Some Israelis Upset About Chelsea Clinton’s Interfaith Marriage? Unbelievable Chutzpah *updated*
I knew we would hear rumblings of this after the wedding although I had hoped we wouldn’t. How did I know? Well, anything that involves religion seems to bring the hate-mongers out of the woodwork. Also, prior to the wedding I read one too many articles about people opining that Chelsea should convert to Judaism (not the other way around of course), as if it’s anybody’s f*cking business how Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky choose to conduct their private lives. Some people just hate change, even if it’s positive chance which fosters understanding between races, faiths, culture etc.
In an article in Haaretz inappropriately and offensively titled “WASPs at Last,” columnist Israel Harel attempts to shroud his thinly-veiled intolerance with an emotional appeal for the survival of the Jewish people but at the end of the day, it’s still just intolerance:
…On the other side, for those who have been fearfully following the process of assimilation and disappearance that the Jewish people has undergone in America, and on other continents, this “culminating event” poured salt on open wounds. Some 90 percent of young Jews, according to recent polls, do not rule out marriage with a non-Jew. And the results are easy to see: Due to intermarriage, the number of Jews in the United States has fallen by more than a quarter since the 1960s.
More than a few Jews, including Reform Jews, were hurt by the inclusion of ancient Jewish symbols, like the breaking of the glass, alongside Christian ones at Saturday’s wedding. Rabbi James Ponet, who officiated over this mishmash, displayed radical conformism. That is apparently linked to the dream some Jews have of pleasing the ultimate WASP, and thereby trying to solve the identity problem that lurks deep in the recesses of the Jewish soul…
We, they say, are the proof that it is possible to be an integral part of the new American collective without conceding – as the weaker souls among us have – our uniquely Jewish national identity. We do not owe our national identity, and certainly not our religious identity, to America; the Jews have contributed no less, and perhaps even more, to America than America has contributed to the Jews. [emphasis added]
Unbelievable. Imagine for a moment if a Methodist wrote about being ‘hurt’ that a Christian symbols were being used alongside Jewish ones, as though somehow the presence of the latter somehow tarnished the former?
During an interview with Andrea Mitchell in Islamabad Pakistan, Secretary Clinton was asked about her daughter’s interfaith marriage and here is what she said:
“Over the years, so many of the barriers that prevented people from getting married, crossing lines of faith or colour or ethnicity have just disappeared,” she had said.
“Because what’s important is: ‘Are you making a responsible decision? Have you thought it through? Do you understand the consequences?’ And I think in the world that we’re in today we need more of that,” she had said.
I totally agree, “in the world that we’re in today we need more of that...” It’s too bad some are so insistent on being so intolerant, selfish and divisive, even in the face of such a positive and joyous occasion.
UPDATE: Israel’s Ynet joins in with their own paean to intolerance, going so far as to refer to the wedding ceremony as a “farce” and it makes the Haaretz article look like a tribute to tolerance:
Quite a few Israelis (as well as Americans) felt a slight sense of unease this past week in the face of photographs of America’s new young couple, Chelsea and Marc, at their interfaith marriage ceremony. More accurately, they felt uneasy seeing the groom draped with a prayer shawl and wearing a kippah alongside his wholly gentile bride.
Many intriguing questions remained open in the wake of this wedding (for example, where were the groom’s parents, or what prompted distinguished rabbi James Ponet to join the farce.)
According to Brandeis University Professor Sylvia Barack-Fishman, who is among the most prominent researchers of US Jewry, fewer than half of all American Jewish parents actively object to this type of marriage for their children. A study by the American Jewish Committee showed that this message is gaining a foothold, may heaven help us, in the Orthodox community as well. When asked whether they will be pained should their child marry a gentile, only 84% of Orthodox respondents said it would. As it turns out, even an American parent whose Jewishness is very important to him no longer feels a pang of guilt when his son brings home a shiksa.
The question of whether this should be of any interest to us Israelis has many facets. It does interest those concerned about Judaism’s survival as a practical religion; it also interests those concerned about the Jewish people’s survival as a nation, as well as practical thinkers who believe that a unified, strong Jewish community in America is essential for the State of Israel to survive.
The more interesting question is what we can do: Regrettably, it appears that we can do very little. This problem is the hot potato of community leaders: They understand that the key has to do with guiding the parents, initiating Jewish social ventures, and of course, high-quality Jewish education. Much of the money that was spared after the collapse of our brother Madoff is currently invested in this struggle.
Again, imagine if a non-Jewish person wrote something as intolerant and condescending as that above- there would be OUTRAGE and rightly so. Of course there are many intolerant Christians- one doesn’t have to look too far to find them either, but I’ve searched for articles where the situation is reversed- where Christians are bemoaning the fact that Chelsea Clinton has been diminished somehow due to marrying a Jewish man and I haven’t found any. And yes, any such view held by Christians would be, in my view, equally unacceptable.
Of course all of these bigots are entitled to their opinion but is it possible that perhaps we are a little bit more tolerant of Jewish intolerance these days? And I am sorry, but claiming interfaith marriage poses a threat to the very survival of not only Israel, but to Jews in general, diminishes the very real persecution that Jews have faced throughout history. Such a claim is one victim bridge too far.
UPDATE II: And here’s another article referring to the wedding as a “spiritual Shoah”– yeah, Shoah, as in Holocaust. Can you inagine? No shame.