Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Burning Witches and Heretics

I find myself deeply disturbed by the fact that Kay Wilson. an Israeli Jewish victim of Arab terrorism, is under attack for somehow not being Jewish enough. Worse, she is accused of being a traitor to the Jewish people and a secret Messianic Jew or Christian, something she has repeatedly denied in her writing. Her words are clear, unequivocal and should have put this matter to rest. She has written at length about her faith which is unquestionably Jewish but not Orthodox. Somehow, though, those self-appointed pillars of the purity of Judaism keep attacking and harassing her. I have come to know Kay Wilson as on online friend and I have no doubts about her integrity. I am beyond disgusted.

Penina Taylor wrote an excellent piece for The Times of Israel about what Kay is currently enduring appropriately titled "The Witch Hunt". Taylor described the terror attack:
"It was December 2010 and two women had been out hiking in a forest near Beit Shemesh when they were attacked by two Arab terrorists. The two women were Kay Wilson and her friend, Kristine Luken. Luken was an American Christian missionary visiting Israel and Kay was a Jewish immigrant from England who was a tour guide. Kristine was brutally murdered – stabbed multiple times, and Kay almost so. Kay attributes her survival to pretending to be dead already and not moving as the attacker continued to thrust his knife into her."
How can anyone think that someone who is attacked and nearly killed by Palestinian terrorists simply because she is Jewish is somehow not Jewish enough? Kristine Luken died because her killer thought she was Jewish as well.

As much as I find the attacks on Kay Wilson disturbing I do not find them surprising based on my own much milder experiences. Perhaps a week ago I posted a news story on Facebook about a "Christian" pastor who wants all LGBT people killed. My comment, exactly one line long, quoted Christian scripture. I asked "What ever happened to 'Judge lest not ye be judged'?" One Orthodox Jew who had friended me on Facebook immediately asked if I was "Messianic", pointing to the fact that my name is not typically Jewish. (I could post using my Hebrew name or my original family name, but I don't.)

Anyway, to summarize a long discussion, he felt that quoting one relevant line of Christian scripture in response to a Christian pastor was giving power and legitimacy to Christianity and hurting Judaism. When I pointed out the book "Kosher Jesus" by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach I was told that the rabbi is a dangerous heretic. When he advised me to seak out Chabad to have this explained to me I responded that I am Conservative (Masorti). I did attend modern Orthodox congregations at times in my life and, sorry, my beliefs fit better into the Conservative stream of Judaism. Anyway, his conclusion was to unfriend me on Facebook. I am terribly misguided, also a heretic, and clearly not Jewish enough.

I've also been attacked because I support LGBT rights and have been accused of placing liberalism ahead of Judaism. I have also been attacked for standing up for human rights for all human beings, including Arab Muslims. Liberalism, I have been told, is my religion, even though I'm quite conservative on many issues. If I don't share the bigotry and outright hatred of some on the far right I am, once again, insufficiently Jewish according to our very own Jewish inquisitors.

So... no, I'm not surprised by the attacks on Kay Wilson. I am deeply saddened by them and I find them disturbing. We Jews are often our own worst enemies. People within our community often do more harm than all the antisemites put together because their own Judaism, however narrow, gives them legitimacy with some people.

[Note: Part of this article started out life as comments to Penina Taylor's article on the Times of Israel. Those comments have also appeared on Facebook.]

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