Beware of Self-Hating Jews

I googled the term “self-hating Jew” in preparation for this week’s blog, As usual, Wikipedia came to my rescue with a definition from none other than Alan Dershowitz. Though the term generally applies to Jews who behave in anti-Semitic ways or hold anti-Jewish beliefs, Dershowitz “limits the term self-hatred to extreme Jewish anti-Zionists who ‘despise anything Jewish, ranging from their religion to the Jewish state.’”

Ah, yes. The term and now the person. Allison Benedikt, you are the epitome of a self-hating Jew!

Now, who the heck is Allison Benedikt?

Benedikt is a blogger and columnist. She wrote for the Village Voice, among others, and now is a senior editor for Slate. This week, Benedikt tackled the unfortunate death of Max Steinberg (may his memory be for a blessing) who was buried on Wednesday. Max, a twenty-four-year-old American from Los Angeles, died in Gaza while fighting for Israel. In an effort to make sense of it all – or looking for someone to blame – she ponders the question, how did “an American with shaky Hebrew [decide] that he was ready to die for another country”?

Benedikt concludes that the fault lies with Birthright. Birthright. An all expenses paid, two-week trip to Israel, for young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six who have at least one Jewish parent or grandparent. And why is Birthright the guilty party? According to Benedikt, “the ultimate fulfillment of Birthright’s mission—the ultimate expression of a Jew’s solidarity with Israel is to take up arms to defend it.” Huh?!?! In her own narrative, Benedikt factually and accurately states that, “Birthright was founded by Jewish philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt in 1999 ‘to change the course of Jewish history and ensure the continuity of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and solidarity with Israel.” So how did she get from “solidarity with Israel” to “[taking] up arms to defend it”???

Birthright is one of hundreds of different types of experiences in Israel for teens and young adults. Many of these programs DO create strong bonds with Israel; some of the participants DO decide to move there – make aliyah. (Though statistically only between five and seven percent actually make aliyah.) Some of those young people DO choose to join the Israel Defense Forces; and sadly, some of those soldiers DO end up getting killed.

Michael Levin was from Philadelphia. At the age of seventeen, he spent two months in Israel with Alexander Muss High School in Israel. His experiences on the program were so visceral that he, like Max, moved to Israel and joined the IDF. He too was killed (may his memory be for a blessing). He was only twenty-two.

Neither Max’s nor Michael’s parents blame any program for their sons’ deaths. They don’t blame the IDF or Israel. They were happy that both boys found themselves, their purpose, and their home in Israel. “Although he was American he truly connected,” [Max’s] father said. “He belonged there.” Both Max and Michael were buried in Jerusalem on Mount Herzl with other fallen soldiers.

In a day and age where young people are accused of being self-serving, selfish, egotistical, and self-centered, Max and Michael are examples of young men who were anything but. They should be admired and celebrated as brave heroes who died for a love that was greater than themselves.

Ms. Benedikt, what about Israel turned you off? A negative experience at your childhood summer camp? An unpleasant interaction with an Israeli during college? Your over-bearing and unquestioning parents? The long string of non-Jewish, anti-Israel men you’ve slept with? Or, are you still just confused and looking for your own answers? Frankly, I don’t care. But I do pity your “Jewish” children. Your name — synonymous with traitor — speaks for itself.

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