I don’t know how I missed this. It turns out that on the first day of last year’s J Street Conference, Reform Rabbi David Saperstein, widely viewed as the “conscience of the Jewish community,” demonstrated that his “conscience” is untouched by the plight of Palestinians.
Saperstein kicked off the conference by chastising J Street for opposing the U.S. veto of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
Here are his (oh-so-cynical) words as reported by the Jerusalem Post:
Reform Movement leader David Saperstein opened J Street’s second annual conference on Saturday by chastising the group for opposing the recent US veto of a UN resolution condemning Israel settlements.
Saperstein told 2,000-plus J Street advocates that its position on the veto jeopardized its support among mainstream Jews and backers on Capitol Hill and could diminish the three-year-old lobby’s political influence.
“You lose your political and media clout if you lose your mainstream wing,” said Saperstein, who heads the Washington-based Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. “Successful strategy and tactics need to consider not only the theoretical decisions you take but the practical impact of those you choose.”
He noted that so many Jews, on the Left as well as the Right, so distrust the UN on Israel that supporting a resolution is seen as supporting the UN’s stance on the Jewish state.
“You know that the vast majority of the members of Congress that you support and support you while criticizing Israel’s settlement policy cannot support UN condemnation, and you will put them all in a very difficult position, driving some to feel they have to choose between remaining with J Street,” Saperstein said.
Similarly, he pointed out that many Conservative and Reform rabbis who support J Street didn’t endorse this position.
“If they begin to move away from J Street and they leave one by one, this has the potential [for J Street] to become just another group that says the right things but without real impact,” he said.
In other words, doing the right thing on settlements is not smart public relations, which is precisely the reason Saperstein has confined his courageous stands to issues that won’t damage his standing in the mainstream Jewish community — and won’t offend donors to his Religious Action Center which does great work on every issue except one.
Here is some news for Saperstein and the other rabbis who think that they are heroes for going to jail over the situation in Sudan or Myanmar. You will not ultimately judged by your stands on foreign policy issues where, to put it bluntly, your presence does not really matter. The only foreign policy issue on which you do matter is Israel/Palestine. After all, you are Jews, you are rabbis.
What you are not is courageous.
For another example of righteousness on Africa, but never on Palestine, see this. Can these guys be more transparent? Morality on the cheap.