Photo Credit:
President Barack Obama.

(Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

As many of you know, I returned to live in Israel a year ago after 26 years in the place I consider my beloved hometown, Fresno California, located in the large valley that runs down the center of the state. It is more or less equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco; politically it is on a different planet. Its establishment is solidly socially and politically conservative, although Democrats have a slight edge in voter registration. The main industries are agriculture and related occupations, and there is a branch of the California State University known for its business and ag schools. Fresno was the home of noted writer William Saroyan and also a number of surprisingly good poets.

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Fresno has a tiny Jewish community, no more than 1000 families in a metropolitan area of about a half million people. On several occasions I was told that I was the first Jew my interlocutor had met. I never noticed anyone checking for horns, though.

There is a Reform Temple with about 350 adult members, a much smaller Conservative congregation and a Chabad house. There are several churches on any non-residential block, including Catholic, several kinds of Orthodox, and countless Protestant denominations.

The three Congressmen representing the Fresno area are two Republicans (Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes) and one Democrat, Jim Costa. The Republicans are opposed to the nuclear deal with Iran, but Costa is still undecided. As part of its campaign against the deal, AIPAC is holding ‘townhall’ meetings with its members and undecided congresspersons. Tonight there will be such a meeting with Jim Costa in Fresno.

It will take place in an Evangelical church, the Cornerstone Church of Pastor Jim Franklin.

This seemed strange to me. Why would AIPAC hold a meeting in a church, one which happens to be located in downtown Fresno about as far from most of the Jewish population as possible? Oh, it’s a great facility, modern and attractive, and Franklin is one of the most solidly pro-Israel people you will find anywhere. But aren’t most of AIPAC’s members Jewish?

Temple Beth Israel, the Reform congregation, also a large modern facility, located on the other side of town, would seem to be the appropriate place. But the event is not being held there, and in fact the Temple decided not to move its scheduled board meeting from this evening, which will make it difficult for the board members to attend the AIPAC event. When I inquired, I was told that the rabbi felt the Iran issue would be “too divisive” for the Temple.

You can smell the fear. This is what American liberal Judaism has come to.

AIPAC is a non-partisan organization whose objective is to lobby American politicians in support of Israel. Until recently American Jews have also supported Israel regardless of whether they were Democrats (most were) or Republicans.

But as the Democratic Party moved leftward – a move that sharply accelerated with the election of Barack Obama – Jews began to find themselves conflicted. The anti-Israel narrative formerly associated only with the extreme Left became more and more part of the conventional wisdom in liberal circles. An emblematic event took place at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 when language referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was removed and reinserted to a chorus of boos.

Now that Barack Obama has placed his prestige and authority on the line for the Iran deal which Israel (and AIPAC) strongly oppose, the conflict became even sharper. The Iran deal serves multiple purposes for the administration, such as advancing its goals of extracting the US from the Middle East and ending the era of American world leadership. It is also intended to weaken Israel, which it sees as a colonial power oppressing the real ‘owners’ of the Middle East. This project requires separating Israel from its traditional support in the US.

Obama and his people chose to play the Jew card. By presenting opponents of the deal as traitors and warmongers – and Jewish ones particularly as disloyal – the administration is trying to make pro-Israel expression uncomfortable, especially for Jews. When Obama talked about “tens millions of dollars in advertising” and “the same people who argued for the war in Iraq” they heard “Jewish money” and “Jewish neo-cons.” His thousands of surrogates on social media were far less subtle.

This strategy is having its desired effect. Liberal American Jews are being forced to choose between support for the Jewish homeland and what they perceive as loyalty to their country. The Reform movement as a whole preferred not to take a stand on the deal, and apparently the Fresno contingent sees it as too damaging to their fragile unity even to discuss. But this is exactly what they should discuss.

It’s interesting that a movement which values ‘involvement’ and ‘social action’ so strongly and which purports to favor open discussion and democracy above all, has fled from engagement with this particular issue, because it’s “too divisive.” This isn’t just hypocrisy. A big part of the problem is that American Jews have been manipulated by demagogic techniques that appealed to their deep-seated fear of the traditional antisemitic accusations of disloyalty.

AIPAC’s event will be held in an Evangelical church in Fresno because Evangelical Christians, in Fresno and in general, still have more courage to stand up for the survival of a Jewish state than Reform Jews.

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Vic Rosenthal created FresnoZionism.org to provide a forum for publishing and discussing issues about Israel and the Mideast conflict, especially where there is a local connection. Rosenthal believes that America’s interests are best served by supporting the democratic state of Israel, the front line in the struggle between Western civilization and radical Islam. The viewpoint is not intended to be liberal or conservative — just pro-Israel.

82 COMMENTS

  1. AS a Jew, I find this article untruthful. First, AIPAC may be Jewish organization, but like Netenyahu, it does not represent the majority of Jews, expecially American Jews. Some of the Jewish organizations like many Jewish Federations and AIPAC are not representative of most American Jews – they are run by their b iggest contributors like Adelson. I would think that it would be a good idea to have a debate – not a forum run by AIPAC or another partisan organization on this matter and on the Israel – Palestine conflict as well. I know that in Sacramento where I liv ed until 2010, the local Federation tried to squelch debate and objectionable opinions like those of some IDF refusniks – and a presentation by that group took place in a church rather than a Jewish venue – though the largest temple to which I belonged hosted a J Street forum a few years ago.

  2. Those evangelical Christians love Israel ’cause they cannot wait until the end times. Many I have experience with just love Jews. Love trying to convert them, love blaming them for the death of Christ and love them so much they believe in the ‘great Jewish Conspiracy’.

  3. You despicable fool . Stop Cartooning other Jews. each Jew has their own mind. You just prove yourself to be a fear motivated simpleton by doing this . There is NO uniformity to a Jewish thought despite the form they choose to express their faith. If there is brain washing . it is on the ultra religious side. The rest of us have no leaders.

  4. Why does any Christian on this site think they have a right to speak ill of any Jew…Liberal or Conservative ??? Why are there Jews here willing to speak לשון הרע; “evil tongue towards “liberal” Jews ??? Are you anti Jews??? Are Conservative Jews here waiting for Jesus to come again as well …are you waiting for the “Rapture” as well with your Christian supporters ??? Evangelical Christians don’t have more “courage” than “Reformed” Jews or non Practicing Jews. Reformed Jews and non practicing Jews aren’t waiting for the return of Jesus to the land of Israel to fulfill prophecy and bring forth the ” Apocalypse ” as described in the “Book Of Revelations”. Who is running “The Jewish Press”…maybe they are really Jews for Jesus ??? Jews aren’t “saved”, your not going to Heaven as far as the Evangelical Christians are concerned…in fact we’re all going to Hell, to burn for eternity.

  5. So true, it is sad. I hear so many times from “liberal Jews” they are ashamed to be called religious or observant like it is a bad word. They want to distance themselves from anything remotely connected to the right including speaking out against this Iran deal, even if it means the destruction of our country as well as Israel.

  6. This article, and about nearly every commentary Vic has is painfully true. Just look at the arm twisting New York Jews had to do to get Schumer to vote No. Imagine, it took the most prominant liberal Jew in the Senateheavy lobbying for what should have been a chip shot. Liberal Jews are afraid of how they will look. This embarrassment endangers the Jewish people The sad commentary is that the majority of AIPAC donors are Dem Jews but AIPAC has no problem with modern Repubs on the Israel issue. Why? Modern Dem party is so far Left and we know that far left hates Israel, supports BDS and is antiUS. how surprised were the Jews in Communist Russia who helped overthrow the Czar only to be purged and killed by the very party they built and swore allegiance. Jews are dumbest smart people around .

  7. Reformed or liberal Jews are as faithful to Israel as any people could be. I can’t believe how other Jews can be so anti-jewish. We love our religion and observe in our way. We are as religious as any other group of caring loving and proud to be Jewish.

  8. "Afraid" to oppose Iran deal? NO! "Terrified!" These "go-along-to-get-along" Jews need to wake up to reality. Once these "useful-idiots" have fullfilled their duty, they will be thrown on the "used-to-be-useful idiot" heap (until needed the next time).

  9. Barack Hussein Obama was the Mandchurian candidate highly financed by Iran and the Mullahs his teachers. Reform Jews for the most part want desperately to be White Anglo Saxon Hebrews or WASH and are desperate to conform to anything that is remote from being affirmative of their Jewishness their leaders did the same during WWII so desperate in conforming and making no noise that they left their brethen being slaughtered without daring to raise their voices even when Roosevelt left the Lusitania rejected from all ports and condemned the jewish refugees to death back to Germany … But the Reform Jews prefer to preoccupy themselves with any issue that does not involve affirming one jewishness they are and will remain pathetic servants of Barack Hussein and his cohorts…

  10. Many of my Black friends wish South Africa was as sound as 1980 South Africa now that it has disbanded into a third rate third world corrupt place….As to 1950's America, it was a great nation that had just defeated Nazism but you and you cohorts in Europe Ms. Duffy prefer the men in black robes that behead gay people and oppress women to the true and vibrant only democracy in the Middle East and wish for his destruction at the hands of these men in black robes ….the Mullahs you seem to worship Ms. Sandra Duffy…

  11. Try to read on the topic, you wish to discuss. 1980's S. Africa had no blacks in Parliament. Israel, has 13 Arabs in Parliament. Arabs in Israel attend the same universities and are treated in the same hospitals as Jew's by Jewish doctors. Ireland has a history of anti-semitism. Were you drunk like most Irish, when you made these dumb remarks?

  12. Think of the knee-trembling, Roosevelt-worshiping, gentile-fearing ( but not God -fearing) Stephen Wise and his ilk who strongly urged Roosevelt to ignore the pleas of those embarrassing, too-Jewish type Jews, who were pleading for some intervention to help save the Jews of Europe. Heaven forbid that they should go against the great god Obama and his ministering angels, the hardcore Democratic Party. Hubert Humphrey, where are you?

  13. It is also the Jewish Americans who immediately condemned the book ,Ally, by Michael Oren, the Israel Ambassodor. "How dare he say that Obama purp[osely tried to hurt Israel and to do everything he could to further the Palestinian cause and denigrate and punish Israel." "How dare he say anything negative about our wonderful president." There are a great many reasons that most American Jews are more concerned with liberal politics and being part of the mainsteam.than they are about the survival of Israel. 5 years ago there were 11,000 French Jews who cared little about Israel and called Paris "my Jerusalem" ,who are now living in Israel.

  14. As Viet Nam era US Army veteran I remember when the Reform movement decided that the young Jewish men who serving in the US Armed Forces were not worthy of their ministrations. The Reformed movement refused to send chaplains to serve these brave men when they needed them the most. Fortunately the Orthodox movement made up for the shortage and our Jewish soldiers were well served. Needless to say, since that time I have held the Reform movement, which put politics ahead of serving these young men, in the lowest regard,

  15. There’s always been real Christians and fake Christians. Unfortunately, the fake ones are the ones that make the news and history books. But if you dig deep, you will find the real ones too. I’ve met a Holocaust survivor that was saved by a Christian family, and there are more like her. And we don’t only witness about our faith to Jews, we witness to everyone. It is the best thing we have and we can’t hold it in. There’s a quote, but I don’t know the author, that says “I don’t want to force Jesus down your throat, but man, you’re really missing out.” I live in the area that’s called “the buckle of the Bible belt”, so most people do go to a Christian church. I do not know a single person that blames Jews for the death of our Messiah. And I have no idea what kind of conspiracy you are talking about, unless it is the one about “Jews own everything”, in which case, I say, “Great, I hope they do!”. Stereotyping is ugly, I know everyone does it, and in general, it’s there for a reason. But, we should still be wary of it. Right now, we are the biggest supporters you have, no one else is going to be there for you like us besides God Himself. Much love to you and yours!

  16. Let me make this perfectly clear. There is not one anti Israel leftist who speaks for me and mine.They have lined up against my heritage,my religion and the state of Israel. They have aligned themselves with forces in the BDS movement including antisemitic forces, that want Israel erased from from the map of history.They have waged a non stop media and diplomatic war against Israel and have painted a target on the backs of Jews in Europe and throughout the world. In addition, there is not one Obama supporting Democrat who I do not look upon with utter contempt. They are ridiculously naive They consider themselves to be open minded and intelligent but when questioned on the issue it becomes abundantly clear that they don't know what they are talking about. It is nearly impossible to understand what motivates them because when questioned or challenge they act insulted and leave the conversation. I've never seen anything like it. Most are highly educated yet they rarely utter an independent thought. They delude themselves that their allegiance to the Democrat party and president Obama is not in direct conflict with their support of the State of Israel. Israels support on the left has collapsed and it has collapsed because mainstream Democrats have failed to reign in the anti Israel forces within the party.

  17. As a Jew I don't respect you. There is not one Obama supporting Democrat who I do not look upon with utter contempt. They are ridiculously naive They consider themselves to be open minded and intelligent but when questioned on the issues it becomes abundantly clear that they don't know what they are talking about.

  18. A punch has been squarely planted upon the jaw of those who profess "Tikun Olam" and sit out this most unjust and unbalanced "agreement". However, unlike the writer, I take a less accusatory tone towards the Reform”Liberals”. I believe they are misapplying King Solomon’s advice and seeing a time for war as a time for peace. We Jews are very uncomfortable with war and violence. Israelis have learned to balance peace & war. In America we are split between those who love dropping bombs and those who protest for peace. American Jews like our non-Jewish counterparts are split down the middle.

  19. I think that people, Jews or not, really don't want war and so they go with whatever they "think" may keep us from war. And some think this Iran deal is a start, but it is based on faulty premises. Evil is always amongst us and sometimes the only way to getting rid of evil is to obliterated it. Granted I feel for the innocents who die in that process, but this iran deal is no guarentee for peace. If we hadn't used that bomb to end WWII what would have happened? Would peace just happen with a dictator like Hitler? I don't think so. I know people who lived thru that era and in that situation and they do not want this peace treaty. They'd go to war if it meant saving Israel and saving ourselves. WE are deluted by our government to thinking this treaty will work, but the details we keep hearing about hardly seem feasable and we still hear death to Israel and America. When are we ever going to be the proud nation we use to be. No we are not perfect, there is no perfect anywhere but we have ideals to stand up for.

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