Has One of the Most Influential American Israel-Advocacy Groups Reached Its Expiration Date?

Formed during the Eisenhower administration as an umbrella for the various U.S. Jewish groups lobbying for policies more favorable toward Israel, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations receives less public attention than the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but has proved itself no less influential over the years. Now, the nomination of Dianne Lob—a businesswoman and the former head of the left-leaning Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)—to be the Conference’s new chairwoman has generated controversy, with some member groups questioning her devotion to the pro-Israel cause. Jonathan Tobin observes:

No one should buy into the conceit that [the Conference of Presidents] speaks for everyone; . . . it has generally represented the views of that minority of American Jews who are active and ardent friends of Israel. It is telling that J Street was rejected by the Conference for membership, even though it is likely far larger than many of those groups already affiliated with it, because the left-wing lobbying group was viewed as outside of the pro-Israel consensus.

If elected, Lob deserves the chance to prove them wrong. But what this dispute could demonstrate is that the Jewish right and left are now so divided that the entire concept of an umbrella group like the Conference is no longer viable.

If so, then it’s a sad ending for a group that played a part in some of the greatest moments of modern American Jewish history. While no one should expect liberals and conservatives to give up their principles or even like each other, the point of the Conference of Presidents was that ideological and denominational differences could be transcended by a common love for Israel. If that’s no longer possible, then the consequences are far more serious than a seemingly insignificant organizational squabble.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security