Ron Radosh

Obama and American "Progressive" Jews


In an important article in The Forward, TNR’s Jamie Kirchick takes on the moral relativism of the self-proclaimed “progressive” Jewish groups, particularly J-Street. What is most dangerous, he writes, is that “the organization seems to have garnered the support of the most important constituency: the Obama administration.”  He suggests that J-Street will prove to provide the cover desired by the White House: that of a Jewish group that claims it is supportive of Israel, and that nevertheless approves of the administration’s one-sided pressure on the Israelis.

Both are fixated on the issue of settlement freeze, and seem to think that the settlements alone are what prevent progress towards peace.  As Kirchick writes:

And who better to counter the influence of the so-called “Israel Lobby” than other Jews? J Street and the constellation of far-left “pro-Israel” organizations put a kosher stamp of approval on Obama’s bizarre hectoring and moral equivalence. By casting Israel as the obstructionist, as the “drunk” driver whose car keys need to be taken away (as Ben-Ami put it in one of his more candid moments), Obama will have a free hand to compel the parties to the peace table. And once gathered there, another Oslo accord can be forced upon a recalcitrant Israel (whereupon the disastrous consequences of that agreement — the erection of terrorist infrastructure, a deterioration of the Palestinian economy, deepening mutual distrust — will be repeated).

Finally, Kirchick addresses himself to serious collapse of support for Israel among Americans. He cites polls that reveal that now only 44% of Americans who are registered voters believe that the United States should support Israel, which is down from the high number of 71% polled a year ago. “Surely,” he writes, “the change of tone from the White House has played a substantial role.” And those who falsely call themselves pro-Israel, like J-Street, “are aiding and abetting this dark transformation in public attitudes.”

At the same time that anti-Israel Jewish groups are emerging (while pretending to support Israel), there is increased activity among Christians on behalf of the Jewish state. This week, the Washington Convention Center was the site for the annual conference of Christians United For Israel, (CUFI), where over 4000 delegates registered and spent time lobbying Capitol Hill on behalf of pro-Israel measures.

Although the group was founded by Christian evangelicals, “most of the speakers, however,” The Jerusalem Post reported, “deal with Israel and Judaism. They include Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg of San Antonio, Texas; Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project; Congressman Eric Cantor; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Asaf Shariv, consul-general of Israel in New York; and talk radio host Dennis Prager. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also address the conference via satellite.”

How ironic that as some American Jews join Israel’s enemies in calling on the US Government to pressure Israel to change its policies (at a time when the Saudis refuse to budge and Iran is going nuclear), American Christians are carrying out lobbying for Israel on their own.