What does Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman have that I don’t have? Is it the beard? The religious authority? Or is it the record of advocating for the killing of Arab women, men and children?Â Why does he get to stay on the Jewish Federation’s much promoted Jewish Heroes competition list, while I was unceremoniously deleted- without explanation- this morning, less than 24 hours after a story about my nomination appeared in JWeekly, the Bay Area Jewish paper.
Friedman and I have been running in the top ten for Jewish communal professionals for weeks. And though he’s a rabbi and I’m not, I was nominated by a young rabbinic student sincere in his commitment to a Jewish future. Heck, I even once helped raise thousand of dollars for the Fed after going on a mission to Israel– and my uncle was once a 6-figure fundraiser for the Federation and board member. But my nomination represents hundreds if not thousands of Jews in communities across the US who are heroically working to make equality between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis a reality.
Which is, presumably, why it was nixed and my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, made subject to a modern day form of Jewish banishment. This despite the competition’s tagline: “We honor those making strides to repair the world.” (Picture at left: my nomination page now says Page Not Found and is blank.Â Here is the cached version-what it used to look like before today. And I’m off the leaderboard completely.)
But what about Friedman, who still remains riding high at number 4 on the leaderboard?
While he has written a lot about love, and famously brought Bob Dylan to Chabad–which gives him hipster points–that’s not what Friedman is most famous for. When asked by Moment Magazine a few years ago, “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?”, this was Friedman’s response as reported in the Forward:
â€œThe only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle),â€ Friedman wrote in response to the question posed by Moment Magazine for its â€œAsk the Rabbisâ€ feature.
Friedman argued that if Israel followed this wisdom, there would be â€œno civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.â€
â€œI donâ€™t believe in Western morality,â€ he wrote. â€œLiving by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.â€
Disappearing JVP’s/my nomination is the perfect metaphor for an older generation’s fearful attempt to disappear an entire generation. Their children and certainly grandchildren are increasingly embracing the values of equality, going to the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem to see for themselves the horror wrought by the illegal occupation and a dream built in many ways on the backs of Palestinians.
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