My latest at Open Zion/The Daily Beast:
The notion of ahavat yisrael, “love for the Jewish people,” is lovely, but let’s be frank: As a people, we Jews haven’t all loved each other since roughly the Golden Calf.
We’re a people like any other. We split along ideological lines, family lines, class lines—witness the anger emanating from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox over the possibility of state recognition for a small number of non-Orthodox rabbis, or the mere vision of women praying in public (or even riding the bus with men).
And you know what? That’s cool—I don’t much like ultra-Orthodoxy either. I have a lot of very powerful opinions about how that community interprets Scripture and what those interpretations ultimately mean for many of their number. I don’t need them to like me and mine, and I certainly don’t need their approval to know that I’m a good Jew.
What’s not cool, however, is that unlike any other Jews, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox actually have the power to legislate and enforce their value judgments. The problem isn’t the Jewish people’s fissures, or the opprobrium of one side for another—the problem is that in the Jewish state, one very narrowly defined community of Jews is paid out of state coffers to lord their version of Judaism over everyone else.
For instance: Israeli ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Amar is sufficiently rude and ignorant to have recently written the following about Reform and Conservative Jews:
…to read the rest and get to the “haters of the Lord” part, you’ll just have to click here!