Norm Geras runs a bit with a ball I had last week, and now I'm running with it a bit further. The topic is Jewish assimilation of the type where people cease to identify as Jews or lack the identification from birth (probably the larger number). As disagreements go, Norm and I aren't really bickering here, we mostly agree, but perhaps our differences can illuminate the issue a bit.
Norm makes four points. First, that if you're liberal or pluralist (European terminology) you've got to respect the decisions of the individual even if you'd have prefered them to decide differently. He's right. When individual Jews decide to leave the fold, that's their right which we must respect (tho he leaves open the possibility for personal anguish, and he's right about that, too).
Second, it's equally right for Jews to make efforts that as few leave the fold as possible, so long as the efforts are legal. So, education or social encouragement are alright but coercion would be wrong. On this, also, we agree.
Third, that the presistence of antisemitism is an important reason to persist in being Jewish and encouraging others to do so. While I don't disagree, I'm less bothered. In spite of my daily reading of the Guardian, antisemitism isn't really an important part of my everyday life, and it's low on my list of reasons to persist in being Jewish. The way I see it, being Jewish is an effort and always has been, and poking the antisemites in the eye, while pleasurable, doesn't justify the effort. There are better, more proacative reasons.
(For those of you who have encouraged me to write that book about the antisemites, as I sometimes say I ought, thanks for the encouragement. Yet even if I ever do so it won't be as an expression of my Jewishness, rather as part of Israel's war against its enemies - related, but not the same).
Finally, Norm tells that as he sees it, the Jews aren't about to disappear, and worrying about it isn't a priority. I agree that the entire group called the Jews aren't about to disappear, but I can see with my own eyes that large numbers of them are. My great grandparents left Russia as Jews at the start of the 20th century - so we sidestepped the Shoah. A century later, most of their youngest descendants are no longer Jews, and the trend will continue except in Israel. There's nothing particularly unusual in my family.
Since being Jewish is extremely important to me, this saddens me.