I began this week with a curious phrase I never thought I’d be forced to use as a parent, much less as an adult.
And yet, there I was, calmly consoling and disciplining my screaming 7-year-old with this logical gem: “If you don’t want anyone to spit in your cereal, don’t spit in theirs.”
At the time — and soon thereafter, when I posted it to Facebook — I chalked it up to one of those so-this-is-what-life-has-come-to moments of hilarity, the kind of parenting episode that allows you to chuckle, share with your family and friends and move on. That my dose of fatherly wisdom contained within it anything more than a split-second attempt to defuse a rapidly escalating situation — another sibling had already raised the stakes by answering the challenge with an assault not only on his brother’s cereal, but also on his brother’s face — did not occur to me until later in the day, when several friends responded to my Facebook post.
“A metaphor for much in life,” wrote one. “I dunno, that one sounds useful in your line of work too,” wrote another.
As it turns out, especially when considering the invective now being slung not just by those outside of the Jewish community, but by those on opposite camps of the Jewish community itself, this spitting corollary of the Golden Rule would do wonders if we would just adhere to it.
To acknowledge that there are differences of opinion relating to the recently concluded nuclear deal with Iran would be to realize that the sky is blue. But to hear some elements of our community discuss the issue would easily lead you to conclude that far from treating Iran as the enemy of the United States, we’re treating each other as the enemy. One national Jewish leader — of which organization I will not reveal — went so far as to call me this week to castigate two other organizations, their members and whomever agreed with them as vile and reprehensible and unworthy to be called Jews. I’ve heard pretty much the same from others talking about him and his organization.
As you’ll read in this week’s JT, it is clear that the Iran agreement, for reasons already enumerated in previous columns, is dangerous not only to Israel, but to the United States as well. And for these reasons, concerned citizens are frankly doing their duty in urging Congress to vote the deal down. It’s also clear that the Iran deal has some honest backers in some quarters of the Jewish community. Without questioning their motives, they are doing what they believe to be their duty in urging Congress to back the deal and allow President Barack Obama to implement it.
But to hear them stand opposed, each claiming righteousness as their creed and decrying the principled stands of co-religionists as the idiotic babel of — depending on who’s speaking — anti-Semites or treasonous anti-Americans, is to witness what may be the very breakup of the American Jewish community.
The strength of political debate has always resided in the ability of opposing sides to come together once the debate is finished. But now that we’re all spitting on each other, how likely is it that we’ll ever come back together?
The answer may well lie in how much we view each other as members of the same family.