I never thought I’d ever have anything good to say about AIPAC. But today I do.
I want to praise AIPAC for its lack of hypocrisy. AIPAC is the Israel lobby. It makes no pretense of caring about anything except Israel. It has no position on any matter that does not relate to Israel.
It is like every other single-interest group (with the difference being that its single interest is a foreign country). It does not pretend to be anything it is not. For AIPAC, politics begins at the water’s edge — although it directs campaign contribution and strong arms Congress from this side of the water.
This is not the case with other Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Committee, the Union of Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Council For Public Affairs (the “action” arm of the Jewish federations). These are dedicated, or so they say, to the interests of Americans, Jewish Americans in particular but, they would argue, all Americans. They are interested in Israel (although the American Jewish Committee was traditionally anti-Zionist, it is now well to the right of AIPAC) but Israel is not what they are about.
They are about defending the rights of Jews in America. Here is the mission of the Anti-Defamation League as spelled out in its charter:
The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.
But that is changing big time. The non-AIPAC organizations have become as Israel crazy as AIPAC, so much so that they are now abandoning their traditional partners in the general community who do not share their right-wing view of Israel. They are saying: if you are not with us on Israel, we are not with you on…America.
It is no surprise that this is happening now. As younger generations of Jews lose interest in Netanyahu’s Israel, and as 50% of Jews marry non-Jews, the organizations are terrified. Where is their next generation of leaders?
More important, who is their next generation of donors? Who is going to tell candidates that attitudes toward Israel is all that matter to them? The organizational leaders know that they can’t even count on their own kids. Does anyone under 40 ever join the American Jewish Committee? The decline of anti-Semitism in this country has made young people less interested, in fact not interested at all, in Jewish “defense organizations.”
It is no wonder that they are paranoid, so paranoid that they are telling church groups that they will no longer engage in dialogue with them over matters of mutual concern. (Hello, Jewish organizations, we are 2% of the population. We need to engage in dialogue more than Christians do.)
What provoked the Jewish organizations (including J Street, by the way) is that 15 church groups asked Congress to examine U.S. aid programs to Israel to make sure that they are compliance with US law and policy. This is no more than what domestic programs like farm subsidies or funds for cancer research are subjected to. In Congress, this is called “oversight.”
But the organizations don’t want Congress looking at aid to Israel at all. After all, aid to Israel is the only US program never subjected to budget cuts because AIPAC gets its exempted. Yes, the IDF is not subject to the budget sledgehammer scheduled to fall early next year but the US military is! Why should Israel aid have to comply with US law?
Take a look at the statement the Jewish Council On Public Affairs has just issued.
Cancelling an interfaith dialogue meeting, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other Jewish groups have called for a summit with the heads of Jewish organizations that have been engaged in the roundtable and the heads of the Christian denominations that penned a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into Israel’s use of the U.S. military aid.
“The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The participation of these leaders in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign cannot be viewed apart from the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations. We remain committed to the enterprise of interfaith relations because it is central to the development of a just and righteous society. But these churches have squandered our trust. They either refuse to pay attention to our plea for a fair appraisal of the situation or they simply do not care. Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.”
“It is the right of these Christian leaders to say what they want to Congress or anyone else,” added JCPA Chair Larry Gold. “And it is our right to say ‘enough is enough.’ We will continue to be vigilant against anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian activities wherever and whenever we see them because it is the right thing to do. If only the leaders of these churches cared a fraction as much about the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activities that have found comfortable homes in their denominations. How tragic that some of our counterparts in the churches are not only silent to this invective, they are responsible for it. ”
Crazy, no, especially when you read what these guys are flipping out over. Here is what the Christians wrote:
As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories….We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.
So, according to the Jewish groups, the churches have to support unconditional aid to Israel when nothing else in our budget is unconditional. Talk about chutzpah.
What if a Muslim organization told its Jewish partners on, say, immigration reform, that it would not work with Jews unless they support its position on Palestine or the war in Syria? No, it wouldn’t happen because it’s self-defeating and downright stupid, in addition to being ridiculously arrogant.
The organizations should shut up and let the Christians speak the truth that the Jewish organizations are determined to ignore: unconditional aid to Israel preserves the status quo. Conditioning aid on, say, an end to settlements would advance peace.
And supposed liberal leaders like Rabbis David Saperstein and Steven Gutow (long time AIPAC apparatchik) need to be exposed for what they are: moral leaders on the cheap. When it comes to Israel, Palestine or Muslims in general, they line up with the other AIPAC puppets. This is nothing: they were silent about the Gaza slaughter too. And, despite their support for the two-state solution (yeah, right), they urged President Obama to veto establishment of a Palestinian state when it was slated to come before the United Nations. Talk about my country right or wrong!
No wonder they have lost most American Jews.
Christians: Do not be intimidated. These organizational hacks represent no one but themselves. They do not speak for Jews.
They don’t even speak for Jews who care deeply about Israel and who want to see Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and security. It’s all about not offending donors. After all, once you have gotten used to a $500,000 a year salary, it’s hard getting accustomed to anything less.