Friday, June 18, 2010

Prager tells diaspora Jews to shut their fat mouths

Well, this is precious. Professional big mouth Dennis Prager is now telling diaspora Jews that they mustn't speak their minds when it comes to Israel. Presumably, its okay for us to continue asking God to intervene via our prayers, and of course our tax dollars and tourist dollars remain most welcome, but this is where Dennis wants it to end:
“While I have strong opinions on settlements, peace, territory, etc., unlike many American Jews I do not express them publicly. I do not believe it is the business of any American Jew to tell a mature democracy faced with threats to its existence what policies it should follow. Living in the safety of America, 10,000 miles away, I won’t tell you. whose lives are on the line every day, what you should do.”

Dennis, as usual, is wrong in almost too many ways to count, but for the sake of you, the readers,  I shall give it the old college try.

(1) American tax dollars help pay to protect those settlements, so unless you want the American aid spigot turned off, you'd best put up with our chattering. We're not saying you're required to listen, but don't take out money, pat us on the head, and tell us to get lost. If you're such a  mature democracy, you can tolerate a little free speech. It doesn't hurt, and the process of listening, and exchanging ideas, will only make your mature democracy stronger.

(2) Are all Jews family, responsible for one another, or not? You can't have it both ways. You can't expect us to make Israel the focus of our lives, insist that we accept it as our homeland, and demand an emotional investment, while also expecting to quietly go along with whatever you think is best. That's not fair, or reasonable. You want us to care about Israel? Good. Let us care about Israel.

(3) Dennis is demanding we keep our strong opinions on peace, settlements, and territory to ourselves. Fine. Does that also go for our strong opinions about commerce, religion, the arts and sports? Can I say that I think the Israel Museum's proposed revision sucks beans without offending Denis, or do I have to pretend to like it because God forbid I should tell a mature art institution what I think of its design choices? What about Hapoel Petach Tikva? Can I say their coach put together a bad lineup, without first purchasing a stake in the team?  And let's not omit to mention  Prager's screaming hypocricy. He's written dozens of columns that say Israeli society should be more religious. Why is he allowed to advocate for his preferred religious policies, if he believes disapora Jews must swallow their opinions about Israel and nod silently?

(4) I can't help thinking that Prager wants us diaspora Jews to be silent about "settlements, peace, territory" because we knows we overwhelmingly disagree with him. He's hawkish; most diaspora Jews are not. It seems obvious to me that he's telling us to shut up and follow orders, because he's frightened our view, not his, will carry the day if we're allowed to present it. Defeating our arguments with arguments of his own must be too difficult for Dennis. This is why he attempts  to stifle us instead. Along with dumb, add cowardly and cynical as Denis-describing adjectives.

Bottom line? Prager is ridiculous. As a human being, I have a natural, irrevocable right to make any argument I like about any subject I like. I can advocate for the Catholic Church to let priests marry, I can call for Russia to sack Putin, and I can say what I think Israel should or should not do. No one has to listen, of course, and I don't get a vote; also I shouldn't necessarily get any time or official attention from Church, Russian, or Israeli officials, but you can't prevent me from speaking. Any attempt to prevent me from speaking is inherently suspicious and a sign of weakness on the part of the person making the attempt to silence me.

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