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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rage, outrage and other Jewish topics

Weird Lunch and Learn today.  Rabbi F had sent a couple of news reports about how the International Olympic Committee had rejected a request for a minute of silence for the Israeli athletes slain in Munich (it's the 40th anniversary this year).  This request had come from 2 of the widows of those athletes. Several of my Jewish FB friends had posted about this, so it's not just an Israeli issue - plenty of American Jews are hot about it.

There were 10 people at the discussion, plus the 2 rabbis, and of course several people said nothing, but the consensus seemed to be a collective shrug - what's the "big deal," why are we "crying" about this? I was so taken aback.  This group of older, mostly male, Jews usually goes to the mattress for anything having to do with Israel, but they didn't seem to care.  One guy (who totally dominated the conversation) even said, "well I suppose this matters to the families"- implying that it doesn't matter to anyone else.

I don't think you're going to change anyone's mind with a minute of silence (another point raised), but that's not really the reason for memorials anyway. I don't go to lots of sporting events, but they seem to be an endless stream of recognitions for one thing and another.  A minute of silence to mark the anniversary of something terrible doesn't seem outside the normal course of activities. You'd think this crowd would be a bit more put off by the IOC's apathy. Not at all.

Then we somehow got onto Penn State and Joe Paterno, I guess because they're both related to getting outraged over bad things happening, and this same guy, Mike, was so dismissive, something about "people always going to DEFCON 5 over everything." I got really pissed and said some crap about a special level of hell reserved for people who don't protect kids.  I don't know what Mike thinks warrants going to "DEFCON 5" (though that's really the lowest level -  DEFCON 1 is the highest level; this is a mistake almost everyone seems to make), but I would think turning a blind eye to a colleague raping 10 year olds down the hall over the course of several years should get you close, regardless of how many football games he had won for the organization.  

Bottom line for me was the appalling lack of moral compass displayed by virtually everyone in the discussion, between dismissing the most outrageous things as not worth bothering about on the one hand, and the general acceptance of vengeful murder on the other hand (we discussed the movie Munich too), I was thoroughly repulsed for the entire hour (one generally dove-ish member even went to lengths to explain that while murder for revenge, a la Munich, is hard to justify, assasinating Iranian nuclear scientists is completely justified - the mind boggles).  Though Rabbi P made several comments suggesting that our collective conclusions were not generally "Jewish" (citing several Biblical examples), there was otherwise not a single voice for universal (let alone Jewish) ethics in the room.  Ick!!!

I saw this on FB when I got back to my office after the meeting - how fitting!!

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