web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 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.


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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Jason Maoz
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.

Front-Page-102414

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.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

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: