Liberal Jewish Israel Bashers: Foolish or Malevolent?

January 18, 2013 4:08 am 1 comment

J Street, a liberal Jewish organization.

I must confess to a rising sense of frustration and rage when observing the increasing number of ill-informed and fallacious critiques of Israel by liberal Diaspora Jews.

This is not in reference to the loathsome so-called anti-Zionist Jews who call for boycotts of Israel. Nor even to jaundiced far-Left Jewish groups like J Street, that inflict considerable damage on the Jewish state by calling on the US government to pressure Israel, or orchestrate petitions such as those recently circulated among liberal Jewish clergy demanding that Israel cancel plans for residential construction in Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs and the E-1 area.

I refer to those Jews who, when it was fashionable, were enthusiastic supporters of Israel. But the estrangement of many of their liberal non-Jewish friends from the Jewish state encouraged them to also assume politically correct attitudes, even adopting an “anti-Zionist chic.” Some were swept up in the tide of post-modernism with its often espoused view that Israel was born in sin and represents one of the last bastions of colonialism.

This was an evolutionary process which began with the progressive application of moral equivalence to Israelis and Arabs and climaxed with Binyamin Netanyahu’s election and demonization as an extremist nationalist. At this point, these Jewish liberals began chanting the mindless mantra that Israel had become obsessed with maintaining “the occupation.”

They adopted the Arab narrative that settlements represented the greatest obstacle to peace, dismissing the fact that settlements comprise only two percent of territory over the Green Line and that since Oslo, every territorial concession from Israel merely emboldened Palestinian radicals and resulted in intensified terror.

AS A rule, these liberal Jewish critics ignored the facts that the PA, no less than Hamas, consistently refused to make reciprocal compromises and that the conflict was not related to territorial compromise but over ongoing Jewish sovereignty in the region. They also downplayed the ongoing missile attacks and vicious incitement and anti-Semitism infusing all levels of Palestinian society.

Israel is now more isolated than at any time since its creation. We are surrounded by anti-Semitic Islamic regimes bent on our destruction and Iran is on course to becoming a nuclear power. Most European countries, whose soil was drenched in Jewish blood, are again standing on the sidelines as they did prior to and during the Shoa when Jews were being slaughtered. Surely, at such a time, even liberal Diaspora Jews could be expected to unite in support of the Jewish state. Yet alas, increasing numbers of them are distancing themselves further from Israel.

A recent example was the condemnation by the North American Board of the Union of Reform Judaism of housing construction in the exclusively Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem and E-1. This undermined a central Israeli policy, endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.

Were the Reform Jewish leaders not aware that this area had always been designated to remain within Israel and that the Bush administration even acknowledged this in a letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon in the wake of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the forcible uprooting of Jewish settlements?

Were they unaware that the uproar instigated by the Palestinians over residential construction is a ploy to undermine our vital interests in areas which until now were never in dispute? That they are seeking to impose upon us, as an opening benchmark to negotiations, indefensible borders based on the 1949 armistice lines? That this formula would deem the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem occupied territories?

Or the subsequent extraordinary outburst by the progressive rabbis of BnaiYeshurun, one of New York’s most prominent temples, who proclaimed that “the vote at the United Nations was a great moment for us as citizens of the world… an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition.” This, in the immediate wake of the UN speech by PA head Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinians during the Gaza war and indulging in ethnic cleansing.

Aside from also endorsing the 1949 lines as future borders for Israel, were these rabbis not aware that Abbas was calling for reunification with Hamas, whose leader had just proclaimed that “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north… there is no legitimacy for Israel… We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”

THE EXTENT of the breakdown among Jewish liberals was highlighted when even David Breakstone, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a devoted Zionist, recently provided a Kosher certificate to Peter Beinart, one of Israel’s most biased and hostile Jewish Diaspora critics.

Breakstone stressed that while strongly disagreeing with Beinart’s call to boycott Israeli settlement products, he was attracted to him because he is a committed Jew, sends his children to Jewish day schools and provides a service to Zionism by criticizing our failure to sufficiently promote peace and uphold the ethical high ground because we maintain the “occupation.”

Few would dispute our obligation to be self-critical and expose injustices in our midst. But this is not what Beinart and other liberal Jews like New York Times columnist Tom Friedman promote. They produce distorted one-sided evaluations demonizing Israel as the principal obstacle to peace. They promote anti-Israeli politicians like Chuck Hagel and accuse Jewish leaders of promoting McCarthyism. They call on the US and other governments to exert pressure and force Israel to conform.

How can Breakstone possibly describe such people as “champions of good old-fashioned Zionism”?

THERE IS also an increasing tendency among Jewish liberals to hijack the memory of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as a means of discrediting Netanyahu. This is outrageous. Rabin, whom I knew and admired, was a genuine patriot. His “gamble for peace” proved disastrous. But at no stage did he even come close to promoting the views attributed to him today by liberals.

He was adamantly committed to the unity of Jerusalem and initiated the E-1 project. He would never have contemplated delaying its construction or freezing residential building in Jewish Jerusalem. It is therefore unconscionable to shamelessly exploit his name to promote views he himself bitterly opposed.

The reality is that Netanyahu has made more concessions and is far more accommodating to the Palestinians than Rabin.

One would wish to believe that much of the condemnation of Israel by liberal Jews, compounded by purportedly being grounded on Jewish values, is not malicious but based on ignorance. The blame for such behavior could then be directed solely toward Israel’s failure to convey the reality of our situation.

Yet sadly, one becomes increasingly convinced that many Jewish liberals have closed minds and do not wish to be enlightened, because their principal motivation is to demonstrate to their “progressive” friends that they are more open-minded, universal and tolerant than their “bigoted” Israeli kinsmen.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

1 Comment

  • I take the view that just as the Erev Rav, ‘mixed multitudes’ of non-Israelites, who accompanied the Jewish People in their Exodus from Egypt…that these erev rav are still among us, spreading discord and disunity, weakening and confounding our People. According to tradition these faux-Jews were responsible for the sin of the Golden Calf while Moses was on the Mountain receiving the Torah from G-d. Sadly, they most often have Jewish names like Beinart, Friedman, Cohen and belong to alien tribes like J-Street and B’nei Jeshurun. Nevertheless for all their good and misguided intentions they continue to be a snare to the Jewish Nation serving their self-made golden calf harming all true Israelites.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.