Monday, May 17, 2010

My First Leftist Encounter

When I was learning in Yeshiva in Israel in the 1980s, I would do some volunteer work as a madrich for a group of teenagers down the road. I taught about Judaism and went on trips with them from time to time.

One Shabbat afternoon, they had a guest speaker. I decided to stay and hear what he had to say. He said, "One of the commandments in the Torah about loving the "stranger", the "ger" (which I always thought meant convert). He translated it into "stranger" and then went into a whole diatribe about how Israel needs to love the Palestinians and give them a State, full civil rights, etc. I sat on the side quietly listening to what he had to say.

Then, he turned everyone's attention to me. "While there are many in Israel who want to help the Palestinians, there are those like HIM [pointing to the 17 year old, me] who seek to transfer and kill them all. That's what his yeshiva teaches and that's what they all believe."

I was shocked. Not only had I never said anything "political" the entire year to these teenagers, but I never recall hearing anything political in my yeshiva. Not from the Rosh Yeshiva or any of the rabbanim.

At the time, I had no political orientation whatsoever. Especially as a 17 year old American learning in Israel. I do remember feeling annoyed on so many levels; he had no clue what I though, what my politics were, and yet, because I had a kippa sruga on my head, he decided who I was, what I was, what my politics were, and decided to lambaste me in front of all.

Thinking about the mitzva of "loving the 'ger'" -- I'm reminded of my pre-Shavut posting from 2 years ago.

Shavuot: Festival of Conversion.

Chag Sameach,

Jameel


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16 comments:

Nosson Gestetner said...

How ironic... and typical of leftists!

g1e9n8 said...

In order to save Israel, we must give up part of Israel. We are losing politically and demographically against the palestinians. We must give up the west bank and not act like Israelis did in 1972-73 as if time was on our side and nothing can hurt us.

Commenter Abbi said...

Reminds me of my first encounter with a reform rabbi who went on and on about how irrelevant Torah and halacha are to our daily lives (at a bat mitzvah of a classmate i went to special lengths to to sleep over and be able to walk. Really traumatic).

Anonymous said...

g1e9n8,
I have a better idea :
in order to save the world, it has to gave up on Israel.
Then, everything would be so much better.

And you know what ? demographically, everything is for us, in spite of what some demographics "studies" are telling us since near a century. Today, the fertility rate of religious jews, a group as large as all the "palestinians", is the bigest and stil growing.
In order to save israel, we need to protect it. Not sell it.

Anonymous said...

I know you were only 17, but even so -- did you just sit there and say nothing? This man says lies about you, to your face and in public, and you say nothing at all? Even then, you must have known that shtika khoda'ah...

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Reminds me of the time I went to volunteer with Achi in a public school, and the first thing the teacher did when our group entered the class was to line us up facing the blackboard and give the kids a political analysis of our kippot. Aside from the fact that she was wrong - we were American kids in the beginning of Year 1, wearing whatever we had picked up in high school - it was standard-issue leftist.

By the way - I'm pretty sure that גר there refers to גר תושב.

LeahGG said...

Ger certainly doesn't refer to the indigenous tribes here... we're supposed to capture all of the land. Let's not mince words. The Torah says to capture it all.

Anonymous said...

You didn't meet a leftist. You met an idiot. A rude ignoramus.

Yellow Boy

Anonymous said...

Right out of the thesaurus.

tafka pp said...

What Yellow Boy said.

(And I've got plenty of stories about stupid, downright ignorant and judgmental things that "rightists"- and "leftists" have said: Idiocy isn't connected to politics.)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Even then, you must have known that shtika khoda'ah...

I did reply...more out of shock though (as I had no idea why he was picking on me)...I didn't let it simply slide.

And TafkaPP/YB is right that this behaviour spans the boundaries of politics. I do know plenty of leftists who are polite, nice people...

I just brought up this story because it still sticks in my head (and its anniversary is this time of year)

It was just something

Shmilda said...

Reminds me of the time the Americans from two of the other yeshivot came for the annual joint shabbaton, and one of the visitors was complaining about political sichot at his yeshiva. I told him that our yeshiva didn't waste much time on that stuff -- and then the sicha after Kabbalat Shabbat was classic Plishtim = Palestinaim (it was Shabbat Toldot).

RivkA with a capital A said...

I had not encountered that type of bigotry for a long time. Then, just a month or two ago, when we stopped by the cafe/store at Yotvata, one of the cashiers made some comment about me and what I believe.

I was just purchasing breakfast and she already "knew" everything about who I was and what I thought, just by the way I was dressed.

I was too shocked and insulted (and tired) to start correcting her misconceptions.

Also, it wasn't like I objected to the ideas she was saying, they just were not mine. I did not want to appear to be saying "I am not like those "bad" religious Jews. I am one of the "good" ones." So I just let it go. But I was really bothered about how much she thought she knew vs how little she really knew....

Baruch Alster said...

A few years ago, I was stopped by a guard at the entrance to Tel Aviv University, who came out to greet me about 10 meters from the gate, asking if I was armed. When I said no, he said "But all of you pople carry weapons!"

BTW re: Ger, I remember Abarbanel on Lev. 19 sees Gerim as being descendants of Canaanites who joined Am Yisrael.

Lurker said...

Shmilda: ...and then the sicha after Kabbalat Shabbat was classic Plishtim = Palestinaim...

Well, to be fair, "plishtim" is, in fact, the etymological source of the name "Palestine".

(The name was coined by the Roman Emperor Hadrian: To punish the Jews, he changed the name of the land of Israel (as it appeared in Roman documents and coins) from Judaea to Palestina, a name that until then had applied only to the southwestern coastal area which had been occupied by the Philistines ["Philistia", or "Pelashet" in Hebrew] centuries earlier.)

Jewish Ideas Daily said...

One of the big differences between Israeli society and American society is how much external appearance reflects on your inner beliefs. Olim should be aware that what kippa or head covering they wear will absolutely lead people to make assumptions about their views and religious observance. Just a fact of life in Israel.

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