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Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Years ago as the president of the then-New Milford Jewish Center-Cong. Beth Tikvah, I gave a talk to the congregation, saying that as Jews we collectively wore a sign on our backs that said “Kick Me.” That started as a childish game whereupon children would try to tack such a sign on the backs of friends.

My point was that all too often Jews assume the role of victim and it was time that we stopped that.

The editorial in today’s Jewish Link (“The ‘Blacklist’ and the Spirit of the Three Weeks,” July 13, 2017) reminded me of that talk. It is arguably one of the finest editorials in any Jewish newspaper that I have seen in years. The Talmudic metaphor of Nedarim 30b explaining the concept of sinat chinam is right on target.

If you accidentally stab yourself with a knife in one hand does that mean in an act of revenge you should stab the other hand? Of course not, as the editorial points out. Both hands belong to the same body and a fight between the hands would only cause harm to that mutual body.

Why then are there Jews out there with so little compassion for their co-religionists? The proponents of J Street, seeming to beg acceptance by non-Jews, only proliferate the shibboleths about Jews. They have little positive to say about our mutual religion. And they seem to vent their spleen in particular at Israel.

On the day of the Salute to Israel parade in New York City there is a group of Orthodox Jews who set up in a corral protected by police. These people shout and jeer at virtually every group that passes. They are especially vitriolic when a flag bearing the Mogen David comes by in front of them, and they flaunt Palestinian flags. Little wonder the police form a cordon around them for protection. Their entire raison d’etre is the total dissolution of the State of Israel.

All of this brings to mind the cartoon character Pogo Possum, who famously said: “I have seen the enemy and he is us.” Kick me.

All too often some Jews would rather stab the other hand rather than help to heal the wound of the first. If we are to survive as a people we must learn to work as one people. That is the only way we can defeat those who would see us stab ourselves in both hands.

Bob Nesoff

New Milford