Prisoner X Case Signals Moment of Crisis for Israel and Jewish Diaspora

Israel Isolation Spawns 'Dual Loyalty' Charge Worldwide

abc/youtube

By J.J. Goldberg

Published February 26, 2013, issue of March 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Argentine courts eventually charged Iranian and Hezbollah officials, but no one was ever arrested. Now, on January 27, Argentina and Iran agreed to create a joint “truth commission.” Israel promptly protested, and mutual recriminations flew.

The Jewish community response was more complex. AMIA President Guillermo Borger initially objected, but withdrew his complaint after meeting on January 29 with Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, himself the son of a famed Argentine Jewish human rights leader. Ten days later Borger reversed him self again, declaring that the “truth commission” could bring “a third bombing.” Kirchner attacked Borger the next day, wondering aloud where he got his “information” about future bombings. Her rebuke apparently worked; further Jewish protests have been muted and poorly attended.

The third crisis, less dramatic but arguably more serious in the long run, is in Washington, where Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense met historically unprecedented resistance from Senate Republicans. Several motives drove Republican opposition, but the one that dominated televised Senate hearings, and drew the most impassioned public comment, was Hagel’s attitude toward Israel.

Without plumbing the details of Hagel’s views on Israel — they’ve been explored elsewhere at length — it’s important to note that they hardly approach the icy disdain of former Republican defense secretaries Caspar Weinberger and James Schlesinger. Nor, for that matter, of Republican ex-president George H.W. Bush. What’s new isn’t Hagel’s skepticism, but the level of pro-Israel purity now expected of our public officials.

Importantly, the campaign against Hagel isn’t the direct handiwork of the mainstream Jewish or pro-Israel lobbies. The main pro-Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC, has been silent. The two top Jewish advocacy powerhouses, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, have lagged ambivalently behind. The campaign has been led by Republican lawmakers and partisan hard-liners like Bill Kristol and Daniel Pipes. Regardless, it’s perceived as representing the will of Israel and its advocates. Politically, that’s what counts.

Thus the latest Washington brawl adds to the ongoing redefinition in the popular mind of pro-Israel advocacy and, by extension, of Jewish advocacy. Once considered a moral beacon, it’s now commonly viewed as a bullying force that throws its weight around without regard to American interests. This dim view, once confined to fringe extremists, began creeping toward the center a decade ago in writings by respected academics like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Now it’s standard fare for op-ed writers and late-night comics.

Ironically, efforts to silence such talk as bigotry merely prove the point. Witness Hagel, pummeled by Israel’s friends for having once said that Israel’s friends intimidate their critics.

Many community leaders view crises like the ones in Australia, Argentina and Washington as evidence of a new global anti-Semitism. Israel’s intelligence services conclude differently: that Israel’s continuing West Bank occupation and settlement expansion are fueling a rising frustration among Israel’s longtime friends, gradually morphing into hostility toward Israel and her staunchest defenders. Even veteran hard-liners like national security council chief Yaakov Amidror, once renowned as Israel’s most right-wing general, have begun voicing alarm over the problem.

Israel has been trying for 45 years to explain its right to settlements, and hasn’t convinced a single foreign government. Now the effort is merely discrediting the explainers.

Some Diaspora pro-Israel advocates still insist that settlements aren’t the cause of Israel’s problems, but they’re only spouting yesterday’s talking-points. Worse, they’re digging themselves — and their communities — into a hole.

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.