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June 1, 2016 6:31 am

American Jewish Leaders Must Distance Themselves From Jewish ‘Liberals’

avatar by Isi Leibler

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Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the ADL Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on November 6, 2014. Photo: ADL.

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the ADL Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on November 6, 2014. Photo: ADL.

The confusion and uncertainty arising from the presidential election campaign, together with the hostility generated over the new Israeli coalition, has emboldened a number of prominent Jewish progressives to initiate a new crusade implicitly criticizing the security policies of the democratically elected Israeli government. Their actions threaten bipartisan support for the Jewish state which has hitherto prevailed and are likely to encourage the Obama administration to endorse the pending United Nations and European diplomatic onslaught against Israel, imposing acceptance of a peace plan that would undermine its security.

The suggestion that the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman in the government negates a two-state policy is cynical. Despite his fiery rhetoric and tough approach on security issues, Lieberman, more so than former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, has consistently supported a two-state solution together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the vast majority of Israelis.

The obstacle is not Israeli intransigence, but security concerns and the absence of a genuine peace partner. The offers made by prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority presidents Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas respectively, to return up to 97% of the territories previously occupied by Jordan, were rejected outright. Abbas refuses to negotiate, because his ultimate goal has always been to bring an end to Jewish sovereignty rather than achieve statehood. Even if Abbas were to now favor an accommodation, he would find that the rabid incitement he nurtured has created such intense hatred that Palestinians would become enraged if he came to terms with Israel.

The strategy of Abbas has been to dismantle Israel in stages by diplomatic pressure. In this, he has been highly successful.

Israel will find itself in a very difficult situation if the Obama administration endorses the current French initiative. Public pronouncements by American Jewish leaders could have a significant impact on the policy platform to be adopted by the Democratic Party, which will influence the outgoing Obama administration.

Since the 2012 Democratic Party convention, when a fracas erupted over the issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it became clear that the more “liberal” elements were becoming increasingly hostile toward Israel. According to a recent Pew poll, Democratic voters remain supportive of Israel by a margin of 43% to 29%, but the growing hostility among the younger and more radical elements has surged in line with President Barack Obama’s policy of seeking to create more “daylight” between the US and Israel. This contrasts sharply with the Republicans, who are today overwhelmingly pro-Israel – by a margin of 75% to 7%.

The situation has been further aggravated by Jewish presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, who, despite claiming to be pro-Israel, hired a fanatical anti-Israeli activist as his national Jewish outreach coordinator, even though he was obliged to drop her following exposure of her rabid anti-Israeli outbursts. Yet subsequently, he named five members of the Democratic Party platform, three of whom are considered hostile to Israel, including Cornel West, a rabid supporter of boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and James Zogby, president of the Arab American institute. Sanders expressly called on the drafting committee to distance itself from Israel and promote “Palestinian rights.”

Hillary Clinton, who, unless legally disqualified, will be the Democratic presidential candidate, conveyed all the right messages about Israel in her address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But these are pre-election promises and there is genuine concern that if elected, she will placate the powerful growing anti-Israeli minority in her party and continue, and perhaps even intensify, Obama’s current hostility against Netanyahu.

In the context of this maelstrom, liberal Jewish activists from the establishment saw fit to distance themselves from the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel and demonstrate to their progressive peers that they know better than Israelis what is good for them.

An example is Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who addressed a J Street student group, praising them for their sincerity and predicting that they would become the leaders of the future.

The liberal Israel Policy Forum, which had been outflanked by the more radical J Street, has emerged from hibernation and recruited new members, including Alan Solow, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a leading Jewish acolyte of Obama. In conjunction with a group of disgruntled retired leftist military officials in Israel, the IPF launched a campaign challenging the security policies of the current government and stipulating unilateral steps it believes Israel should take in order to achieve a two-state solution.

The implicit underlying message is that the current Israeli government is not promoting peace and opposes a two-state policy – which is utterly false. There is a consensus today shared by all the Zionist parties, which supports separation from the Palestinians, but in the light of experience is adamantly opposed to unilateral territorial concessions in the absence of secure borders and a peace partner. Nevertheless, this Diaspora-based group has the chutzpah to publicly pressure the government and the IDF to adopt security proposals on life-and-death issues which it considers it understands better than Israelis.

The IPF campaign also diverts attention from the PA’s refusal to recognize any form of Jewish sovereignty and its continual promotion of blood libels against Israel.

Unless this is repudiated by the committed Jewish leadership, the message conveyed will be that many, if not most, American Jews want to distance themselves from Israel. This could inflict major damage on Israel and encourage Obama to proceed with the Europeans to isolate and even sanction Israel.

It will also further alienate Democratic Party activists from Israel and falsely convey that Sanders represents a major Jewish constituency, impacting congressional bipartisan support and diminishing AIPAC’s influence.

Above all, it will send a message to both presidential candidates that, by and large, abandoning Israel would no longer necessarily affect their political standing in the pro-Israel Jewish community.

Although Israel is strong and will overcome its adversaries, over the next six months it may well face the toughest external diplomatic pressures it has ever encountered. With the Europeans at best standing on the sidelines, ongoing US support remains vital to protect Israel from a wave of virulent anti-Israel resolutions and sanctions in global forums.

Today, the American people overwhelmingly support Israel. Committed American Jews represent a robust and influential community and most of their leadership are devoted Zionists and friends of Israel. They must not allow themselves to be intimidated and merely whisper or mutter about their anguish over the mistreatment of Israel. It is scandalous that today, the Zionist Organization of America is the only representative Jewish organization consistently speaking out against the Obama administration when Israel is being mistreated.

Committed American Jews should be spearheading a massive campaign urging the US government and Congress to stand by Israel diplomatically in this time of need. The mainstream leadership should publicly dissociate itself and condemn Jewish “liberals” who are subliminally blaming Israel or extending moral equivalence between Israel and those seeking its destruction.

They should realize that if they fail to act against the possible abandonment of Israel by any administration and hesitate condemning Jews distancing themselves from Israel, history will record them as cowards who failed to stand up and be counted at what could be a crucial turning point in Jewish history.

This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

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  • Gabi D.

    The ‘progressives’ in the US (Jewish and non-Jewish alike), seem to be blind to the fact that the world is changing , and not in accordance to their utopian views .

    Steven Spielberg did not just randomly talk about @ Harvard recently about 20.000 Jews escaping Europe “to higher ground” due to rising anti-Semitism there .

    Said Jewish progressives do not recognize that the same “ill wind” is blowing that has caused their grandparents to come to the US (and the grandparents of other Jews to go to Israel) .

    Sitting behind & being protected by the world’s most powerful army , they simply cannot comprehend that what is happening is actually happening .
    They refuse to comprehend that the middle east has fallen apart without Israel to blame , just as they refuse to comprehend that the EU in general , and Germany in particular have allowed for an invasion of a culture that hates the Jews about as much if not more then the Nazi’s did .
    (the actual Nazis , not the ones they accuse of being Nazis because they vote for Trump)

    And then there is the point that the article touched upon — the Jews who think they know what’s best for Israel better then the Israelis .
    To them I’d have one simple request :
    Look up the history of Gaza between 2005-2007 .
    They may think that Israel should repeat that same experiment — but 3 military campaigns against the violence from Gaza since 2007 has taught Israel (and Israelis) to avoid another Gaza scenario at all cost .

  • Emanuel

    The title should read: “Jewish” “Liberals” they only call themselves Jewish to legitimatize their lazy, entitled, selfish, holier than thou bogus views.

  • Thank you for your superb and balanced judgement about the predicament American assimilated Jews find themselves in.
    In reality the case is simple enough, i.e. “Good”Jews know how to defend themselves and are armed.”Bad”Jews are Israel haters, the so called progressive Jews-in-name-only of today, J streeters and IPFers, are but eternal losers in history who masquerade their own impotence with misguided “knowledge”.

    Jewish history has proven only one thing in the last Century, those Jews that defend(ed)d themselves live(d) and the others perished.J Streeters and IPFers are akin to the Jewish leaders and Rabbis who told their flock don’t worry about resettlement, it will be worse if we stay, the world will help us.What the world did not do is well known.

    I am afraid that it is too late for American Jews to get a reality check yet it is never too late to pray for peace,but let elected Israeli officials do their work and support them, unless you are cheering the next trains Eastbound on!

  • Arthur Fliegenheimer

    It is said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.These progressive anti -Semites , both Jewish and Christian cannot see the point of view of an Israeli ,who has been under attack every day. They have been Obamanized- to see the ills of the world as the fault of white colonizer s.They see the Palestinian Arabs as dark people being oppressed by white people-Israelis.These well meaning clowns cannot comprehend that to Muslims compromise is a defeat and each agreement is just a hudna – a temporary truce until the next war.

  • To follow J Street? Either young and lack knowledge, or classic cowards. They should bow their heads and ask forgiveness from the freedom fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto!

  • The communists do not speak for Israel

    The communists do not speak for Israel

  • Yaakov

    Liberals are the cause of all of my problems.

    • Jeff Blankfort

      Even your erectile dysfunction?