Thursday, March 20, 2008

the Kolech Incident: Some Reflections

I received a very insightful letter from a friend, whose opinion I greatly respect, which highlighted (in light of the Kolech story and its denouement) the fact that on the net one can be overly quick on the send button. Moreover, as Baudrillard points out, the internet is eminently manipulable, and the information is often unreliable. The damage that one can do by reacting too quickly, though, is very serious.

This is an expanded version of my response:

I really appreciate your comments, and I agree about the dangers of being quick on the finger.

The problem with this specific case involving Kolech is several fold.

First, Ben Chorin waited a full week an a half for Kolech to respond to the Mossawa connection. He contacted them out of concern for Kolech, not because of any agenda. I only joined in after he had received no response and the material from Mossawa achieved wider play.

Unfortunately, there was reason to believe Mossawa's flier, because Kolech has cooperated with it on other issues (as reported in the press). In addition, we both know that Kolech's membership takes in a very wide spectrum. This includes a not insignificant number of people who actually do sympathize with the Post/Anti-Zionist Left. I was concerned that a highjacking had occurred. At the best, as I learned in an earlier life, moderates often see their efforts undermined when they get 'adopted' or 'praised' by radicals.

Notice that I was very careful to keep my remarks restricted to the need for Kolech to maintain its image and integrity. All of my posts were calls for Kolech to do something for its own sake.

Hopefully, we will all learn to stay on top of the way that which we do and say is used in the media and on the web.

At the end of the day, all we have is our integrity, our good name and our relationship with God.


Nachum said...

Prof. Woolf: Have you ever heard of O'Sullivan's Law? (It's named for John O'Sullivan, former editor of National Review.) Basically, it says that any organization not explicitely right-wing will become, over time, left-wing. (Later, looking at the British Conservative Party, he extended the law even to right-wing organizations that are not strict about their ideology.)

Being a Modern Orthodox Jew, I take this a step further: Any group founded to represent Modern Orthodoxy (I leave the leading MO bodies, like YU, out of this, as they were not founded as such), in my mind, although I may agree with them, is going to have a touch of left-wingism to them. Now that's all well and good, when the alternative is Charedism. But that seed has to be guarded very closely, because, as it is there already, the potential for the organization to shift- always present under O'Sullivan's Law- is that much greater, and soon YCT will be bragging about their gay outreach or Meimad will fall head over heels for the Palestinian cause.

Ben Bayit said...

Kolech is very clearly a "fellow traveler" of the post-Zionist left. It is supported by the New Israel Fund.

Then again some of the roshei yeshiva at certain Modern Orthodox Yeshivot in Israel have adopted the language and discourse of the psot/anti-Zionist left.