Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rabbi Rank -- invoking Goodwin's Law

Ah, our good Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank, President of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly and "Spiritual leader" of the Midway Jewish Center, Long Island, New York. He must never have heard of Goodwin's Law, as is obvious from this Rabbi's Message from 2003:

"Self-Criticism or Self Destruction?"

Self-criticism is important, but when Jews, whether in the media or elsewhere, incessantly attack Israel or the Israeli government, they become the unwitting kapos of a cruel world.

He then attempts to argue that Jewish professors who advocate disvestment of their University Funds from Israeli companies would not have been redeemed had they been around during the time of the Exodus. Rabbi Rank equates people who criticize the State of Israel with the 4/5ths of the Israelites who (according to the Talmudic-era midrash) stayed behind in Egypt.

I don't know where to begin regarding Rabbi Rank's statement. He's lucky I'm not a makher at his shul, or he'd be in real trouble come contract time.

First, he it's pretty obvious that he can't handle dissenting opinions. "Self-criticism is important," he says, but to advocate any argument or action that might be effective makes a person a "kapo." In other words, anyone who advocates doing something serious to change the current policies of the State of Israel is a traitor to the Jewish people. This seems to be typical of Rabbi Rank's rhetorical style. He seems to agree with something, and immediately contradicts it.

Second, he uses incorrect historical parallels. A kapo was a concentration camp inmate who assisted the management. Believing that gentile critics of the policies of the State of Israel are the equivalent of Nazi concentration camp guards is so obviously silly that I'm wondering why I even have to write about this. Why didn't the management of the Midway Jewish Center pull this foolish sermon from its web site immediately?

Rabbi Rank, because you called them "kapos," you were the first to raise a comparison involving the Nazis to the debate, so according to Goodwin's Law, the debate on this topic is over, and you lose.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you choose Goodwin's Law over God's Law.

You've evidently never heard Conservative Jewish rhetoric if you can't understand what Rabbi Rank is talking about. Conservative Jews deal with paradoxes: an A that is difficult to reconcile with a B. That's how Conservative Jewish theologians must speak.

Furthermore, this kapo thing is not a historical inaccuracy. Jewish professors who attack Israel are in a strange gray area like the kapos.

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