Jewish Journal

You’re Not My Friend Anymore!

by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin

July 24, 2014 | 7:34 am

Shakespeare began “Richard III” by speaking about the “winter of our discontent.”

 Fuhgetaboudit. This is the summer of our discontent. Israel has already lost 36 soldiers. There have been close to 700 deaths in Gaza.

And I just lost two friends.

Well, I didn’t exactly “lose” them. I just "unfriended" them from Facebook. And they weren’t exactly “friends,” either. One is someone whom I have not seen in more than forty years, not since high school. The other is a mainstream Protestant leader whom I have met at various conferences, so I guess that you could say that once upon a time we were “friendly.” But a real friend? Hardly.

Why did I go to the trouble of unfriending them? Because both of them have anti-Israel (and, in some cases, borderline anti-Semitic) posts on their Facebook pages. 

“Ex-friend” Number One. I will call him Richard. He takes delight in pointing out Israel’s foibles, and the current conflict has given him more than a fair share of verbal weaponry. Israel is committing genocide against the people of Gaza. Israel is a right wing dictatorship. (OK, I know a lot of Jews who probably think that as well). Israel is a theocracy (Ditto). Call me an ethnocentric tribalist, if you want, but there are certain things that I can hear, better, when they are coming mit unser (from us), and said with traces of love and disappointment, not with a kind of adolescent bravado – something akin to the ticklish delight in seeing the assistant principal emerging from the men’s room with toilet paper clinging to his shoe.

Richard loves to trash Israel. His other “friends” are even worse. They freely use the A word (apartheid). They accuse Israel of Nazi-like crimes. A few of them are even Jews who bemoan what is happening in “their name” (talk about narcissism) and who believe that Israel should simply not exist -- within any borders. They laugh off any accusations that they might be engaged in anti-Semitic tropes by saying that “the Jews are too sensitive” (the Jew on the forum says that as well). My “friend” from high school says that “when you speak the truth, you get silenced.”

Really? By whom? 

I do not believe that my friend is an anti-Semite. He’s just an extreme leftist who finds Israel to be a handy outlet for his post-whatever rantings. He is also a gay activist – a cause with which I have the greatest sympathies – who is utterly unmoved by people telling him about how gay-friendly Israel is – certainly when you compare it to, say, the West Bank, where gay men are persecuted http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/02/liberals_hypocrisy_over_palestinian_intolerance.html and have been murdered.  http://jewishquarterly.org/issuearchive/articled87d.html?articleid=218 “What difference does that make?” he retorts. 

All the difference in the world, I would think. Or, at least some difference. 

And then, there’s Friend Number Two. He is a sincere, thoughtful man. But he posts articles about how Israel provoked the current war (written by a Jew, which gives my friend ample cover – or so he believes). His other friends “chime in” with articles that blame the whole thing on AIPAC (along with the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, who was smuggled to Palestine and who grew up to become a radical right-wing rabbi in a West Bank settlement. And then others respond, like a Greek chorus, with the latest Stephen Walt nonsense.

What makes it worse for me?

My “friends” simply sit back, and do not rebuke the more radical posts on their walls. There is no sympathy whatsoever for what Israel has had to endure. No recognition whatsoever that Hamas is a homicidal and suicidal death cult. They just let the dreck fly, and they let it stick. As the Talmud says: Silence is tantamount to consent. 

And even worst, if such a thing is possible? As these hateful and distorted words are flying across the screen of my IPhone, other things fly as well.

Like the alerts from Red Alert, that app that tells you when there are rockets in Israel.

And yet, not a word of empathy for those who are suffering in Israel. No, not even for a friend. No words of empathy or sympathy for the Jews, who are being attacked in France, England, Germany, and Belgium-- in tones all too reminiscent of the 1930s. In Calgary (Calgary!), there was the attempted lynching of a pro-Israel demonstrator. 


So, they are no longer my “friends.” It’s quite alright, actually. They will not miss me, nor will I miss them. As someone recently said to me: "If you actually care that much about what these people are saying on Facebook, that’s a clear sign that you are way too invested.”

Translation: Get a life.

I am getting a life. Life is notoriously short, and I just don’t have time anymore for drivel.

Not when my people is bleeding.

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Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is one of America’s most prolific and most-quoted rabbis, whose colleagues have called him an “activist for Jewish ideas.” An award-winning writer...

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