web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Israel And The Liberal Faith


Media-Monitor-logo

There is a widespread impression that prior to June 1967 Israel was beloved by American liberals, who turned lukewarm only when the Jewish state lost its underdog status. While most mainstream liberal politicians at the time were indeed pro-Israel, the same cannot be said for liberals in academia and in an often overlooked but influential source of elite opinion – the major Protestant denominations, which by the mid-1960’s were almost uniformly leftist in their political orientation.

The late Yale University chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr., who gained notoriety in the 1960s for his militant antiwar stance, was an archetype of the trendy left-wing clergyman. Consider his offensive analysis of the Israel-Arab conflict, from a 2004 interview with Catholic New Times:

“As goyim (non-Jews), we have to be very sympathetic to a kind of persecution complex, a paranoia on the part of Jews…. 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…. So many Jews who know better refuse to criticize Israel…. 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.”

The animus toward Israel among left-wing clerics was evident long before settlements or Ariel Sharon emerged as convenient foils. 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.”

That same day, a remarkable letter in The New York Times made the equation between Israelis and Nazis that in later years 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,” wrote Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, a former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America.

And then there was Dr. J.A. Sanders, one of Union Theological Seminary’s more prominent professors at the time, who, in decrying the injustices done to Arab refugees, wrote in the liberal journal Christian Century:

“Let us imagine that the United Nations decided that, to compensate for the crime of genocide against the American Indian, the state of New Jersey should be given to the remaining Indians in the United States…. And that the present inhabitants of New Jersey who did not wish to live under an Indian government in the newly created state of ‘Algonkin’ could live in tents and camps in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. A wildly impossible event, of course, but a not altogether unjust analogy.”

To which Howard Singer, in his luminescent book Bring Forth the Mighty Men: On Violence and the Jewish Character (Funk & Wagnalls, 1969) responded, “Well, no. It is a hideous analogy…. Palestine was not ‘given’ to the Jews by the United Nations; they did not have it to give. The United Nations did not create anything new; it merely ‘legitimatized’ what already existed. The United Nations did not defend what it had legitimatized; it could not, it had no troops of its own, it was as much a debating society then as now. The Jewish community in Palestine proved its reality by soundly defeating the armies of the neighboring Arab states. What difference, then, did United Nations ‘legitimatization’ make? None, actually. The United States still clamped an embargo on arms to Israel, even though the United States had recognized it as a nation.”

Regarding the refugees, Singer added: “If Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq had not invaded Palestine in 1948 there would have been no war and no refugees….”

It’s unlikely anyone on The New York Times editorial board has ever read Bring Forth the Mighty Men, but even if a copy of the book, long out of print, were to fall into the hands of every board member, it wouldn’t help. When it comes to the Middle East, the otherwise adamantly secular editorialists at the Times write from a vantage point not of reason but of faith – the faith of liberal churchmen like William Sloane Coffin and Henry Van Dusen.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

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 “Israel And The Liberal Faith”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Obama
The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran
Latest Indepth Stories
Former New York Governor George Pataki

Pataki is the last Republican Governor to win a majority of Jewish votes.

President Obama

Obama’s desire to be “fair” enables Iran to get nuclear weapons which will threaten global security

israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

New immigrants from USA and Canada arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

“Texans share a lot of the same attitude as Israelis, that we say what we think and we think what we say, and that makes it much easier to communicate,” he says.

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/israel-and-the-liberal-faith/2009/08/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: