Open Zion

07.27.12

A Thought for Tisha B'Av

Daniel Gordis, a writer and thinker considered right-of-center on Israel, has had an curious experience of late: After signing an important letter from the Israel Policy Forum asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to not to accept the Levy Commission Report (which proclaimed West Bank settlements legal), he was attacked by the irascible right. He quotes some of them:

Yisrael Medad, a resident of Shiloh (a settlement in the West Bank) and a friend, wrote a blog post that was picked up in a few places, including in the Jerusalem Post. Medad’s…derisive tone, I think, invited some of the viciousness that has come to characterize too much of Jewish discourse about Israel.

He mentioned others, one who called him a “weasel,” another who tweeted, that he “loses all credibility” after signing the IPF letter.

These remarks spurred Gordis to consider the state of the discourse—in Tablet he wrote that he has become “despondent about the way we Jews talk to one another.”

And it would be easy for us on the left to chuckle. After all, the sights of the right are perpetually trained on us; we’ve dealt with the ire they fire for a long time.

But the nobler thing (and the right thing) to do here is to recognize in the spirit of the upcoming fast of Tisha b’Av that all of us can be guilty of malicious speech and of demonizing political tone and of doling out unwarranted acrimony. You don’t win hearts with rancor and you certainly don’t win minds with defamation. Something to ponder as we remember the destruction of the Temple.