Wednesday, April 15, 2015


"Few anti-Israel activists have a genuine Jewish background. The majority of the older elements are former communists and Bundists or their offspring who were always hostile to Zionism. Among the youngsters, it is a reflection of demographic changes, with 80 percent of non-Orthodox Jews marrying non-Jews. They are misleadingly described as “secular” Jews, but in many cases, the only link to Judaism is one Jewish parent. Many have no ethnic ties or genuine feelings of affinity to Israel and most of their children will not even relate to anything Jewish.

Despite disproportionate exposure, one must not be misled into believing that vast numbers of American Jews are becoming anti-Israeli. The reality is that committed American Jews remain passionately supportive of Israel and, surprisingly, polls still show that they overwhelmingly support Netanyahu.

Regrettably, until recently the grass-roots support was not reflected in the mainstream leadership, which failed to respond publicly to the numerous indignities to which the prime minister of Israel was subjected by the US administration and the unreasonable demands made of Israel, which has been treated far harsher than outright enemies of the US In general, Americans have no hesitation in condemning or protesting against their president when they disagree with him. Yet the traditionally feisty Jewish leadership which is deeply committed to Israel, with a few exceptions, behaved like “trembling Israelites,” reluctant to even respectfully criticize their president. This is a sad comment about American Jewry, which has always insisted that although in the Diaspora, it is not in galut (exile).

Eli Wiesel and a number of organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center spoke out when Netanyahu was excoriated by the administration for addressing Congress, but regrettably the mainstream leadership remained silent. Noting that even the Jews were not protesting his primitive insults to Netanyahu, Obama was encouraged to be even more vicious in his verbal attacks.

However, following his intense outrage in the wake of Netanyahu’s electoral victory and as Jews began to appreciate the extent of Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian terrorists, there appears to have been a sea change and the mainstream leadership has finally spoken out. While some of the “liberal” establishment, including the Reform and Conservative Jewish organizations, were at pains to display their bona fides to Obama by castigating Netanyahu, many of their rabbis did not share these views.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee led the charge, criticizing Obama and lobbying Congress to toughen the deal with the Iranians. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also expressed disapproval.

Other Jewish organizations followed. Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who had previously criticized Netanyahu and urged him to cancel his congressional visit, did not hold his punches. He considered the administration’s behavior “unbecoming” and was profoundly troubled by its reactions, which “raise deeper questions about their intentions and perspectives.”

David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, expressed “deep anxiety and puzzlement” and even accused Obama of “having a reasoned interest in prolonging the crisis” and of orchestrating a campaign “completely contrary to the spirit of US-Israel relations.”

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, a dove and supporter of leftist causes, accused Obama of creating an “existential threat to Israel” and made parallels with the Western betrayal of Czechoslovakia when he said, “Imagine if the US Congress or the British Parliament had allowed Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia to speak out against the Munich pact.”

This is indeed a time of reckoning, especially as the administration could also be on the verge of abandoning Israel diplomatically.

The unprecedented viciousness of the administration’s anti-Israel rhetoric may be a precursor to withholding its veto from the impending French UN resolution effectively recognizing a Palestinian state and negating Resolution 242 with a US- or a UN-imposed settlement that would deny Israel defensible borders. The path would then be open for the Europeans, with the tacit support of the US, to commence orchestrating resolutions sanctioning Israel.

The extent to which American Jews raise their voices may have a major impact on the outcome of these developments, especially in relation to wavering Democratic congressmen. Senator Chuck Schumer, recently endorsed for the position of Senate Democratic leader following the 2016 congressional elections, seeks to portray himself as a Jewish “hawk” on Israel and Iran. He has indicated he will back the proposed bill requiring congressional approval of the Iran deal, but his Jewish constituents should discourage him from sitting on the fence when it comes to lobbying his fellow Democrats to overcome Obama’s veto and review the unworkable agreement.

This is truly a time for American Jewish leaders to stand and be counted; the issues at stake will profoundly impact Israel’s security and could even have existential repercussions as well as a dismal outcome for the entire world. The indicators all suggest that American Jewish leaders have woken up and will not let Israel down."
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