Muslim terrorists killed five women in Netanya, Israel.
How does that differ from New York, London, and Madrid?
Silence and Worse of American Jews
by Rael Jean Isaac
Update: since this was written Hamas has been elected to lead Gaza and over 8000 morter/rocket attacks on Israeli civilians was the reward.
Ariel Sharon's morally indefensible and strategically suicidal
policy has been implemented, uprooting long-established prosperous
communities, creating deep fissures in Israeli society and giving
enormous impetus to Arab terror groups, which rightly see this retreat
as their victory.
At the very least, as Michael Freund has pointed out in The
Jerusalem Post, one would have expected a furious debate among
After all, even Israel's far-left Avraham Burg, former
speaker of the Knesset declared,
"this is not a genuine plan, because
it was a momentary caprice of the prime minister" and "the process by
which the plan was approved smashed to smithereens what little
remained of Israel's political culture... the prime minister gave the
boot to every political convention... the disrespect shown by the prime
minister and his associates for resolutions passed by his own party --
their contempt and utter disregard destroyed the basic concept of
Surely these are issues sufficiently profound to
engage American Jewry. Yet the reaction of organized American Jewry
and the overwhelming number of Jewish opinion leaders has been silence
or worse yet, active endorsement of Sharon's bulldozers.
First to the few honorable exceptions. Americans for a Safe Israel,
the Zionist Organization of America, Chabad Lubavich and a few small
ad hoc groups that sprang up to support Gush Katif vigorously
denounced the evictions, Sharon's betrayal of his supporters and the
undemocratic process by which he railroaded through his cruel and
arbitrary decision to destroy the very communities that he had
repeatedly said were strategically vital to Israel's future.
Among American Jewish newspapers, The Jewish Press and the Jewish
Voice and Opinion have been vocal in denouncing Sharon's actions.
Washington based MEMRI [Middle East Media Research Institute] provided
a steady drumbeat of warning by translating Arab media and
pronouncements of the various terror groups, which described the
approaching destruction of the Gaza and Samaria settlements as their
victory and promised much more terror to come, with the announced goal
of soon eliminating Israel from the planet.
But otherwise? An indifferent silence, acceptance (at best
reluctant, i.e., it's too bad for the people who lose their homes, but
it had to be done), or whole-hearted approval. The Anti-Defamation
League took out full page ads fawning over Sharon's supposed "vision
and courage," lauding "the risks you are willing to take at this
In California, even as the terrible process of
uprooting and destruction began, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los
Angeles and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California ran ads in
support of "disengagement."
James Tisch, then chairman of the largest
American Jewish umbrella organization, the Conference of Presidents of
Major American Jewish Organizations, announced "We unequivocally
Freund rightly finds the silence of the Orthodox leadership most
perplexing and disturbing, for as he notes, their constituency "has
perhaps the strongest ties of any group to the Jews of Gush Katif."
But for all their outspoken stands on a range of issues, Orthodox
leaders preferred to sidestep the expulsion of Jewish communities from
Gaza and northern Samaria.
Writes Freund: "And so, in recent months,
the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) chose to release just
one statement regarding the withdrawal, the same number of statements
that were released on issues such as downloading material from the
Internet and utilizing gambling as a fundraising tool in the Jewish
But while the RCA at least took a stand against gambling,
its single statement on destroying the Gush Katif communities did no
such thing: all it said was that "if an evacuation occurs, it should
be done with the greatest sensitivity and honor."
The Orthodox Union
(OU), the voice of Orthodox Jews in the U.S. and Canada, did little
better: while it voiced disapproval of the Sharon government's
"indifference to civil liberties," it refused to condemn the expulsion
itself, citing a "diversity of views" within the membership.
The silence of the large Jewish "liberal" left comes as no
surprise, even though many of the issues raised by both the policy
itself and the Sharon government's methods should, in theory, have
mobilized this community. Was not the destruction of communities of
Jews because they were Jews an example of much excoriated "ethnic
If Israel had uprooted thousands of law-abiding Arabs from
communities within Israel, would the American Jewish liberal community
have been silent? And what about the singling out of religious Jews,
who were pulled off city buses simply because they wore kippot and
therefore were more likely than others on the bus to be planning to
join some demonstration?
How does this differ from much-denounced
"profiling"? And what about the young children illegally detained to
assert pressures on their parents? What about the Sharon government's
undermining of democratic norms that even someone like Burg finds
Predictably, since the victims were Jews, the policy
surrender, and the beneficiaries Arab enemies, Jewish American
liberals found nothing to criticize.
To this writer, what has been most astonishing -- and painful -- has
been the acquiescence of the Jewish intellectual right, those who
should have been counted upon irrefutably to reveal the perils of
Sharon's policy both for Israel's survival and the West's battle with
With the honorable exception of a very few, of whom
Daniel Pipes is the best known, the record is dismal. Intellectuals
who assailed the Oslo accords when the American Jewish leadership
flocked to the White House lawn to celebrate the infamous handshake
between Rabin and Arafat have lost their critical faculties.
The level of argument in Commentary Magazine, earlier a
forum for the most cogent policy analysis, has become embarrassing. In
an article resembling the old Norman Podhoretz only by its length, the
"new" Podhoretz announces Sharon's policy has his support.
Why? Because it has the support of President George Bush and he "trusts"
George Bush. That's all, folks! Nor has Commentary opened its
pages to a genuine debate, permitting others to lay out the evils of
"disengagement." Rather we are saddled with the perennially addled
Emotional investment in this president -- and commitment to the war
in Iraq as its troubled course leaves him increasingly embattled --
seems to be the underlying reason for the otherwise inexplicable
failure to analyze the transparent flaws of Sharon's policy. How else
explain the tortured mental processes of the normally incisive Charles
He embraces the surrender of Gaza on the grounds that it
is part of Sharon's broader strategy of constructing "a fence" to wall
off terror and will permit Sharon to say this is "the end of the
concession road for Israel."
The absurdity of the terror-ending-fence
overwhelms Krauthammer even as he writes and he concedes that fences
don't stop the rockets which Palestinians have been steadily firing
from Gaza into towns within what he calls "Israel proper," i.e., Israel
in the armistice lines of 1949.
Krauthammer's answer is for Israel to
fire automatically five rockets for every rocket launched at it. Two
at the launch sites and three at assets of the militias.
And when a rocket aimed at Israel falls harmlessly and the five
Israel launches inadvertently kill women and children? What will be
the world's response? As for Israel standing pat, waiting for a
transformation of Palestinian Arabs, before the destruction of the
Gaza communities was even done, Secretary of State Rice was announcing
this was merely the beginning of territorial concessions that must now
be stepped up.
As for President Bush, his comment on the Gaza
evictions at his August 14 news conference suggested he had stepped
through the looking glass to join Shimon Peres: "I can understand why
people think this decision is one that will create a vacuum into which
terrorism will flow. I happen to disagree. I think this will create an
opportunity for democracy to emerge. And democracies are peaceful."
People like Podhoretz and Krauthammer have an importance
transcending their impact on their own readers for they serve as
touchstones for conservative non-Jewish opinion makers who wish Israel
If people like columnists Rich Lowry (who edits The National
Review) and Emmett Tyrrell, who also edits American
Spectator, were not intimidated by those whom they view as
possessing the highest credentials when it comes to Israel, they would
surely educate their own influential readership concerning the folly
of Sharon's government both in imperiling the future of Israel and in
paving the way for a terrorist "Hamastan" or "Hezbollahstan."
To be sure there are Christian supporters of Israel who refused to be
blindsided, evangelicals like Cal Thomas (his blunt article was called
"The End of Israel?" and Joseph Farah, and others like radio host John
Batchelor (who actually went to Gush Katif), the always clear-seeing
Frank Gaffney, blogger Jack Wheeler, Sean Hannity and Washington
Times editor Wes Pruden.
Even those few Jewish newspapers with intelligent, normally sober
editors-?like The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia and the
Connecticut Jewish Ledger -- refused to criticize Sharon's
shameless betrayal of his commitments both to the public which elected
him and to the Gaza communities he had so long supported.
York Sun, edited by Seth Lipsky (who purports to be a disciple of
Jabotinsky!) was equally disappointing. Thus an August 5 editorial
forcibly outlined the consequences of an American retreat in Iraq,
quoting Bin Laden's 1996 fatwa in which he spoke of Somalia and
Lebanon and of Americans who "left the area carrying disappointment,
humiliation, defeat and your dead with you."
Exactly a week later its editorial on Israel's surrender of the
Gaza and northern Samaria communities was a wishy washy endorsement
arguing it was a retreat "a Jewish democracy has decided... needs to be
Yet, as celebrating Hamas terrorists joyfully emphasized,
Israel was carrying "disappointment, humiliation, defeat" and yes, the
exhumed bodies of those who died there. The Sun's confused
editorial page failed to see the blatant contradiction in its warnings
against a terror victory in Iraq and its endorsement of that same
victory in Israel.
The Sun, for all its merits in many areas,
has been a disappointment on Israel, where it has not been the bracing
antidote to the New York Times many had hoped it would be.
Instead of offering columns by clear thinking Israeli writers like
Carolyn Glick, Evelyn Gordon, Sarah Honig or Naomi Ragen, The
Sun is the platform for Hillel Halkin, an endless fount of
rationalizations for Israeli retreats.
Most disappointing of all is Mortimer Zuckerman, former head of the
Conference of Presidents, who actually sharply criticized the
"disengagement" in his U.S. News and World Report.
Incredibly, he followed this up by raising $14 million in 48 hours via phone calls
to his old boy network of fellow Jewish billionaires to buy the Gaza
greenhouses, in order to donate them to the Palestinian Authority
(this at the request of current White House Middle East envoy James D.
The PA is awash in money (most recently $3 billion from
the Europeans, propelled by British Prime Minister Tony Blair) but
specifically refused to buy the greenhouses on the grounds it wanted
no money to go to Jews.
Jews have become refugees in the Jewish homeland. They have lost
their homes, their synagogues, their livelihoods. Families of ten have
been put up by the Israeli government in single hotel rooms.
Some, desperate, highlighted their plight by setting up a tent city along
the highway to Tel Aviv. Yet as AFSI's Ruth King observes: "What do
these numbskulled Jewish philanthropists do instead of helping Jews?
This is so sickening it is beyond reprehensible. It is the bottom in
With such "leadership," and the well-nigh total absence of debate,
it is little wonder that the average Jew babbles absurdities. Patrons
of a kosher deli in White Plains, New York, asked by a local Jewish
paper for their views on "disengagement" came up with infantile
responses including "It's definitely a step toward peace," "if their
[the settlers?] misfortune can bring peace then it's a small
sacrifice," "eventually disengagement will work."
Soon the blinders will be off, much more quickly, indeed, than the
recovery from the Oslo delusion. The terrible consequences of
"disengagement" will be obvious as the front lines move forward to
population centers within the old green line, world pressures for more
destruction of thriving Jewish communities intensify, the fissures
within Israeli society deepen, terrorism grows in every part of the
Land of Israel and the threat from the entire Arab world becomes yet
When the history of this period is written, the current paralysis
of American Jews, left and right, will be a source of incredulity --
and deepest shame.
Rael Jean Isaac is editor of Outpost and author of "Israel Divided and
Party and Politics in Israel." Outpost is a publication of Americans
for a Safe Israel (AFSI). This article appeared in Mideast Outpost
August 28, 2005 and is archived at
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