web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

All Hands On Deck


Share Button

The American Jewish Committee’s annual survey of Jewish public opinion has been released and the numbers do not lie. Down from the stratospheric 78 percent of Jews who voted for him in 2008, President Obama currently enjoys a 57 percent approval rating in the larger Jewish community.

These statistics are instructive because America’s Orthodox Jews have not voted en masse for decades. And Washington knows it. The Orthodox community’s recent paltry voter turnout — mostly the result of sheer laziness and indifference — has sorely undercut the full potential of our political clout. Renowned political strategist Karl Rove recently made this point. “In order for your needs and concerns to be addressed at the highest levels of government,” he said, “the [Orthodox] Jewish community must become a serious and consistent voting bloc.”

Our lack of political activism is inexcusable in the best of times. But now, given the tenuous state of local, national, and international affairs for the Jewish people, it is unforgivable.

Over the past year, respected pundits have consistently painted an ominous picture of inept U.S. foreign policy – particularly as regards its shortsighted approach to Middle Eastern affairs. From the eloquent pens of Charles Krauthammer, Jeff Jacoby, Jonathan Tobin, Caroline Glick, and Ralph Peters, the message is consistent and undeniable: the current administration has inexplicably targeted its sole Mideast ally, and in doing so has rendered Israel (and the United States) considerably more vulnerable to devastating attack.

Though the talking points always include the words “unbreakable bonds” or “no daylight between us,” the White House and State Department have made it abundantly clear that America no longer shares exclusively mutual interests with Israel. Many prominent American Jews have vigorously protested. Glaringly, others have not.

The administration’s foreign policy shift vis-à-vis Israel threatens to destroy, virtually overnight, decades of solidarity between the United States and the only country in the Middle East that truly respects democratic ideals at virtually any cost. This inconsistent approach has significant national and regional security implications for both the U.S. and Israel.

Through mixed messages and poor communication efforts to address the legitimate fears and concerns of our community, the White House has only exacerbated the crisis. It is telling when Abe Foxman, Ed Koch and Sarah Palin agree on an issue. All Americans — certainly all American Jews — have good reason to be alarmed. But are they?

Unchecked by the threat of political ramifications from the large Jewish voting bloc that elected him, and emboldened by the wholehearted support of organizations such as J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum and others, the Obama administration has shown no restraint in its harsh and unyielding posture against all things Israeli.

Fidelity to democratic ideals, reverence for the approach adopted by prior administrations (both Republican and Democrat) to Mideast policy, and appreciation of the unique partnership that has seen the U.S. and Israel jointly prosper through countless seismic geopolitical shifts – all are seemingly absent from the inner circles of the Obama administration.

Is it any wonder that many Jews are outraged when administration representatives repeatedly tell Israel it needs to do more for peace as Hizbullah arms itself to the north, Hamas radicalizes in the south, and the Iranian nuclear threat grows unabated?

During meetings in Washington this past week with several members of Congress, it became all too apparent that a major disconnect exists between Democrats and a concerned Jewish public. Experienced Congressional members on the left, who should know better, seemed truly taken aback at the resentment and anxiety of the Orthodox Jewish community. Frankly, it is their lack of understanding and empathy that is really surprising.

The Jewish community’s concern for the safety and security of Israel has always transcended partisan politics. So it should hardly have come as a surprise that the recent Biden/Netanyahu contretemps and the subsequent fallout hit a raw nerve. So where are the Democrats? To this point, a small handful of Congressional Democrats have publicly voiced their concern with the rhetoric emanating from the White House, but the majority of Democrats have cautiously toed the party line and remained mostly silent. Where is their strength and leadership?

Those stalwarts in Congress who share and promote our views are actively seeking our voice. Must we wait for the U.S. to abstain on an anti-Israel vote at the UN before we awaken from our current apathetic state? Is it insignificant that the prime minister of Israel was compelled to cancel his plans to attend a U.S. nuclear summit, sponsored by the president of the United States himself, for fear that the newfangled American nuclear doctrine will further isolate Israel and force it into an indefensible corner from which it cannot emerge?

For all intents and purposes, construction in Jerusalem has come to a halt. Must Israel be forced to cede control of large swaths of Jerusalem before it becomes blatantly obvious that this president has, in fifteen months, eviscerated six decades of the American-Israeli partnership by unilaterally imposing his vision for “peace”?

Is there anything that can induce the administration to reverse course? Yes — the political keys to power imparted by the levers pulled by the voting public this coming November. The Jewish community must make it clear to Washington, immediately and unambiguously, that the stark reversal of decades of unity between the United States and Israel is harmful to America’s safety — and unacceptable to American Jews.

As American patriots and vigilant protectors of Israel, our united community will use every iota of our consolidated voting weight to support our views. Though the ever-growing Orthodox vote does not carry the largest numbers in the greater Jewish community, a strong united showing at the polls will in all probability influence various Congressional races.

A meaningful message must be sent to Washington insiders — Democrats and Republicans alike — and specifically to Congressional members who so publicly flaunt their pro-Israel credentials. While signing on to pro-Israel letters is a good and significant first step, Congress has effectively acquiesced to the administration’s damaging foreign policies, and this is intolerable to their constituencies.

Our elected officials must either demonstrably challenge this administration’s approach to Mideast policy and international relations or face an anxious and energized electorate. All candidates must know their actions or inactions will be heavily scrutinized. Candidates who share our ideals will be rewarded. Those who don’t will hear from us loud and clear. And we’d better back it up come November.

Wherever our community has a presence — in California, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York — we must identify and support Congressional candidates (Democrats or Republicans) who share and identify with the views of our community. Our activism is vital to the process of gaining a stronger voice for our interests.

Our adversaries walk the halls of Congress indoctrinating members in their ideas and goals. We too must encourage those who can to visit and engage Congressional members, thereby creating a face for our causes. Be it at the home office or in Washington, we must make our positions clear. Don’t just count on AIPAC — get involved.

Community leaders must determine what methods will galvanize the Orthodox Jewish community and unite its tens of thousands of voters. Numerous Congressional seats across the country are up for grabs, and the 2010 midterm election is destined to be one of the most important in decades. We need to stop shaking our heads in disbelief and roll up our sleeves, initiate community-wide voter registration drives and turn out the vote this coming November in unprecedented numbers. If we don’t, we must shamefacedly accept the blame for the harsh consequences sure to follow.

We have an opportunity to send a clarion call to the White House that the direction of the ship of state is drastically off course. We are taking on water. The work to change that begins now. Our voice — the voice of the unified Orthodox Jewish community — has not nearly realized its potential. The eyes of history are watching. All hands on deck.

Share Button

About the Author: Chaskel Bennett is a writer, respected activist and member of the Board of Trustees of Agudath Israel of America. He can be contacted at chaskelbennett@gmail.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.

No Responses to “All Hands On Deck”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Chaskel Bennett
Bennett-071312

A watershed moment took place in Brooklyn last month on primary night. Those who care about private school education should sit up and take notice.

Bennett-042012

The recent shooting of four police officers in the normally tranquil Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn (bringing the total to eight cops shot so far this year) has confirmed a dangerous double standard that threatens the safety of police officers and all New Yorkers throughout New York. It must be confronted.

Another horrific terrorist attack is perpetrated in Israel and we knew what to expect. A statement of outrage and condemnation from the White House, regrets from the Palestinian Authority, and from the UN a call for all sides to exercise restraint and remain committed to the (non-existent) “peace process.”

In short, yet another exercise in futility if ever there was one.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally left the U.S. after a week of exhausting, and surprising, diplomatic highs and lows, a number of unsettling questions were left in his wake.

High praise and gratitude are due Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD’s intelligence Division for their extraordinary work in again uncovering and preventing a plot by Muslim fanatics to unleash terror against religious targets.

Last week’s historic “shellacking” suffered by the Democrats was a stark and humbling reminder to all elected officials of whatever party that they serve at the will of their constituents.

As millions of gallons of oil continue to leak into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the impatience and helplessness of Americans continue to grow. Never before has such a significant issue relating to our country’s environmental health been at the mercy of a faulty valve. This unprecedented experience has humbled engineers, scientists and bureaucrats alike.

After months of uncharacteristic silence, New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer, finally voiced his concerns – and it could not have come at a more crucial time for American-Israeli relations.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/all-hands-on-deck/2010/04/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: