Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dr. Ronsenfeld:

Dr. Rosenfeld:

We have several things in common: being Jews, graduating from undergraduate school in 1967, teaching English as well as Jewish Studies.  What we do not have in common is our responses to the open letter signed by Holocaust survivors and family members in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza.

I shall not stoop to the scurrilous level of your article by defaming your obvious ideological sources or by attacking your own character.  I don't know you, and I am very much against ad hominem attacks. What I will say, however, is that your attempt to besmirch the reputations of the signatories to the open letter is outrageous and abusive in the extreme.  I think you will find that this response of mine is echoed in hundreds more.

I do not know what you think gives you the right to question other people's connections to the near-destruction of the Jewish people ("our" people?  if we are still one people?), but in any case it is not only inflammatory but wrong-headed.  Clearly these people have experienced tragedy, personal and /or familial, and that confers upon them a kind of prophetic honor.  I support fully your right to question their political stance, but there is no need to impugn their personal identities.

Finally, I believe that you, and others who take your political position, will very soon discover that yours is a losing stance.  I refer not to the international situation but to that in the Jewish community in the USA.  Look around you.  I am sure you have observed the opening up of Jewish student groups ("Open Hillel") on many campuses, the rise of BDS everywhere, and the proliferation of progressive Jewish organizations from J-Street to JVP.  Jews are no longer cowed by the "argument" that "loyalty" to the Israeli government is central to Jewish identity.  Ben Gurion may have said that those who continue to live in the Diaspora (including you and me) "are considered to have no God," but no one believes that any more.  The "Diaspora" is, as Hannah Arendt argued it would become after the founding of a "Jewish State," a separate world from Israel.  And it will not be dictated to now any more than it was 100 years ago when Zionism was young.

Considering all this, your editorial sounds defensive, acerbic, bitter, and desperate.  It does not advance the cause of Jews in this country or anywhere.  I think it speaks rather sadly of the inaptly-named Forward that it has gone in this direction.

Yours truly,

Barry Fruchter
Assistant Professor
English, Jewish Studies, and Latin American Studies
Nassau Community College
SUNY

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