The answer is, a split of some sort is inevitable, unless Israel chooses to commit suicide. A certain number of American Jews will condemn Israel for a sane policy of strength against the Arabs who seek to destroy it. A certain number of American Jews, Jewish leaders and intellectuals will criticize Israel no matter what it does, short of making mad concessions to the “Palestinians” and meeting with the PLO. These are people who already are affiliated with or support self-hating extremist groups such as Peace Now and New Jewish Agenda. No one need worry about losing these people, who represent so few people, and whose schizophrenia is so deep and incurable.
At the same time, let it be remembered that the term “American Jewish community” must itself be placed in proper context. There may be some six million American Jews (no one knows), but surely there are nowhere near six million Jews affiliated with any Jewish community! Half of American Jews have absolutely nothing to do with anything Jewish — not even giving to the bottom line of Jewry, the United Jewish Appeal. Of the other half, not more than a few hundred thousand are anything approximating “active” Jews. The overwhelming majority of members of Reform and Conservative temples are there for the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah of their children. The average giver to the UJA is a passive, total non-activist Jew. Their weight is negligible, for good or for bad.
More, the Establishment Jewish groups, the so-called “major” Jewish organizations, are paper groups, and nothing more. Their membership lists are fraudulent, most names being former members who have not paid their dues for years. A look at some of the Jewish organizations who are members of the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations finds such creatures as the Jewish War Veterans, a group of dwindling, aged poker players; Herut, which does not have even one thousand active members; Mizrachi (a paper organization that can never die as long as its national office lives); the American Jewish Committee, whose wealth is infinitely greater than its tiny handful of members. The only real organizations on the American Jewish scene are the women’s groups, and their political acumen and power are somewhat less than 1 on the Richter scale.
It is the Jewish Federations that are the real power in the United States, the fund-raisers for Israel. They could constitute a problem for the Jewish state, and indeed, most of the power brokers in the Federations and welfare funds are either wealthy liberals or wealthy conservatives who are afraid of the anti-Semitism that Israel might bring down upon Jews. In addition, the professionals who run the Federations on a daily basis, the executive directors, are invariably liberals whose knowledge of Judaism and Zionism is awesomely lacking. Because of the access of the Federations to lists of Jews who are even remotely “active” and who give whatever they give to the UJA-Federations, they possess the potential power to reach and influence those Jews. Similarly, while the temples are nowhere as large and influential as the official membership figures, the rabbis, unfortunately, do carry a certain amount of weight. They do speak to a few hundred congregants each week, and can reach many more with literature.
With all this in mind, let it be clear, and let it be made clear to U.S. Jews, that the State of Israel cannot allow itself, even under the worst of possible threats, to be influenced by American Jews, when its security — not to mention survival — is at stake. That must be the first axiom. There is no amount of pressure and no amount of loss of money or support that can sway Israel in the slightest from carrying out policies that are necessary for survival, no matter how objectionable they are to certain American Jews.
The second axiom that must be made clear to U.S. Jews is that they need Israel far more than Israel needs them. The Jewish state will never go under for lack of UJA and Israel Bonds money (which today comprises a rather minor part of the total Israeli budget). Nor is Israel without the means to lobby and persuade the American government that Washington’s interest lies in supporting the Jewish state. At worst, Israel will tighten its belt, will implement austerity programs, but even the most horrendous loss of American Jewish support will, in no way, threaten Israel’s survival.Tzvi Fishman
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. His recent movie "Stories of Rebbe Nachman" will be available soon as a DVD.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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