America's chicken liberal Jewish leaders
NGO Monitor's Professor Gerald Steinberg blasts America's liberal Jewish 'leadership'
in this week's Jewish Week.
In blaming Israeli policy for the fact that on many U.S. campuses, the
classmates of Jewish students “shun them for identifying with Israel at
all,” perhaps American Jewish leaders are overlooking the failures at
home, particularly among liberal progressive diaspora Jewish leaders.
Many Jewish students are stuck entirely in an American bubble, with no
understanding of the centrality of Jewish self-determination (i.e.,
Zionism) to our survival as a people. So how can they even begin to
understand Israel, let alone give us advice?
For two decades, too many American Jews have ignored or downplayed the
gratuitous post-colonial Israel-bashing from the supposedly liberal
bastions such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and which
are echoed in the mainstream media. When Israeli soldiers are
repeatedly and falsely accused of being child murderers and war
criminals, where is the outrage from the mainstream American Jewish
establishment? A couple of years ago, the federations finally
established a fund to fight boycotts, but this group is also largely
invisible and very timid.
Instead, fringe Israeli voices that polarize and demonize our society
under the façade of human rights, democracy and peace are given
legitimacy and resources in America, and the Jewish leadership is silent
or in some cases complicit. Much of the BDS war — and make no mistake,
the goal is the elimination of Israel — involves bogus peace NGOs that
received their initial funds and public relations boost via U.S.-based
Jewish groups who thought they knew better than the Israeli public. Such
groups include the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Israel Committee
Against House Demolitions, Breaking the Silence, Jewish Voice for Peace,
and many others.
And now, when the Israeli public finally demands an effective response
to the NGOs that lead to this demonization, the American Jewish
leadership condemns Israel, repeating liberal pieties about free speech,
but without addressing the real issues. In all of the criticisms of the
proposed new NGO funding transparency laws, I have yet to see any
serious understanding of the threat or alternative strategies. On this,
as on so many issues, criticizing Israel from a distance is far too
When crying out for an Israeli peace plan, “any plan,” your
interlocutor makes it seem so simple. Like most Israelis, I also hope
for a peace plan, but not any plan, and certainly not one that will
bring us yet another disaster when it fails. The reality that I see not
far from the windows in my Jerusalem home includes Hamas, Hezbollah,
ISIS, Assad, Iran and others. Our only “peace partners,” led by Mahmoud
Abbas and his Fatah group, are corrupt and stuck in the rejectionist
dead-end of 1948. So no, “any plan” that helps Israel’s PR among liberal
students, but makes our security situation even worse, is not better
than the status quo.
On this and many other issues, I understand why American Jewish leaders
want us in Israel to take risks, and probably think that this is for
our own good. But we do not see many American Jewish leaders taking many
risks in terms of criticizing President Obama and Secretary of State
Kerry when they put all of the blame and responsibility on Israel, and
patronizingly give the Palestinians a free pass. And where are your
tough decisions to exclude BDS groups and Israel bashers from the big
So it is not only “that Israel’s leadership is moving in a direction at
odds with the next generation of Americans,” but that America’s liberal
Jewish leadership is moving in a direction at odds with Israel and our
Labels: American Jewish leadership, American Jewish support for Israel, American Jews, Breaking the Silence, Coalition of Women for Peace, Gerald Steinberg, Jewish Voice for Peace, liberal Jews