Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
The Jewish Press, Posted Nov 26 2008
American Jewish Indifference
By Caroline B. Glick
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
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
American Jews.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.