Sorry, Jon Stewart, there are opinions, and there are facts

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Jon Stewart had a rather amusing bit on his program last night. Each time he would mention the word “Israel” all of the “correspondents” on his show would pop up and begin yelling at him. When the yelling calmed down all but one of the commentators disappeared. After a pregnant pause the man looked at Stewart, scowled and, with disgust said “a self-hating Jew.” Then he too disappeared.

“Look,” Stewart opined after the bit had run its course, “obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”

I could not agree more.

At the same time, while there are indeed, “many strong opinions,” not all opinions are equally valid. And while I know it is not politically correct to say so, some opinions …

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As sirens sound, NJ visitors share resilient Israel’s anxiety

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July 16, 2014
Visiting Israel on a national Jewish federations mission, Maxine Murnick said she was disappointed when her group was discouraged from visiting Ofakim, in Israel’s beleaguered South.

“Can you imagine if somebody advised you against going to Millburn or Morris Plains?” she asked.

New Jersey residents visiting Israel during its current clash with Hamas got a close look at what it means to be in Israel when Hamas missiles pour in from Gaza, as air raid sirens sound frequently, and dashes to missile shelters interrupt the mundane activities of daily life.

 

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Murnick, campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, said the overwhelming impression she was left with was “the resiliency of the Israeli people, which is just something to behold.”

 

Murnick was one of several local leaders — including federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal and assistant executive vice president Jeffrey Korbman …

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The year was 1984 and I was a student at Duke University. During the fall semester I spent time working on Jim Hunt’s senatorial campaign. It was not so much that I was working on behalf of Jim Hunt but rather, I was working to unseat incumbent Jesse Helms, one of the most anti-Israel senators at the time. His record on Israel was, as one article put it, “the most negative of any member of the Senate.” Among other things, Helms was the sole senator to vote against prohibiting American companies from joining the Arab League boycott of Israel. During the 1982 Lebanon War, he called for the United States to break all diplomatic relations with Israel. While Hunt won our district, Helms kept his seat and remained in the Senate.

The next year, I was living and studying at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students …

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Have we Zionists forgotten how to listen?

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Here are just a few snippets from recent conversations regarding American Jewish support for Israel:

“Rabbi, I’m very upset and want to talk to you. How dare you allow a group like J Street to speak at Temple?”

“Rabbi, I simply do not understand how a social and religious progressive like you can be part of such a right-wing conservative organization as AIPAC.”

Two apparently opposite statements that are, I would argue, two sides of the same coin. To me, both reflect what is wrong with the current discourse with regard to the American Jewish community’s involvement in pro-Israel activity. We seem to be living in an era where Jewish issues have gone the way of Fox News and MSNBC: We simply listen to ourselves and those with whom we agree, and we demonize those who have a different perspective.

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