I find the "If you want to be taken seriously, then you must do X, Y, Z" rhetoric obnoxious.
I don’t know how many people have asked me, "Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want your blog to be taken seriously?"
I loathe it because I don’t have a snappy comeback to it. I don’t worry about being taken seriously. Even before i started blogging in July 1997, I had full confidence that if I did good work, it would be taken seriously.
There’s no need to worry about being taken seriously. Do good work and the serious attention will follow.
J-Street does not need to worry about being taken seriously. As soon as people start writing Op/Eds questioning if you want to be taken seriously, you’re taken seriously.
When people proclaim publicly that you don’t matter, you matter. When people take the time to tell me they don’t read me, I know I’m making an impact. Why put effort into fighting something insignificant?
If J Street, the new left-wing Israel lobby, wants to be taken seriously by mainstream American Jewry, I suggest it immediately stop the patronizing argument that all those who disagree with the organization are ossified Jewish knuckle-draggers who see an anti-Semite behind every corner.
If accurate, the quotes attributed to J Street’s director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in an article on his group in The New York Times Magazine this past Sunday, represent a breathtaking condescension toward ideological opponents that can only sow deep divisions within the Jewish community.
On why most of the pro-Israel lobbying groups support a hard line against terror, Ben Ami says they see "Israel as the place you can always count on when they come to get you." Ben-Ami added that these groups stifle dissent because they argue that "we’re still on too-shaky ground to permit public disagreement."
In Ben-Ami’s opinion, AIPAC is run by paranoid schizophrenics who fear another Holocaust may strike at any moment.
On Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which J Street strongly criticized, "Ben-Ami acknowledges that moments of crisis for Israel tap into the ancestral impulses . ‘There’s their grandmother’s voice in their ear; it’s the emotional side and the communal history, and it’s the fear of not wanting in some way to be responsible for the next great tragedy that will befall the Jewish people.’"
So if you support Israel’s right to defend itself against missiles raining down on its kindergartens and nursing homes it’s not because you believe in a country’s legitimate right to defend itself against attack but because your reptilian Jewish brain has still not gotten over your great-grandmother being disemboweled by Cossacks.
Is this the way to conduct an honest discussion about Israel’s future – by painting those with whom you disagree as a bunch of loons who see Nazis about to storm Brooklyn?
The truth, of course, is that many people – myself included – who support the organizations J Street seeks to demonize – AIPAC, the ADL, the ZOA, and others – do so not because we fear the imminent mass extinction of all Jews but because we seek to prevent the cold-blooded murder of even one Jew.