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Friday, March 25, 2011

When the son spoils the father's legacy

I discussed Jeremy Ben Ami's father's membership in the Irgun as a possible motivating factor in Jeremy's founding of J Street at great length here. Sol Stern discusses the
hypocrisy of Ben Ami in attempting to cloak himself with his father's Irgun membership.
The situation today is almost reversed. Whatever else one might say about AIPAC and the current “establishment,” American Jewish leaders have apparently learned the dreadful lessons of the 1940s. On the other hand it is the J Street “dissidents” who seem indifferent to the fact that Israel’s five million Jews are threatened with either physical destruction or politicide by a new international coalition of Jew haters. In that circumstance it is perfectly reasonable for American Jews to express their solidarity with whatever government Israelis have chosen (at the ballot box) to lead them in the current emergency.

Freely choosing to express solidarity with Israel hardly turns American Jews into unthinking dupes of the “establishment.” On the other hand, it is hard to see what exactly is so “pro-Israel” about an organization like J Street that frequently gives aid and comfort to those who would put the elected Israeli government in the dock, while also turning a blind eye to Palestinian rejectionism.

Even more galling is the fact that J Street’s damage is accompanied by a phony siren song of victimhood. At the organization’s recent conference in Washington, D.C., speaker after speaker celebrated the fact that “pro-peace” J Street was finally giving the powerful “Jewish establishment” (presumably not in favor of peace) a run for its money. Conference speakers boasted of “conquering the campuses” (with chapters at over 40 colleges), of garnering 180,000 supporters, of the hundreds of honorable rabbis and the 30 progressive Jewish organizations who have now enlisted in the cause. “Our voices are being heard,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami.

Yet almost in the same breath, Ben-Ami conjured up an imminent suppression of those voices by that same old, all powerful Jewish establishment. J Street’s right-wing enemies are trying to shut us up, he said, to deny our right to free speech, and thus end any possibility of open debate in the Jewish community about the serious problems facing Israel. The hatred and threats directed against “our movement” are so severe, said several other J Street speakers, that it takes extraordinary personal courage to espouse the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” perspective and to fight for the only rational solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict — an independent Palestinian state next to a Jewish state.

It’s bad enough that attending J Street’s conference meant listening to speakers like Peter Beinart laying all the blame for the lack of Middle East peace on the Israeli government and its AIPAC enablers. Far worse on the scale of idiocy was to hear Jeremy Ben-Ami introducing Beinart as a J Street “hero” and a public intellectual of great personal courage. Ben-Ami’s father exhibited true courage when he stood up to Rabbi Wise in the 1940s and championed the lost cause of the European Jews. On the other hand, it is truly an Orwellian moment when Ben Ami anoints Peter Beinart as courageous for writing an article for the New York Review of Books (which Beinart followed up on by bagging a six figure book advance and lucrative Passover speaking engagements at Jewish resorts). It became all the more grotesque when Beinart, in his J Street speech, cited Rabbi Wise as his own liberal Zionist hero.
Read the whole thing.

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At 5:17 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

It only goes to show that all sucualr Judaisms( including the good ones like the Irgun) end up as a dead end for the next generations. Look at Olmerts kids.
Also people mention that Russian Jews are rightist afte4r their experience with Socialism, but since their kids goto pubic schools , they come out as "nice, quiche eating libs"


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