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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

America's 'Jewish leaders' and the poritz

JPost editorializes on Monday's meeting between American President Barack Hussein Obama and the self-proclaimed 'Jewish leadership.'
While none of Israel's leading Christian supporters - likely to sound a discordant note - was invited on Monday, the heads of relatively marginal groups lobbying for an American-imposed solution to the conflict were there, on a par with the leaders of mainstream political, religious, fraternal and philanthropic organizations. [Nor were National Council of Young Israel, Zionist Organization of America, Chabad or Agudath Israel of America - all strongly concerned about Israel's security and all but the last being outspoken supporters of the 'settlements' - invited to the meeting. Unfortunately, none of the 'mainstream' groups sought to pressure the White House to correct this imbalance. CiJ]

Jewish personalities have been legitimately criticizing this or that Israeli policy since the 1950s, long before the "occupation" and settlements. When the settlement enterprise got under way after the 1967 war, American Jewish leaders were not enamored. But so long as the Arabs were perceived to be in a zero-sum conflict with Israel, Diaspora discomfiture over settlements was mostly muted. That changed when the perception became one of an emerging moderate Palestinian Arab leadership genuinely committed to a two-state solution. [But what even the Post seems not to get is that the perception is wrong. There is no 'emerging moderate Palestinian Arab leadership genuinely committed to a two-state solution.' That's a Western pipe dream. Forget what they say in English. Look what they say in Arabic. CiJ]

Various administrations have since found it easier to pressure Israel into concessions by dissociating the pro-Israel community from Israeli West Bank policies, and by promoting American pressure as being in Israel's own best interest. Today, we are witnessing a "perfect storm" of diffuse US pressure on Israel.

Begin with the unyielding opposition to the settlement enterprise of every administration since Richard Nixon's. Add the growing sense among establishment figures that non-strategic settlements are an obstacle to peace. Consider that the overwhelming majority of American Jews have never once visited this country and have no understanding of the topography of the West Bank, or of Israel's legitimate security needs. Then throw in the emergence of self-proclaimed pro-Israel groups - stridently ideological, highly mobilized and well-funded - advocating an American-imposed solution to the conflict.

Never has criticism of Israel been less nuanced and more unhelpful to fostering peace.
The Post goes on to cite this article from Tuesday's Los Angeles Times:
A private meeting Monday held to ease tensions between the White House and American Jewish leaders included a pointed exchange as President Obama said public disagreements between the U.S. government and Israel are useful in the pursuit of Middle East peace, several participants said.

The president's remarks, surprising to some in the room, came as he was questioned about a perceived distance between his administration and Israel -- specifically in his insistence that Israel halt all settlement construction in the West Bank.


Obama, according to participants, said his approach would build more credibility with Arabs, and he criticized the Bush administration policy of unwavering agreement with Israel as ineffective.

"He said, 'The United States and Israel were very, very close for eight years, and it produced very little,' " said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, described as one of the more aggressive questioners during the 45-minute session. [Yes, of course. If the Bush administration did it that way, it must be wrong. Although in this case I believe there's even more to it than 'Bush did it that way.' CiJ]

The White House did not release a transcript of the meeting, and participants were forbidden to share direct quotes from the president. But at least four participants confirmed Obama's comments, as did a White House official present at the meeting.
Other than Foxman, the other participants in the meeting seem to fear Obama so much that they are not willing to put any criticism of him on the table.
Foxman said he disagreed with Obama's remarks at the meeting Monday, and that showing distance between the two countries gave Palestinians the ability to "play the United States against Israel" in order to gain leverage.

Several other participants agreed with Foxman but declined to be quoted criticizing the president.

Some at the meeting said Obama's arguments were strong.

"I share the same reticence of others in the Jewish community as to his position," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, "but I'm prepared to give him the opportunity to test these approaches and to see if they bear fruit."
Obama also claimed to be putting equal pressure on the 'Palestinians' and blamed the fawning media for playing up his disagreements with Israel. That's about as disingenuous as you can get given that the mainstream media publishes whatever Obama wants them to publish.

JPost expresses concern over the LA Times report, but their editorial board is too nuanced to criticize Obama head on:
We're not suggesting that Obama is substantively less pro-Israel than most of his predecessors. But we are concerned over his refusal to embrace the 1967-plus strategy enunciated by his predecessor, at a time when his administration is demanding a freeze even to Israeli construction in Jerusalem areas captured in 1967. The furthest he seems willing to go is to hint that changes which have occurred since 1967 will inevitably influence final-status negotiations.
You've got to be kidding. The only predecessor who's even in the same league as Obama when it comes to being 'substantively less pro-Israel is Jimmy Carter. And Obama seems even to top Carter in his hatred for the Jewish state. The Post goes on:
IF THE administration feels it faces no countervailing pressure, it will go on deepening the erroneous perception that settlements are the obstacle to peace. This alienates Israel's majority, which is willing to make painful territorial concessions, yet believes that ill-tempered calls for an unconditional freeze everywhere only encourage Palestinian intransigence.
This is true. But it's also true that there is not going to be any peace, because the 'Palestinians' don't want it. They keep saying no. It's time for Israel to fold up the shop and take the offers off the table.

Back in April 2008, I did a post in which I argued that Meretz, Israel's extreme leftist but Jewish political party, was afflicted by something called the 'Poritz Syndrome.'
Poritz (in Yiddish )was the ruler back in old eastern Europe who could make or break the lives of the Jews living in his shmate kingdom.

The Jews developed a behavior that was all about pleasing the Poritz.

They did not know it but they were dhimmis just like their brothers in the Arab countries.

Sadly , this behavior was not fool proof and when the need for money or property or blood came up - the Jews got their pogrom.

The CZAR USED TO SEND THE KASAKS to burn houses and rape Jewish women so that their terrible poverty and anger over it will not make them do this to him.

Some Jews seem to suffer from the Poritz syndrome even though they really should not.
America's 'Jewish leaders' are relating to President Obama like a poritz. They have developed a behavioral pattern that is all about pleasing him. Sadly, the behavior is not fool proof. If the America's 'Jewish leaders' think that swallowing their guts and being silent as their President castigates Israel is going to save them from a worse fate, they are sadly mistaken. And if we here in Israel believe the same thing, we are mistaken too.


William Kristol has some more relevant comments here (Hat Tip: Danny A).


At 5:46 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Accounts of the meeting credit Hoenlein with speaking up more than Foxman. (See NYT, Jeremy Ben Ami) And even if Savitsky didn't say anything at the meeting, the President can't be happy with what the OU put up on its website.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Nothing they say or don't say will sway Obama. The best they can do, if they choose to, is to tell their own members (many of whom voted for Obama) the truth about Obama's enmity towards Israel and friendship towards Israel's enemies.

If Obama has Jews in his entourage who assist in his efforts against Israel, we should shun them.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israelis are also afflicted by the Poritz Syndrome, if only by the need to diffuse the anger of the far away gentile ruler. The only problem is Obama is not offering Israel anything for groveling before him. He is offering nothing at all. And yes, its time for Israel to withdraw its offers to the Palestinians. Two can and should play the intransigence game.

What could go wrong indeed


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