A come-to-Moses mo­ment at hand

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

The State Depart­ment, which has never been par­tic­u­larly friendly to Jews, is get­ting a lit­tle cover for its un­re­lent­ing def­er­ence to the en­e­mies of Is­rael. The Jews ea­ger to cover for the diplo­mats are the weak, the naive and, alas, the fa­mil­iar.

They’re the lib­eral, mostly Demo­cratic, Jews of­fended by the “ag­gres­sive” Is­raelis who un­der­stand what’s at stake in the Mid­dle East. They’re em­bar­rassed by and re­sent­ful of the “right­eous Gen­tiles” ea­ger to help Is­rael pre­vent a sec­ond Holo­caust, this one in the Mid­dle East, rather than to con­trib­ute to build­ing an­other Holo­caust mu­seum later. Is­rael once united the con­tentious fac­tions of Amer­i­can Jews, but now the mere ex­is­tence of Is­rael ex­ac­er­bates ten­sion be­tween the re­al­ists and the deaf, blind dream­ers.

Nev­er­the­less, a “come-to-Moses” mo­ment is ap­proach­ing. Mah­moud Ab­bas, the pres­i­dent of the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, fresh from his kiss-and-make-up session with the ter­ror­ists of Ha­mas, is com­ing to New York City in Septem­ber to press the United Na­tions to rec­og­nize an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu will be in Wash­ing­ton this week to ad­dress a joint session of Congress and to meet with Pres­i­dent Obama. Maybe they’ll talk about that. The oc­ca­sion will give Messrs. Obama and Ne­tanyahu, in diplo-speak, “an op­por­tu­nity for the United States and Is­rael to re­view the full range of is­sues, from Iran to the re­gional change to the peace process.”

If the past is the usual re­li­able guide, the White House and the State Depart­ment will ac­tu­ally see this as an op­por­tu­nity to pres­sure Is­rael to sub­mit to fur­ther ac­com­mo­da­tion to those who want to “wipe Is­rael off the map,” in the vow of Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad, the pres­i­dent of Iran and the chief en­abler of Ha­mas. Mr. Obama him­self is all aquiver work­ing on his speech, prob­a­bly to be de­liv­ered this week, ea­ger to speak softly and carry small con­vic­tions made of straw­berry Jell-O. The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ports that he will urge Mus­lims to “re­ject Is­lamic mil­i­tancy in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and em- brace a new era of re­la­tions with the United States.” Ah, if only.

But it’s not just the Jews who get the back of his hand. There hasn’t been a peep out of the White House since a dozen Egyp­tian Chris­tians were killed and scores in­jured by vi­o­lent Mus­lims over the May 7-8 week­end. Chris­tian homes and busi­nesses were trashed and burned. The pope con­demned it; Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper con­demned it. Noth­ing from the pres­i­dent, though there’s White House prece­dent for con­demn­ing burn­ing churches. (Bill Clin­ton once con­demned the burn­ing of black churches in Arkansas even when no­body had burned any churches in Arkansas.)

Some Amer­i­can Jews who are fed up with the pas­siv­ity, or worse, of well-es­tab­lished ad­vo­cacy groups are split­ting to es­tab­lish new or­ga­ni­za­tions with an ap­petite for the red meat that is the diet of ev­ery­one else in the Mid­dle East. One par­tic­u­lar tar­get is the con­fed­er­a­tion of lo­cal Jewish Fed­er­a­tions that, no doubt well-mean­ing, of­fer aid and com­fort to those who mean Is­rael noth­ing but ill. In New York City, writes Jonathan Rosen­blum, a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and the He­brew daily Maariv, a Jewish Fed­er­a­tion af­fil­i­ate on the Up­per West Side sup­ports or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­mot­ing boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tion of Is­rael. In Wash­ing- ton, the Fed­er­a­tion funds an an­tiJewish the­ater troupe called The­ater J, whose re­cent of­fer­ings in­clude a play about Is­raelis as mod­ern Nazis. A South­ern Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter con­trib­utes money to send stu­dents to Is­rael to be treated to scold­ing lec­tures by Ha­mas speak­ers.

This Jewish cover for anti-Is­rael ini­tia­tives is no doubt wel­comed by Ara­bists in Foggy Bot­tom, where skep­ti­cism of Jews is part of the es­tab­lished old or­der. In his bi­og­ra­phy of Harry S Tru­man, David McCul­lough tells of the fierce and bit­ter State Depart­ment re­sis­tance to rec­og­niz­ing the state of Is­rael at its found­ing in 1948. “The striped­pants con­spir­a­tors,” Mr. Tru­man called the men just be­low Ge­orge C. Mar­shall, the sec­re­tary whom the pres­i­dent re­garded as some­thing of a saint. “Some White House men [. . . ] be­lieve that a num­ber of po­si­tions taken by ca­reer men on this mat­ter were based on anti-Semitism, not diplo­macy,” wrote one prom­i­nent pun­dit. Men at the State Depart­ment ac­cused the pres­i­dent’s men of be­ing more con­cerned about Is­rael than Amer­i­can se­cu­rity.

Six decades later, some things have changed, but not all. One thing that has changed is that there’s no one re­motely like Harry S Tru­man, a pres­i­dent fully at ease with the true char­ac­ter of the coun­try he leads, in charge at the White House.

Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Harry S Tru­man

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