web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Israel’s Defenders Must Keep Pushing Back


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.

Schumer, apparently wary of breaking ranks, had made a difficult tactical decision to not publicly challenge the administration’s misguided and increasingly alarming Middle East policies. But every strategic policy has a breaking point, and in the face of mounting pressure from Jewish constituents and intensified rhetoric from prominent administration officials, Schumer felt compelled to publicly rebuke the White House.

Schumer’s comments, made during an interview with radio host Nachum Segal and subsequently picked up by the influential website Politico, amounted to the toughest criticism to date leveled at the administration’s policies from a Democratic member of Congress. The New York Daily News in an editorial congratulated Schumer for “stepping up” and “restoring proper balance and true prospective to Obama’s approaches to Israel and the Palestinians.”

Questioned by reporters about Schumer’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I don’t think it is a stretch to say we don’t agree with what Senator Schumer said,” before reiterating the administration’s now standard mantra about its “unwavering commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people.”

The dilemma for the Obama administration is that prominent Jewish communal, political and social leaders – most notably former mayor Ed Koch, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, venerable Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and now Schumer – have visibly and publicly lost their patience. They are no longer willing to accept superficial and general declarations of “unbreakable bonds” with Israel that are increasingly in conflict with the administration’s actions.

The most recent and likely most egregious example of such conflict came when, at the same time Gibbs was emphasizing the strength of the American-Israeli alliance, veteran American diplomat Martin Indyk, acting as an adviser to Middle East envoy George Mitchell, issued a veiled threat regarding the possibly “dire” fallout should Prime Minister Netanyahu continue defying the administration.

In a New York Times op-ed article, Indyk warned that Netanyahu must choose between President Obama and Netanyahu’s own right-wing coalition, declaring that “given Israel’s dependence on the U.S. to counter the threat from Iran and to prevent its own international isolation, an Israeli prime minister would surely want to bridge the growing divide.” Indyk concluded: “If [Netanyahu] continues to defer to those ministers in his Cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.”

Despite the most creative efforts of Gibbs and other administration officials to frame the situation otherwise, Indyk’s published threats confirm the obvious. After decades of deep friendship between the U.S. and Israel, and despite the overwhelming support of the American people for the U.S.-Israel alliance, as reaffirmed in a recent Quinnipiac poll, the Obama administration has turned on Israel.

As a result, Schumer, who for years has assumed the role of guardian of the alliance, was forced to react in a manner indicative of the intensifying diplomatic crisis. This development alone should give us all reason to pause.

Elie Wiesel and Ronald Lauder, recognizing the necessity of making known their views about the growing threats facing Jerusalem, placed separate full-page advertisements in major American newspapers, boldly articulating their disapproval of the administration’s unwise and counterproductive Israel policy. The ads reportedly earned the ire of administration officials for daring to publicly challenge the president.

In an unfortunate but predictable effort to counter the effect of Wiesel’s ad, J Street and its cohorts at the leftist Israeli newspaper Haaretz circulated an open letter to Wiesel from former Knesset member Yossi Sarid taking Wiesel to task for, among other things, having been “deceived” by “zealous Jews” who insist on “inserting themselves in Arab neighborhoods, purifying and Judaizing them with the help of rich American benefactors.”

Wiesel need not apologize for defending the Jewish people’s right to a safe and Jewish Jerusalem – in any neighborhood in Jerusalem. Additionally, many of the same “rich Americans” Sarid loathes have supported Israel through war and boycotts, and their largesse has sustained hospitals, museums, synagogues, ambulances, universities and soup kitchens all across the country.

Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer, meanwhile, called out Lauder for addressing his letter to Obama “as a proud American and a proud Jew.” Lauder, suggested Pfeffer, “should have put his pride aside for a moment and taken the advice of the Prophet Amos: ‘Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times.’ “

Pfeffer also attempted to marginalize Lauder as some fringe figure: “Now let’s try and think how Lauder’s intervention looked from Obama’s perspective. Did the president, who is surrounded by Jewish aides advising him to play hardball with Netanyahu, see an authentic leader articulating the concerns of the Chosen People, or did he see yet another staunch Republican and Bibi-crony trying to challenge his authority to run America’s foreign policy?”

Pfeffer concluded by dismissively asking, “Who does Ronald Lauder speak for?”

From the caustic tone employed by Indyk, Pfeffer and Sarid, it is clear that Netanyahu’s defiance of the unprecedented demands to cease all construction in Jerusalem has struck a raw nerve. Netanyahu’s approach and the resulting crisis have also energized pro-Israel Americans (though not nearly enough). The politically astute Schumer said what many in Congress were thinking. Thinking, but not verbalizing – for fear of political retribution by an aggressive administration that uses all means necessary to hold the line on its approach to Middle East politics (and any other important issue).

A growing chorus of criticism of the administration’s policies from its natural allies is taking shape. The American (and especially Jewish-American) public at large has a fundamental role to play in rousing Congressional support for Israel. Now is the time for those politicians who have made a career out of their professed love for Israel to speak out. Make no mistake: the Obama administration and, more acutely, Congressional Democrats, are feeling the heat. We must not let up.

With reports of the White House exerting pressure on Schumer, there are those who fear the senator has already been silenced. Time will tell if Schumer has the courage to stand firm. He and his colleagues must resist external political pressure and stand up for the interests of their constituents. They must counter accusations of acquiescence to administration policy with substantive actions rather than mere words or signatures. Their Jewish constituents will be watching carefully.

Indyk – and, more importantly, President Obama himself – must know that when it comes to the safety and security of the State of Israel, millions of Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with Elie Wiesel and Ronald Lauder. And in response to the question posed by Haaretz’s Pfeffer: Yes, in this matter, Wiesel and Lauder do indeed speak for the Jewish people. The real question is, whom do Pfeffer, Sarid and Haaretz speak for?

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.

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’s Defenders Must Keep Pushing Back”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Anti-Semitic Briitsh MP George Galloway poses with a lump on his head after being assaulted.
British Man Beats Up Anti-Semite George ‘Hitler’ Galloway
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-defenders-must-keep-pushing-back/2010/05/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: