An evening doesn’t seem to go by when it is not possible to find news anchors and moderate political pundits wondering aloud: when did political differences in this country turn into passionate do-or-die causes that generate enough animus to bring the American government to a virtual stand still?
The American Jewish community is certainly not immune from the political acrimony of the times. Many, if not most passionate right-wing supporters of Israel are certain that Barack Obama is an enemy of Israel, if not a closet Muslim, trying to covertly destroy Israel.
Congressional Republicans, taking a cue from Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Netanyahu’s apparent deliberate misrepresentation of President Obama’s suggestion that Israel and the Palestinians resume peace negotiations based on the 1967 borders –with appropriate land swaps, invited the charismatic PM to lead a joint session of congress in a pointless pro-Israel rally. The intent was not subtle: to suggest that Republicans are more pro-Israel than Obama and the other Democrats.
Rather than having the candidates discuss the many issues of the day, Ed Koch and other conservative Jewish friends of Israel encouraged New Yorker’s voting for a replacement for the disgraced Anthony Weiner, to reject President Obama’s “anti-Israel” policies by electing a Republican congressman. I guess it’s assumed that Jews are “one-issue” voters.
As we previously noted in this column, the “Emergency Committee for Israel” (ECI), under the leadership of conservative commentator Bill Kristol, has come into existence for the purpose of portraying Democrats and progressive groups as enemies of Israel. Last week, for example, the ECI issued a slick video suggesting that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were opposed to Israel and promoting anti-Semitism. Tell that to hundreds of Jewish demonstrators who davened (prayed) Kol Nidre services and built a Sukkah at the demonstration in lower Manhattan.
Last Sunday, in an effort to reunite American supporters of Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee called for a “pledge of unity.” The proposed pledge was a sincere effort to depoliticize American support for the Jewish state by not allowing anyone –Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives to use Israel as a wedge-issue in upcoming U.S. elections. ADL Director Abe Foxman has also asked that conservative groups desist from portraying progressive groups as anti-Semitic.
Let’s be candid, is it possible to ask passionate Jewish people to “chill-out?” Piers Morgan might stand a better chance of getting North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-il to agree an unrestricted interview in his private residence.
This past Tuesday, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Israel Committee blew off this effort as nothing less than a calculated attempt to stop them from speaking the truth. YNET quotes Kristol as saying:
“. . . this attempt to silence those of us who have ‘questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel’ will re-energize us. Nor, incidentally, should those who support the administration’s approach to Israel be bashful about making their case. Directors Harris (American Jewish Committee) and Foxman (ADL) need a refresher course on the virtues of free speech and robust debate in a democracy. Their effort to stifle discussion and debate is unworthy of the best traditions of America, and of Israel.”
Was this well-intended effort really about silencing one group, or one opinion in particular? Or, like the fallacious video portraying OWS supporters as Jew haters and all the claptrap about Obama being an enemy of Israel, might this pledge impede the political right from continuing to scare Jewish voters with misinformation?
In an age when boorish bigots are paid millions to spout hate on AM radio; when the myth of “liberal media bias” is the rational for the existence of a bogus right-wing news-network; when credible Republican candidates for President decry science and intellectualism, it should come as no surprise that the usually rationale, reasonable and highly intellectual America Jewish community has also been impacted by the eccentricities and excesses of America’s political right.