Last week the respected political columnist for the Jewish Week Jim Besser called me for an interview on the TOPIC OF the Orthodox Community and its response or lack of response to unfolding events in Israel. Subsequent to our discussion I have tried to clarify my thinking on these issues. .
The overwhelming majority of my co-religionists are deeply troubled with disengagement. Their feelings are based upon theological grounds, security issues and pragmatic political concerns.
Our community is divided between those who have no hesitation to criticize publicly the Israeli government.( Of course this is not limited to orthodox individuals.) and those while unhappy do not agree with such public criticism. I include myself in that group. A small minority favor disengagement as it now is constituted (TO BE HONEST, I DON’T THINK I HAVE MET MORE THAN ONE OR TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO FALL INTO THAT CATEGORY)
A major problem is that as the activists march in Gush Katif for a worthy cause, basically it is too late. It is after the barn door was opened and the animals have fled. The Democracy of Israel, with all of its fundamental faults and pimples has spoken. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the orders, then the decision of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Knesset will stand, whether a small group of American Jews like it or not. The next battle is tomorrow in Texas.
Moreover confusing right –wing rhetoric emphasizing the theological somehow may have turned off a large number of potential supporters who are looking for a MODERATE BRAND OF RIGHT OF CENTER POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.
The tire burnings at intersections and talk of civil war or soldiers not returning to duty after Pesach,is a big turnoff even if it is not coming from American right-wingers.
Of course the talk by the left of a military coup is outrageous and should be treated by the authorities for what it is,INCINDIARY and LIBELOUS. It should be prosecuted as PURE INCITEMENT.
ON THE ONE HAND THE Presidents Conference must by its nature support the government. An organization comprising the far left and the far right, the reform and the orthodox, the religious and the secular cannot do otherwise.
· But I see a great void and a total lack of leadership that would espouse a MODERATE RIGHT OF CENTER philosophy. Let me be more specific
· while I oppose American Jews being involved in criticizing the Israeli government,as an American I have no such hesitations regarding our (American ) foreign policy
· Such leadership should be speaking out publicly by statements, newspaper ads, op-eds, phone calls, E-mail s etc with the following themes
· MR PRESIDENT WE LOVE YOU,BUT MAALE ADUMIM IS PART OF JERUSALEM-NO PRESSURE ON ISRAEL
· MR PRESIDENT, EVERY SINGLE MILITARY ANALYST BELIEVES THAT A FEW MONTHS AFTER DISENGAGEMENT TERRORIST WHO ARE NOW RESUPPLYING WILL START ALL OVER AGAIN=
· MR PRESIDENT GO VISIT MAALE ADUMIM ETC-IT IS NOT A SETTLEMENT
· MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE CLARIFY YOUR STATEMENTS OF JUNE 24-LET US DO AWAY WITH AMBIGUITY-IS THERE AN UNDERSTANDING ON THE GUSH, ARIEL AND MAALE ADUMIM OR NOT? DO YOU AGREE WITH CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTIONS THAT STATE THAT JERUSALEM IS THE UNDIVIDED ETERNAL CAPITOL OF ISRAEL OR NOT? ARE YOU PREPARED TO CARRY OUT YOUR PROMISE OF FOUR YEARS AGO TO MOVE THE U.S. EMBASSY TO JERSALEM, OR NOT?
· MR PRESIDENT WHY SHOULD ISRAEL WITHDRAW ONE INCH WHEN THE TERRORIST GROUPS HAVE NOT BEEN DISARMED AND THE PRIME MINISTER MR ABU ALAI , IN AN ARAFAT-MANNER IS UNDERMING ABU MAZEN ON EVERY SINGLE ISSUE ?
· TO THE SENATE WE SAY DO NOT REINSERT THE POWER OF A PRESIDENTIAL WAIVER IN AN AID BILL FOR THE PA
EVERYDAY WE SHOULD HIT HOME THE VIOLATIONS AND SECURITY ISSUES OF THE PA AND ITS SUBSDIARIES.
BEFORE MR SHARON MEETS THE PRESIDENT WE SHOULD HAVE HAD FULL PAGE ADS CONSISTING OF THE ABOVE
The battle within Jewish organizational life as to how far we can go in criticizing Israel should not make us ==IMPOTENT on a DAILY basis.
.What we need now is strong vocal mature and above all SOPHISICATED leadership in our community. AND SADLY I DO NOT SEE IT YET! We have to realize that certain segments of the Orthodox community either never “GET INVOLVED” or are committed to the far right. This should not impede undertaking what we have to do.
One last point:
Face to face discussions with the Administration and Israeli leadership are extremely important, but it is not a substitute for putting public pressure on the President and the Senate. Yes we can ask tough questions in private and we sometimes feel we are privy to privileged information., as a result of such closed door discussions, .However we must not hesitate to voice our strong feelings publicly ,even if it is Presidential Pressure we are concerned with
We must reach out to the Fundamentalist Christian world. Their support is vital .We must emphasize to them that we are not satisfied with Presidential pressure on Israel in regard to settlements, indeed THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE FOR JERUSALEM
Ii is a time for BUILDING political coalitions before we find that Yussie Beilin becomes the only voice that Americans will read in the N.Y. Times (and not ours.) We Jews are sometimes our own worst enemy.
Despite all the financial, military and political help Israel gets from the U.S. it must NOT act like a vassal state .Its survival depends upon an independent road when its existence is in question.