Commentary magazine has come out with a star-studded symposium, titled “Obama, Israel & American Jews: The Challenge,” in which no fewer than 31 prominent American Jews were invited to comment on the tensions between the Obama administration and the Israeli government — tensions “of a kind not seen since the days of the administration of the first President Bush,” the magazine observes — and to assess the response of American Jews.
Kicking off the discussion with some objective facts as a focal point, the magazine notes that the current bilateral tensions present “an unprecedented political challenge” to American Jews,
who voted for Barack Obama by a margin of nearly 4-to-1 in 2008 after being assured by Obama himself and by his supporters in the Jewish community that he was a friend and an ally of the State of Israel despite his long association with, among others, the unabashedly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
The challenge, therefore: whether “Obama’s Jewish supporters” can do anything “to change the unmistakable direction of current American policy emanating from the White House,” or whether American Jews will “accept Barack Obama’s view that the state of Israel bears some responsibility for the loss of American ‘blood and treasure’ in the Middle East” — and will continue to support Obama and the Democrats.
The 31 respondents span a broad, representative spectrum of American Jewish opinion, at least as Commentary measures it. Here’s how the responses break down, by my count:
Don’t count on those American Jewish blockheads to stand up for Israel: 11.
Well, they’d better / Hey, they just might: 7.
I’m hoping Obama will see the light and we won’t have to choose sides: 7.
Obama isn’t Israel’s enemy / This symposium is a right-wing set-up: 4.
Miscellaneous (Both sides are nuts / We haven’t properly taught Israel to our young’uns): 2.
See if you can match the participants to their respective positions:
Elliott Abrams, Morris Amitay, Peter Berkowitz, Kenneth Bialkin, Matthew Brooks, Mona Charen, Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Diament, Ira Forman, Abraham Foxman, Jonathan Gurwitz, Jeff Jacoby, Jeremy Kalmanofsky, Jonathan Kellerman, Ed Koch, Martin Kramer, William Kristol, Michael Medved, Aaron David Miller, Tova Mirvis, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Dennis Prager, Gary Rosenblatt, Jonathan Sarna, Robert Satloff, Dan Senor, Tevi Troy, Ruth Wisse, David Wolpe, Eric Yoffie
I’ll post my own answers at the end of the week.
Jonathan Jeremy Goldberg is Editor-at-Large of the newspaper The Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007). He served in the past as U.S. bureau chief of the Israeli news magazine Jerusalem Report, managing editor of The Jewish Week of New York, as a nationally syndicated columnist in Jewish weeklies, as editor in chief of the Labor Zionist monthly Jewish Frontier, as world/national news editor of the daily Home News (now the Home News Tribune) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and as a metro/police-beat reporter for Hamevaker, a short-lived Hebrew-language newsweekly published for the Israeli émigré community in Los Angeles.