In the sweltering heat of a Chicago summer, my friend marched outside the South African consulate, protesting apartheid. Years earlier, she had protested Jim Crow in front of a Woolworths store in Chicago, failing to comprehend that her beloved big government—not Woolworths—prevented blacks from sitting at lunch counters on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line.
In the midst of the 1980 presidential election, as the nation convulsed in economic turmoil, she brought an otherwise pleasant dinner party to an end when she said the most important thing in America was fighting racial injustice.
She would ambush nearly everyone with some leftist talking point and assume a level of moral superiority when they could not respond because it hadn’t been their foremost concern.
When Israel went into Gaza to stop the random death raining from the skies on its southern cities, she awoke me from a deep sleep one night to start sobbing into the phone about the children dying in Gaza.
I reminded her that in all the exchanges between Israel and Gaza, never once did she ever express any sympathy for Israeli children, and that Gaza was ruled by a bunch of murderous thugs. She merely continued to sob, fixated on horrific pictures of dead children in Gaza, obliviously insisting that the Israeli incursion should stop immediately.
My acquaintance is the epitome of the progressive-minded Jew. With all the rallies she attended, she never once marched for Israel or even for the release of Soviet Jewry. Today, her mantra is the “occupation”—“the root cause of worldwide hostility toward Israel.” The rabbi of her north suburban congregation preaches that Israel must take risks for peace, but after the winter break from her rabbinical studies in Israel, she, unlike the rest of her class, postponed returning to Israel until Saddam’s scuds were no longer a threat—a behavior she repeatedly denies. And the congregation, like many American liberal Jews ensconced in the safety of suburbia, would never allow their children to take public transportation downtown after dark. But Israelis, they reason, should take risks for peace.