Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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