Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

January 20, 2005

The elephant and the Jewish question

That's the punch line to an old Jewish joke, so old that a midrash says that God told it to Moshe Rabbenu (Moses) at Mount Sinai. (Pillage Idiot bonus: Click here and scroll down to read the joke as told by Jacques Derrida. Seriously. And, no, I haven't wasted my life reading the whole interview.)

What has this got to do with the inauguration taking place today? Just ask the Washington Jewish Week, which leads with an article called "Cheering, challenging/As Bush takes oath, area Jews voice mixed views." The article quotes some local Jews who seem enthusiastic about the inauguration, but it inevitably quotes the opponents. I was heartened to see that the three main opponents were wackjobs:

But for Takoma Park's Nadine Bloch, it's a day to take to the streets in protest. This educational consultant, 43, traces her activism back to the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam, "to make the world a better place for everyone."

And she differs with those who say Bush is good for the Jews.

"He has not improved the well-being of most people on the planet, including Israelis," said Bloch, pointing to heightened Mideast strife and what she sees as a lack of U.S. response to these crises during his tenure.

"He doesn't have a policy about Mideast peace; he has a policy about controlling Middle East oil and strategic positioning," she lamented.

Meanwhile, Bloch acknowledges the political split in the Jewish community, which she finds mirrored in her own family. Her father backed Bush; Bloch's mother favored his opponent.
Unfortunately, the online article doesn't have the photo in the hard copy, with the caption "A Bush caricature created by local puppeteer-activist Nadine Bloch, who aims to protest today's inauguration."

Another main opponent is this youngster:
Meanwhile, Jonathan Scolnik, 23, is among those intent on ensuring this year's inauguration ceremony carries a counter-message.

He expects to be marching and passing out fliers with friends who share his passion for economic justice and his opposition to the Iraq war.

"This is an administration that puts profits over people, that puts Puritan morality over pluralism, and undermines democracy by repealing our constitutional rights and jailing people indefinitely based solely on their perceived country of origin or religion," argued Scolnik, who works in the nonprofit health care field.

Raised in the Maryland suburbs and Rockville's Temple Beth Ami, Scolnik looks to Jewish history for some of his current views.

"As a people, I think we learned the dangers of unchecked state power, of theocracy and lack of protection for political minorities," Scolnik said.
And then there's this opponent:
For her part, District law student Rachel Moshman, 27, expects to sit inside today, within reach of a phone. As a member of the legal team for anti-inaugural protesters, she'll be fielding calls from those arrested or facing other legal problems.

Just over a year ago, in November 2003, she served as a legal observer during anti-free trade demonstrations in Miami.

"There were tanks patroling downtown Miami," recalled Moshman. "It was a militarized zone."

This week, this Iraq war foe has worries ranging beyond weaponry to First Amendment rights.

"We're more concerned about the potential for trumped-up charges, such as felony charges and charges extending from the Patriot Act," said Moshman.

Citing the focus on social justice at her hometown synagogue, Omaha's Temple Israel, Moshman said, "It really empowers me to know that there's this institution that believes in helping other people and standing up for what you believe in."
I'd be happy to donate some tinfoil hats for these folks.

And, by the way, if we didn't talk about what local Jews thought about the inauguration, would the inauguration even exist?