Monday, September 18, 2006

These religious-secular pow-wows that go down from time to time in Israel come in a variety of flavors, some more tolerable than others.

The best kinds are the ones with a particular objective: some concrete agreement needs to be hammered out on some well-defined topic. Obviously, even in such contexts there are blowhards and ideologues who make asses of themselves, but generally people are reasonable and – as in a business negotiation – if there’s a deal to be had, you get there eventually.

Less productive than those are the let’s-get-to-know-each-other parties that cropped up after the Rabin assassination. The few of these I’ve been to have basically been opportunities for anti-religious people to vent. You people are uneducated, you people don’t serve in the army, you people teach your kids to hate us, yada yada yada. Oh, that’s not you people? Well, next time we’ll bring some authentic dosim.

But by far the most horrendous such gatherings are the ones organized by do-gooder pseudo-multi-cultural types. This was brought to mind by a meeting being organized by the Israel Democracy Institute, a wildly over-funded organization dedicated to building a broad consensus around a self-serving elitist agenda. That’s quite a trick if you can pull it off and they’re pretty good at it. The purpose of this particular meeting is to find RZ “leaders” who will “encourage discourse” that will heal “the rift” in Israeli society. For those who missed the subtext, the word manhigut (=leadership) is shorthand for “people who can be bought with a bit of kavod”, the word shesa (=rift) is short-hand for “the shvartzes are escaping the plantation” and the word siach (=discourse) is shorthand for “let’s screw around with their heads until they’re convinced that our agenda is good for them”.

I hope I haven’t offended any black people by using that Yiddish epithet. But just to make it up to you, I’m going to let you in on a secret. I hear that the Daughters of the American Revolution are looking for some black leaders with whom to hold a discourse on the racial rift that’s been getting worse and worse ever since Jim Crow ended.


Blogger Ben Bayit said...

Excellent piece. I'm glad to know that I wasn't pushing the envelope when I used the Uncle Tom analogy on my blog.

Minor quibble - the most horrendous (or at least most horrific) of these "dialogues" are the gatherings that have infiltrated the primary school system. I can assure you that with all the advances in educational methods made during the last two generations, heimische yidden such as myself (and I assume yourself) need not feel as having been deprived b/c their school curriculum did not include mandatory "dialogue" sessions with the local public school kids. Yet in some places (hint, hint) the "gesher" programs are being done - proudly - in the 8th grade! They can't even wait to get to 12th grade for this!

Here's what Daniel Tropper, the founder of these programs, had to say about them 2 months ago when he "retired". (the english is unfortunely not up on Haartez's site)

I can see his point about doing these in the 12th grade (IMHO it should be in limited circumstances in only certain schools and towards the end of the school year). However, the 8th grade is pushing the envelope of "siach" far beyond what RZ can afford.

11:01 AM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

just read the article bb mentioned with all footnotes. depressing, but very revealing.

btw - i now work for one of those 'dialogue groups'

3:13 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

The organization you work for is less a dialogue group than a professional guild designed to drag Israeli rabbanim from the early 20th century into the late 20th century. A most worthwhile goal and I wish you and them much success.
And please don't hesitate to be in touch if I can help in any modest way with your klitah.

9:23 AM  

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