In The Wall Street Journal, Marty Peretz says that Jonathan Pollard is a scoundrel, but Barack Obama is indifferent to Jewish history and persecution.
I believe that Mr. Obama does exhibit a certain disdain for the Jewish state—an indifference to and ignorance of the incandescence of Jewish history. “When the chips are down,” said the president to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last March, “I have Israel’s back.” The whole lesson of Zionism, a good and truthful lesson, is that no one but Jews can be relied on to have Israel’s back. No American troops desired, no American troops required. No Americans should die for Israel. Too many have died for Afghanistan already, a country which we will in any case leave in the deadly lurch.
This is the historical error of Zionism. No one community can depend only upon itself. That’s crazy. It won’t work. World opinion is simply too significant a force in all our lives today. We are interdependent.
Also, if Jews are really alone, how come Marty Peretz gets a platform in the Wall Street Journal? The question raises a corollary problem: we must build an Israel lobby. If Israel can only count on Jews, and Americans won’t be there for Israel when the chips are down, well then, American Jews must build a lobby to sway American political leaders.
Alan Dershowitz in Chutzpah:
My generation of Jews was too young to fight against Nazism or for Israeli independence, too American to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel), too comfortable to put our bodies on the line for anything Jewish. Instead, we observed, contributed…We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy.
Irving Kristol, 1973:
Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States… American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.
Avraham Burg, 2008, at the NY Public Library, marveling at what Jews produced:
When you look around the Jewish existential reality, you realize that actually the Jewish people built two structures. One is the semi-autonomous American Jewry, which was not here 150 years ago– powerful influence, access to the corridors of power, impact on the culture, and civilization… plus the infrastructure of the community of solidarity and fraternity and support system and education etc and also the sovereignty over there in the Middle East.
The Jewish struggle seems to me to be a struggle to reconcile Burg’s pride in Jewish achievement with a sense of accountability to the world community.