Judaism loves a good argument, but not just any argument. As the Mishnah teaches, “Every argument for the sake of heaven will in the end be of permanent value, but every argument not for the sake of heaven will not endure.” Bad arguments blossom on the web like weeds, choking out useful dialogue.
That’s where we come in – pointing you towards illuminating debates and away from the ugly gripes and personal attacks.
In each edition of “Responsive Reading,” we’ll scour the Web for provocative essays on Jewish life, Israel, spirituality, culture, and politics, and match them with equally provocative responses.
Think of it as a way to hone your own arguments, or as a chance to enjoy the tussle. Either way, we think “Responsive Reading” will be of permanent value.
It’s Drifting Away From the Liberal Ethos of World Jewry
By Eric Alterman (The Forward)
Alterman, a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College, argues that Israeli politics are increasingly dominated by ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular nationalists. The result is an assault on free speech, minority political rights, and civil liberties that could spell doom for Israel’s secular democracy. Read More
By Shmuel Rosner (Rosner’s Domain)
The former Chief US Correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz says Alterman doesn’t have his facts right. While unease toward some Israeli actions and policies “can be easily justified,” Alterman exaggerates the influence of Russian immigrants, the power of the ultra-Orthodox, and the chances that some troubling legislation will ever pass the Knesset. Read More
By Thomas L. Friedman (The New York Times)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist worries that Israel is alienating its supporters in the United States – with the possible exception of members of Congress, whose loyalty is “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Read More
By Ron Kampeas (JTA)
Pro-Israel feelings come naturally to Congress, writes a veteran journalist. If anything, the pro-Israel lobby has lost influence over legislators who actually are more hawkish on Israel than some Jewish groups. Read More
Impassioned plea for civil debate
By Leon G. Cooperman (New York Post)
In an “open letter” to Barack Obama, Short Hills hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman accuses the president of “setting the tenor of the rancorous debate” and engaging in “what so many have characterized as ‘class warfare.’” Read More
By Joseph A. Palermo (The Huffington Post)
Stop “kvetching,” writes a historian. Big business has made billions of dollars by crashing the nation’s housing market, earned a hefty federal bail-out, and control much of the corporate media. Read More