The Soft Spine of American Jewish Leaders

Feb. 12 2019

For many decades, mainstream American Jewish organizations were unified in their support for Israel and in encouraging bipartisan friendliness in the political realm toward Jews and the Jewish state. But, writes Isi Leibler, over the course of the last decade many of these leaders have moved away from this stance. One result was seen on Sunday, when the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar broadcast her anti-Semitism on Twitter, this time commenting on the nefarious powers of Jewish lobbyists:

[Once], Jewish leaders never hesitated to speak out against government policies considered inimical to the interests of Israel or the Jewish people. When Barack Obama was elected president, this mood changed. He began to treat Israel as a rogue state, groveled to the Iranians, described Israeli defenders and Arab terrorists as moral equivalents, and finally declined to veto [one of the most egregious resolutions] ever passed against Israel by the UN Security Council. The response by the majority of the American Jewish establishment, who were previously never reticent about raising their voices, was a deafening silence. . . .

Prior to Donald Trump’s election, Jewish organizations were meticulous in seeking to maintain a bipartisan stance. But once he was elected, hysteria swept through the Jewish community. Many progressive rabbis and lay leaders . . . decided it was their duty as Jews to oppose him, even on issues that had no direct bearing on Jewish interests. Speaking as Jews, some went so far as to accuse President Trump of being a racist, an anti-Semite, and even a Nazi sympathizer. . . .

The most striking example of this Jewish anti-Trump agitation is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose mandate is to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry. . . . Dispensing with a long tradition of bipartisanship, it openly lobbied against the Senate confirmation of Mike Pompeo for secretary of state. It concentrated on radical-right anti-Semitism and soft-pedaled the greater threat from the left, refused to endorse anti-boycott legislation on the grounds that it limited freedom of expression, and generally failed to react with any vigor against Muslim and extremist anti-Israel elements who abuse—sometimes violently—Jewish students and suppress pro-Israel activity on college campuses. . . .

But what must have shocked and sent shivers down the spines of Jews even remotely supportive of Israel was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s appointment of [Ilhan Omar] to the prestigious and powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees foreign aid and such national-security issues as terrorism and the proliferation of nonconventional weapons. Belatedly, some Jewish organizations are now protesting. Had they spoken up earlier, this radicalization might have been stemmed and the appointment of an outright anti-Semite to this sensitive position pre-empted.

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Read more at Word from Jerusalem

More about: ADL, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Barack Obama, Ilhan Omar, Israel & Zionism

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations