We all have opinions, yet some of us are more outspoken, partisan, dogmatic or ideological than others.
Some are unquestioningly convinced not only of the correctness of their beliefs, but also — at the same time — of the stupidity of mine. I am especially disturbed when Jews direct their close-minded ire toward any other Jew who disagrees with them, calling them “self-hating Jews.” They remind me of old-fashioned, garden-variety anti-Semites.
I try to be open-minded and consider others’ views. I always believe in the idea that one’s views can change over time or based on new information and perspectives.
However, I’ve seen Jews who attack or even demonize other Jews as they ignorantly dismiss the other’s ideas or neglect facts that contradict their own views. We could be discussing economic policy or global climate change — and, of course, there is always Israel.
How did these individuals, some of whom are highly educated and otherwise sophisticated people, become so vituperative, argumentative and mean-spirited? How are we supposed to deal with this kind of frustrating and even depressing behavior?
A retired Air Force officer was posting hate-filled attacks on President Barack Obama — and all Democrats — on Facebook. Sometimes, he would repost rants from extremist and disreputable websites. Some of these were published by conspiracy-minded groups, and one was edited by Pat Buchanan’s former publicist.
A Facebook “friend” of his, I showed him that he was using propaganda spewed by a close supporter of an outspoken anti-Semite and anti-Zionist, but he continued to refuse my polite and respectful entreaties. Instead, he shot back pointed notes going so far as to indicate that Jewish liberal support of Obama was tantamount to purported liberal support of Hitler. He then boasted how he was a committed Jew.
Once when an Israeli embassy official was speaking about bias in the media, I rose to urge fellow congregants to not consider a news report as being anti-Israel simply because it did not reflect their own beliefs or biases; in order to effectively counter anti-Israeli propaganda one needs to discern bias and not let their own creep in.
In response, a fellow congregant stood and called me a self-hating Jew. At a later religious event, he hounded me for an argument. Three times I ignored him and walked away. Three times he kept following me with an angry, pained look.
At Yom Kippur I asked him to forgive me for any unkind acts I may have committed, knowing I had spoken back to him — sometimes harshly. He limply shook my extended hand and grudgingly smirked in return. Former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin seemed happier to shake Yasser Arafat’s hand.
Did it ever occur to people like this man that while they think they are defending the Jewish people, each of them is really attacking other Jews. This is nothing more or less than a Jew-hating Jew.