This happened a couple of months ago in the Jewish establishment, but it needs to be reported. Dov Lipman is a former member of the Israeli Knesset, and an orthodox rabbi who moved to Israel 13 years ago from suburban Washington. He tells American Jews they should shut up about Israeli security policies — meaning, how Israel deals with Palestinians — but use their “tremendous power” to push the Israeli government to allow greater access of Jews to the Western Wall.
Lipman is with Yesh Atid, the party of centrist Yair Lapid. He criticizes the Netanyahu government openly in Israel, but closes rank when he’s overseas. And “I don’t think it’s right” for American Jews to criticize Israeli policy.
I can tell you that both as a politician in Israel, and also as a citizen of Israel, as a father of a soldier in Israel, I do feel discomfort when I hear Diaspora Jews standing up in a very public way and putting down the policies of a government which I actually disagree with– but in a very public way.
I feel that we as a people– there’s a democratically-elected government in Israel. We can like it, we can dislike it. But to have many many voices around the world and create lots of questions in a public forum, I personally feel it’s the wrong thing.
I feel that we have to stand up in a public forum and stand with the government of Israel.
Again, behind closed doors, lobbying our congressmen, whatever form anybody wants, of course, people should voice their opinions. That’s important for people to do. But when it comes to security issues and the pressing major political issues, I really do believe, and by the way, you will hear this almost from wall to wall in the Knesset, right wing, left wing– just a discomfort when we hear very loud voices sort of putting us in corners, around the world from the broader Jewish community….
Lipman said that includes rightwing Jews at the Israel parade in New York pushing for more aggressive policies.
From all spectrums– I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s right for a North American Jewish organization to be telling me…. pressing me into corners and telling me what we should do or shouldn’t do, when someone is sitting over here. I don’t think it’s the right thing.
Lipman says that American Jews should use their “tremendous power” and openly criticize the Netanyahu government on access to the western wall.
There’s a tremendous power in North American Jewry and North American Jewry’s leadership, and that voice needs to be even louder and the pushback even further.
When Lipman says that American Jews are “sitting over here,” he means that American Jews’ children are not serving in the army. This is the old omerta on American Jews speaking up against Israel; I’ve heard it from neoconservatives Michael Makovsky and Bill Kristol. Our lives are not on the line. I wish they felt that way about the Arabs whose countries they’ve pushed the U.S. to invade!
It’s amazing to me that Lipman was granted a platform by the American Jewish Committee (along with two other liberal Zionists) to talk about the growing rift between American Jews and Israel, but that no American representatives of that break are included. No one from IfNotNow or Jewish Voice for Peace. No anti-Zionists. That’s because Israel has a higher place in the world of the organized Jewish community.
Though as Lipman himself noted, Israel is becoming a divisive topic for American Jews. (He says he met a Reform rabbi who got a job offer in Pennsylvania and the contract said she could not talk about Israel from the pulpit. He says she refused the clause; and got the job anyway.)
Lipman grew up in Silver Spring, MD, in a religious community. He became a rabbi and taught at the yeshiva he’d studied in as a boy. Then he moved to Israel in 2004.