Are we raising scaredy-cats?


At TPM Cafe, MJ Rosenberg raises an interesting question — are American Jews raising their kids to duck a fight instead of taking it on?

He references this article in the Forward about an AP testee who blanched when she saw Edward Said identified as a "Palestinian:"

The English Literature and Composition test, in which the question occurs, requires students to read excerpts of poetry and prose and compare them to other works they have studied in class. The passage from Said contains no reference to Palestine or Israel. But the test’s description of the late Columbia University humanities professor as a “Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic” has led some pro-Israel students to object that the test has been politicized.

“I was really startled to see that quote because both of the practice questions didn’t mention the writers’ nationalities,” said Ayelet Pearl, a senior at New York’s Bronx High School of Science. “For me including this one clearly had political implications.”

MJ also refers to the hostile environment that pro-Israel student groups have described on some campuses, and the student tours of Auschwitz that critics say insinuate a culture of being victimized:

So this is what pro-Israel advocacy has come to: turning kids into scaredy-cats.

Lots of luck with that, AIPAC & Co. Israel is the 4th strongest military power in the world. It has 200 nuclear bombs. It has an army of cool, tough, non-weepy soldiers — many of whom look like Olympic athletes or models. And you are teaching victimhood.

It’s a fascinating, vexed question: We look to Israel to quash self-hating notions of helplessness. But in so doing, do we make the archetypical Israeli an unattainable "other" for Diaspora Jews — and end up internalizing victimhood?

What about Israelifying our children a little? Israeli leaders like to say Israel has to stand up for itself because it’s in a tough neighborhood. True enough, and not a bad lesson for our kids: Campuses are, by definition, tough intellectual neighborhoods.

What about equipping our kids to say, "Bring it on"? What about forcing them outside the comfy confines of the pro-Israel choir? Defend Israel, defend being Jewish, but learn to do it down and dirty. Get bloodied a little.

Wouldn’t that be a little more robust than "Tamp it down?"

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