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Bari Weiss Sounds the Alarm, but Her Ringtone is Off-key

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It’s not unusual for me to receive emails from members of our community asking me to comment on an article or an op-ed. But in mid-October, in the span of just a couple of days, I received more than a dozen requests to comment on Bari Weiss’ article published in the online Tablet magazine. The Supers, Temple Emunah Members on the Brooklyn Bridge, Jan. 5, 2020 (photo by Rabbi David Lerner)

Ms. Weiss has made a name for herself as an accomplished writer and commentator. I have greatly appreciated her commentaries in the NY Times and was inspired by her speech at the United Synagogue Convention here in Boston last December. A busload of Emunah-ites heard her in January when we traveled down to New York for an important rally against anti-Semitism before the pandemic hit.

Entitled, Stop Being Shocked, her article delineates the challenge of this moment when American Jews face a left-wing creeping toward anti-Israel sentiment, even a growing anti-Semitism.

Her piece is an important one. Just as she stood up after the terrible shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, as well as at many other events, she is standing up now for Jews. By any measure, that anti-Semitism is on the rise is a real cause for concern. Much of it comes from the politics of fear and divisiveness that the current administration has sown. A significant share of it comes from far-left anti-Israel politics. Let us also remember that some comes from the far-right as we saw in the Charlottesville rallying cry: “Jews will not replace us.”

Because she points to the left as the source of much of the problem, I will analyze her claims, while downgrading some of her challenges.

While I appreciate her sounding the alarm, her arguments do not fully resonate with me, nor do they contain the nuance that this moment calls for.

Her main argument is about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) who cancelled a speech in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, may his memory be blessed, chaired by Mandy Patinkin for Americans for Peace Now. While even AOC admitted she was not an “expert in geopolitics in this issue,” Weiss claims that AOC knew perfectly well what she was doing and that even great peace-makers like Rabin are now treif if they are associated with Israel.

But AOC is a product of her times and the milieu that has been created not just by the left. What should have happened when AOC was first elected in 2018? AOC should have been taken on a trip to Israel as used to be de rigueur for most new members of Congress.


© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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