How does Israel benefit from its continued association with American Jewish organizations that are mainstreaming anti-Semitism by minimizing it, and arguing that people who hate Israel are not anti-Semites?
Case in point: The Anti-Defamation League’s “Is Delegitimization of Israel Anti-Semitism?” panel provided well known anti-Zionists Jill Jacobs and Jane Eisner a platform to launch into tirades about evil Israel. In addition, Jacobs defended the BDS movement against accusations of anti-Semitism and criticized the American Jewish community for backing anti-BDS legislation. The ADL-sponsored event also gave free rein to the vilification of such staunch Israel supporters as former Breitbart News CEO Stephen Bannon and Center for Security president Frank Gaffney.
At this point, there’s little to connect the Jewish state to ostensibly centrist American Jewish groups other than mystic cords of memory. The worm has turned, and long gone are the days when such organizations served to bolster Jewish sovereignty by way of a common, non-partisan commitment to the Zionist enterprise.
In recent years, Israel, far from unifying American Jews around a single cause, has actually been the primary source of friction among the Orthodox, Secular, Reform, and Haredi communities in the United States. As a result, donations to Israel are no longer guided by the desire to help the country’s poor, hungry, or otherwise afflicted. Neither is the wish to contribute to a strong Israeli defense posture a primary motivation.
Today, it’s all about politics. American Jewish organizations have morphed into appendages of one of the country’s two main political parties. And with 70% of American Jews voting for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, the vast majority of American Jewish groups take their marching orders on issues related to Israel from the Democratic Party’s platform and leaders.
Clinton’s loss has catalyzed the Democratic Party’s turning against the Jewish state. Notably, Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, the front-runner to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman, has a long history of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and extremist radical Islamist involvements and positions.
Tellingly, the aforementioned and always vocal Anti-Defamation League suddenly went mute with regard to Ellison’s defamatory remarks and controversial record with regard to Israel. But facts are stubborn things: in 2014, Ellison was one of only eight members of Congress to vote against a bipartisan bill to provide $225 million to Israel’s Iron Dome missile system.
And let’s not even talk about the good Keith X. Ellison’s ties to the Jew-baiting Nation of Islam.
Here’s a fast, harsh dose of reality: the vast majority of politically minded American Jews are passionate about gay marriage, the Paris climate agreement, abortion rights, raising the minimum wage, and other standard talking points from the Progressive playbook. Assimilation and intermarriage have spawned an American Jewish community that’s increasingly disconnected from Israel. Malcolm Hoenlein, now in his 31st year as executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, has called this the “negative phenomenon of indifference.”
As such, American Jewish groups should embrace this reality and refocus their energies on domestic issues that large swaths of the American Jewish community care about.
Out with supporting Iron Dome; in with dismantling structural racism.
As for Israel, while breaking up is hard to do, disassociating from American Jewish organizations with political agendas will deny the latter the megaphone they’ve been using to lambast the former every time Israeli policy strays from an increasingly hostile Democratic Party line.
I think it’s safe to say that Israel, which The World Economic Forum’s 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report recently ranked as the second most innovative nation one earth, will figure out a way to move on.