A CALL TO ACTION: LEADERS, STEP FORWARD NOW
By Beth Gilinsky and Rabbi Aryeh Spero
We have been receiving numerous communications from the People of Israel expressing how demoralized and abandoned the Jewish People in Israel feel by the lack of any strong and meaningful statement and vigorous, public demonstrations sponsored by any of the major and established Jewish organizations in support of Israel’s position regarding Jerusalem.
They feel that the treatment of Israel during the last several weeks by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and spokesmen for the Administration has been an unprecedented attempt to humiliate the Jewish State and a willful isolation of it among the community of nations.
In addition, they are alarmed at the silence of the Jewish community in light of how the Obama Administration has been making statements and taking measures that everyone knows give license for the Arab population within Israel and on its borders to renew intifada and rioting that will severely harm the individual Israeli, as is already being done.
Furthermore, the brazen and humiliating way in which the Prime Minister of Israel, the de facto representative of the entire Jewish People, was treated by the entire staff of the White House in front of all the eyes of the world should not be tolerated. It is encouraging other Western countries, as well as Arab countries, to treat Israel as a diplomatic pariah and even question Israel’s legitimacy as a state itself.
The Israeli People are not looking for yet another statement from the establishment Jewish community as to how we are in favor of a peace process, a “two-state solution”, or that the last three weeks of humiliation “disrupts” further peace negotiations. What they are looking for, and what the establishment Jewish organizations should do, is to express their outrage at the mistreatment and humiliation of the Jewish State and attempts to portray the Jewish State as being the sole entity blocking a successful War on Terror. This is reminiscent of previous blood libels throughout history, where the Jewish People have been accused that their existence, rituals, or means of survival has been the cause for the loss of Muslim or Christian life.
The Jewish world is awaiting your affirmation that the entire city of Jerusalem must continue to be under Jewish sovereignty and is Israel’s eternal, united capital, and that Jews not be specifically outlawed from building and living in all of its neighborhoods.
Furthermore, it is apparent that the Obama Administration, from the President to Mrs. Clinton, to David Axelrod, and the President’s spokesmen are engaging in an attempt to overturn the will of the Israeli People who voted for the current Prime Minister and his coalition partners. They view it — and rightly so — as a belittlement not only to their sovereignty, but also to their right to determine who their leaders should be.
On so many fronts, the past three weeks have been an absolute and unwarranted, yet purposeful, humiliation of the Jewish People and the State of Israel. We would expect that the establishment Jewish organizations and leaders would have the courage to stand up, with pride, for the Jewish People and its state. Instead, we are witnessing a silence that conveys the message that the leadership of the Jewish community is more interested in being friends with the Administration than doing its duty by announcing to the world that this cannot be tolerated. We look for the Jewish organizations and its leaders to speak Truth to Power.
The silence of the established Jewish organizations on this matter, in contrast to the outspokenness from J Street, has elevated and allowed J Street to become the most visible and prominent organization speaking out about these issues within the Jewish community. No doubt, many of our leaders are working behind the scenes to repair the rupture of the last three weeks. In this case, however, that is simply not enough and evades the real issue. The world at large has seen a public humiliation and rebuke of the State of Israel go unanswered. Unless it sees a profoundly public rebuke of such treatment, it will assume that such humiliating treatment of Jews and the Jewish State are now acceptable and de rigueur.
The World must hear. The World must see. It takes little courage to meet with other leaders behind closed doors. The courage that is needed now is one where the world sees that Israel, its representatives and the Jewish People cannot tolerate that which no other nation or community would tolerate. Failure to do so openly and in public will guarantee that this will happen again, even if this particular crisis is “smoothed out.”
Leaders are not simply men and women who work behind the scenes. Leaders of a community are those who have enough conviction and pride in the profile of their community that they boldly, with enthusiasm, defend their People when unjustly humiliated. Doing so stops the slide of demoralization in its people and restores their confidence in themselves as a People, a people with a legitimate destiny. The American Jewish Community expects that type of leadership from those who claim to be its leaders.