Ac­cel­er­at­ing Chaos Within the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mu­nity

The Jewish Voice - - OP- ED - By: Isi Liebler

The chaos en­velop­ing Amer­i­can Jewry since the election of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump—which many pre­dicted would be merely a pass­ing phe­nom­e­non—has in fact in­creased ex­po­nen­tially over the past few months. It is con­cur­rent with the tur­moil pre­vail­ing at all lev­els in­side the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.

How­ever, it is pre­cisely at such a tur­bu­lent time, when the lead­er­ship of Amer­i­can Jewry should as­sume a sta­bi­liz­ing role that it seems to be los­ing con­trol.

Many Jewish lead­ers con­cen­trate more on vil­i­fy­ing Trump than se­cur­ing and pro­mot­ing their com­mu­nal in­ter­ests. They unashamedly abuse their Jewish in­sti­tu­tional roles to pro­mote far-left and lib­eral agen­das, even la­bel­ing their op­po­nents as anti-Semites to achieve their goals.

That is not to deny that there has al­ways been a seg­ment of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety which was fiercely racist and anti-Semitic. The shock­ing dis­plays of ha­tred and the vi­o­lence em­a­nat­ing from the re­cent na­tional gath­er­ing of white su­prem­a­cists in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia tes­tify to this. And while there was vi­o­lence from the “An­tifa” far left el­e­ments, it is in­dis­putable that the vi­o­lence em­anated from vile racists car­ry­ing Nazi flags.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence de­nounced the white su­prem­a­cists and racists but, to his dis­credit, Trump’s ini­tial re­sponse was only to con­demn “in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms this egre­gious dis­play of big­otry, ha­tred and vi­o­lence on many sides.” With­out ex­plic­itly con­demn­ing the white su­prem­a­cists, he was per­ceived as ap­ply­ing moral equiv­a­lence to both sides, which most Amer­i­cans and Jews of all po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions would con­sider out­ra­geous. It was only two days later that Trump be­lat­edly ex­plic­itly de­nounced the racist hate groups such as White Su­prem­a­cists, Neo-Nazis and KKK as crim­i­nals and thugs “repug­nant to ev­ery­thing we hold dear.”

The threats from the rad­i­cal Right must not be tol­er­ated. Yet de­spite the mas­sive ex­po­sure they re­ceived, these fas­cist and racist groups rep­re­sent a minute seg­ment of so­ci­ety and their in­flu­ence is mar­ginal when com­pared to the leftist anti-Semites. The lat­ter, who are vastly un­der­stated, pro­mote the boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions move­ment and have trans­formed cam­puses into anti-Is­rael and anti-Semitic plat­forms.

More­over, there are Jewish com­mu­nity lead­ers who have al­lied them­selves with far-left cam­paigns headed by vi­cious anti-Is­rael el­e­ments, ar­gu­ing that anti-Is­rael ag­i­ta­tors should not be ex­cluded as part­ners in broader cam­paigns for so­cial jus­tice. There are also calls for BDS pro­po­nents and anti-Is­rael Jewish groups to be in­cluded in the “big tent.”

The worst or­ga­ni­za­tional of­fender in this area is the Anti-Defama­tion League, which lost its cred­i­bil­ity af­ter Jonathan Green­blatt, a for­mer aide to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, be­came CEO and used the or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­mote his lib­eral agenda. He is sup­ported by lead­ers of the Re­form and Con­ser­va­tive move­ments who un­in­hib­it­edly pur­sue par­ti­san po­si­tions, as though their fol­low­ers were all anti-Trump zealots. Their tol­er­a­tion of leftist anti-Is­rael ag­i­ta­tors is fre­quently ac­com­pa­nied by pub­lic crit­i­cism of Is­raeli poli­cies.

Al­though the racist demon­stra­tion in Char­lottesville is ev­i­dence that there are threats from the Right, the ADL con­cen­trates al­most ex­clu­sively on rightwing ex­trem­ists, con­vey­ing the im­pres­sion that anti-Semitism pri­mar­ily em­anates from these quar­ters. The ADL even re­fused to break with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, de­spite the ra­bidly anti-Is­rael clauses in its ob­jec­tives, al­leg­ing that the of­fend­ing clauses were in­serted by a small mi­nor­ity.

The ADL also blamed Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies and in­dif­fer­ence to racists for the surge of bomb threats against Jewish in­sti­tu­tions. Yet when it tran­spired that the threats orig­i­nated from an Amer­i­can leftist and a men­tally un­sta­ble Is­raeli, the ADL did not re­scind its ac­cu­sa­tions. It con­tin­u­ously un­der­states and fails to protest the grow­ing num­bers of anti-Is­rael el­e­ments who now thrive within the left-wing ranks of the Demo­cratic Party and are dom­i­nant on many cam­puses.

An ex­treme ex­am­ple of anti-Semitism clearly not em­a­nat­ing from the white-su­prem­a­cist Right was the case of Amer­i­can imam, Am­mar Shahin, who, in a ser­mon de­liv­ered at the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Davis in Cal­i­for­nia on July 21, called for the an­ni­hi­la­tion of the Jewish peo­ple and “the lib­er­a­tion of Al-Aqsa mosque” from “the filth of the Jews.” He de­scribed Jews as “wicked” and said, “O Al­lah, de­stroy them and do not spare their young or elderly. … O Al­lah, turn Jerusalem and Pales­tine into a grave­yard for Jews.” He made sim­i­lar out­ra­geous re­marks on other oc­ca­sions.

Af­ter the me­dia quoted him, there were cries of ou­trage and calls for his dis­missal. Un­der pres­sure, the imam con­ceded, “I said things that were hurt­ful to Jews. This was un­ac­cept­able. ... I am deeply sorry for the pain in­flicted. The last thing that I would do is in­ten­tion­ally hurt any­one, Mus­lim, Jewish or oth­er­wise. It is not in my heart.” The imam, how­ever, did not re­tract his ob­scene re­marks.

The ADL, which has been smear­ing con­ser­va­tives as anti-Semites, failed to call for the ouster of the imam or call on the au­thor­i­ties to pros­e­cute him for in­cit­ing vi­o­lence. In­stead, an ADL spokesman “wel­comed” the “apol­ogy,” ex­press­ing “the hope that the imam will con­tinue to learn from oth­ers about why his words were so dan­ger­ous.” Such a re­sponse from an or­ga­ni­za­tion whose rai­son d’etre is to lead the strug­gle against anti-Semitism was ut­terly pa­thetic and even con­tempt­able.

There are many sim­i­lar ex­am­ples of ac­cep­tance of “pro­gres­sive” anti-Zion­ists and anti-Semites, such as the praise that many lib­eral Jews have heaped on Linda Sar­sour, the Pales­tinian-Amer­i­can head of the anti-Trump Women’s March and who pub­licly em­braced con­victed ter­ror­ist Ras­mea Odeh, and the pe­ti­tion by over 200 pro­gres­sive rab­bis who had the chutz­pah to con­demn Is­rael for deny­ing en­try to open sup­port­ers of BDS.

Sec­tors of the Jewish me­dia also con­trib­ute to this at­mo­sphere. The most ex­treme ex­am­ple was a re­cent ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the left-lean­ing For­ward by ed­i­to­rial colum­nist Steven David­son. David­son listed 19 peo­ple who he thought Jews should worry more about than Sar­sour. Aside from Ira­nian Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei and the lead­ers of Hezbol­lah and Ha­mas who are listed to­ward the end of the ar­ti­cle, all the oth­ers ex­cept one are Nazis or racists or right-wing-

ers whom David­son dis­likes, such as Trump’s strate­gist Steve Ban­non. Leftist anti-Semites are given a pass. But what makes this ar­ti­cle scan­dalous is that the sixth per­son listed is Mor­ton Klein, head of the Zion­ist Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­ica. Un­be­liev­ably, Klein is in­cluded with Is­lamist ter­ror­ists, Louis Far­rakhan, David Duke and other anti-Semites.

Whether one agrees or dis­agrees with Klein, he is a ded­i­cated Zion­ist whose par­ents were Holo­caust sur­vivors. He was only in­cluded in this list be­cause he is a strong op­po­nent of far-left and lib­eral causes. His or­ga­ni­za­tion was a char­ter mem­ber of the Con­fer­ence of Pres­i­dents of Ma­jor Amer­i­can Jewish Or­ga­ni­za­tions and he is highly re­spected in Is­rael. To bracket this man with Nazis is ob­scene and should never have been pub­lished in a Jewish me­dia out­let that pur­ports to be main­stream. But other than Alan Der­showitz, who rightly de­scribed the ar­ti­cle as the “most de­spi­ca­ble ever in Jewish me­dia,” there was a cur­tain of si­lence from most Jewish lead­ers.

The ed­i­tor, who, to the best of my knowl­edge, has yet to is­sue an apol­ogy for pub­lish­ing this out­ra­geous ar­ti­cle, should ei­ther re­sign or be dis­missed.

The ten­sion be­tween Is­rael and large seg­ments of Amer­i­can Jewry was com­pounded when, to re­tain his gov­ern­ment, Ne­tanyahu ca­pit­u­lated to haredi ex­trem­ist ex­tor­tion and re­scinded the deal with the non-Or­tho­dox re­gard­ing their right to al­low mixed ser­vices at a des­ig­nated area at the Western Wall.

While this is grounds for ou­trage by the non-Or­tho­dox, prayer at the Western Wall has un­til now only at­tracted mar­ginal num­bers of pro­gres­sives and this is­sue has been blown to­tally out of pro­por­tion. The threats to boy­cott and di­vert funds from Is­rael is symp­to­matic of the ero­sion of support for the Jewish state.

It is surely not sur­pris­ing that, in this en­vi­ron­ment, ac­cess to the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion by Jewish lead­ers is lower than it has been in over 50 years.

The Jewish com­mu­nity must take stock or it will lose all in­flu­ence on gov­ern­ment. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pears di­vided over Is­rael, with the State De­part­ment res­ur­rect­ing the Obama ap­proach of ap­peas­ing the Arabs and ap­ply­ing moral equiv­a­lence to Is­raelis de­fend­ing them­selves and Pales­tini­ans en­gag­ing in incite­ment and ter­ror. The Jewish lead­er­ship could have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence in this area if it dis­played po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity.

Cur­rently Is­rael en­joys more support from Chris­tian evan­gel­i­cals than from Jews.

Amer­i­can Jewish lead­ers should wake up now be­fore it is too late and their once in­flu­en­tial com­mu­nity be­comes marginal­ized.

Isi Liebler writes that the Anti-Defama­tion League lost its cred­i­bil­ity af­ter Jonathan Green­blatt, a for­mer aide to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, be­came CEO and used the or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­mote his lib­eral agenda.

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