As the “Tifereth” [“beauty”] week of this journey away from oppression continues, I return again to the biblical concept that all humans (other than Moses) see only a part of any picture:
…The problem arises when one is not aware of one’s own deflections of vision. Imagining oneself clear-eyed, one may become the greatest fantasist of all….the greatest illusion may be the pretension to total lucidity.
— from Bewilderments, Avivah Zornberg’s study of the wilderness travels in the Book of Numbers (see fuller quote and citation in Beyond 14)
In a post published today, Talia Cooper, program director of Ma’yan, provides an example of failing to get the “full picture.” the failure to understand and acknowledge anti-Semitism in the “leftist activist community.”
Anti-Semitism is real. It has and continues to negatively impact our Jewish people.
The leftist activist community doesn’t always do a good job acknowledging or understanding anti-Semitism.
It’s a problem because it means the left won’t have a full picture of society, which is necessary in order to build power and win. And it’s a problem because it perpetuates anti-Semitism itself.
— “A Call to My Beloved Jews: We Gotta Talk About Privilege” on Mayan.org
She goes on to explore the “privilege” factors in the complicated intersectionalities of any one identity expression:
Sometimes it seems so simple: of course it’s possible for me as a white Jewish woman to experience sexism, white privilege and anti-Semitism all at the same time. It’s “simple” because I’ve lived it my whole life.
— Read the rest of Cooper’s piece
Cooper addresses specific conversations she believes Jews must have around intersectionality.
This omer series introduced the topic with “Are (Any) Jews White?” early in the Passover week. Readers are urged to share their thoughts and if/how their thinking has evolved over the course of this omer journey.
The midrash quoted above — insisting that we NEVER have the whole picture — offers a powerful call to remember the dangers of “pretension to total lucidity.”
We counted 17 on the evening of April 20. Tonight, we count….