In the midst of the ongoing destruction of Gaza and the slaughter of Palestinians, the identity and authenticity of Jewish people calling into question the actions of Israel are being tarnished. A greater discussion of what it means to be Jewish, what it means to have a Jewish state and what Judaism has historically taught people is taking place among Jews around the world.
On this episode of the Scheer Intelligence podcast, Heyday Books publisher and former LA Times book editor Steve Wasserman and host Robert Scheer commit themselves to this conversation as Jews who have experienced these questions firsthand through their families in addition to having explored and reported on this topic throughout their careers.
Whether it was through Scheer’s reporting (with research by a youthful Wassernan) on the “Jews of L.A.” series for the Los Angeles Times and his reporting on the Six Day War in Israel and Gaza or Wasserman’s work with authors exploring Zionism and Israel, the pair have dealt in depth with the issue at hand.
Both stress the importance of Jewish culture in shaping their upbringing and viewing the world from a progressive, inclusive lens. Wasserman explains that for him Judaism encapsulates “The idea of being an honorable, ethical person, about making the world better, performing tikkun, helping to heal the world.”
As it pertains to his own familial history, Wasserman explains his mother’s brothers’ sacrifice: “They were premature anti-fascist. And they were eager to fight Hitler. And, they were killed within a week of each other… My mother has never gotten over their sacrifice. So, yes, we shed blood in the war against fascism.”
While delving into the idea of Israel, the two acknowledge the complexities of the history as it relates to the struggles of the diaspora and the Holocaust, but still, Wasserman acknowledges, “I've never thought that Israel or the State of Israel spoke for everyone. I'm a disciple of I.F. Stone, who said that all governments lie, including governments that you might be attached to for emotional and historical reasons.”