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!
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • 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.