Sunday, December 05, 2004

Rabbi Mayer Schiller responds

A month or so ago there was a series of postings on this blog (and in response, some discussion on Protocols) regarding Rabbi Mayer Schiller, and specifically, allegations that he has white supremacist connections and put in an appearance at an Orange-order linked assembly in Belfast, Ireland.
He has asked for a right of reply, and we are posting the following on his behalf:
With a limit of five hundred words the owners of this blog tell me that I may clarify my views which have come under some discussion here of late.
In brief -- It is one of the great tasks of contemporary man to find means, philosophical and practical, to allow faith and/or heritage based identities to cherish their own existence and continuity without demeaning (or worse) the Other. This is the theme of much serious soul searching among all those who see universal harmony in other than MacWorld consumerist, facelessness.
For Orthodox Jews, who carry absolute truth claims in their faith as well as some painful statements and halachot in their tradition, the need to articulate a theology which somehow embraces the Other demands a combination of self scrutiny and empathy.
From Rabbi Yitz Greenberg years ago till Chief Rabbi Sacks today, sensitive and thoughtful Torah believers have grappled with these questions.
I don't think a day goes by when I do not agonize over them.
Whatever the reconciliation is to be, it must find a way to allow the Other's identity (provided it is not immoral) to have space, theological and, physical.
I have found the the theoretical school known as the French New Right (although it is far from "right" by any current measuring rod, thus attractive to Telos, a New York based, New Left journal) to be the most diligent effort towards this goal. It is against all imperialisms, all attempts of any community to rule over the Other. (Unfortunately it also believes that the monotheism of Judeo-Christain-Moslim models is antithetical to true mutual respect, a position I most emphatically reject.)
I do not and have never advocated that any race or people should dominate another.
Northern Ireland is, as is Israel, a daunting test of peoples' abilities to sustain their own peoplehood while living with those who, for way too long, they have seen as enemies. Thus, I am drawn there in the hope that my spirit, often broken by my own people's inability to embrace the Other in their world view, may be sustained by spending time with those who advocate independence for Ulster, thus forcing the communities together without ties to Dublin or Westminster. I often go to Israel to meet Jews who are involved in similar reconciliatiry efforts there, especially in the Religious Zionist peace camp. This latter tendency roughly approximates my own (not as asserted by some, the harsh, yishuv hayashan anti - Zionist stance.)
May G-d grant that all believers and peoples find a way to be ourselves before G-d, alongside Others who do the same.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any idea what Schiller is talking about? He has a way of confusing the issue by bandying about a lot of names and unneccessary information to distract the reader. How about telling us what you really think instead of trying to deceive us?

Observer1 said...

Yes, I think I have an idea. He is saying I think that all communities of people have a right to exist (if their purposes are not immoral), but that how we get there is enormously difficult and complex. Basically, I think it's pretty clear what he is saying. As far as people having so-called white supremacist connections, I notice the shock and horror runs just one way. Robert Mugabe can destroy his country, see whites murdered and plundered with his approval, and the liberal intelligentsia raises little objection.
A few years ago a real hate-monger, Malcolm X, was honored by being commemorated on a US postage stamp. There was no public outcry that I could see. Rabbi Schiller is probably a genius and a cassandra. A lonely voice for human decency and sanity in a world that at times seems to be almost past redemption.