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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hi, I'm treppenwitz... and I'm a recovering diaspora Jew

All together now: "Hi trep!"

Something that many of my Israeli friends have been pointing out to me over the past few years is that I simply must learn to stop being bothered by what the foreign media and governments say about us.  I know they're right (my friends, that is... not the foreign media and governments), but it's hard to unlearn most of a lifetime's worth of conditioning to care. 

The problem is, I'm hard-wired to seek acceptance and approval... and to keep my head down when uncomfortable topics are being discussed.  Like Israel.    I'm working on it... give me time.

To help me in this task, I've sketched out a 12 step program for recovering diaspora Jews.*  It goes like this:

1. Admitted we were powerless in the diaspora and recognize that living in Israel now means never again having to say we're sorry (or 'please', or 'excuse me', apparently).
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves is the same One that gave us this land.  Top that! 
3. Made a decision to not be a 'frayer', and determine that only G-d above can criticize our foreign policy, or cut in front of us in the grocery line.   
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and found we really are superior to everyone else (or so our mothers tell us).   
5. Admitted to G-d, to ourselves, and to any human being who will listen, that we've been kicked out of almost every country on the planet... so we're simply not moving again.  Move someone else!   
6. Were entirely ready to have G-d remove the last spec of insecurity from our character.   
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  Hey, that was fast.  Thanks!   
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and assumed they will get over it.  Or not.  Whatever.   
9. Made direct contributions to our own people.  Charity begins at home.  Let someone else worry about the needy neighbors for a change.  
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong we assume nobody noticed (or would ever have the bad taste to say anything).  
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him.  After all... who knows Him longest?  
12. Having had a personal awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other recovering diaspora Jews, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Imshin who introduced me to my new mantra yesterday:  "oderint dum metuant" [Latin for 'let them hate, so long as they fear'].

* Note: This post is in no way, shape or form, meant to poke fun at, or make light of, the incredibly important work of Alcoholics Anonymous and other real 12 step programs.

Posted by David Bogner on January 7, 2009 | Permalink

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As with every cultural difference, I am learning that the ideal approach is probably somewhere in between. There is a lot of positive in caring what others think....it's probably the force behind desiring good hasbara. Because we ARE affected by what others think. What if we didn't care what America thought or America didn't care enough about us to give aid? Part of Israel's strength is the diversity of its people. I think there is a lot of worth in your (our) Diaspora values.

Now there's also a time to not care. That's the trick of finding the healthy balance. I'm not there yet either.

Benji

Posted by: What War Zone??? | Jan 7, 2009 7:53:59 AM

What you do, for free, is what Israeli Government spokespersons are paid to do. :-)

Step 11 - very important.

Posted by: Rami | Jan 7, 2009 9:33:36 AM

Hmmmmm....

1) Powerless in the entire Diaspora? Not the entire Diaspora. Jews have done pretty well in the US and have reached the heights of power. Supreme Court Justices, Congressmen, Senators, Mayors of New York City, media moguls, senior officers in the Armed Forces....you name it. America has been pretty good to the Jews.

2) Concur.

3) By all means, stand your ground at the checkout! :) As for the rest, Israel relies on way too much foreign aid (read: American tax money) to ignore Washington. Fact.

4) Mmmmhmmm....I'm made in the image of the same One who made you. And we do have a common ancestor, Cousin Dave. :)

5) Not every country....see #1. Canadians, Aussies and others might have something to say about that as well.

6) Good. Just don't go and get a big head.

7) *rolls eyes* See #6.

8) You DO know what happens when you assume, right? :O

9) True.

10) 'Bad' and 'Taste' are my middle names. See #8. :)

11) Excellent.

12) Ehhh....


aigf

Posted by: Karl Newman | Jan 7, 2009 10:09:33 AM

I completely agree with that program. While I am neither Jew nor disapora or anything like that, but just an American, most of us Americans follow basically the same steps. And that probably is the reason why of all the countries in the world we are the only one to truly support Israel: we like people who stand up for themselves and are not cowards.

Another saying that fits: "Many enemies - lots of honor". (A saying by German knight and general Georg von Frundsberg who in the 16th century fought on behalf of the Habsburg Empire against many other European powers).

Posted by: John | Jan 7, 2009 10:13:30 AM

Let's give it up for Mr. Congeniality, relionx! Dude, your comment says much more about you than your target. Do you even have anything relevant to add to the conversation, say, a dissenting opinion at the very least? Comments like this are pretty lame to put it nicely.

Posted by: What War Zone??? | Jan 7, 2009 11:03:01 AM

Have you sent your proposal to AA? :)

Posted by: Gila | Jan 7, 2009 11:21:50 AM

Dave,

Down at the bottom is a 'aigf.' All in good fun. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | Jan 7, 2009 12:44:34 PM

Karl Newman... Is that what that meant. I need to update my texting lexicon. :-)

Posted by: David Bogner | Jan 7, 2009 12:52:03 PM

Ask your kids for lessons. lol :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | Jan 7, 2009 1:23:48 PM

yeah, good luck with that. you know what they say; "you can take the Jew out of the diaspora, but you can't take..."
but your children will lead you.
and btw (that's By The Way); shrill and strident is what we're used to! and we like it! keep it up!

Posted by: Debbie | Jan 7, 2009 1:46:43 PM

While I agree with you for the most part (being a recovering diaspora Jew, myself), I can't help but think that no one actually believes that this will help. The reality is that while an individual can ignore what is being said about us, the government of Israel chooses not to, and therefore IS influenced by the media, both home and abroad. And since most of this media is antagonistic (understatement!) towards us and our right to this land of ours, we are operating at a significant disadvantage.

Instead of ignoring the press, instead of wringing our hands, we have to find a better way to stand up for ourselves and influence others. Or, alternatively, we as a people and a country and a government must stand up and collectively say, 'Screw You! You don't have to love us, but you DO have to respect us! And we will no longer do anything that is not in our best interest AS WE SEE IT!'

Fat chance ;)

keep up the good blogging!

Posted by: David Greenzweig | Jan 7, 2009 2:29:29 PM

"Let them hate, so long as they fear."

I like it!

Posted by: psachya | Jan 7, 2009 4:14:39 PM

Ha! The first step is admitting you have a problem, you know.

I'm so glad you posted this, because I felt like an old shrew for telling you to let it roll off yesterday. I know it's hard, but it's also right. *virtual hug*

Love #7. Can I get a pound of that, to go?

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 7, 2009 6:03:13 PM

Excellent. Take it from me, it gets easier all of the time....

Posted by: westbankmama | Jan 7, 2009 6:07:55 PM

Hi Trep,

As my old professor used to say, “an insult is not an insult if you do not take it as an insult.”

I sincerely believe that people are bothered too much by what other people say and think. We all are stuck in here – wherever here is – and need to make the best of it for our people and ourselves. If I were an Israeli – unfortunately I don’t have that honor – I’d fight, I’d plow, I’d write, etc. for the benefit of Israel. (I’d like to think that is what I’m doing as an American.)

I’m not certain the “Let them hate” attitude is best for Israel (or America). It leads to absurd opinions, such as “Nuke Norway” as response to asinine Norwegian comedian’s “joke.” Not everybody is an anti-Semite. In this war of ideas, some are too quick to jump the gun. The other day one of my favorite bloggers suggested that all European nations participated in Hitler’s plan to annihilate Jews, with the exception of Denmark. This testimonial would, for example, surprise the Finns, “allies” of Nazi Germany against Soviet Union.

As Karl highlighted, Jews have done pretty well in many countries. There is, however, time for ignoring all not in Israel proper, as Benji pointed out. It is a delicate balance, though.


Hope you plan works out for you.

Just my 2 shekels …

Posted by: tino | Jan 7, 2009 6:48:51 PM

Hi Trep,

As my old professor used to say, “an insult is not an insult if you do not take it as an insult.”

I sincerely believe that people are bothered too much by what other people say and think. We all are stuck in here – wherever here is – and need to make the best of it for our people and ourselves. If I were an Israeli – unfortunately I don’t have that honor – I’d fight, I’d plow, I’d write, etc. for the benefit of Israel. (I’d like to think that is what I’m doing as an American.)

I’m not certain the “Let them hate” attitude is best for Israel (or America). It leads to absurd opinions, such as “Nuke Norway” as response to asinine Norwegian comedian’s “joke.” Not everybody is an anti-Semite. In this war of ideas, some are too quick to jump the gun. The other day one of my favorite bloggers suggested that all European nations participated in Hitler’s plan to annihilate Jews, with the exception of Denmark. This testimonial would, for example, surprise the Finns, “allies” of Nazi Germany against Soviet Union.

As Karl highlighted, Jews have done pretty well in many countries. There is, however, time for ignoring all not in Israel proper, as Benji pointed out. It is a delicate balance, though.


Hope you plan works out for you.

Just my 2 shekels …

Posted by: tino | Jan 7, 2009 6:50:56 PM

Hi Trep,

As my old professor used to say, “an insult is not an insult if you do not take it as an insult.”

I sincerely believe that people are bothered too much by what other people say and think. We all are stuck in here – wherever here is – and need to make the best of it for our people and ourselves. If I were an Israeli – unfortunately I don’t have that honor – I’d fight, I’d plow, I’d write, etc. for the benefit of Israel. (I’d like to think that is what I’m doing as an American.)

I’m not certain the “Let them hate” attitude is best for Israel (or America). It leads to absurd opinions, such as “Nuke Norway” as response to asinine Norwegian comedian’s “joke.” Not everybody is an anti-Semite. In this war of ideas, some are too quick to jump the gun. The other day one of my favorite bloggers suggested that all European nations participated in Hitler’s plan to annihilate Jews, with the exception of Denmark. This testimonial would, for example, surprise the Finns, “allies” of Nazi Germany against Soviet Union.

As Karl highlighted, Jews have done pretty well in many countries. There is, however, time for ignoring all not in Israel proper, as Benji pointed out. It is a delicate balance, though.


Hope you plan works out for you.

Just my 2 shekels …

Posted by: tino | Jan 7, 2009 6:51:11 PM

"Let them hate, so long as they fear."

Regarding Hamas, for example, what steps would actually induce the necessary fear? Right now, I'd guess Hamas is in a holding pattern waiting for a bailout from Obama. They have no particular reason to change their game plan in the meantime unless Israel uses some new strategy or tactic that copes successfully with their human shield methods.

Regarding Iran, what exactly would make them fear Israel?

Posted by: Bob Miller | Jan 7, 2009 6:52:43 PM

Don't pay any attention to the hurtful comments from people who just don't have a clue about anything Jewish..what we have been thru in the past, who hates us, just because we are Jews..you hit it on the head when you said, Israel, was given to us by a higher power..that says it all..Top that all of you that dislike us so intently.

Posted by: Joan | Jan 7, 2009 7:49:49 PM

LOL - seems like there ought to be something in here about ignoring traffic laws, too... :)

Posted by: Tzipporah | Jan 7, 2009 8:33:43 PM

a. Thank you :-)

b. Good luck with your rehabilitation. Don't be deterred by the withdrawal symptoms.

c. (Unrelated but I have to get it out:) I just trod on a snail. I'm a murderer. :-(

Posted by: Imshin | Jan 7, 2009 9:04:29 PM

... coming along nicely...

Posted by: Ben-David | Jan 7, 2009 10:21:26 PM

Hi Trep!

Posted by: Alice | Jan 7, 2009 10:41:16 PM

1) Powerless in the entire Diaspora? Not the entire Diaspora. Jews have done pretty well in the US and have reached the heights of power. Supreme Court Justices, Congressmen, Senators, Mayors of New York City, media moguls, senior officers in the Armed Forces....you name it. America has been pretty good to the Jews.

My grandfather, when he was still alive a"h, used to say the same thing ... except about Germany. His father, my great grandfather, fought and was killed in World War I ... on the German side of the conflict.

yeah, good luck with that. you know what they say; "you can take the Jew out of the diaspora, but you can't take..."

Otherwise known as "golusyuden". Also another anecdote from my grandfather, he used to call Jews from outside Germany, "auslander". And he once said something in that vein to my other grandfather (who lived in Vienna, Austria, but whose family was previously from Hungary). My other set of grandparents didn't speak to the German set for 2 years after that incident. By the way, the use of the phrase "golusyuden" (or the English phrase I quoted) is often perceived as crass, and sometimes even hateful (there's a better word, but I can't think of it right now).

Finally, when it comes to world politics and events, it is sheer folly to ignore what others think of you. And that includes bloggers, and those who comment on blogs. Just imagine if that kind of attitude was prevalent in 1948 when Israel was seeking enough votes in the UN!

Posted by: Mark | Jan 8, 2009 7:52:52 AM

my pop is AA, so we are well-heeled in the AA ways in my fam. He would be the first to tell you: the AA folks would love this, and take no insult. They know -- more than almost any other group I know -- the power of self-deprecating humor as therapy. ;o/

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jan 11, 2009 8:40:37 AM

I know what you mean... I have been so affected by the foreign media lately, it made me so so so sad, then I've had "friends" writing me almost pro-hamas messages in response to some links against hamas I had put on my facebook wall, all that affected me so much that I almost spent my last shabbat being sad (sin sin sin!!!), and an Israeli friend told me "you have to learn to be more Israeli and not care what other people/media think or say! You have to laugh about it"... My reaction was "yeah but..." "But nothing. You won't be Israeli until you learn this."

Posted by: miss worldwide | Jan 18, 2009 12:25:37 PM

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