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Tribe of Faith

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?


  1. Very interesting article Sultan. You gave me a lot to think about.

    I have never heard term 'Tribal Jews' before. While I know about the 12 tribes, and understand that Native Americans and Africans also have tribes the word tribal conjures up ugly images in my mind, I am ashamed to say.

    It sounds awful but when I hear "tribal" my mind immediately goes to images of blood thirsty savages in Africa or Native Americans in pioneer days ravaging innocent women and children, beheading and scalping people.

    An ignorant view of the word tribal I know, but do a word association test on me and that's what you'll get, if I am being 100-percent honest with you.

    On the other hand, take the settlers in Israel. When I think of them, I think of devout, close knit Jewish communities that care deeply about each other. I can relate to this because even in my old Italian community we were a close knit, caring community with a common culture, religion, and way of life.

    The image of the settlers portrayed by the liberal media is the polar opposite of my image. It's one of religious fanatics constantly clashing with police and getting arrested. Trouble makers.

    You're absolutely right. It's not an either or situation-tribe or faith--but a tribe OF faithful people. And here, if people are not faithful to the words of G-d that Hashem gave to the 12 tribes, the tribes are meaningless, and the faith is nothing more than personal preferences.

    Well, Hashem didn't call each and every Jew to Mt. Sinai individually and give each one a separate set of commandments. And commandments are just that, commands, not suggestions. It's "Thou shalt not" rather than "It would be nice if you didn't."

    I think liberals have trouble with even the most liberal of Jews because recruiting a Jew for a particular cause requires that the Jewish person to one degree or another try to convey a message that will appeal to people because they are a Jew. The, "As a Jewish person, I can tell you that...." Messianics rely on it, as does NK, I believe.

    Of course any form of unity or identification or relating to groups based on religion, socio-economic class or whatever is very threatening to some governments such as Communists or Nazis.

    That was why Hitler considered the film 'The Grand Illusion' cinematic enemy number 1--because Germans, both prisoners and guards in the WW I POW camp related to each other based on social class.

    Communists and Nazis want absolute loyalty. To borrow a phrase from the NT, you cannot serve two masters. No coincidence that most communist country have been and are atheistic.

    What we see with both liberal Christians and Jews is religious eucmenicism. The we all worship the same G-d nonsense. It IS universalism. You've probably heard the joke about the KKK and the Unitarian Universalists. The KKK burns a question mark on the lawns of Unitarians.

    Finally (and thank you once again for letting me make a very long comment), I see no problem with being very religious and loyal to Hashem and also caring about the needs of non-Jews as well. We can't be lights unto the nations if we despise them, nor can we be lights if we deny Hashem and say, "we're all the same" or "we all worship the same G-d."

    Okay. All done.

  2. Anonymous12/7/07

    Erev Tov,
    Vayikra 19.17, 33-34.

    They come even before Va-Etchanan (Devarim 6.4-9).

    Those who do not have compassion for their fellow men (goyim as well as yehudim) cannot bring the goyim to us or the koferim back to us.

    And, achi Sultan, I too have read "Never Again!" and I agree with most of it. We must concentrate on following Torah first, helping our brother second, and then leading the world by example.

    Torah only.

    Chi mi tsion tay tsay soro u'dvar Y-WH mirushalayim.

    Shabbat shalom to all.
    Yesha Galluzzo

  3. Shabbat shalom, Yesha.

  4. Anonymous13/7/07

    While this link seemingly is not related to your article I would suggest that they go hand in hand. one leads into the other. Please check out Israel End Times. In addition I would mention one additional thought to his opinion.

    The ultra-liberal left is either anti-religion or, if necessary, wants a watered down "humanistic" world religion. That is why destroying any Jewish State (even one situated in an uncharted island) is so important. So many Bible-believers view the re-establishment of a distinctly Jewish State as proof of Biblical Prophecies. The end of Israel undermines that belief and ends the possibility of an in-gathering. Such would convinced many to abandon belief in G-d. How can it be that Islam, such a restrictive religion, can make deals with the atheistic left? They have much to gain. If they are the primary instrument in the battle to destroy Israel they will offer this as proof that their interpretation of G-d is correct. Since they hold that the Bible is really the corrupted Koran they lose nothing by undermining a false book. Once all the other players are beaten down you will then have the worst imaginable world war between two group that have no moral inhibitions.

    Of course much can be blunted by a sincere right wing party. But the true moral masses are not unified. Much of the religious parties willingly sell their votes to fund their pet projects. Plus the "silent majority" are not willing to vote for parties dominated by religion. Likuid is much a left wing dressed in conservative cloths. That is why a large part of the population didn't vote. The claim of a mandate is false. The left won by apathy. If those who skipped voting would have had an honest party to vote for the right would have had a homerun

  5. Never heard the term "Tribal Jews" either, but I use "tribe" alot when refering to us.

    It's funny that people would see tribe as insulting or whatever. Tribe is a positive thing. There's no negative to it. Never has been, never will be.

    Being part of a tribe gives that sense of belonging and the knowledge that you're responsible for everyone in it, i.e., there's more than just you.

    Historically, those who turn away from their tribes (regardless of tribal heritage) are selfish, self-centered individuals who are simply out for themselves and no one else.

    They can scream all they want about wanting to make a difference in the world, but if you neglect your own tribe - you can't help the world. Change begins at home.

    For those who aren't tribal and don't get it, it's like the husband who throws himself into his business and neglects his family claiming that he's doing it all for them and what a difference he's making in the world.

    Not. He's doing it only for himself and he's not making a difference. Why? Because everything begins at home. If you can't make a difference inside your own home - you can't outside of it.

    (little cultural anthropologist picks up cat and heads back for another cuppa tea.)

  6. Shabbat shalom Yobee :) Adn Sultan :) and Lemon :)

    This is turning out to be a very interesting comment thread. I think the main reason I don't use the word tribe too much outside of biblical discussions is because people have told me that tribes are irrelevant today, and really doesn't matter anymore, and that converts don't belong to any of the tribes anyways.

    We're just dumped into a general category without distinction or regarded as third wheels people can't seem to find a place for, so in that regard, my knee-jerk response to the word tribe isn't so good.

    I'm sorry.

    But thinking about the subject in general terms I do love the idea of caring communities that would do anything for its members. Yobee is correct. People that can't consider the welfare of those closest to them are selfish.

    The anonymous poster above Yobee also made some interesting observations. For the longest time I thought of Israel as an entirely Jewish state (though not a theocracy). Then, around the time of the last summer Olympics that perception changed. I was watching the Parade of Nations and saw separate groups of athletes marching under Israel and Palestine and couldn't understand why there were two separate groups and flags, because at the time I assumed the PA territories were part of Israel and therefore they should march together.

    That's when a number of people told me Israel was a democracy, and my perception changed again.

    You have to wonder how long Israel will survive if it takes the melting pot of the Middle East approach. The Jewishness of the Jewish state is gradually being eroded by the diversity goal.

  7. Anonymous14/7/07

    Sultan Knish has here something very much in line with some of what I was seeking to convey in my article Antisemitism and Collectivism

    I agree with Ted that tribal instincts are natural. What I see taking place however, is the attempt by leftist elitists to supersede tribalism/nationalism by way of multiculturalism. Under the guise of "diversity" different groups are the become tribes within a supreme tribe which has Marxist underpinnings and there is tolerance to all. They would like, as much as possible, to dissolve borders and internationalize the globe, but especially Jerusalem which is seen by them as the point of convergence of the world's main religions and a necessary step to consolidate all of the different tribes into their larger multirelgious one.

    What they don't get is that the goal of some tribes is for others to disappear, and these tribes are willing to facilitate in the process of disappearance in as much as it is necessary to make sure it happens.

    Nazism was tribalism also, but where tribalism goes awry is when it becomes enforceable by decree and there is no choice to be a part and no individual freedom. There is nothing wrong with identifying with a nation, race, or religion, however, when membership becomes mandatory these can groups can also become predatory.

    I wrote more on global tribalism/Neo-tribalism in Sophisticated Savages whereby multiculturalism is an invention to consolidate nations, races, and religions into one big international controlled system.

  8. What is happening today is no different than in the days of Nimrod when the divisions between men were bypassed by Nimrod to form a one world association under his rule.
    It is a way of thumbing the nose at G-d and doing what man sees as right.
    Man sees collectivism and multiculturalism as lovely and good and right.
    However, in the days of Noah, G-d told man that this was not how he wanted things to be and he seperated the nations .
    As he said in Nimrod's days.. "now nothing they seek to do will be beyond their reach". In other words mankind will find ways to multiply their evil.
    Since the days of Adam men have thought they could outthink their creator and go their own way.
    It has never worked and simply has driven the world into a rotten mess.
    This latest attempt at a tower of babel will also end in catastrophy for those involved.

  9. Anonymous15/7/07

    There are many really interesting blogs, including your own. Many of the comments that I read are from believing Jews and Christians who speak of the Bible, Biblical prophecies and the Almighty’s control of events. (Note Lemon’s remarks above) These comments really only prove my theory.

    I suggest that the ultra-liberal elite (AKA Ultra-left, socialist, anti-religious, etc.) true agenda is to destroy religion. After the first Temple was destroyed the Jewish elite was moved to Babylon. Most of the Jews gave up and were absorbed into the masses. We see this by the events described in the Book of Esther. It was only when Mordechi showed the Jews that G-d was still with them that things changed. With the destruction of the second Temple a similar thing happened. Once again the Rabbis had to teach the people that G-d was not limited to the Holyland. They also formulated the concept of mini-Temples and a service to go with them.

    Now we are confronted with a similar situation. The forces in charge are not stupid. They know what they are doing. They want to slowly bring the State to its knees. No they don’t really want to commit suicide, but they do want to end the Jewish status of the State. They want to metamorphosis into a non-sectarian State in which Jews would be citizens, but no longer in the majority. They want to copy what transpired in South Africa. That is why they like the hard line Fatah, a secular force, and hate Hamas that is to closely associate with Islam. Of course, Fatah/PA/PLO/Abbas is more then willing to play along. That is why they will at times do Israel’s bidding. But, Abbas et al has there own agenda. They view the future along the lines of what happened in Zimbabwe. They may provide a protective cover for the liberal elite, but the masses of Jews will be treated differently. Of course, the social elite really doesn’t care much for the masses. (Just as the “good” socialistic Russians cared little for their subjects.)

    Destroying Israel is the key for undermining much of the Judo-Christian beliefs. I read a report that many of the young people that were thrown out of Gaza became disillusioned. Many of the family continue to suffer major psychological problems (financial too). The government wants them to suffer to be a warning to sincere Zionists to abandon their faith when told too.

  10. Anonymous15/7/07

    I believe that the picture is a cover of Trofim Kichko's Ukrainian book "Judaism Without Embellishment," which was published during Khrushchev's reign. The book was deemed so antisemitic that even the communists were forced to redact it.

  11. yes you are correct, i thought it relevant in relation to a left of center campaign against jewish identity


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