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June 2, 2021 12:35 pm
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Are American Jewish Organizations Supporting Israel Strongly Enough?

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

Opinion

The ‘No Hate, No Fear’ march against antisemitism, in New York City, Jan. 5, 2019. Photo: Seth Harrison / The Journal News, Rockland / Westchester Journal News via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

While American Jews were being beaten on the streets of New York — and the State of Israel’s good name was being shredded all across American mainstream and social media — the Jewish Federation of New York, America’s largest private charity, decided to take action. They sent a group of  rabbis to Israel as the rockets fell on Tel Aviv and Sderot.

That seems pretty courageous, no? What better statement of solidarity with Israel than to send rabbis to Israel during a war, at personal risk, to show that American Jewish religious leaders care. Except that, in their communities in the US, many of their congregants were cowering in fear of even wearing yarmulkes and Magen Davids in Times Square.

We needed these leaders to inspire their communities to stand up for Israel while it was being vilified by antisemitic politicians like Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and celebrities like Bella and Gigi Hadid and Dua Lipa.

Plus, some activists asked the Federation to get involved and co-sponsor — or at least participate in, and promote — a specific rally for Israel that was being organized in Times Square. The Federation did not take part, though Jewish organizations including the Federation in New York and across the country supported pro-Israel rallies held in cities around the US.

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Last Thursday, May 27th, the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, Hadassah, the Union for Reform Judaism, etc. — all the mainstream Jewish organizations — held an online “Day of Action Against Antisemitism.”

Let’s get this straight.

Jews are being beaten up in Times Square, in Los Angeles, and in Toronto. They’re afraid to walk to shul, wear a yarmulke in the streets, or sport a Magen David around their necks. And we’re going to battle this public outbreak of antisemitism by having a rally … online?

Are you kidding me?

Media reports said that the following speakers had participated: ADL national director Jonathan Greenblatt, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris, chair of Jewish Federations of North America Mark Wilf, Orthodox Union vice president Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the archbishop of New York.

Well, that’s all great. But what point are we making by doing an online rally? That we’re scared? That we can’t muster the support to do a large public one?

It can’t be because of COVID-19, since most states are completely open and most mask mandates have been lifted, especially outdoors.

And while Jews were having our “online” rally against antisemitism, the Palestinian lobby was organizing a mass “End American Aid to Israel” rally in Washington, DC, at the Lincoln Memorial. It didn’t matter to them that the numbers were small. Indeed, media reports had the rally at approximately 1,000 people — a tiny fraction of the Israel haters who regularly march against the Jewish state in European capitals like London and Paris. Still, they did it.

What does it say about the American Jewish community that we have not yet organized a single rally in DC, where the most important political decisions about Israel are being made?

Former US ambassador to Israel Ron Dermer was recently criticized by some for saying in an interview that Christian evangelicals can sometimes be more reliable supporters of Israel than American Jews. To all of Ron’s Jewish critics, I would say: if you think he’s misguided, then prove him wrong.

Let’s finally organize a Jewish march on DC for Israel. Let’s do it, God willing, in the next two weeks. Let’s stop with the excuses that we didn’t rally for Israel because we quietly sent rabbis to Israel or had an online rally.

What Israel needs right now is public, loud, and unconditional support from American Jewry. And we need it in the streets.

There’s an unspoken agreement between American Jews and Israeli Jews, wherein the latter are prepared to send their sons and daughter to the IDF, endure terror rockets on their cities, and rebuild the Jewish homeland after 2,000 years of exile.

All they ask of us is to in return is stand with them when genocidal terrorists try and annihilate them.

Do we pay a price?

Sure we do. We are attacked, beaten, and ostracized.

But we must, while also combating domestic antisemitism, stand up for the safety of Israel’s Jewish, Muslim, and Christian citizens — and for the only free country in the Middle East.

No more excuses. Let’s organize a Washington rally now.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the author of more than 30 books and has just published “Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell.” Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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