Abraham Foxman, perhaps the best known, certainly the best funded, of the American Jewish establishment “leadership,” let the veil slip as he began his long-awaited exit from his throne as the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
It happened at an event at the 92nd Street Y (when formed in 1874 it was known as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, it’s no longer just for men or exclusively for Jews) on June 10. The program, entitled “What’s Next for Israel? Ari Shavit in conversation with Peter Beinart, Abe Foxman and Dan Senor,” received little attention until the virulently anti-Israel website Mondoweiss reported on it the following day, which was noted by JPUpdates.
The Mondoweiss article had the catchy title: “Foxman Bashes Israel for taking US and Jewish support for granted and not coming up with a peace plan.”
Although it is impossible to know what exactly Foxman said, and how much was taken out of context in order to have Foxman appear to be in complete alignment with the views of the Mondoweiss crowd, the direct quotes are alarming no matter what the context. This appears as a direct quote:
I think we have signed up for Israel. Some—some unreservedly, others with some more reservations. I don’t think Israel understands, appreciates, values, respects this partner– this side of the partner[ship]… There needs to be a lot more sensitivity and education in Israel as to the value of this community beside sending checks or in a moment of crisis, running to Congress…
Foxman appears to believe that Israelis are insufficiently grateful for American Jewish dollars and to American Jewish fat cats.
Perhaps in his retirement, Foxman might develop a curriculum for Israelis on the art of ring-kissing, or a class on American Jewish Leadership Veneration.
Why, the nerve of those folks over in Israel, living the easy life, probably sitting out on their deck chairs, popping bon-bons and watching their fingernails grow. And then they have the nerve to start whining when a rocket or two or three hundred interrupts their sunbathing. Foxman shouldn’t bet on lots of Israelis signing up for his classes, though. Too busy dodging vehicular terrorists and whatnot.
The 75 year-old Foxman then explained to the Upper East Side crowd that he sees there is an existential threat to Israel, but he wonders whether the Israelis do. For if they did, surely they would make many changes and be…why, more like Foxman! You know, someone with the shrewdness to recognize that what Israel really needs is a dynamic new approach for peace. Because American Jewish support for Israel, according to Foxman, is atrophying without it.
Here are the direct quotes:
Do we feel an existential threat to Israel? I do. I sometimes wonder why they don’t see it as I see it and as Ari [Shavit] articulated it. But I think we see the existentialist threat much clearer than they do. They’re so close to it.
Because if they would see it, they would change so many things. Take the U.S. relationship. It’s not that great, it’s not perfect, but what keeps me up at night is the dependence of Israel on the United States. Now if you understand that reality, then you understand how serious and significant it is in your future, facing whatever threats, existential or not. And if that’s the case, where is the sechel [Yiddish for shrewdness, sense]? Where is the smartness? Where is it to understand that you need to change that relationship, you need to find ways– and it’s not happening! It’s not happening!
So I sometimes say, What they say and what they do–don’t they see what’s around them? And they talk about the danger but I don’t think they’re acting it. If we have time, what do we tell Israel to do? Some of us see the crisis. But we don’t have any magic formula. But … if they asked me, I would say, Come up with some creative dynamic approach for peace. It doesn’t mean it will happen. But that’s part of the existential disintegration of the support base.
The main attraction at the event was Ari Shavit, a journalist for the blindly leftist Haaretz, who was, as always, calling for a “settlement freeze.” Mondoweiss quoted Foxman’s response to that call as “it’s smart for us to do it, regardless of whether we think it’s right or wrong.”Lori Lowenthal Marcus