Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I have a friend with whom I seriously disagree about politics. It took a
long while after the November elections for us to reestablish quasi-
normal friendship conversation about non-political things, and only
slowly did we start talking very cautiously about matters we disagree
about. Yesterday she sent me an article from FOX News (which I never
listen to) about Jews with Israeli flags being ejected from the gay
parade in Chicago. When I try to explain to her that I disagree with
that position but that in my view it is the corrosive attitude of hate
that has become validated over the last year in our country, she
replied with a rant ending about how “pathetic, absolutely pathetic”
my ideas and attitudes are. I did not respond. I know she had a giant
fight with her daughter last fall over the same issues (the
fiancée/future son-in- law is an immigrant), and managed to
reconstruct that relationship only by threatening to cut the daughter
out of her will.
I’m not her daughter; I’m not financially dependent on
her; and I think she’s not only mean but hypocritical, because her
husband is receiving medication valued at $2000 a month on a subsidy
because they are supposedly poor enough to qualify. These people on
their own home, and have a pension of several thousand dollars a
month beyond social security, were both immigrants too, and seem to
care only that they got theirs and the rest of the needy be damned.
How should I respond?
Very Very Peeved
Lots depends on how much you value this friendship. I’m all for talking
across the giant chasm that separates many people in America today
regarding political matters. I think if we can’t learn to talk about these
things we are unlikely to resolve them. But how we communicate
matters. And having a peer treat you the way she would treat her child
is a legitimate reason to be peeved.
You need to first establish ground rules for communication and mutual
respect. I recommend a couple days cooling off period to see if she
comes toward you again in anywhere more of a conciliatory tone.
If/whenever she does contact you, tell her your feelings were hurt and
that you wish ground rules for how you to talk to one another. If she
doesn’t come close you have the choice to initiate contact or let the
friendship slide away. Where it goes from there is a function of her
future flashpoint. Giving her examples of her bullying and hypocrisy
will not endear you to her. But you may be ready for that outcome. If
not, decide how far over to bend.