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All Hands On Deck

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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.

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.

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