Don't go down the wrong path


To the editor:

(re: “Building the world we all want,” Feb. 4)

There are two main points in Maayan Seligsohn’s recent letter.

The first questions why anyone — and particularly Rabbi Avi Weiss — could question the goals of the progressives. The second is the assumption that anti-Zionism is an honest position and not an underhanded restatement of anti-Semitism.

Progressivism is the naïve assumption that all of society’s ills come from racial oppression coupled with the notion that everyone’s needs should be fulfilled as-of-right. In addition, they believe that the remedy is at hand if everyone acts based on the common good.

This last year of COVID-19 protests and anti-vaxxer campaigns, together with disregard for reasonable health precautions in the public domain, should disabuse us of simple solutions to complex problems.

Any serious thought about human condition recognizes the need for work.

It is a way for people to measure their self-worth and their achievements, and to organize their time. “Boredom is truly the devil’s workshop!”

Communism, the sister of socialism, has not proven a successful answer to humanity’s problems. Notice that this movement saw society’s problem as oppression of workers by entrepreneurs.

Are you aware of the millions who died bringing communism to Russia? Are you aware of the further millions who died during the various purges? Do you know that many of those purged were Jewish communists who believed that, finally, they would be judged by their efforts, and not by their ethnicity?

Today, it is fashionable to believe that some aspects of socialism can be useful, but not notice they are not emigrating to Russia, to China, or even to Vietnam. Always pay attention to what people do, not what they say.

And another knee-jerk position for progressives is the need to bash Israel. After two generations of Israel bashing on campuses all over the United States, progressives — as demonstrated by U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman — have to lash out, no matter the excuse. Just a few weeks ago, Bowman needed to demonstrate his progressive credentials by attacking Israel.

The excuse was the non-existence of a Palestinian vaccine campaign. The fact that this was the fault of the Palestinian Authority who agreed under the Oslo Accords to be in charge of health care in their territories was considered irrelevant. Israel is always at fault.

This leads me into the “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism” argument. These specious arguments are rhetorical, not logical, but they leave people of good will tongue-tied because of their artful construction. I am willing to believe that not everything in Israel is perfect.

However, beginning with trickles in the late 1800s, Jews have been returning to their ancestral homeland. (Remember when people studied the Bible and knew that Jews have lived in Israel for thousands of years?) These pioneers literally made the desert bloom and established a First World democracy in a degraded landscape that was the legacy of generations of uncaring conquerors.

The world should be lining up to find out their secret. Instead, all they can do is condemn them.

The U.N. Commission of Human Rights only knows how to condemn Israel. What is this, if not outright anti-Semitism? Just imagine if Israel did not exist. Would all these other problems disappear?

Diversity is today’s clarion call. If diversity were such a powerful solution, why has there been, at least, 2,000 years of anti-Semitism when Jews were generally the only diverse populations in the lands where they resided? More recently, why has the role of the Jewish community in the civil rights movement been erased?

Maayan, your heart may be in the right place, but your understanding of power politics, guilt and manipulation, demagogues, and sheer evil means that you are easy prey. Do not let your good heart take us all down with you.

Sura Jeselsohn

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Sura Jeselsohn,