Letters June 16, 2016


Self-defeating alignments
Why is it that we Jews have within our midst a drive towards our own undoing?

Back in the 1930’s the German Jews, while under withering anti-Semitism, preached: “Don’t make any waves.” There was some logic to that; making waves in Nazi Germany would bring you into a concentration camp earlier than otherwise. That posture, when exported to the United States, had no similar rationale. Nothing the American Jewish community did in those days reduced the 6 million Jewish casualties of World War II.

Now we see a somewhat different posture, which is equally self-defeating: There is that urge that we must show an equal concern about the Palestinians as we do about the Israelis. There are groups of Jews who align themselves with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The movement leaders have made it plain that they are aligned with the Palestinian cause to eliminate the State of Israel, a country formed as an ultimate safe haven for the dispersed Jews of the world. The land provided safety for some of the German refugees before the war broke out and from the pools of displaced persons after the war. Israel provided safety for probably 800,000 Jews expelled or driven out of Middle Eastern Arab countries and safety for Ethiopian Jews.

At present, we see that even a Jewish presidential candidate, in an ever-compelling interest of being “fair,” appoints delegates to the Democratic Platform Committee who have shown their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views in the past (“Israel critics, friends on Dem platform panel,” May 26). There are millions of Arabs in the countries surrounding Israel who will worry about “fairness” to be shown to the Palestinian Arabs. Look at the United Nations, how “fairness” is apportioned to the Palestinians at the expense of Israel. We Jews need not add our voices to that chorus.


Young leaders want, need their voices heard
Two columns in the May 12 edition reflect the urgent need to bring young Jews into Jewish communal organizations on their own terms. Brooke Davies wrote of the frustrations she has experienced with established institutions as an on-campus

leader of pro-Israel, pro-peace J Street U (“Yes, there is a Jewish left on campus and it needs to be heard,” Voices). David Bryfman, in turn, stressed active BBYO members’ strong desire “to have skin in the [Jewish communal] game” (“Jewish teenagers want to engage. Just ask them,” Voices).

These Jewishly identified teens and college students are a precious resource. In addition to their inherent value to our community, they are our best representatives to the many in their generation who are uncertain or indifferent to their Jewish identity. But these young leaders will not sustain their own enthusiasm if our older generations fail genuinely to listen to their voices. Faced with a rapidly changing and challenging environment in schools and campuses, they will not quietly listen to established doctrine and patiently wait their turns. They want and need their own voice.

Washington’s Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish centers, synagogues and other Jewish institutions should open their governing councils wide to representatives of committed Jews in their teens and early 20s.

Of course, such new voices should indeed represent a broad spectrum of views on Israel and American Jewish life. Our communal institutions don’t need a young echo chamber. They need a chorus of diverse young voices. I look forward, for example, to when the DCJCRC board will include both J Street U leaders and graduates of the JCRC’s excellent Israel Engagement Fellowship program.

Listening to a diversity of viewpoints is vital in all areas of Jewish communal life.  It is indispensable to forming a genuine partnership for progress with our most promising youth.
Chevy Chase

An unusal pairing:
Duke and Adelson
I simply do not understand the intensity of the current anti-Trump crusade, as represented by the recent JTA article (“Donald Trump’s anti-Semitism controversies,” June 9).

Sure, Trump’s “ideas are not really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies” (Hillary Clinton); he is “utterly amoral” (Ted Cruz); “a con artist” (Marco Rubio); and “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot” (Lindsey Graham).
But that’s just repackaged, old-style politics speaking. People have lost sight of the big picture, mistaking not just the trees, but the leaves, for the forest.

In this perilous time of immense cultural division, scabrous political polarization and heightened racial tension, what America needs above all else, is a unifier. And Donald J. Trump has demonstrated an uncanny ability to accomplish just that.

After all, he has brought together under his banner, in support of his presidential candidacy David Duke, the No. 1 anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi white supremacist in America and Sheldon Adelson, the No. 1 pro-Israel, Jewish billionaire in America. If Trump can get these two together on the same page, linked arm-in-arm, caroling the same song, then without doubt, he is the leader this country demands right now. Other than “The Donald,” who else’s brand may claim, symbolically, to have conjoined SS partisans with IDF aficionados?

ZOA president hypocritical?
There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy and disingenuousness in Mort Klein’s I’m shocked, shocked outpouring of outrage at Israeli officials (“Officials’ inaccurate name-calling is a boon for Israel’s enemies,” Voices, June 9). One need only recall his own spiteful “abusive, emotional, inaccurate” language on the Syrian refugee question.

Mind you, Palpatine-like (referring to the emperor in Star Wars) is the circumstance that Klein — despite having been born to Holocaust survivors in a displaced persons camp in Germany — has no qualms about feting the likes of Holocaust trivializer Glenn Beck and former Rep. Michele (“Jews need to convert to Christianity”) Bachmann (R-Minn.), which he did in 2011.

What Rice omitted
WJW readers would benefit from a few added facts not mentioned by National Security Advisor Susan Rice recently before the American Jewish Committee or in your June 9 article (“Rice:  Israel’s security not a partisan issue”).

Rice spoke of the Obama administration’s support for joint U. S.-Israel missile defense programs and anti-tunnel technology. But she didn’t mention the administration’s multiple threats to veto the FY2017 defense policy bill that authorizes these programs, now moving through Congress.

She spoke of administration support for a new long-term security aid package for Israel. But she didn’t mention that the administration views it as a consolation prize to Israel for the president’s Iran nuclear deal, which Israel and a majority of its U. S. supporters oppose.

She spoke of the benefits of the Iran nuclear deal and acknowledged the AJC’s opposition to it. But she remained silent about the role of her National Security Council Deputy Ben Rhodes. Recently, he admitted he misled the American public about the deal’s benefits and boasted about fooling policymakers and the public to build support.

She also spoke of her efforts to defend Israel and affirmed administration support for the two-state solution. But she remained silent about current initiatives before the U.N. Security Council that would impose predetermined and undesirable outcomes on Israel. Nor did she address the bipartisan letter from nearly 400 members of the House who wrote to President Barack Obama urging him to declare that the United States would veto such a biased resolution if it came up for a vote.

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  1. Yasher Koach, Mr. Edelman!

    To which allow me to add:
    Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein (June 9, Officials’ inaccurate …) complaining about “Israeli political leaders…engaging in abusive, emotional, inaccurate and baseless language” is like GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump- whom, btw, Klein’s billionaire benefactor Sheldon Adelson is supporting- kvetching about a lack of media coverage of his campaign or denouncing Islamophobia.

    Like the bully invoking victim status, or college students who insist upon “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” it is just like Klein to attempt to stifle dissent and crackdown on otherwise legally-protected freedom of speech on behalf of the ZOA’s hawkish, settler-loving agenda. More to the point: as an American, where does he come off dictating to Israeli officials as to what constitutes appropriate policy activity? This is as insulting as it would be, say, if an Israeli Prime Minister were to come to Washington and lecture the U.S. Congress about American foreign policy.

    Chob mir a break.


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