Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The PLO, US Federal court—and Reform Judaism?

This was not a good week for the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA) (“PA, PLO Found Liable for Terror in Landmark Case”, Arutz Sheva, February 23, 2015).  They have been found liable in US Federal Court for acts of terror against US citizens (Kemberlee Kaye, “Palestinian groups found liable for knowingly supporting terrorist attacks in Israel”, Legal Insurrection, February 23, 2015).

No doubt, you’ve seen the news. The PA had argued they had nothing to do with the terror attacks they had been accused of committing (Nicole Hong, “Jury Finds Palestinian Authority, PLO Liable for Terrorist Attacks in Israel a Decade Ago”, Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2015). The twelve-member jury didn’t buy that argument (ibid). It awarded the plaintiffs 218.5 million USD which, according to the 1992 U.S. Antiterrorism Act, automatically triples to 655 million USD (ibid) (because the deaths resulted from International terrorism).

Many in the US see this verdict creating negative consequences for the PA—on different levels, in different arenas (WSJ, Legal Insurrection, ibid). But it may also create consequences for America’s Reform Judaism.

Increasingly, American Jews (particularly Jews under the age of 29) don’t support Israel (“Support for Israel in the U.S. Jewish community continues to erode”, Mondoweiss, November 18, 2014).  They prefer the PA. They prefer ‘justice’ over ‘Israel’ (Philip Weiss, “In Pew poll on American Jewish identity, ‘caring about Israel’ is way behind ‘working for justice’ “, Mondoweiss, October 4, 2013).

The American Jewish community has an ‘Israel’ problem that grows worse, not better (Mondoweiss, November 18, 2014, ibid). That ‘problem’ appears directly related to religion.

Last month, Jonathan Tobin wrote about a new Gallup Poll (“Obama and More Republican Jews”, Commentary, January 8, 2015). This Poll seemed to confirm what a previous, 2013 Pew Research Survey on Jewish Americans had already suggested: the more religious a Jew was, the more likely he or she was to identify as a Republican (ibid)—who didn’t vote for Obama.

That observation suggested something about Democrats, too. It suggested that the less religious an American Jew was, the more likely he was to be a Democrat—and to have supported Barack Obama.

What turns out to be true for America is that religion—or, more precisely, the lack of an authentic Jewish religious belief--may be the single most important reason American Jews turn away from Israel.

The sad truth is, the overwhelming majority of American Jews are not religious (Ben Shapiro, "Ben Shapiro: Why Do Jews Vote Leftist?" Truth Revolt, February 11, 2015). This ‘lack of religiousness’ is so widespread that some sixty-two per cent of American Jews actually believe that Jewish identity has absolutely nothing to do with the Jewish religion (ibid).

That’s a significant finding because our Jewish belief in Israel derives from the Jewish religion. If you say you’re Jewish but feel no connection to your religion, the odds are you will feel no connection to Israel.

In fact, that’s exactly the case in America: the 2013 Pew Research Survey of America’s Jews demonstrated that the less religious an American Jew is, the more he distances himself from Israel (Philip Weiss, ibid).

That distancing translates into support for a President openly hostile to Israel. It explains why, in part, so many American Jews voted for the Israel-phobic Obama in 2012 (Shapiro, ibid).

Judaism and Israel go together. Judaism teaches that G-d gave Israel to the Jews. This concept is so important it’s mentioned in the very first Rashi Commentary on the very first posuk (sentence) in the Torah.

But in America, only 40 percent of Jews believe that G-d gave Israel to the Jews (ibid). So many American Jews are so ignorant about their own religion that 27 percent of them believe G-d did not give Israel to the Jews (ibid).  

Reform Judaism may have played a role in fostering this religion-political Israel problem. It’s American Jewry’s largest Jewish group. It rejects the connection between G-d-Israel-Jewish people.

It does this in the simplest, most obvious way: it rejects the Divinity of Judaism’s two basic documents. It rejects the Divinity of the Torah, which is Judaism’s Written Law. To  Reform Judaism, the Torah is “G-d-inspired”, not G-d-given (“What is Reform Judaism”, ReformJudaism, no date). It also rejects the Divinity of the legal commentary on the Torah, the Talmud/Mishnah, which is Judaism’s Oral Law (“Judaism:  The Oral Law -Talmud & Mishna”, jewishvirtuallibrary, no date).

Judaism has a very specific foundation. It’s premised upon a Written law and an Oral Law. Without that foundation, there’s no authentic Judaism—and there will be no G-d-Israel-people connection.

Judaism teaches that Israel, G-d and the Jewish people go together. But if your religious leaders teach you that G-d, Israel and the Jewish people don’t go together, how motivated would you be to support Israel?

The Pew Survey (above) suggests, not very.

If your religious leaders also teach you to replace G-d with ‘Social Justice’, you might not be much inclined to support Israel. But you might be very inclined to support the call for ‘Palestinian’ justice.

After all, when the ‘Palestinians’ talk about ‘justice’, they’re talking your ‘language’. G-d and Israel aren’t part of your vocabulary.

Some 38 per cent of American Jews follow Reform Judaism. Could their Reform ‘religious education’ inspire their disconnect from Israel?

Non-religion permeates American Jewry. For America’s Jews, the link between G-d-Israel-Jewish people is broken. Is this why that disconnect with Israel is so prevalent among America’s Jews?

Reform Judaism has convinced a lot of Jews to replace G-d with Social Justice. In real terms, that social justice favors the PLO. Now the US Federal Court in New York has decided that the leadership of the PLO are terrorists. Their ‘justice’ is against US law.

How will Reform Judaism deal with a ‘Palestinian justice’ that has been unmasked as terrorism?

Will it draw the immoral conclusion that terrorism is the new justice—or will it return to its authentic Jewish roots, and connect G-d with Israel and the Jewish people?

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