Dual Loyalty or Cultural Sensitivity?

Credit: www.ascotadvisory.com

One of the many antisemitic smears Jews have suffered throughout the ages is that they have a dual loyalty, so can never be patriotic citizens of the country they are living in. In the Jerusalem Post, GABRIEL SASSOON writes

We ought not alter our behavior based on the totally illegitimate charge of “dual loyalty,” that is almost exclusively hurled against us as Jews.

‘Israel has no right to demand explanations; we’re a sovereign state,”

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman reportedly fumed during his summoning of the Israeli ambassador…

“Israel doesn’t speak in the name of the Jewish people and doesn’t represent it” .

“Jews who wanted to live in Israel moved there, and they are its citizens; those who live in Argentina are Argentine citizens. The attack was against Argentina, and Israel’s desire to be involved in the issue only gives ammunition to antisemites who accuse Jews of dual loyalty.”

Timerman was referring to Israel’s concerns over Argentina’s recent deal with Iran to establish a “truth commission” over the 1994 bombing of an Argentine Jewish community center. That attack bore such a striking resemblance to the 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires that both Israeli and Argentine intelligence are certain they were both carried out by Iran-backed Hezbollah…

This story speaks to many common misconceptions about Jewishness and Zionism.

It reminds me of the argument employed by various groups, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, that Jews are a solely religious grouping and as such have no national claims. Or the foundational belief of the Reform Judaism movement– since jettisoned – that, in order to live full and productive lives in the Diaspora, the Jews must shed the ethnic/national aspect of their identity and their religion, and simply become German or American or Argentine citizens who happen to practice a religion called Judaism.

These views do not accurately reflect the history of the Jewish people.
…it is a matter of historical record that the Jews, following exile from their homeland in the first century of the Common Era, remained much more than just a religious group.

Southern steps of the Temple Mount, Jerusalem. credit: Wikipedia Public Domain

…Jerusalem and the land of Israel remained central to the Jewish people and their faith. It is no coincidence that Jews have always prayed three times a day in the direction of the Temple in Jerusalem – this is not an invention of modern Zionism. Nor is the fact that, in their long exile, the Jews prayed daily and at festivals for a return to Israel and Jerusalem, or that Jews have traditionally regarded living outside of Israel as “galut,” meaning diaspora or exile.

The Jews have thus been a distinct ethno-religious/national group with a common language for several millennia.

Much like any number of such groups – which have diaspora populations.

Greece, for example, offers citizenship to a wide array of people who can show “Greek ancestry.” It is completely uncontroversial for a Greek Australian living in Melbourne…to visit Greece, consider himself Greek, to enjoy his connection with Greece and even to hold dual Greek-Australian citizenship. Nobody accuses him of dual loyalty, nor should they.

Why is it so controversial for a person of Jewish descent to have the same relationship with the Jewish state? Why do Timerman, and so many of his fellow Hebrews around the world, feel such discomfort with their Hebrew identity and its connection with the Hebrew nation-state? … What if someone blew up a Turkish community center in Buenos Aires…Would he claim that ethnic Turks might as a result be subject to the charge of “dual loyalty?”

Here’s yet another example of the double standard when it comes to Jews and the phony “dual loyalty” charge: the constitution of the Greeks, inventors of democracy, recognizes Greek Orthodoxy as the “prevailing” religion of the state…  the special place of Greek Orthodoxy enshrined in their constitution causes not a bit of the navel-gazing and self-flagellation Jews experience over the special place that the national religion of the Jews, Judaism, has in the state of the Jews, Israel. Why is that?

Why are only Jews subject to this offensive charge of “dual loyalty” so frequently?

But while there is no doubt some confusion due to the unique history of the Jews, the answer is probably more banal: an element of self-loathing in individuals like Timerman, and a double standard for Jews that is at best ignorant and in many or even most cases a kind of veiled antisemitism.

We ought not alter our behavior based on the totally illegitimate charge of “dual loyalty,” that is almost exclusively hurled against us as Jews. We ought to be openly contemptuous of such allegations, and we must begin to call out the odious double standard that this phenomenon represents.

Here’s another example of what Sassoon is referring to:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on congressional leaders to roundly reject the “gutter politics” of dual loyalty accusations directed against senators who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran, and urged US leaders to counter such rhetoric…and denounced the abuse directed at the Democratic senator Charles Schumer, who declared  that he would vote against the nuclear deal with Iran…

“The spectacle of labeling Senator Schumer and other opponents of the controversial Iran nuclear deal as ‘warmongers’ who are more loyal to Israel than America is the lowest form of gutter politics seen in our country since Joe McCarthy,” they said.

“Instead of passionate and reasoned debates based on objective analysis of facts, we are increasingly witness to eblasts, political cartoons, and sound bites that outrageously call into question people’s loyalty to our nation. We fear that such hateful rhetoric…will legitimize mainstream hate and antisemitism and falsely reduce an important policy decision that impacts on international terrorism, our Arab allies and the future of the Middle East, to a disagreement between the US and Israel.”

ccredit:Harvard Political Review.

The dual loyalty charge came to the fore after Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish Democrat in the Senate, announced that he was opposed to the deal. A weekly cartoon on Daily Kos, a liberal website, depicted Schumer as a woodchuck, and in the course of a TV interview, the flag in the woodchuck’s office changes from American to Israeli and the moderator, a basset hound, calls Schumer a traitor. The cartoon drew outraged responses.

“There is room for a legitimate debate on the Iran deal; however charges” of disloyalty “against Senator Schumer — and any other members who articulate on fact-based but alternative views — are beyond inappropriate,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the new national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said.

The Democratic caucus generally defers to those within the party with the biggest stake in an issue, and traditionally has looked to its Jewish caucus, some 27 members, for leadership on Israel-related issues. Six have declared against the deal and 10 have declared for it. But Schumer’s coming out in opposition was seen as a watershed because he is in line to succeed Senator Harry Reid, the party’s leader in the Senate who is retiring next year.

In defending the Iran nuclear deal, Obama raised the dual loyalty issue:

Major Jewish groups condemned the use of offensive, and possibly antisemitic language used by the White House, its allies and even the President in the heated ongoing debate over the nuclear deal with Iran.

The issue was first highlighted in an editorial by Jewish-interest magazine Tablet in which staff editors railed against deal supporters over their “use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it.”

The authors warned, “Murmuring about ‘money’ and ‘lobbying’ and ‘foreign interests’ who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card,” an age-old antisemitic canard that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own countries of citizenship.

The offensive language was first used by President Obama in a July 21 interview with The Daily Show host Jon Stewart in which Obama said that shady “lobbyists” and people with “money” were working to kill the deal…

Tablet elaborated further providing links to specific examples:

Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.

Pro-Iran lobby the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which reportedly has ties to the Iranian regime, explicitly accused Schumer of being more loyal to Israel than America,.

Abraham Foxman, retired national director at the Anti-Defamation League, said Obama was using language — saying those opposed to the deal were cynically motivated to bomb Iranian nuclear sites — that fueled the antisemitic stereotyping of Jews as warmongers.

Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, accused the Obama administration of bullying, telling the Free Beacon that the language used was an “outrage” …

“I don’t fear the crock of dual loyalty,” he said. “I am ashamed by those who cannot bring facts to the table so they attempt to bully.”

Pro-Israel watchdog Honest Reporting asked if critics of the Iran deal were getting “unfairly smeared” with the dual loyalty charge

The group pointed to a CNN segment with Fareed Zakaria in which he claimed that Schumer’s calculations were based on money and the risk of losing “core supporters” who are apparently involved in or coordinating the “well-financed campaign against” the deal.

…another media watchdog, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), said it was “unfair to denigrate opponents and ignore the facts. Moreover, it is bigoted to invoke anti-Semitic tropes to tar Jewish Americans or those who represent them in Congress.”

As we know, Jews have traditionally been patriotic citizens of any country they live in. All four of my grandparents came from Lithuania, and were intensely loyal to Britain, and so grateful they had been given refuge there after escaping the horrors of the pogroms.

Strangely, when there is genuine disloyalty to country, the media keeps silent. For instance, the fact that Muslim students walked out on national anthem at a Melbourne Primary School scarcely rated a mention in most media outlets and if it did, it was supported as respect for religious freedom. The Herald Sun’s admirable Rita Panahi reported:

WHEN I was a little girl in Tehran we would line up in neat rows, dressed in our dehumanising Muslim garb, and chant “death to America” over and over again before commencing our classes.

It was a little tricky for me given I was American-born and even at the age of six loathed the hijab and all it represented, but it was what the school required and I stood there and silently mouthed the words.

So, it was with some incredulity that I read that a school in Cranbourne had ushered Muslim children, who did not want to partake in the singing of the Australian anthem, out of the assembly hall.

Is our anthem suddenly so offensive that children need to be protected from hearing it, let alone singing it?

Had we ditched Advance Australia Fair and started chanting “death to the enemy”?

The decision to exclude around 30 to 40 Muslim children was another harebrained example of progressive politics creeping into our State school system.

Just like the foolishness that has pre-schools cancel Christmas celebrations to supposedly spare the feelings of non-Christian families.

These arrangements are rarely wanted by the people who they are supposed to cater for and are usually brought about to satisfy the whims of some painfully earnest do-gooder who never does any actual good.

Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School has allowed Muslim children who may be observing Muharram — a month of mourning for Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein ibn Ali — to leave during the singing of the national anthem.

It’s a decision that has caused widespread outrage among parents but has been backed by the Victorian education department.

The school determined that singing the Australian anthem would constitute a joyous event that could interfere with the observance of Muharram.

What utter tosh.

Are these children prevented from partaking in hopscotch at recess in case they become too joyful?

Is sport prohibited? What about music classes or anything else that may bring forbidden joy during school hours?

The truth is that those who do observe Muharram do so in many different ways depending on their ancestry, level of devotion and a variety of others factors.

Is our anthem suddenly so offensive that children need to be protected from hearing it?

credit: barenakedislam.com

It is also true that some Muslims’ observance of Muharram involves brutal violence.

I recall watching in horror as men and young boys commemorating Muharram would beat themselves bloody with chains.

Some even cut themselves with knives and swords …

I wonder how Cranbourne Carlisle Primary school feels about the religious practice of self-flagellation.

Do we in our eagerness to appease every minority group pander to practices that are at odds with Australian values?

In Britain there have been convictions on child cruelty charges after adults forced children to beat themselves with implements to observe Muharram.

Perhaps teachers or principals advocating contentious policies that divide students based on their faith should search a little further than the first page of Wikipedia to learn what really happens during religious commemorations.

Of course not everybody engages in self-harm to show their devotion but self-flagellation is a feature of Muharram for some Shias and our schools have no business involving themselves in these matters.

Schools should be about fostering respect and responsibility not encouraging children to walkout of assembly to avoid the anthem.

Australia is a proudly secular country and our State-run school system should not be excluding children based on their religion particularly for activities as benign as singing the national anthem.

How can any sane person disagree with Rita? This is Australia and all school children should proudly sing our anthem. After all, those who come to Australia and become citizens must first take the Australian citizenship pledge:

​​It is important for all Australian citizens to understand our responsibilities and what it means to be a citizen, whether we are Australian by birth or by choice. It is a critical part of building our nation.

Most people are required to make the Australian Citizenship Pledge at a citizenship ceremony. In doing so you are making a public commitment to Australia and accepting the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

You can choose between two versions of the Pledge, one that mentions God and one that does not.

Pledge 1 Pledge 2
From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.
From this time forward
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.

So whether you choose to take an oath or affirm, you pledge to support Australia’s values. Did the parents of these kids lie when they became citizens? The school, by supporting such disloyalty, is complicit in the lies and deceit – which runs counter to the school’s claim: We act with integrity and treat one another with respect, learning together as responsible global citizens.

Cranbourne Carlisle children will develop and value the following attitudes:

commitment, integrity, respect, curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm, confidence, appreciation, cooperation, tolerance, empathy and independence.

How can the children learn respect when they are encouraged to disrespect our national anthem?

The school’s vision states:

… strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship, to the end that children become critical and compassionate thinkers, lifelong learners and informed participants in local and world affairs, conscious of the shared humanity that binds all people together, while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life

How can encouraging contempt for our national anthem possibly promote responsible citizenship?

No doubt in an effort to appear uber tolerant, this school has instead encouraged lies, deceit and religious apartheid.


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  1. This is a valuable contribution to the discussion. The appeasement of Muslim “sensitivities” has me flabbergasted. As a Jewish child and adolescent, I did not like all the displays of Christmas around me as it was not mine. Since I felt that way, I came to a country whose holidays ARE mine. I know not all Jews in Canada feel that way and so they stay in Canada. That is what democracy and freedoms are about – you go where you feel connected.

  2. Thanks Sheri. The constant appeasement does nothing for social cohesion, just enhances Muslims’ sense of entitlement and disdain for our values.

    As you say, you are free to go to a country whose customs are more in sync with your own, and you chose to make aliyah. Similarly, Muslims could find many Muslim countries which shared their culture. We only have one country, and the world seems determined to deprive us of our home, the place where Judaism originated and the country that exemplfies our religion and our value system.