“Are we floundering in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, that are not only communicated to death, but offend and push non-Jews away from us?”
Frank Luntz, the US-based political and business pollster, once said: “Non-Jews do not want to hear our complaints. They want to know our solutions.” I agree with him whole heartedly. Unfortunately, as I see it, the vast majority of Diaspora Jews and Jewish institutions continue to go their merry way in making sure their messages do everything to conceivably extricate a dialogue with non-Jewish communities.
Most of our messages are floundering in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, that are not only communicated to death, but offend and push non-Jews away from us.
When on earth are we, in the Diaspora, going to cease telling all how important we are to the world and, as Luntz says, start to articulate what our solutions are?
As it was written some time ago, the Jews are a “famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, yet 54 percent of the world chess champions are Jews, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates are Jews. Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.” How many times have we read that every computer in the world has a component that was invented in Israel? Or that our contribution in the field of medicine and science is second to none.
Yes, yes, yes, all of this is commendable and may make some of us personally feel – dare I say it – superior. But to the vast majority of virulent Judeophobic hate mongering bigots, who actually have a brain in their head, well, they couldn’t care a damn!
Yet, we in the Diaspora seem to insist in wanting to pander to them, to secure, as it were, our place in history. Well, in my mind, we have already accomplished that, and not just in the past two hundred or so years.
And what can positively be achieved by the never-ending outpouring of comments from Jews regarding Jewish vs Islamic Nobel Prize comparisons?
Some years ago Luntz stated: “Over the past 20 years, we have developed some very destructive communication habits that have seriously undermined our efforts and the causes we believe in. Our words lose their resonance and our style and tone offend… We push people away when we should pull them in.”
Our Diaspora doesn’t have the reputation for being circumspect about our achievements, but seems to be lost in a quagmire of guarded pessimism with regard to our future. And that simply means the Iranians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Hizb-ut Tahrir and all their lot, thrive on our wallowing.
I was once told of a group of Canadian and American Jews who had a meeting in Israel with the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They proceeded to give him some advice as to how Israel should handle their enemy. Sharon was incensed. In essence, he told them to go back to where they came from and handle their own issues, not Israel’s.
Perhaps this is the crux of the matter for Jewish organisations in the Diaspora, especially in North America. Perhaps it’s easier to indulge in giving advice from afar, even though it’s not wanted, than to face and communicate to the vast majority of non-Jews at home on possible solutions to religious intolerance, antisemitism, hate and violence.
All of this of course means open public dialogue and cooperation among individuals. How many Jewish organisations do you know who are willing to venture out of their closet mind-set and chance that?
Well anyway, that’s how I see it.
Alan Simons, is an author, ghost writer and social activist and is the publisher of jewishinfoNews.
* * *
SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”