Saturday, December 4, 2010


~ It has amazed me that some would choose recently to elevate Glenn Beck by "comparing" him with George Soros. Soros, who seems to wear his antipathy to Israel on his sleeve, but still a Holocaust survivor; Beck, because he voices unequivocal support for Israel (and for whom some of his best friends are Jewish), it is argued, deserves the Jewish polity's support even while he otherwise preaches a screed that "validates" the most extreme among the Tea Party. Men and women for whom I otherwise have the greatest respect now choose those they support based on one criterion -- unequivocal support for Israel. Nothing more and nothing less. Now, if you want those you support to stand for Jewish values, you are condemned as some sort of "liberal." When I hear or read this stuff, I cringe for my parents of blessed memory, for my family, liberals all, and fervent supporters of our Jewish State.

Soros deserves our scorn -- he deserves it for the positions he has espoused, for his constant demonization of Israel, but he deservesneither because some will compare him to Glenn Beck nor, certainly, because Beck has attacked him in Beck's "someof my best friends" way. For the definitive response to the Beck-Soros matter, read Hendrik Hertzberg's superb piece in the November 29 New Yorker. Amazing that in their zeal to find support for Israel, some correspondents and writers have almost...almost...made Soros a figure of sympathy.

And, please don't write to challenge my pro-Israel credentials. I will match them with anyone's -- even Glenn Beck's.

~ In the Blog Post pre-Thanksgiving, students who attended the General Assembly commented on their attendance at the New Orleans General Assembly. Their Comments are illustrative of what happens when our organizations stress numbers over content -- "[W]e heard a lot about how we're the future...but then we're left to our own devices;" there was a failure " let us feel more involved;" "[I]t didn't seem that the follow-through was well thought-out;" and similar. Can't say I am surprised.

Now there we heard the CEO pander to applause that "we had 600 students here and at the next GA we'll have1,000..." And, maybe...just next November someone on the JFNA staff will be tasked with creating a sense of engagement and involvement for these students who appear to have been viewed in New Orleans as nothing more than a cheering section -- something our leaders clearly love.

~ The Forward's Gal Beckerman has written the definitive history of the Soviet Jewry Movement: When They Come For Us, We'll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry. In an incredibly well-researched book Beckerman describes in vivid detail these heroes of modern Jewish history in the then Soviet Union and across the continents. There is frustration in these pages...and, of course, inspiration as well. For the definitive review, read Yossi Klein Halevi's Glory in the Thanksgiving edition of The New Republic ( As a participant in the Student Struggle and as an "activist" at age 17 with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, Halevi's commentary is further enlightening. I recommend Beckerman's book as a wonderful Chanukah present.

~ On a "what not to read" note...There are those bloggers and e-mailers out there, joined by Commentators to this Blog, who stridently criticize those North Americans who "criticize" policies of the Government of Israel. As all of us know, there are literally 100's of Israeli writers who do so daily or weekly. Let's take the Michele Bachmann of Israeli columnists, the Jerusalem Post's unhappy Caroline Glick, as an example. She has published numerous columns condemning the Israeli government and IDF leaders for any policy that "smells like a peace move" but she saves her special venom for the Obama Administration. Her oopinion pieces only infrequently cite any sources, but are sent around by her followers as if she utters a special brand of "truth." Now the question: if you, who demand total support for the policies of Israel republish a Glickscreed aren't you violating your very strict unyielding limitations?

Just asking.



paul jeser said...

1) Beck/Soros - Yes, Beck's positions on most things are not acceptable. And, also yes, support of Israel is the most important issue. If Israel is destroyed (G-d forbid) then you know what comes next. If Soros' policies are followed (i.e. politicians he supports, etc.), Israel will not survive.

2) Criticism of Israeli Gov't policies: I can only speak for myself, and in my case you leave out two important words: "American Jewish...." Of course every Israeli has the right - and responsibility to evaluate, criticize his/her gov't. American Jews don't. If they want to have a say in Israeli gov't decisions they need to make aliyah, pay Israeli taxes, fight in the IDF, thus putting their lives where their mouths are.

Anonymous said...

Kudos, Richard on your "defense" of the left and indictment of Beck and his dim witted minions. Since when did legitimate policy disagreements with U.S. or Israeli policymakers render someone a traitor? oh, i forgot; when the neocons took over and began to wreck america AND Israel.

seriously folks, i know Israelis - who have fought and bled for their nation - who are PASSIONATELY opposed to many of the policies espoused by their political leadership. their rhetoric would make Soros blush. and you know what? they ARE patriots; in a way that Jewish Republicans (i.e. arm chair generals) and their evangelical allies never will be.

shame on AIPAC, ADL, the RJC and all other North American, Jewish thought police who seek to stifle vigorous debate and define what it means to be "pro-Israel." IMO, these folks are almost as bad as our real amalekim. while i have no doubt that we will continue to crush our external enemies, i have real doubts as to whether we can survive the fascistic elements in our own community.

LisaB said...


As a liberal and a full on teudat zehut carrying Israeli I am beyond exhausted at hearing the jingoistic and simplistic "pro Israel" moniker. It's a country, not a concept. According to the rhetoric an evangelical eagerly waiting the day I turn to dust has better credentials than I.

Paul Jeser - sorry but I disagree with your second point, indeed I find it dangerously naive in regards to Israeli politics.
I made Aliyah, I paid the taxes, volunteered for the IDF and saw my routine commute disrupted by blown out buses. I say the American Jewish community not only has the right but has an obligation to speak out and to question policies.

Israel isn't just Israel, another middle-eastern country, it is defined as and indeed defines itself as the Jewish State. Decisions relating to our shared faith are made there, American Jews send money there, American Jews are asked to support Israel in the American press and to lobby the American government for Israel. That support should not be free and unconditional, it allows abuses of the kind that are happening right now.
I love my children unconditionally, that does not mean that my support and assistance comes without accountability and discipline.

paul jeser said...

LisaB, like too many others, thinks that Americans send $ to Israel and thus have the right to influence Government decision making.

To the best of my knowledge, not one American sends money to the Israeli gov't. Americans support Israeli institutions, and thus, have the right to be involved in those institutions decision making.

Not so with the gov't - not so when the issues deals with Israel's security. Only those who 'pay the price' have that privilege.

She is right with 'Jewish' issues (such as the conversion law) - but in these cases one must realize that the communities from which greater aliyah comes will have greater influence..

Her family analagy almost works. Israel may be 'her' child (as a citizen), however, as a non-citizen it is my niece/nephew, and I do not have the right to discipline it.

Usedtobeimportant said...

So, it essentially amounts to this??
The Left is always right and the Right is always wrong.
Amazing, how close to each other the extremists of both views reside.

LisaB said...

American financial support of institutions (universities and hospitals and social services) very much aids the Israeli government. The support of US Jews for American aid to Israel and political support in the UN is of great benefit to the Israeli government. American Jewry expends a great deal of political capital in providing that support. It isn't without price.

What is currently termed "pro-Israel" in the majority of the American Jewish community is actually pro one specific political stream in Israel -the right, from the Likud to the extreme right Yisrael Beitanu. How is that not interfering in Israels political process and policies? There are dollars flowing towards settlements, how does that not affect the security situation?

Start by defining exactly what you mean by pro-Israel. Ask yourself, if a government arose there tomorrow which chose a path diametrically opposed to the one you envision, how much would you support it? How much lobbying would you do on its behalf?
Of course it's all political and all efforts have consequences. Either everyone's views should be expressed or the Diaspora should butt out completely, drop the money, stop lobbying and stop the "support".

Anonymous said...

And since the right side of the brain controls the ledft side of the body, only the left are in their right mind.

paul jeser said...

Lisa - my definition of 'pro-Israel' is very simple: To support - and not publically criticize - the Government of the State of Israel (always have) even when I may have a personal disagreement with a decision it may make or has made.

Anything less from diapora Jews weakens the gov't and thus helps our enemies.

If I want Israel to exist, I do not have the privlege of picking and choosing if and when I will support her.

I beleive that anyone who supports Israel only when s/he agrees with her is not 'pro-Israel.' I beleive that any Jew from the daspora who publicaly criticizes her is not 'pro-Israel.' My world is simple, black and white - grey does not work.

A question - If someone from another country gives to Harvard or the American Red Cross, do they then have the right to criticize American government policies. I think not!

Anonymous said...

LisaB: in Paul Jeser's world, as a good Jew, you are not allowed to ever publicly disagree with any aspect of the Israeli government, it's politics, or its policies.

make sense? of course not.