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Letter: AIPAC’s Jews Are Engaged – But Only With Israel

To the Editor:

In Batya Ungar-Sargon’s recent article reporting on this year’s AIPAC conference, I was especially struck by her quoting a “Jewish community leader” who told her that “the Pew [Research Center] study and other data suggest that well over half of American Jews do not participate in Jewish life. In the course of a year they do not step foot in a JCC or a synagogue, they do not send their children to Hebrew school or Jewish camps — basically they do not act or live any differently than their non-Jewish neighbors.” That would suggest that such people don’t have the right to the “same degree of decision-making in the direction of the Jewish community that is given to those who are involved, invested and engaged.”

But in my experience (as someone who currently belongs to two synagogues, spent summer is Jewish camps, and has been engaged with Jewish organizations for over half a century), many of the people most actively involved in AIPAC-type activities are precisely the ones for whom uncritical support of Israel represents their sole engagement with Jewish life, as if being pro-Israel and being Jewish are one and the same thing (which Israel’s current Prime Minister regularly asserts). Even when I was helping my father run guns to Israel in 1948 I had been taught that Judaism involves many layers of religious, ethical, and societal actions and values which quite evidently are not espoused by AIPAC and/or its various fundamentalist Christian cohorts.

Tom L. Freudenheim


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