American Jews claim that they live in a unique democratic country and enjoy full equality. Yet, whereas most Americans have no hesitation in criticizing their president when they disagree with his policies, the traditionally feisty and outspoken American Jewish leaders seem fearful to criticize their president even in the most respectful terms. This, even after Obama’s repeatedly and crudely appalling behavior aimed at humiliating his ally, the Israeli prime minister, in direct contrast to his servility to representatives of rogue states including Iran.
On this issue, most of the Jewish leadership establishment remained silent. This included the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, whose officials, according to the White House, privately distanced themselves from Netanyahu’s visit.
To his credit, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was one of the few mainstream leaders stressing that Netanyahu’s intention was neither to personally attack the president nor become engaged in U.S. domestic politics. Rather, it was to promote Israel’s concerns about developments that it considers an existential threat and great danger to the world.
But shockingly, a number of Jewish leaders also publicly slammed Netanyahu. Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, went so far as to describe the issue as a “circus” and called on House Speaker John Boehner “to withdraw” the invitation and Netanyahu to rescind his acceptance. He was followed by Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Reform movement, who said Netanyahu’s speech was “a bad idea” and urged him “to bite the bullet and postpone his address” or he would “turn Israel into a partisan issue.”
This was outrageous. Who gave Foxman and Jacobs a mandate to challenge the decision of Israel’s prime minister to appeal against enabling the Iranian terrorist state from becoming a nuclear state — an act of appeasement that would dwarf Chamberlain’s concessions to Hitler in Munich? Foxman’s subsequent effort to modify his outburst by condemning J Street’s “inflammatory and repugnant campaign” against Netanyahu did not detract from the damage he caused.
Jacobs and Foxman may have convinced themselves that by seeking to avoid a conflict with their president, they were acting on the side of the angels. It was left to the hawkish Zionist Organization of America to bitterly condemn their intervention and make chilling parallels between their behavior and that of Rabbi Stephen Wise who in 1944 had urged Jewish leaders to cease campaigning to pressure the White house to intervene on behalf of the Jews in Europe in order not to embarrass President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Today, Netanyahu is desperately appealing to the world to prevent an evil apocalyptical Islamic terrorist state, committed to Israel’s destruction, from becoming a nuclear power. Yet Foxman and Jacobs seem more concerned to placate their president. In making such negative statements, it is they who are transforming this into a partisan issue and providing enormous satisfaction to Iranian mullahs who undoubtedly appreciate their efforts. Shame on them!Shame on them? Fuggedaboutit! They're shameless.