The annual conference of the Jewish Federations, the largest American Jewish communal organization, will be in Israel next month. The Forward’s Larry Cohler-Esses reports that the assembly will take up a lot of political issues but is avoiding all discussion of the occupation– which its leader declines to characterize as an occupation. Headline: “Debate Occupation? No Thanks, We’re Jewish.”
Another chapter in the tragedy of the American Jewish community. Let’s be clear, these folks are not just tuning out Palestinians (i.e., demonstrating racism), they’re ignoring all the Beinarts, the liberal Zionists. Cohler-Esses:
During a recent visit to the Forward’s newsroom, Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, … said [that the] GA’s 2013 program, he stressed, will emphasize the group’s openness to “dialogue” and “questions,” particularly from young Jews, with no holds barred.
“We need new thinking, new minds around the table,” emphasized Silverman, a former senior executive with the Stride Rite Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co.
But asked if the confab — one of the most important on the Jewish calendar — would include any discussion of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Silverman vigorously shook his head. His body language told a story of its own as he held his hands out in front of him as if pushing something away.
“I don’t use the word ‘occupation,’” he said. “We as an organization don’t get into the political arena.”
Yet on its website devoted exclusively to the GA, JFNA boasts that the gathering “tackles the most critical issues of the day” and brings together Jews “from North America and Israelis from across the political spectrum to discuss issues facing Israel.”
Cohler-Esses shows that the General Assembly will have many panels focusing on political questions, the delegitimization of Israel and how to make the case for Israel in the U.S. Ignoring the causes of that delegitimization.