Sunday, February 17, 2013

American Jews need to stand up (full text)

Mike L.

{This was originally published at the Times of Israel.}

Jonathan Tobin has a piece up at Commentary that concludes as follows:
If Jewish groups speak out now in the aftermath of the cloture vote the Hagel nomination will collapse. The president may not like it but the longer this goes on the less defensible his choice for the Pentagon has proved to be. The time is now for Jewish Democrats to end this farce and send Hagel back into retirement where he can say as many hateful things about Jews and Israel either on or off the record as he likes.
The great irony, of course, is that while Hagel complains about the malicious power of the "Jewish lobby" Jewish organizations in the United States, with the notable exception of the Zionist Organization of America, have been almost entirely quiet regarding this toxic nomination of an unqualified bigot for the post of Secretary of Defense.  The western progressive-left tends to think that the "Jewish lobby" or the "Israel lobby" or AIPAC, or perhaps just the Jews as a whole, have a strangle-hold over the United States government.
We don't.
It is a lie and when influential people such as former Senator Chuck Hagel promote that lie they are spreading an ideological cancer of the sort that can have exceedingly dangerous consequences.  This is precisely the kind of thing that most American Jewish organizations were created to oppose and, yet, they are silent.  Jewish Democrats today, in the various pro-Israel / pro-Jewish non-profit organizations, seem incapable of mustering the moral fortitude to stand up to president Barack Obama.   By failing to do so they offer cover to Jewish Democratic congressional politicians, such as Chuck Schumer or Diane Feinstein, who themselves remain shamefully supine before this president.
By refusing to accept the Hagel nomination without some further inquiry the Republican Party has offered Jewish groups a golden opportunity to stand up for the best interests of the Jewish people, not to mention the best interests of the American people, through loudly and strongly and insistently opposing this nomination.
If the state of Israel means anything, it means Jewish people standing up for themselves in their own defense.  It means the resurrection not just of Jewish autonomy on traditionally Jewish land, but the resurrection of the Hebrew language and the creating and nurturing of Jewish culture in the arts and cinema and literature.  What the Israelis have created is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle because they have done something never before seen in the history of the planet.  They resurrected the national life of a people that wandered the earth, lost and desolate for two thousand years.
If Israeli Jews can do that, why cannot American Jews stand up for themselves?  AIPAC knows that Hagel is a potential nightmare, so why must they remain silent?  What good are they if they will not fight the very fights that they were created for to begin with?  I understand that it is counterproductive to fight battles that one is doomed to lose, but we are not doomed to lose this one if we would kindly show a little self-respect.
Hagel is bad news and the world-wide Jewish community knows it, but the world-wide Jewish community has no say in who Congress affirms as the Secretary of Defense of the United States.  But Jewish Americans do have a say and if we fail to make our voices heard in opposition to a clear danger than we let down the Jewish people as a whole.
Something like 80 percent of American Jews, including me, voted for Barack Obama during his first election for the presidency in 2008.  Something like 69 percent, without me, voted for Barack Obama during his second election for the presidency last year.  Immediately upon securing his second term in office president Obama turned around and thanked his Jewish supporters with a nice, swift smack in the head with this Hagel nomination.
I say that it is time to stand up... long past time, actually.

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