web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Coffin’s Mideast Conformity


Media-Monitor-logo

William Sloane Coffin Jr., the left-wing Presbyterian minister who gained notoriety in the 1960’s for his militant antiwar stance and his association and identification with radicals of every stripe while serving as chaplain at Yale University, died April 12 at age 81. The coverage in the mainstream media was almost uniformly laudatory – as it invariably is for those who establish themselves as outspoken critics of the United States.

But contrary to the hagiographic obituaries (“fighter for the powerless,” “champion of the downtrodden,” etc.) and his longstanding popularity with academic leftists, Coffin was a man of absolutely no influence in the corridors of power. For the final 40 years of his life was widely viewed as the kind of naïve, self-styled “revolutionary” cleric lampooned so mercilessly by writers like Tom Wolfe and the late Malcolm Muggeridge.

Coffin was an archetype of the religious leader who viewed the world through the prism not of the Bible but of whatever was new and exciting in the pages of The Nation, Mother Jones, and other hard left publications.

When it came to the Middle East, Coffin was as drearily predictable as others of his ilk. In a 2004 interview on Beliefnet.com, he lamented that “the poor rabbis have a problem being critical of Israel because the congregations don’t want to hear it so much.” And he immediately followed that up by implying that U.S. Jewry pulls the strings of American foreign policy: “The only people who could save the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are American Jews. If they said to Bush, ‘We have to change,’ that would be it. But they’re not saying it audibly, and not in concert, that’s for sure.”

Coffin’s mindset was even more transparently on display in an interview, also in 2004, with Catholic New Times. The following statement is so offensive on so many levels – its condescending tone toward Jewish suffering, its confident assumption that Israel is obviously in the wrong, its clumsy but nevertheless offensive comparison of Israel with the pre-Civil Rights South – that no commentary is required:

As goyim (non-Jews), we have to be very sympathetic to a kind of persecution complex, a paranoia on the part of Jews. When a good WASP says “No problem,” the Jew says “There’s always a problem” (laughs). So, I am very sympathetic to the suffering. However, it is possible that the oppressed long to be oppressors or they naturally react that way. I attack Sharon and his policies in the name of Judaism as I understand it. It is anti-Judaism and to think that we must be uncritical, that’s terrible. So many Jews who know better refuse to criticize Israel and I say to them, “why don’t you speak up because every time I do I am called an anti-Semite.” It’s a little bit like a southern white in the 1950s being against segregation. Israel seems to latch on to loyalty and those who do criticize them are written out. No one will touch them.

Coffin’s Middle East views were of a piece with the major American liberal Protestant denominations, which almost without exception assumed an increasingly hostile tone toward Israel in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War and which nearly four decades later were leading the charge for divestment and other anti-Israel actions.

On July 7, 1967, not a month after the end of the Six-Day War, the executive committee of the liberal National Council of Churches released a statement lambasting Israel for the “unilateral retention of lands she has occupied since June 5.”

Also on July 7, 1967, in a letter published in The New York Times, Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America, made the equation between Israelis and Nazis that in due time would become all too familiar:

All persons who seek to view the Middle East problem with honesty and objectivity will stand aghast at Israel’s onslaught, the most violent, ruthless (and successful) aggression since Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Western Europe in the summer of 1940, aiming not at victory but at annihilation.

Coffin may have fancied himself an iconoclast, but on Israel, at least, he was a hidebound conformist, echoing the hostilities of his ecclesiastical elders.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Coffin’s Mideast Conformity”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama
Obama’s Creativity: Signing Bonus Substituting for Sanctions Lifting
Latest Indepth Stories
Mrs. Golda Katz a"h

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

ISIS terrorist carries the group's black flag.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Cliff Rieders

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.

For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Obama’s approach to evildoers echoes Gandhi’s fatuous and muddleheaded pleas to his “friend” Hitler

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both outspokenly critical of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Congress, were wowed by him in 2011.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

Comptroller DiNapoli celebrates Sukkot with Crown Heights Jewish community leaders at the sukkah of Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/coffins-mideast-conformity/2006/04/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: