masculine Jewish heroes of the Shoah (many of whom were women, think Hannah Senesh for example) had an oversize impact, and inspired the previously defensive yishuv to remove the shackles of diasporic, feminine Jewishness and to follow, instead, the robust, fearless, masculine model set by the Irgun and Lehi.
This much-needed, and much delayed national ‘gender reassignment’ made the establishment of Israel possible. It inspired the readiness to fight on the barricades and not just on the mimeograph machine. This spirit has come to define modern Israel both in its ability to confront and vanquish real enemies on its borders, and to meet the global challenges that have turned it into the Startup Nation.
At the same time, the new masculine Jewishness that defines the Israeli national ethos has inevitably alienated it from diaspora Jewry—specifically the reflexively left-liberal Jews of the United States.
The American diaspora is fundamentally different from today’s European diaspora. European Jews are more conscious of the tenuousness of their situation, and many of them sit on packed psychological bags sensing that their days on the Continent may be numbered. They understand that Israel is not all that far away, and is ready to receive them. Hence, while their behavior may still be informed by the mentality of feminine Jewishness, they respect and admire the pull-no-punches virility of Israeli Jewishness, and fully expect to become part of it at some point, even it they’re in no rush.
By contrast, radically leftist, secular Jews in Europe and Britain are antagonistic to Israel to the point of outright antisemitism. They are front and center in neo-Marxist activity that is openly hostile to very existence of the Jewish state.
American Jewry is a different kettle of fish. Here we have millions of Duddy Kravitz uncles and wannabes, the folks who earn Episcopalian and vote Puerto Rican. One would have thought they should feel totally comfortable in a country that is founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That they would no longer have to hew to the shtetl insecurity that impels them be so consistently feminine Jewish. That they would exercise their second amendment right to bear arms instead of fighting tooth and nail against this right, even as their perceived enemies are stockpiling guns and ammo at an unprecedented rate.
One can only be baffled by the persistent femininity of American Jews, and wonder at their inability to emancipate themselves from the model engraved for them last century by the Zionistically ambivalent but decidedly red-leaning Forverts; by red diaper parents and grandparents; by the moribund Arbeiter Ring; and by the shaky Jewishness of the liberal branches of Judaism which are, by now, nearly indistinguishable from the left fringes of the Democrat Party.
Instead of being proud of their Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel, we are witnessing the emergence of a full blown population of Duddy Kravitz’s uncles, magnetically attracted to the increasingly radical demands of intersectionality, and ready to pay the price of admission to that sorority by way of becoming less Jew and more Judas.
American Jews are truly wedded to their diaspora. Consciously, at least, they do not live with the acute insecurity of European Jews. No, the insecurity of American Jews is something far more deeply embedded and subconscious, rendering them preternaturally feminized and programmed to find the meaning of life in a gender-melting pot that is the antithesis of robust Jewish survival.
In America, Jewish marriages and births are at an all time low, and getting lower. Self-identification as LGBTQ or transgender is at an all time high and much celebrated by those who are not. To the extent that marriages occur at all, they are predominantly with non-Jews. The pulpits of their, often vacant and consolidating, synagogues are increasingly occupied by women, many with alternative lifestyles, who use their bully pulpits to preach values and promote political agendas that have no basis in core Jewishness. They celebrate the most extreme manifestation of contemporary feminine Jewishness, Tikkun Olam i.e. intersectionality, and alienation to the point of hostility regarding the State of Israel.
Increasingly, American Jews are “shocked, shocked,” by Israel’s support from, and engagement with, populist governments within the EU. They would rather Israel danced to the diktats of Germany and France who demand docile submission from the Jewish state, and reflexive obedience regarding their orders for Israel to compromise its security.
Since America’s feminine Jews only recognize antisemitism on the right—even if it’s not there—they ask how Israel can consort with rightwing European governments. They wonder how Israelis can play ball with bullies who refuse to allow masses of Muslims to crash their borders. How thoroughly un-Jewish.
But what feminine Jewishness is incapable of grasping is that rightwing Jew hatred exists primarily where Jews are feminized rather than weaponized. The Israeli Jew is, if anything, admired by European populists, both for Israel’s unabashed nationalism and for its manifest cojones. Does this make Jews in Europe safer? Absolutely not. Hungary’s populist right wing government is Israel’s staunchest ally in the EU. But the majority of Hungary’s 100,000 ultra assimilated Jews are so mired in feminine, leftish, universalist Jewishness that they show little interest in Israel, and view their own government as the enemy. This cannot augur well for them. Should push come to shove, their idol and hero George Soros cannot save them, and wouldn’t come to their rescue even if he could.
So here, again, we have added cause of friction and alienation between American Jews and Israel. American Jews are still married to the combination of shtadlanus and universalism that is so uniquely American-Jewish, and they still believe the boogey man is exclusively on the right. After all, the ADL tells them so, and what could possibly be more shtadlanistic than the Anti-Defamation League which, in its century of existence, has not rescued a single Jew or thwarted a single act of anti-Jewish violence or vandalism?
As for the vastly more femininely clever, devious, and tentacle-spreading Jew hatred of today’s intersectional left; if American Jewry should ever take a long hard look in the mirror it will have to conclude, as Pogo almost said, “We have met the enemy and she is us.”
There has been much hand-wringing of late about the parlous state of relations between American Jews and Israel. Israeli politicians are suddenly waking up to the reality that Israel is, at best, of little interest to American Jews under the age of 50. And American Jewish machers (movers and shakers)—mostly senior citizens with grandchildren already lost to the tribe—are wondering why as well.
But in truth this is old news. Some 35 years ago I was invited to a roundtable meeting of younger senior-level advertising and marketing professionals that took place at the Seagram townhouse in Manhattan. The topic was how to inspire a younger generation of donors to support UJA-Federation.
At the time, contributions to UJA were at an all time high. But the money was coming from fewer and fewer people, and the median age of donors kept escalating. Younger men and women were giving their money elsewhere—to Red Cross, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, museums and cultural institutions, their alma maters, anything but Jewish causes.
It was clear already then which way the winds were blowing—and this was long before the surfacing of political correctness, intersectionality and cancel culture. One might have thought the solution would be to inspire a new generation through education and Jewish literacy. But, no, the consensus of those seated around the table, with one notable exception, was to urge UJA-Federation to distribute its money to more trendy causes rather than specifically Jewish ones, and certainly to put Israel very low on the priority list. That meeting, for me at least, was the foreshadowing of “Tikkun Olam.”
We now see the results of such thinking, when the new President of the Presidents Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations is a totally assimilated female investment banker who is the president of HIAS, at one time a Jewish organization helping settle Jewish refugees in America. Today HIAS has dropped its full name (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and is now the leading organization advocating for immigration to America from Muslim countries. The only thing that remains Jewish about HIAS is its donor base.
Truth to tell, HIAS was never a Zionist organization. Indeed it was the opposite, an organization that deprived Israel of much-needed immigration, and deprived immigrants of the chance to enjoy a full Jewish life after the oppression they had experienced in their native lands. HIAS enabled hundreds of thousands of consciously Jewish Russians to escape the anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union in order to come to America and devolve into nothing within two generations.
Hence, even if HIAS were still helping Jewish immigrants, its leader would be a poor choice to head a Presidents Conference whose original raison d’etre was to support Israel with a unified Jewish voice. For that body to be presided over by someone who is clueless and indifferent to Judaism and Israel is the embodiment of the “earns like an Episcopalian and votes like a Puerto Rican” ethos, someone who—like most American Jews—buys into the idea that Tikkun Olam is, by definition, universalist intersectionality with little or no concern for the needs of Jews qua Jews.
For years now, liberal American Jewish organizations—religious, secular, and even nominally Zionist—have demonstrated mostly critical interest in Israel, and very little support. They are obsessed with finding fault with the Jewish state. This is understandable considering both their decayed state as engines of Jewish life and continuity, and by their ghetto obsession with ”ah shanda far de goyim” (a disgrace in front of the gentiles). They are mortified that Israel acts in its own self-interest; that it is not in awe of a president like Obama, and that its masculine Jewishness angers the goyim—their kind of goyim, i.e. their fellow intersectional, leftist, universalist, anti-clerical, virtue-signaling, culture-canceling, Antifa-cheering goyim.
The problem begins on the American college campus where free speech, open debate of ideas, mutual tolerance and, yes, serious scholarship, are anachronisms. Today one rarely sees a quote from a liberal arts or social sciences professor—regardless of their field—whose specialty is not hyphenated with the added words “gender studies”. It is as if this addendum is the equivalent of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval by the academic community, confirming the professor’s bona fides as a woke progressive, and virtually always, an anti-Zionist.
Understandably, Jewish children enrolled in American colleges and universities want to be liked by their professors. They are eager to absorb the wisdom being imparted in exchange for the small fortunes with which their parents parted hoping, naively, to better their offspring’s future.
Most Jewish students are too ignorant about their history and identity to know any better. They are easy prey for the prevailing climate of rampant antisemitism posing as anti-Zionism. They choose, by default, to go with the flow.
There is also a minority who arrive on the quad with stronger Jewish backgrounds having gone to Jewish summer camps, endured their bar mitzvahs, perhaps visited Israel, or even received a yeshiva education. They are shocked to suddenly find themselves in the center of a powerful, hate-spewing vortex. But they were not bred to be heroes. Had they been, they might have chosen to first spend 14 months serving as volunteers in the IDF rather than putting thatched roofs on bungalows in the Amazon.
Now they find themselves on campus, and they want to belong. They want to be part of campus life. They certainly do not want to be socially ostracized by their peers, berated by their professors, or risk being graded poorly as punishment for saying the wrong thing in class. Because these days every class is political, and only one POV is tolerated.
Thus, many of these boys and girls learn to be silent about their sentiments regarding Israel, while gradually absorbing some of the orthodoxies of intersecionality.
Starting out as campus marranos, they gradually become critical of Israel, sometimes even hostile.
I personally know young men who spent a year or two learning in top Zionist Israeli yeshivot only to come back to America to ivy-league colleges where their principles and idealism were compromised. They couldn’t beat them so they joined them. Because no one wants to be a social pariah—not on campus.
Four year later these kids, who were once the best hope for American Jewry, emerge as equivocal Zionists at best, having uncritically swallowed the rest of the progressive intersectional canon. Perhaps they have not become full feminine antisemites. But they have certainly become full feminine Jews.
So what is the prognosis, and where do we go from here?
The current global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be a blessing in disguise. Compounded, in America, by disintegration of the social fabric that is only beginning, it may yield opportunities for change in the mentality of, at least some, American Jews. The fatal collapse of New York City, for example, coupled with the emergence of a more vigorous and masculine Jew hatred even among the intersectional set may serve as the mugging-by-reality that is long overdue for the endemically feminine American Jewish mindset. But it’s too soon to tell.
Israel must get rid of the mistaken notion that American Jews are critical to American government support. This has rarely, if ever been true. Today it is not true at all. If anything, mainstream American Jewry is a thorn in Israel’s side. It demands the right to fault Israel for perceived insults. It feels entitled to chastise Israel when – which is often—it thinks Israel is misbehaving in a way that redounds on diaspora Jews. It believes its paltry, unneeded, and decreasing charitable contributions to Israeli causes entitle it to a seat at the table and the privilege of providing input on existential issues that affect Israelis only.
Of course there are notable exceptions such as FIDF and ZOA. But these are exceptions.
Indeed, even if American Jewish support for Israel were robust, the demographic realities of an evaporating Jewish community augur poorly for even the near-term future. Hence investing time and money in keeping the embers aglow for a bit longer make little sense.
Instead, smaller, more targeted funding and programming should be introduced that might inject a measure of masculine Jewishness among likely young Jewish candidates. For example, rather than offer itself as a gap year Disneyland for Jewish high school graduates, Israel should invite maximum participation in MAHAL, volunteer overseas soldiers in the IDF.
This 14 month program is currently an IDF stepchild. If anything it should be a core offering to diaspora children, a way to achieve meaningful identity, a robust masculine Jewishness (for girls as well), visceral connectivity to the Jewish state, and the fortitude to stand up against a tsunami of hatred from Jewish Voice for Peace, Truah, If Not Now, Bend the Arc and J Street, not to mention Students for Justice in Palestine, BLM, ANSWER, CAIR, FOSNA, ISM and myriad other members of the alphabet soup arrayed against Jews and Israel.
What’s more, the Birthright program, rather that speaking to the equivocating feminine Jewishness of its participants, should provide an intense, focused, robust program of hardcore Zionism and masculine Jewishness. While this will result in the alienation of many participants, it will fire up a minority who can then play a meaningful role on campus. Currently, Birthright is totally parve, trying to be everything to everyone—neither turning off those who really have no interest, nor turning on those who actually might be inspired.
Israel should talk straight with American Jewish leadership. It should provide a clear-eyed view of the state of American Jewry, especially vis a vis Israel. It should make it patently clear that it is Israel that has a great deal to offer the diaspora, not the other way around. It should spell out the red lines that diaspora Jews have no right to cross until such time as they have real skin in the game.
For example, the liberal Jewish beef concerning the absence of mixed gender prayer at the Western Wall. Liberal Jewish tourism to Israel is virtually moribund under the best of circumstances. Liberal Jewish aliyah is pretty much non-existent. Liberal Jews do not attend services at their own temples in America, why should Israel pander to them when, for all practical purposes, there is no real issue?
I choose the example of mixed gender services at the Western Wall precisely because it is an issue of virtually zero concern among rank and file liberal Jews. The few who actually visit Israel want to see the lively, rich, populated activity that takes place every Shabbat at the Wall. They do not come to Israel in order to replicate what is already familiar to them, a thin assembly chanting Lo yisa goy el goy herev (nation shall not lift sword against nation) from transliterated song sheets.
The only ones who are in high dudgeon are the ultra feminized leaders of the liberal Jewish denominations. This provides them with a stick with which they can flail and attempt to strike at Israel. They purport to speak on behalf of their constituents, most of whom are clueless and indifferent, in order to achieve a measure of self-importance at Israel’s expense, one that they so sorely lack among their own rank and file.
Instead of constantly cajoling the follower-less leaders of American liberal Jewry—fair weather friends at best, hypercritical nudniks at worst—Israel should nurture and build on the far less conditional—indeed unconditional—support of committed evangelical Christians who outnumber American Jews by at leaSst ten to one, and who can be counted on through thick and thin. What’s more, the demographics among evangelical Christians are very positive.
Mainline Christians (i.e. liberal, mainstream, feminine, and increasingly and openly antisemitic Protestants) are suffering the same, self-inflicted fate as their liberal Jewish counterparts. At the same time, Protestant fundamentalists, like their Jewish counterparts, enjoy a high birth rate, significant retention, and ever-increasing political clout.
Parenthetically, it is worth noting that the geographic bastions of liberal Protestantism are crumbling under the destructive force of the current, highly organized urban chaos, while the concentrations of robust, masculine evangelical Christianity are by and large thriving.
Israel will survive and continue to thrive, with or without diaspora Jewry and its feminine Jewishness. Any effort made toward mitigating this imminent disappearance of organized American Jewry should be made as ‘hatzalat nefashot’ an effort to rescue endangered Jews. But this should be done for the sake of those who are drowning, and not because their rescue will have any real impact on Israel’s viability or success. It’s simply a mitzvah to save a fellow Jew, a mitzvah at which Israel can surely excel.
P. S. At a gathering of far-left British Labourites to protest the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn for his antisemitism, one participant, a progressive columnist named Rivkah Brown quoted from a book written in 1942 by Communist and Stalin apologist Israel Panner: “Throughout the ages antisemitism and the Jewish question have been used as a diversionist weapon against the progressive forces and their struggle for a better and higher order of things and today they can still be used for the same purpose.”
She then went on to say “This is entirely relevant to our moment. We have just had a day, and you know years, when antisemitism and the Jewish question, as we might call it, have been used to distract us from what ought to be the focus of the Labour party which should be about winning power but should also be about transformative change.”
This is a perfect, contemporary example of a Jewish progressive—in the face of conclusive evidence of antisemitism in her own party—calling for ignoring such proven Jew hatred, and, indeed, calling any such battle against antisemitism a diversion from a progressive party’s aims which are power and transformation—clearly power and transformation that require riding roughshod over the Jews.
That both Rivkah Brown and the man she was quoting, Israel Panner, were/are Jews themselves is hardly surprising. They are merely links in the long chain of leftist, universalist, Jewish self-haters who refuse to recognize or address antisemitism in their own ranks. At the very least such recognition would damage their cause, at most such antisemitism is a necessary component in advancing their cause.
In summary: What I classify as masculine antisemitism can be mitigated, if not overcome, by masculine Jewishness. What I call feminine Jewishness can not only NOT mitigate or overcome masculine Jew hatred, but ultimately becomes a willing handmaiden to, and even a prime driver of, feminine Jew hatred, thereby playing into the hands not only of feminine anti-Semites, but turbocharging masculine anti-Semitism (e.g. pre-war Jewish Communists) in the process.
J. J. Gross is a veteran award-winning advertising creative director with a subspecialty in Jewish advocacy. He writes at Times of Israel on matters of Jewish interest and on topics in the weekly Torah reading. A native New Yorker, he currently resides in Jerusalem and Budapest.
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