A fading friendship?
April 26, 2019
(JNS)—Dear (Former?) Friends,
To: The ADL, Ameinu, ARZA, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Israel Policy Forum, MERCAZ USA, National Council of Jewish Women, Rabbinical Assembly, Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Your letter to U.S. President Donald Trump expressing your belief that peace must be “based on the principle of a negotiated two-state solution,” that it “is the only formulation to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will ensure Israel’s future as Jewish, democratic and secure,” and that he “affirm long-standing bipartisan consensus that the two-state solution is the essential path to an Israel existing alongside a future state of Palestine in peace and security and that you declare that the United States will not support any Israeli proposals to annex the West Bank, in whole or in part” is really presumptuous, arrant vanity and, more to the point, besides interfering in an internal Israeli debate, a strategic attempt to undercut Israel’s existence, security of its citizens and the essence of Zionism.
I could see if you had written that you, as leaders of these organizations, with all your membership, had added something like “and since we all intend to live there some day, we want this policy for our own good.” That, at least would be an expression of genuine concern for yourselves. But to continue to sit there and subvert Israel’s independence, its democratically elected government, promote your own Diasporic supremacy and endanger Israel—not to speak about repeating a “solution” mantra that is wrong—is really a classic chutzpah.
It’s one thing to get involved in issues of culture and religion, and to demand egalitarianism at the Western Wall Plaza although, for some reason, Jewish egalitarianism at the Temple Mount is quite anathema to you. I guess you get to cherry-pick. But do you not realize that your appeal could be perceived as an attempt to override Israeli democracy, as if to overthrow the elected government? Are you seeking to devalue Israel’s sovereignty? Do you wish Israel to simply become a vassal state of America? Back in 1982, former Prime Minister Menachem Begin lectured the United States, informing then President Ronald Regan through his Ambassador Sam Lewis that Israel is no “banana republic.”
Israel stays out of internal American Jewish affairs as regards policy issues. Israel does not tell Jews to support this or that party. It does not tell you to support civil rights, homosexual issues, health concerns, matters of the environment or to oppose any of them. It does engage on internal Jewish activities, such as Soviet Jewry in the past. But that is an issue of community. Your actions simply position you as anti-democratic. Oh, and it distances you from the White House.
The essence of your actions is not all the above. You have chosen to prefer a political persuasion over a religious belief system. Whereas Eretz Yisrael is “equal to all other mitzvot,” you presume that a secular, liberal, humanist-based outlook—now “improved” with radical progressivism and hardened with an anti-Trump view—overrides all that.
You have distilled Judaism, altered it, framed it as a reflection of your own politics, rather than having your politics influenced by Judaism.
You have been unable to pass down to a second-generation traditional Jewish values that stride both religion and common morality and ethics. You have decided to play up to a contemporary liberalism, which has little to do with what our grandparents and parents engaged in. You have become ensnared in foreign gods and allowed your children to stray.
You have become extreme. Fanatic. Irrational.
Your Judaism is becoming fake, I feel, when I read this: “Passover’s real message is about celebrating interfaith families.” Really? The Jews that locked themselves up in their houses in Egypt so as to avoid being together with the Egyptians now want their Passover holiday to promote intermarriage? That’s ridiculous.
As long as you kept religious (mis)interpretations to yourselves, that was one thing. Even demanding room at the Kotel, while rejecting all traditional customs, was within the ring. But in demanding a two-state solution, which means no Israeli rule over Jerusalem (that the Arabs would agree to), is being, well, stupid. How will you be able to pray there?
To now bring that warped thinking into play to injure and harm Israel and its diplomatic and political relationships, you are entering dangerous tides.
I have no power but that of my pen. Nevertheless, please treat this both as a remonstration, a call for teshuvah and a warning.
Let us hope that this shared Israel-American Jewish community friendship is not fading...
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and commentator.