All Criticism is not the Same

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25 Responses

  1. shmuel says:

    A friend who was a vice-president at George Soros’ company for years discussed the topic of Jewish identity with him privately. He explained Soros’ position to me as follows(at least as much as Soros was willing to share with the VP of his own co.):

    Soros believes that the world’s problems are caused by those who hold strongly “national” identities; these, he belives, are what exacerbate the world’s conflicts. Only an “internationally minded” (could this be Socialist?) world can help bring any sense of peace to hopelessly fractured man.

    My friend felt this was a sincere, if not complete, explanation on his part to explain why he would not tone down the anti-Israel rhetoric.

    This also helps us understand why he is so staunchly against those who are deeply conservative, old-style patriotic and pro-Bush. His anti-AMERICAN stand is related in this way to his anti-Israel stand. Of course, as a very secular (and woefully uneducated) Jew he is undoubtedly tied up in other knots as well.

    As for calling him a “Holocaust survivor” I believe a different term might be appropriate. As far as I understand (if my knowledge from from a 60 minute interview I saw years ago is correct) he never saw the entrance to Auschwitz as the masses of Hungarian Jewry did.

    Soros was “hidden” by non-Jews who, in fact, forced him to raid and confiscate the property of already deported Jews. This is not to suggest this is insubstantial. But this is experience is quite different from one who saw the smoke of his fellow Jews rising in a red-hue over the horizon and felt the whip over his very Jewish back.

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    Professor Rosenfeld’s articles are must reading for anyone interested in the growth of anti Semitism on the left, and especially Jewish anti Semitism. Once you read these articles, it is easy to why the liberal/left media jumped all over the AJC.

  3. mmbbhk says:

    This was essentially true even in the pre-state days, when the Agudah was much more actively anti-Zionist. Consider the famous story of the Mufti of Jerusalem proposing to Rav Sonenfeld z”l that, since they had a common opposition to the Zionists, they should cooperate against them. Rav Sonenfeld refused, saying that he had nothing at all in common with the Mufti, as one of them opposed Zionism because of the Jewish elements in it and the other opposed it because of the non-Jewish elements in it.

  4. Moshe P. Mann says:

    Your statement “Chareidi
    misgiving about modern day Israel are an altogether different matter” is simply incorrect. Chareidim have often joint forces with irreligious Jews and even antisemites when the alliance would benefit them. For example, the chareidim in England joined with Reform Jews in opposition to the Balfour Declaration. In our times, the Agudah party had unfortunately stooped to the level of forming an alliance with the vehemently anti-Zionist (and antisemitic) Arab parties in the Knesset to receive child allowances for large families.

    See Rabbi Berel Wein’s excellent critique of that behaviour in the Letters of the Fall 2001 Jewish Action Magazine.

  5. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “In this respect, I have found little difference between the 16th Ave. Telshe minyan in Boro Park and the average Modern Orthodox shul in Teaneck. The latter may have a few more members convinced that they have security expertise worth sharing with Israel’s prime ministers and generals and the former may worry a bit more about kiruv in the Holy Land, but, in general, the sense of involvement in Israel’s fate does not differ greatly between the two.”

    I think that there might be plenty of Telzers who also consider themselves political and military experts; the Yated and Hamodia, I think, publish as much political and military analysis as the Jewish Press, so the interest is universal. But more seriously, I think that emphasizing what different groups have in common is a good approach in general. I would like to see this done more often in Orthodox newspapers and publications of both groups.

  6. Nachum Lamm says:

    Hmmm. One wonders about the continued Agudah admiration of De Haan, who was dedicated to making a “separate peace” with the Arabs. Not, of course, that his murder can be at all justified, but facts are facts.

    That statement about different shuls was just nasty, and incorrect on all fronts to boot.

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:


    I understood that the emphasis was on what both shuls have in common, and the paragraph was expressing the differences which do exist in a light manner. I agree that it might not be perfectly accurate, but overall, I thought that it was refreshing that someone emphasized the commonality of different groups, and I think that we need to see more of that done.

    How would you express the exact dividing point between the charedi and MO approach to Israeli security today? The fact that there are different approaches to yishuv haaretz and participation in the army doesn’t affect the fact that both groups care about the security of Israel, so I think that it’s accurate to say that all Jews have this in common.

  8. David Farkas says:

    It’s a pretty good article. And I agree with the main point. But I would nitpick over the suggestion that, of a charedi shul and an MO shul, the former worries more about kiruv, while the latter worries more about Israeli security. In my experience, thinking Jews worry about both, regardless of political affiliation. Whether in Boro Park or Bergenfield, the type of Jew who worries about things other than himself will be concerned with both these issues and more. Their thoughts about kiruv may differ, but it is on both of their minds. Regarding security they both are probably hawkish.

  9. Nachum says:

    Baruch- Precisely. I just wouldn’t downplay the “different approaches to yishuv haaretz and participation in the army” (and related matters) as much as this article seems to. Nor, for that matter, do I agree that (American) charedim value kiruv in Israel more than others. The opposite may well be true.

  10. YM says:

    De Haan was a hero, 100%, a martyr to what could have been. I don’t understand how anyone could critisize him, or the Gedolim whom he worked with and for. There is no point in rehashing battles of years ago, but the comment by NL is frustrating considering the history of the past sixty years. NL, would you not admit that many of the misgivings of the charedi world have in fact been proven to be correct? That doesn’t mean that Israel shouldn’t be supported by all Jews, but is seems clear to me that Jewish history constantly repeats itself and only makes sense within a Torah ideology.

  11. Eliyahu says:

    this article is both obvious and misleading simultaneously. that chareidim share nothing in common with liberal Jews does not exactly seem like an earth shattering thesis. however to continue to say that chareidim share the same security concerns as the religious zionists is wishful thinking at best. recall certain segments of chareidi society’s gleeful reaction to the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, not exactly ancient history.

  12. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    As the comment discussion opens up it is very interesting to see that the apparently “obvious” differences between the chareidi and RZ public are not clear at all. Eliyahu points out the satisfaction in some chareidi circles at the downfall of Gush Katif. Excuse me, but there were a considerable number of knitted-kippa-wearers among the participants, planners and supporters of the expulsion, such as Yonatan Bassi, Avrum Burg (who celebrated with a barbecue on Tisha B’Av as a sign of the Geula!), General Yair Naveh and others. After the catastrophes of Gush Katif and Amona I define myself as a mamla”sh tsala”sh (ex-nationalist ex-Zionist) waiting for somebody to give me a good reason to buy a hat, but none materialized.

  13. Nachum says:

    “NL, would you not admit that many of the misgivings of the charedi world have in fact been proven to be correct?”

    No. But give me one misgiving they actually had at the time, and we can talk.

  14. a k says:

    “recall certain segments of chareidi society’s gleeful reaction to the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, not exactly ancient history.”
    Comment by Eliyahu — March 20, 2007 @ 12:11 am

    With all due respect, certain segments of ANY society will always reflect views that are different, and indeed the opposite of the values of that society as a whole.

    In my humble opinion, the vast majority of chareidi society, supported and agonized over the fate of those expelled from Gush Katif, and many opened their hearts, homes and pocketbooks.

    Kol Tuv

  15. Yaakov Menken says:

    I share opinions with “a k” on this issue — I don’t know what “certain segmants” Eliyahu might be referring to, but perusing the Cross-Currents archives prior, during, and after the expulsion from Gaza bring up anything but glee at the entire process.

  16. a k says:

    “Excuse me, but there were a considerable number of knitted-kippa-wearers among the participants, planners and supporters of the expulsion”
    Comment by Yehoshua Friedman — March 20, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    Please see my comment # 14 above.

    It is quite disturbing that people point to obvious non-representing members of a group, as ascribe their actions to the group as a whole.

    Are you suggesting that ‘knitted-kippa-wearers’ in any statistically significant numbers supported the expulsion? Gimme a break.

  17. Phil Goode says:

    I think JR misses the key difference between the “progressives” and the “chareidim”.

    While the progressives critique the state of Israel as a betrayal of Jewish values it is the chareidim who actively participate in weakening the state.

    Some of the ways in which this happens –
    1) the voluntary under-employment in the chareidi community – while still collecting government welfare
    2) the under-representation of chareidim in the military
    3) the establishment of separate, segregated communities
    4) the lack of appreciation/acknowledgement of the contributions of non-chareidim

    While I think these lead to several damaging consequences – I just want to focus on one – the distaste (to put it mildly) for chareidim and their view of yiddishkeit engendered by this behavior. I have sensed this aversion in secular and MO communities, in Israel and America. Maybe these is some justification for these chareidi behaviors – maybe not; but the chillul Hashem generated by these behaviors is manifest. And so how can the state not be weakened – on a spiritual plane and on a mundane plane – when this kind of polarization is occurring,

    And to compound the issue – the remedy is so readily available and yet ignored. (Some of the following is from one of my previous posts) . Imagine, if tomorrow it became the norm for the chareidim to get jobs and join the army. And imagine if they volunteered for front line duty, claiming emunah as their shield, and even volunteered for the dirty jobs, claiming there is nothing humiliating when working in tzivos Hashem. Everyone would love them. And what a kiddush Hashem! Imagine the numbers of chozrei b’tshuva.

    This blog continues to harp on the foibles of the non-Chareidim – the secular, reform, conservative, the MO, and everybody else; it’s really time to look inward.


  18. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding “Comment by Phil Goode — March 20, 2007 @ 2:11 pm”

    One could just as easily argue from the Jewish point of view that concentrated Torah study sustains the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael, so all who shirk their duty to study Torah (or to support that study) weaken Israel.

    At some point, everyone will value each other’s genuine contributions and try to make up for their own actual deficiencies.

  19. Shalhevet says:

    “Are you suggesting that ‘knitted-kippa-wearers’ in any statistically significant numbers supported the expulsion? Gimme a break.”

    Are you suggesting that ‘black hat wearers” in any statistically significant numbers supported the expulsion? Gimme a break.
    I was in Israel at that time, and I sawe and heard.

  20. a k says:

    This blog continues to harp on the foibles of the non-Chareidim – the secular, reform, conservative, the MO, and everybody else; it’s really time to look inward. Comment by Phil Goode — March 20, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

    While I totally agree that the proper way to improve one’s character and thereby be Mekadaish Shaim Shamayim (sancity G-d’s name). is ‘to look inward’, that doesn’t logically lead to your recommendations.

    By definition, ‘looking inward’ is a process that can only be done by me to myself. If someone else short-circuits the process, by telling me what the results of my ‘looking inward’ should be, I will not have any meaningful change in my outlook.

    I think it is laudable that you point out to people how they are perceived by others, so that they can begin the process of introspection, that will hopefully lead to positive change.

    (btw, I trust that you follow your own advice, and look inward in analyzing how your actions and statements can be Mekadaish Shaim Shamayim and lead to shalom al yisrael, rather than divisiveness.)

    Kol Tuv

  21. Aryeh says:

    For some reason blogs tend to harping on foibles of people. What is it about blogging that creates this tendency?

  22. a k says:


    I think you misunderstood me. (unless I don’t get your point).

    In comment # 14 I clearly disagreed with the contention that chareidi society was pro the expulsion. I commented that the vast majority of chareidim agonized over the fate of those expulsed, and it is wrong to bring as an example of a group (e.g., chareidim), those who clearly don’t represent that group.

    In comment # 16 I took exception to the SAME principle – it is wrong to bring as an example of a group (e.g.‘knitted-kippa-wearers’), those who clearly don’t represent that group.

    Kol tuv and shalom al yisrael.

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “This blog continues to harp on the foibles of the non-Chareidim – the secular, reform, conservative, the MO, and everybody else; it’s really time to look inward.(comment # 17)”

    This blog gets criticism from both sides, so I disagree with this specific point. However, I agree, in general, that it’s time to look inward. The bad feelings against charedim, including those expressed by other shomrei Torah umitzvos, is too significant to ignore, and looking inward is not a case of “blaming the victim”, unless one feels that the charedi world is perfect. I don’t think charedim can change core elements of their philosophy(eg, the army issue), but there can be a better sensitivity in communication, and an attempt to understand others, if we want ourselves as well to be understood by others of a different point of view.

    Sensitivity for concerns of others is in turn based on a serious attempt to understand the mindset of another person(see Ohr Rashaz in Shemos by the Alter of Kelm), or in this case a different group, and it can be done without compromising hashkafos. I do, however, detect a trend—perhaps a small one– towards greater sensitivity in some of the charedi media.

    There certainly are specific issues which deserve to be raised and heard, even if they can’t be solved immediately. My assumption is also that many non-charedim who criticize charedim do not actually dislike chardim , and are willing to live and let live. Rather, they are responding to specific concerns, often perfectly reasonable.

  24. Baruch Horowitz says:

    For communication to work, each group needs to admit to any possible weaknesses in their own positions, even if only as they are perceived by another group. If the attitude which is communicated, even unintentionally, is that “we are perfect and you are hopelessly krum”, then there can be no meaningful conversation. Deflecting attention from a problem, or minimizing it, is unhelpful; such strategies just result in people becoming more upset that they are not understood. Regarding this and similar points, perception is what counts.

    Groups also need to ask for clarification, as in any communication. If, for example, some people say that they agree with the basic message of a newspaper article , but its language and tone were “shrill”, then good communication mandates that the newspaper then ask for specific examples of “shrillness”.

    The Charedi community has strengths, which can at least partially help it solve problems, (R’ Y. Salanter said that its essential to acknowledge strengths), and these strengths should also be communicated when facing criticism(e.g., see R. Adlerstien’s recent “Wiki-Orthodoxy” post). Nevertheless, we need to give the impression that we care about others’ concerns, and I think that this needs to be better communicated. If our publications, for example, allow no letters to the editor from non-Charedim other than in online forums which officially do not exist and are not recognized by the community, then we need a different way to have this communication on a community level.

  25. dovid says:

    “certain segments of chareidi society’s gleeful reaction to the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif”

    Is this true? If the segments you are referring to are the same people who hugged and kiSSed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then don’t call them Charedi because they are not part of the Charedi world.

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