Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
In recent weeks, I have been somewhat surprised by the many voices that have been raised by American Jews calling on Israel and the Israeli public to protest against Obama’s expected visit to the State of Israel next month. Even Abe Lincoln has been enlisted to impel Israel to revolt against the expected visit. “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
This quote by President Lincoln has been used as a call to rally by attorney Steven M. Goldberg, the national vice chairman of the Zionist Organization of America, whom I know personally and respect; he states unequivocally that “not a peep can be heard from any of the Likud MKs, including those who ran as committed nationalists, or even from the Bayit Yehudi group, all of whom appear to be hoping for plum ministry or committee assignments. It is leadership at its weakest.” Goldberg continues by stating that Obama should be greeted by thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of concerned Israeli citizens who will demonstrate that they are not fooled by his insincere assurances.
Before Jewish leaders go public and label the government of Israel as suffering from an “absence of leadership” or give suggestions as to how the elected government of Israel, or the Israeli public, should act in response to the expected visit of President Obama, I would like to remind American Jewish leaders that Obama is an American president and an American problem. Obama won the election fair and square, getting a large majority of the American Jewish vote.
Naturally one would expect Goldberg to mobilize his American Jewish brethren to protest by the tens of thousands, as he states, and remind them of their responsibility, having voted for Obama in the first place (although they were most likely not those who identify with ZOA).
Where is his criticism and rage for the actions of the American Jewish senators or the other American Jewish organizations (excluding the ZOA) that have done nothing to counter Obama’s appointments for secretaries of State and Defense, and director of the CIA, all with long anti-Israel histories?
Many figures in the American Jewish leadership seem to be ready to quickly condemn and criticize Israel and the elected government of Israel, yet tread ever so carefully when it comes to criticizing and protesting against their American Jewish peers and their organizations.
The Senate confirmation hearings of Chuck Hegel for Secretary of Defense are reflective of the problem. Jewish senators, all liberal Democrats, treated Hagel with kid gloves during the confirmation hearings, against the interests of the American people and against the interests of Israel. These hearings, in which Hagel presented himself as wholly misinformed and seeming to be in an intellectual stupor, beg to be challenged by Jewish leaders, yet have been largely unchallenged. The committee’s chairman, Jewish Democratic senator Carl Levin, who prior to the hearing had already indicated his support for Hagel’s nomination by calling him “well qualified,” included in his opening remarks only a reference to Hagel’s “troubling statements” concerning Iran without specifics or even follow-up, with not even one mention of Israel.
The other Jewish senator on the committee, Richard Blumenthal, totally ignored Hagel’s record concerning Israel and only murmured his dismay that a man who had served the country had to endure strong inquiries from the Republicans.
The spectacle of southern Republican senators, all non-Jews with almost no Jewish constituents in their states, standing up for the Jewish people and Israel against Hagel’s evasive, nonsensical, and downright ignorant responses, while fellow Jews sat idly by, is sadly the reality.
The Republicans were the first and only senators who challenged Hagel’s previous statement on the Jewish lobby. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina followed up by asking Hagel to “name one senator” who had been intimidated in that way by AIPAC and name “one dumb thing we [the Senate] have been goaded into doing because of the pressure from the Israeli lobby,” adding, “I cannot think of a more provocative thing to say about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.”
For the past 65 years, Israel has been in the forefront of many of the global conflicts that have originated outside the Middle East. Israel has endured major wars and years of Islamic terror, sacrificing tens of thousands of killed and wounded.
There was the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union, in which the conflict was played out by proxy Arab nations against the State of Israel, or in recent years the War of Islam on Western civilization, also played out by proxy nations and terror organizations such as Hamas and Fatah.
To U.S. leaders and others that expect the Israeli public to do what the American Jewish public refuses to do, I say, to quote Mr. Goldberg, a true lover of Israel, that Israel is not a banana republic but a sovereign state that will act only in accordance with her own national interests. In addition, I would suggest that those in America who feel secure enough to tell us Israelis what to do about Obama should make aliyah and put themselves and their families on the front line like all of us here who have decided to make Israel our home.
Only then will their calls to man the barricades achieve results. 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 currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.