Eric Yoffie, the liberal Zionist rabbi who defended the Gaza slaughter, has a chilling editorial up at Haaretz, titled, “Heading toward an irreparable rift between U.S. Jews and Protestants,” suggesting that 15 church leaders who have called for a congressional investigation of aid to Israel are anti-Semites. The world hates Jews and always has, so you have no standing, Yoffie is saying. You Protestants were silent during the Holocaust and again when Israel needed support in 1967 (a cakewalk started by Israel, with disastrous political results).
And Yoffie seeks to circle the wagons in the American Jewish community by commanding us that we are all for giving US aid to Israel no matter what happens in the West Bank– apart from some fringe groups.
There have always been ups and downs in the relations between mainline Protestants and American Jews, but they have now hit a 45-year low. And this time, they may not recover….
Criticism of settlements [the basis of the Protestants' letter] is completely legitimate; I am an outspoken settlement critic myself. But the Protestant leaders made no effort to include in their letter words that might have reassured Jews and others that this effort was not motivated by hostility to Israel. They could have expressed the hope that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table in the days ahead. They could have said that just as the Jewish people must welcome the Palestinian people as neighbors in a sovereign Palestinian state, so too must the Palestinian people welcome the Jewish people as neighbors in a sovereign Jewish state. They could have said that just as a two-state solution will require Israel to radically change its settlement policy, so too will it require the Palestinians to renounce the Right of Return and to declare the conflict with Israel over—once and for all.
But the Protestant leaders did none of these things. And by failing to do so, they aroused all of the suspicions that exist in the Jewish community about the real intentions of the letter.
To be sure, no matter what the wording, Jewish leaders would never agree to a reduction of American aid to Israel. Except for a few fringe groups, this is a consensus position of the Jewish community.
My friend Ilene Cohen has this highly-perceptive take on Yoffie’s comments, and his arrogance about who has a right to have an opinion:
Per Yoffie and the others like him, there are strict rules. Only they may criticize the settlements and then with the clear understanding that such criticism is not a call for consequences. More than half a million settlers illegally occupy stolen Palestinian land (that elusive, future Palestinian state), part of a settlement program that has been ongoing for forty-five years (without criticism by Yoffie for most of that period), leaving Palestinians to struggle to survive under military occupation. (Just last week, Palestinian high school students couldn’t take the SATs because the Israelis wouldn’t release the tests—to cite one of the more absurd facts that constitute the occupation.)
But again—here’s the key—nobody’s allowed to do anything about it—not use leverage with the EU, not use BDS, not call on the US to withhold funds, not engage in noviolent resistance if you’re in Palestine. Because all of that “delegitimizes” the occupier and hurts the feelings of American Jews. Boo-hoo.
The implicit message that the Palestinians are not entitled to resist is, I think, deeply offensive given who the guilty party is.
So doesn’t Israel deserve to be delegitimized? Think about it—had its best friends told them the truth long ago—that stealing Palestine, obliterating the Green Line, and setting the border of Israel at the Jordan River was not going to end up eventually legitimized the way the 1949 armistice line (the Green Line) was—they might not be in the pickle they’re in today, as an increasingly isolated state that lives from war to war.
Bottom line: people like Yoffie are very, very worried for Israel. But Netanyahu apparently hasn’t a care in the world over the matter of the occupation: just this week, he reaffirmed his commitment to continuing to colonize occupied East Jerusalem.
The Cassandras among his friends in America are obviously not getting through to him. And, worse, they’re not even offering anything that resembles a solution, except hysteria that we’ve got to return to negotiations over that pie in the sky—the 2SS. They don’t understand that Netanyahu has already euthanized it.