American Jewish Indifference
Caroline B. Glick -
The Jewish Press
Apparently Israel is no longer a voting issue for most American Jews.
Seventy-eight percent of American Jewish voters cast their ballots for Senator Barack Obama on November 4. Obama, who boasted the most liberal voting record in the Senate, has never distinguished himself as a firm supporter of Israel and opposed the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment that called on the State Department to place Iran's Revolutionary Guards on its list of international terrorist organizations.
Obama counts no deeply committed Zionists among his close associates. Men and women like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, William Ayers, Robert Malley and Rashid Khalidi were all people Obama turned to for advice, guidance and support in his early years in politics and as a U.S. senator considering a run for the White House.
His "pro-Israel" advisers -- mainly late pick-ups as the presidential race progressed -- included no ardent Zionists to oppose the voices of his anti-Israel advisors. Instead, Obama turned to Dennis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer to advise him on the Middle East. These men, like his designated White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, have views of Israel that are indistinguishable from the positions of Israel's post-Zionist Meretz party.
During the course of the campaign, Obama gained notoriety for his hard left promises to appease U.S. foes like Iran, largely at the expense of U.S. allies like Israel. It could have been presumed that his expressed willingness to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have raised red flags throughout the American Jewish community.
After all, given the failure of the now five-year-old European-U.S. attempt to appease Iran into ending its nuclear weapons program, it is apparent that a direct U.S. presidential dialogue with Ahmadinejad will be perceived by Iran as a green light to complete its nuclear weapons program.
But American Jewish voters were only too happy to believe Obama's unconvincing attenuations of his pledge to hold talks with Ahmadinejad without preconditions. American Jews were also eager to accept his unconvincing disavowals of his association with the likes of Wright, Power, Khalidi, Malley and Brzezinski.
Obama is now signaling his support for the so-called Saudi Peace Plan, first released in 2002, which calls for Israel to essentially destroy itself in exchange for its Arab neighbors establishing "normal" relations with it.
The Saudi plan calls for Israel to remove itself completely to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and accept millions of foreign-born, hostile Arabs as full citizens as part of the so-called right of return of the descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948.
The fact that the Saudi initiative -- even if Israel were to commit national suicide by taking such steps -- limits the relations the Arabs would have with the rump bi-national state to "normal" rather than "peaceful" shows clearly that far from being a peace plan, it is a blueprint for Israel's destruction.
In light of all of this, it is apparent that by voting for Obama, four-fifths of American Jews voted for a candidate more openly hostile to the U.S.-Israel alliance than any other major-party presidential candidate in the past generation.
One might argue that American Jews were simply unaware of Obama's actual views on Israel. It is true, after all, that the U.S. media worked overtime throughout the campaign defending and hiding Obama's longstanding connections to haters of the U.S.
But despite the media effort to conceal or explain away difficult truths about Obama's character, concerned American Jewish voters had access to the facts. Any number of alternative media outlets provided a steady stream of information about Obama's associations with Israel bashers.
More than anything else, the willingness of American Jews to believe Obama is pro-Israel shows they simply didn't care that much. If they had cared, they would have scrutinized Obama's alarming connections at least as carefully as they attacked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for her anti-abortion views. They would have wondered what it means that Obama spent twenty years of his life in the pews of a deeply anti-Semitic church at least as much as they wondered about a Jews for Jesus preacher who once spoke at Palin's church.
There are several possible and complementary explanations for American Jewry's apparent indifference to Israel's fate.
High assimilation rates cause many American Jews to feel more attachment to non-Jewish causes than to Jewish causes. At the same time, the watering-down of Jewish teachings in various Jewish communities and the replacement of Jewish law and traditions with amorphous and trendy concepts of "social justice" and multiculturalism have engendered a basic ignorance of the exceptional significance and beauty of Judaism among a large portion of
Then there is the leadership crisis affecting world Jewry. Weak and uninspiring Israeli leaders and weak and uninspiring American Jewish leaders have failed to assert and explain the connection between Israel's security and the wellbeing of the American Jewish community.
Whereas until the 1980s it went without saying for most American Jews that their fortunes were directly tied to Israel's security, today the unity of Jewish fate has been lost on ever widening circles of American Jews.
To all of this must be added the unique self-perception of American Jewry. The American Jewish community is the only community in Jewish history that refused to view itself as an exile community. Even before the American Revolution, Jewish settlers in the New World viewed America as a permanent home.
As a consequence, on a philosophical level American Jews have always held Israel and Zionism at arm's length. They could support Israel as a refuge for persecuted Jews from other countries, but they couldn't support Israel as the permanent and irreplaceable homeland for all Jews without revoking the foundational belief of their American Jewish identity.
Today Israel is threatened with annihilation and the U.S. Jewish community is suffering from more blatant and organized anti-Semitic attacks than it has seen in the past fifty years. But during this year's presidential campaign, the basic truth that the security of all Jews is dependent on the security of Israel was no match for the full consequences of failed leadership, assimilation and the basic American Jewish desire to reject the singularity of Jewish destiny.
Israel's next government will be called on to defend Israel against Iran and its Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese proxies, And it will be called to act at a time when the U.S. is led by an Obama administration pledged to appease these forces. Israel will have to rally all of its supporters in the U.S. to its side in order to stand up for its survival.
In light of the American Jewish vote, it is an open question whether Israel will receive the help of its American Jewish brethren in its hour of need.
Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month.
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