Larry Moldo / by Michael Falco

Who is Larry Moldo?

Larry Moldo was born in Minnesota and lived in Saint Louis Park throughout much of his life, leaving there to go and work for a living. Since then he has lived in many states throughout the continental United States, with a job in each time zone. He received degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Academy for Jewish Religion. Since 2005, he has worked as a pulpit Rabbi. As an Ashkenazic Jew, he has only recently been declared a member of the lighter-complected crowd. As one of his colleagues summarizes it: "As far as oppression against blacks, he is white. As far as the white supremacists are concerned, he is not." All of which seemed to make him a fine candidate for a project on whiteness.

Excerpt from interview with Larry Moldo by Whitney Dow, 2018

Moldo: [26:55] Well, when I was talking with the person who is the general, overall guy when I was meeting with him earlier, the concept of race was just something that I had been thinking of recently because of intersectionality and some of the stuff that has been said by different people. And the concept that has been expressed by some of the people who support Louis Farrakhan is that you cannot be Zionist and pro-anything. You can’t be a feminist and be a Zionist. This has been said. You can’t be pro-rights of colored people, which—the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] should change their name if they’re going to only be for blacks, too, because blacks aren’t the only colored people there are anymore. If you—I lost track of where I was going with that [laughs]. It happens.


M1: Oh, yeah. So before you were talking a little bit about intersectionality, and I was just kind of curious—I had a few questions about that regarding Zionism and Israel. So, right now, there’s some stuff going on in Israel, and I see a lot of debates on Facebook and stuff, both people in the Jewish community and outside the Jewish community. And I just wanted to ask you your opinion. Can someone criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic?

Moldo: [35:12] In my opinion, people can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic depending upon what they’re saying and when and how they focus and function it in and if it is based on what is going on. So when Israel sends leaflets out to the people saying, “Please stay away from the inner fence,” it doesn’t say, “Stop gathering.” It doesn’t say, “Stop burning tires.” It doesn’t say, “Stop doing all these other things and waving around your machetes and the rest of it.” It says, “Please stop looking like you’re trying to overrun the area and kill people,” because if you do that’s an attack, and that should be defended against, just like anybody else might do the same thing if you had a bunch of people going on. But when you get news headlines saying, “American embassy moved to Jerusalem, Israelis kill Palestinians,” as if there is a connection between the two things—and historically, there really isn’t that much of a connection—you can have pro and con thoughts about recognizing that Jerusalem is, indeed, the capital of Israel. And you can separate that out from moving the embassy. Our State Department has a problem with separating these out, so that might have been one reason why, you know, Trump actually did do the moving of that over. And realistically, and embassy could be wherever a person wants it to be. I don’t know how many embassies are in New York City, for example, which is not the capital of the United States, but it is where a whole lot of people are [laughs]. And it is, you know, where the United Nations is and the rest of it, and there’s a lot of stuff going on there.

So when somebody says that you can’t be pro-Jewish people having a country that is a majority Jewish, where Judaism of one kind or another is the official country religion, and you’re saying that if you are for the existence of a Jewish state then you cannot be for the existence of equal rights for women or equal rights for people who are minorities in various places, that’s a problem. That is, indeed, a problem. You can say—you can disagree with the [Benjamin] Netanyahu administration. Many Israelis do. Enough of them have voted in the party that he is part of for enough years that they consider that nobody else can do as good as job as he has. No matter how bad a job he might be doing, he’s better than all the alternatives, as far as they’re concerned. If he stops being better than the alternatives, they’ll vote for some other party that they want, and they’ll get that going with that. There are many, many people who have been starting to write that they can’t in full, good conscience sign on to a number of progressive movements as such because part of the progressive movement like Black Lives Matter includes buying into the nonexistence of the state of Israel. And sometimes, you say, “This issue is really important, so I’ll live with the fact that they are anti this,” and sometimes it’s a matter of, “What does this have to do with that?” What does the existence of the state of Israel have to do with how blacks are treated in America? That’s a question. I have no idea. What does the existence of the state of Israel have to do with how LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer] people are treated in America? If you’re going to come off and say that you’re pro a certain group, then why aren’t you yelling when the Syrians are destroying those people? Why is it only when anything negative happens with Israel that you come out with something? And this gets integrated with how racial things are expressed. So today, you’ve got people who will say that the leader of the Women’s March movement is okay with being who she likes because we’re into the women being ahead, and we’re willing to let all these people be in charged. And there are others who are saying, “This is enough already,” and none of this is against what the government of Israel is doing.

And part of being against the government of Israel might depend on becoming educated about how the government works. It’s not America. It doesn’t work the way America does, and there are many, many, many people working in the government who don’t like the guy in charge and will do a whole bunch of stuff to embarrass him when they can. And if you knew that reality, then you wouldn’t get so upset when somebody else is doing something to make you be upset with the head guy because that’s what they’re trying to do. That’s how it’s trying to go. 

Interview Transcript