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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 7/30/20


Good morning!

It’s Thursday, when I turn the soap box over to some great insights that I have received. These two are great:

 

CANCELATION CULTURE—A BIBLICAL VIEW

Rabbi David Woznica offers an interesting commentary regarding judging people within the context of their times:

The Torah offers an insight…regarding cancellation culture. This is what is written of Noah (of flood fame): "Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age; Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:9)

Noah is a tzaddik ("righteous man") blameless in his age. Why is "in his age" included in the verse? Did the Torah not communicate his righteousness in the first part of the phrase?

A well-know rabbinic position is that "in his age" suggests Noah was righteous only compared to others of his generation. That is, he was living in a morally corrupt generation. In a decent generation, he would not have stood out.

More recently, in a recently published commentary [noted, in saying] that Noah was righteous "in his age," the Torah is teaching that we should judge people by the mores of their age, not by the mores or standards of our age. This can be helpful in addressing the issue of the cancellation culture you reference... Indeed it adds fuel to your argument. Imagine 75 years from now the great majority of Americans are vegetarians. Would it be morally correct to cancel the meat eaters of today? I would hope not.

By the way, if the cancel culture continues, who will be a hero?

 

FIGHTING BDS, REDUX

My suggestion that devoting resources to fighting BDS resolutions on college campuses generated a lot of responses. Here is a thoughtful analysis from a professor at Johns Hopkins. I agree with her the BDS movement must be engaged at an academic level:

“While I do agree that overwrought reactions to BDS movements on college campuses brings more attention and more credence to these groups than they deserve, I have a somewhat different perspective from my experiences in the academic trenches… In my experience, it is possible to change some people’s opinions, help others formulate their opinions more clearly, help yet others to begin a process of critically assessing claims…I try to untangle the antisemitism that is embedded in BDS and the counterproductive nature of BDS for those who want peace…The point is not to tell students that they are wrong to advocate for BDS. The point is to challenge them to think critically about their assessment of Zionism…

BDS conflates South African Apartheid and the Israel-Palestine situation…The Palestine/Israel situation really should be understood as two separate problems: (1) a territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and (2) the enforcement of the rights of Palestinian Israelis. Territorial disputes between warring parties require negotiations between the two governments. It takes two to tango, and right now, neither government is going to the dance. BDS is not helping. The situation of Palestinian Israelis is not apartheid, as Palestinian Israelis vote, go to university, and have many other rights. Is there still discrimination? Yes. But if discrimination were a reason for boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning, then the US would also be at the top of the list because Black Lives still don’t matter here.

BDS is a complicated movement, and I think that people have many different motives in supporting it. However, leaders of this movement like Omar Barghouti seek not peace but delegitimization and ultimately dismantling of the State of Israel as a State… Furthermore, it is important not fall into the trap of what Libby Anker calls Left Melodrama by assuming that Israelis are always evil because they more powerful and Palestinians are always virtuous victims.”

Her words present why, even in the face of extreme positions of the Israeli government, we must not allow the political left to perpetuate the one-sided notion that Israel is the oppressor, without its own history and legitimate grievances with the Palestinians. The Israelis and Palestinians must come up with meaningful formula for a real peace, tied to the notion that this ancient land is the home to two peoples struggling to live together.

 

GRANT, REDUX

We have a lot of Grant fans out there. He definitely was a hero on a variety of levels. Jeremy Rosen is in the midst of the book; Peter Weil says we owe Ron Chernow much credit for bringing us biographies of both Hamilton and Grant; and Ira Waldman reminds us of the three part Grant miniseries on the History Channel, which is great. If you have another hero worth highlighting, let me know!

Warm regards,

Glenn

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