Abraham Foxman, longtime leader of the Anti-Defamation League, bashed Israel last night for not coming up with a peace plan and for treating American Jews and the United States with contempt. The country he has long advocated for is blind to world opinion, Foxman said; and its existence is in jeopardy now because its support base is disintegrating, and Israel isn’t changing “so many things” that it should.
Foxman, 75, spoke in a forum on Israel’s future at the 92nd Street Y in New York. He said that Israel treats its American Jewish supporters with disrespect:
I think we have signed up for Israel. Some—some unreservedly, others with some more reservations. I don’t think Israel understands, appreciates, values, respects this partner– this side of the partner[ship]… There needs to be a lot more sensitivity and education in Israel as to the value of this community beside sending checks or in a moment of crisis, running to Congress…
Foxman went on to express great exasperation at Israel’s leaders. Israel needs to “change so many things” because its existence is in jeopardy, he said; but the country has shown no sense in its dealings with the U.S., taking U.S. support for granted; and Israel’s “support base” is disintegrating because it’s not doing anything on the peace front.
Do we feel an existential threat to Israel? I do. I sometimes wonder why they don’t see it as I see it and as Ari [Shavit] articulated it. But I think we see the existentialist threat much clearer than they do. They’re so close to it.
Because if they would see it, they would change so many things. Take the U.S. relationship. It’s not that great, it’s not perfect, but what keeps me up at night is the dependence of Israel on the United States. Now if you understand that reality, then you understand how serious and significant it is in your future, facing whatever threats, existential or not. And if that’s the case, where is the sechel [Yiddish for shrewdness, sense]? Where is the smartness? Where is it to understand that you need to change that relationship, you need to find ways– and it’s not happening! It’s not happening!
So I sometimes say, What they say and what they do–don’t they see what’s around them? And they talk about the danger but I don’t think they’re acting it. If we have time, what do we tell Israel to do? Some of us see the crisis. But we don’t have any magic formula. But … if they asked me, I would say, Come up with some creative dynamic approach for peace. It doesn’t mean it will happen. But that’s part of the existential disintegration of the support base.
Later in the conversation, Foxman seemed to endorse Ari Shavit’s endorsement of a settlement freeze “because it’s smart for us to do it, regardless of whether we think it’s right or wrong.” The goal was to “remove” an impediment to the U.S.-Israel relationship. A man in the large audience (500) walked out, calling it a one-sided conversation.