Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
We Jews are a people who have, over our long history, always been our own worst enemies. Thomas Friedman’s latest column in the New York Times, “Let’s Make a Deal,” seems to have served as a wake-up call, and he probably deserves our thanks. Friedman has officially declared open season on the Jews, and this should be a lesson to us all. Sadly, it’s not.
Friedman acknowledges that opposition to President Obama’s emerging policy on Iran is coming from Democrats as well as Republicans. Friedman goes one step further and suggests that this is a result of disloyalty and deceit.
“Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign-policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers—Democrats and Republicans—more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.”
Israel’s opposition to President Obama’s signing a deal with Iran while he largely ignores the national interests of America’s traditional allies in the Middle East clearly infuriates Friedman. According to the columnist, the U.S. should unilaterally act on the president’s proposal regardless of its allies’ concerns. These allies are “craaaaaazzzy,” as he puts it. The growing internal opposition among all Americans, on the other hand, he dismisses as bogus, bought and paid for by Jewish votes and money delivered by the “Israel lobby.”
This opinion not only disparages the right of America’s elected representatives to think independently but also denies this basic right to the American voting public, who perceive easing sanctions on Iran, using Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating tactics, as nothing more than a case of a naive American in Bermuda shorts and white socks getting ripped off by a wily merchant in a Middle Eastern souk.
It means nothing to Friedman that these elected officials and American citizens are joined by the French, Saudis, and Israelis, who also believe that Iran cannot be trusted and that shifting the military balance in the Middle East by enabling Iran to achieve nuclear capability would ultimately be detrimental to the national interests of the U.S.
The direct result of Friedman’s writing will affect public opinion vis-à-vis Jews in general. Give us a reason and a proper stage, and we will manage to encourage others to question our loyalty and willingness to associate the Jews with the historical role of the betraying “Judas.” Friedman’s portrayal of American Jews who disagree with the White House as nothing more than Israeli mercenaries willing to sell their primary allegiance is only going to create more open hatred of Jews and encourage anti-Semitism in American society.
On the day that Friedman posted “Let’s Make a Deal,” I monitored major websites to gauge responses by the American public to the poisonous atmosphere made possible by his writing. Below are only a few of the hundreds of similar responses:
“Jews are some of the most talented, gifted, and brilliant people the world has ever seen! But when it comes to politics, they are mental midgets! In the past, Jews threw in with Communists, fascists, and National Socialists (Nazis). Every time they lost in the end! American Jews who have joined with Barack Hussein Obama will eventually take it in the shorts, as they have always done when they backed socialists! If I were Jewish, I’d already have my bags packed and my ticket bought for Israel. At least in Israel, a Jewish man can die a free man, opposed to what’s coming in this nation.”
“Sometimes, it seems that Jews, collectively, enjoy being persecuted. Though individually often bright and accomplished, there seems a collective death wish that filters through them. Makes no sense to me.”
“It’s the Axelrod/Emanuel ‘self-loathing’ Jews that make up the largest numbers of our Jewish population. They are Liberal Socialists.”
“When Christians are abused in Arab countries you are all up in arms, yet you were all silent when Jews were murdered throughout the Arab countries while the surviving ones escaped with the clothes on their backs (not to mention the total lack of reaction when six million were murdered in Europe, while FDR refused to accept Jewish refugees). Now that Jews are attacked here, you imply that they deserve it because they are Democrats. First of all, there are plenty of conservative Jews here (especially the Orthodox ones, the same ones who have been under attack). Second of all, how are you better than the Democrats, if you condone violence against Jews? And by the way, FBI annual reports consistently show that hate crime against Jews is on average 78%.”
“Why do the majority of Jews delude themselves? Jews, of all people, should recognize the danger of ignoring facts in favor of embracing hope.”
The day after Friedman published his article, the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was heard from: “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them . . . The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation . . . The Zionist regime says things that only brings humiliation on themselves.”
Only by continuing to stand up and raise concerns as loudly as possible, without fear of being accused of betraying America can Jews sustain their ability to be perceived as equals and as an integral part of American society. Refusing to capitulate and retreat due to threats such as Friedman’s article will ensure that Jews remain a vibrant reminder to us all what American society is all about. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron is a strategic advisor to the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.