Over at jspot, (the folks who pioneered the "Let's Stop Talking About Dead Jews in Israel and Talk More About Global Warming" liberal Jewish campaign) there's a post titled "Tribe or Faith".
The premise of the post is that there's such a thing as Tribal Jews, which are the bad kind of Jews who care about other Jews and the good kind of Jews who are very spiritual and care about all of mankind equally as only good liberals can.
In the progressive lexicon, tribalism is the worst accusation that can be leveled at Liberal Jews. Back during the French Revolution, the new progressive French government determined that Jews were to be given rights but only at the cost of eliminating their individual communities and Jewish communal identity.
Ever since then it became the favorite invective hurled at liberal Jews by liberal anti-semites and by those same liberal Jews who had learned to be good Uncle Toms at the "wrong kinds of Jews". In the Soviet Union, accusations of tribalism were commonplace and was the initial means used to crush the Jewish communities and parties by the Bolsheviks.
The Soviet Union organized the Jewish section of the Communist party, the Yevsktsia to take over synagogues, destroy Jewish communal institutions and stamp out all Jewish life. And then in turn were stamped out, because the paradox was that even the Yevsektsia, the Jewish collaborators dedicated to destroying Jewish identity, represented a form of Jewish identity.
Liberal Jews are coming to meet the same fate in Europe as the European left swoops deeper into anti-semitism, and European Jewish liberals are given the choice of backing anti-Jewish measures such as boycotts of Israel or being shoved out of the progressive camp. It happened in America when even the hyper-liberal "Rabbi" Michael Lerner was considered too Jewish to be allowed to speak at an anti-war event.
Why is tribalism so hateful to the left? Because the left values collectivization above all else. Collectivization destroys the identity of the individual communities to create a greater whole. While modern day liberals tolerate and even encourage ghettoization among the minorities on their voting booth plantations, in order to isolate and control them, tribalism is the accusation that continues to haunt the liberal Jew. The accusation that he is working to help other Jews rather than "all of mankind".
So at jspot, the foolish dichotomy is presented between Tribal Jews, who are stuck in the mud of identity and community and those progressive Jews who operate on "prophetic vision" (translated the liberal agenda via the prophets Jesse Jackson and Howard Dean) and for whom being Jewish is just "one of many identities we carry, all of which demand some loyalty, on any given day in varying mixes". And after all when you've got so many identities, it's hard to keep track of all of them and who can possibly expect you to stand up for other Jews?
But then of course why call yourselves Jewish? Why claim that your agenda drawn from 50 different identities (iPod wearer, Linux user, Phish fan, Liberal, MoveOn.org forum member, Jew, Blue Stater, skateboarder, transsexual, Scooby Doo fan club) is Jewish? Instead what they do is claim they're Jewish "spiritually" but when it comes to other Jews, it's just one of the identities they carry around in their identity playlist. Instead they've invented a new way of being Jewish that transcends the "tribe" in favor of one that is inspired by what exactly?
"The Faith begin with the question, what does God tell us to do, and root their activism in an interpretation of Jewish values." Listening to G-d certainly sounds good. So we can assume that these Jews of Faith are fighting against idol worship, homosexuality and eating non-Kosher food? Don't be silly. They're far too enlightened to do that.
"what Judaism has to say about gay rights and abortion is not cut and dry." Funny, I'd say calling it an abomination seems pretty cut and dried to me. But Notice the shift from what G-d tells us to do, to what Judaism tells us to do. And who defines what Judaism says? Once they create their own flavor of Judaism utterly divorced from what G-d said, they do of course.
"more liberal faith-minded folks have a faith that reaches beyond talmudics dictates and narrow halachic readings and into the evolving halachic and prophetic tradition". They're following a prophetic tradition. In other words they get to cherry pick whatever they believe and call it evolution. They get to cherry pick some quotes about justice from the Prophets, discard 99 percent of the rest replacing it with the platforms of Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Democratic Party and call that abomination Prophetic Tradition. But that is the inevitable result of defining faith separately from tribe. The Christians did it first and liberal Jews like these have just created their own post-Jewish religion.
What they fail to understand is that it is not tribe or faith. It is Tribe of Faith. Secular liberal Jews who raid the prophets for a few quotes about justice and then posture about a prophetic vision are behaving no differently than the New Testament Christians who lifted some bits of the Torah and proclaimed that they were now the true Jews while discarding everything else they didn’t like. This attempt to reinvent Judaism is nothing more than warmed over liberal Christian universalism and it’s just as bankrupt and empty.Once religion becomes centered around the individual rather than the community, it ceases to be anything but a projection of individual whims, wishes and beliefs.
Faith not grounded in the Tribe becomes nothing more an exercise in egotistical spirituality, devoid of meaning in which everyone gets to call whatever they want to do, spiritual. It isn’t faith. It’s faithlessness.
If you can’t even stand up for your own brother, then what is your spirituality even worth?