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Leading pro-Israel groups dare not criticize Trump lest they lose access to White House

US Politics

Several prominent pro-Israel groups are refusing to condemn Donald Trump’s choices for his top adviser and attorney general of two men who have expressed intolerance toward Muslims and blacks. The organizations’ silence on human rights, which ought to be a core value, surely reflects the fear that the groups could alienate the future president by criticizing him. And if they have one core value it is that they don’t want any daylight between the American government and Israel.

Their silence stands out because some Zionist groups are condemning Trump’s choices of Steve Bannon (White House strategist) and Jeff Sessions (AG), men associated with racism and bigotry, notably the Anti Defamation League and J Street. So the Israel lobby is cracking apart, between those who put their concern for Israel ahead of fundamental American rights, and those who don’t.

Let’s go down a list of some biggies in the Only-Israel crowd. The Conference of Presidents has had nothing to say against Trump, since congratulating him on being elected.

We look forward to working with President-elect Trump and his advisors in the transition before his inauguration and in the years to come during his presidency on the issues facing our country, as well as of specific concern to the American Jewish community including strengthening the special U.S.-Israel relationship, the rise of anti-Semitism and the security of the Jewish people at home and abroad. . .

Conference President Malcolm Hoenlein — silent. (And last year Hoenlein’s rejection of Trump’s proposed Muslim ban had to be eked out of him from the press.)

AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, has also not said a single word against Bannon/Sessions, while congratulating Trump on his victory.

This election once again demonstrates that support for Israel transcends partisan differences.

Josh Block of the Israel Project also refuses to criticize Trump. He is very worried about a Muslim possibly becoming chair of the Democratic National Committee, and about anti-Semitism, and has retweeted a couple of statements critical of the Steve Bannon pick, but the otherwise prolific voice has had nothing to say on the matter. When Trump condemned the alt-right convention in Washington this weekend, Block retweeted the Trump statement, as if it were a victory.

The Israel Project is keeping its trap shut about Trump. It only has comments about how terrible Iran is, and the destruction of Aleppo by Assad.

The Jewish Federations have also had nothing to say critical of the Bannon/Sessions appointments. JTA reports that the Federations, a pro-Israel network of charity organizations, said:

“As with every democratically elected official in America, we believe that President-elect Trump needs to be given an opportunity to lead,” the statement read. “We are hopeful that his actions align closely with the American values that we hold dear.”

Some individual Federations have spoken out against the appointments. Ben Murane offers a complete list of Jewish groups that have condemned the appointments, and those that have not (and links the silence to Jewish leaders’ refusal to condemn the Nazis rise).

The American Jewish Committee also refused to say a word against Trump. Though it expressed apprehension about the appointments, it quickly changed the subject to Israel and everything that threatens it:

[N]ominations and appointments send signals, all the more so when there is still considerable uncertainty, because of no prior governing experience in the case of President-elect Trump, about our country’s course following the inauguration on January 20th. . .

We especially urge President-elect Trump to take into account the concerns of many members of minority communities, who are understandably alarmed about the polarizing, even incendiary, rhetoric used by some in the recent campaign. We respectfully urge him to find early opportunities, both in words and deeds, to stress his commitment to the well-being and protection of all our nation’s citizens. . .

We believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship embodies America’s highest values, as well as the promotion of our vital interests in the Middle East. . .  We have long supported Israel’s age-old aspirations for enduring peace with all its neighbors, beginning with the Palestinians, and the indispensable role of the United States in the quest for such an accord. Time and again, Israel has been confronted with rejection, incitement, and attempted delegitimization.

Two people who used to work at the American Jewish Committee, Eliana Lauter and Jacob Levkowicz, write in Haaretz that the AJC is playing an access game. They note that the AJC slammed Chuck Hagel when President Obama nominated him for Defense, because of Israel, and Jeff Sessions back in 1986 when he was nominated to the US District Court in Alabama because of his awful civil rights record.

What compelled you to speak out then, but not now? If “nominations and appointments send signals,” then exactly what kind of signal do Bannon’s appointment and Sessions’ nomination send? Do you believe that your access to the incoming administration depends on your silence? Do you find the cost of that silence fair and appropriate given President-elect Trump’s dangerous threats to civil liberties?

We believe that it’s critical that we stand with the communities most endangered by President-elect Trump’s vision for America. While the launch of a new joint AJC-ISNA initiative, the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council,   is a step in the right direction, we believe the work is only half-done here.

When you fail to issue a concurrent condemnation of figures like Bannon, and now Sessions, what message does this send to the Muslim community, and all those you say you stand with — people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants?

Haaretz nailed the message on Twitter:

AJC needs access to administration

AJC needs access to administration

David Harris of AJC has had nothing to say about any of this.

The Union for Reform Judaism is trying to split the baby: challenging Trump to denounce the alt right, and saying it has “real concerns” about his appointments but leaving it at that.

Meantime, the Israeli ambassador to U.S., Ron Dermer, is looking forward to working with Trump and senior adviser Steve Bannon.

“Israel has no doubt that President-Elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” he said after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. “We have no doubt that Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is a true friend of Israel; he was one of Israel’s greatest friends in the Congress, one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country, and we look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

Alan Dershowitz of course has defended Bannon, and spoken at the Zionist Organization of America, which embraces Trump. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has put himself on the same ice floe, by championing Trump.

And again, the Anti-Defamation League (member in good standing of the Israel phalanx) has split left. It has not only denounced Bannon and the alt-right movement he represents for its links to anti-Semitism, but it joined up with a Muslim group to condemn the rightwing hatred.

So the Israel lobby is dividing before our eyes, between those who care about our country and those who care only about Israel.

Update: IfNotNow is on the case. It is resisting not just Bannon but what it calls the “Jewish Establishment:”

Yet the leadership of some of our community’s largest institutions refuse to speak up against Trump, Bannon and their dangerous policies. Some have even defended Bannon on the grounds that he supports the right-wing Israeli government and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people.

Thanks to Yakov Hirsch

James North and Philip Weiss
About James North and Philip Weiss

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40 Responses

  1. annie
    November 22, 2016, 12:16 pm

    you forgot to mention yair rosenberg phil. remember this

    for full throttle confrontation where dan calls rosenberg out on his hypocricy follow conversation here:

    • Mooser
      November 22, 2016, 1:29 pm

      Wow, I’m frightened by all this.
      What we need is a cohort, a group, of well-educated and influential and exemplary Jews who can serve as intermediaries and protect us from anti-semites.

      • annie
        November 22, 2016, 1:59 pm

        i think that may be how yair considers himself, only he doesn’t see the contradictions in supporting bannon. not sure how independent his thinking is but to be honest i have not spent a lot of time reading his writing and tweets.

        (full disclosure, he did recently write an article claiming i was an anti semite ) he’s also either a liar or google challenged because in the article he claimed (my bold and absent embeds):

        (The entire page featuring Robbins’ claims has been deleted from the site; it is archived here.)

        which is completely untrue because the article is still up and has always been up — right here:

        when i first opened rosenberg’s “entire page” link he had our old url before we changed servers, but most of our urls got changed in the transition (i think missing a html or something), but if you google the titles you can find the articles.

        anyway, he goes on to claim i am an anti semite because, basically, i have no certainty ancient biblical history is accurate. it doesn’t mean i hate christians because i doubt christ ever existed (lived as a man vs representing a very real movement that still exists) any more than i hate jews because i question the accuracy of the location of a temple. i’ve been like this since birth, my parents couldn’t get me to buy into the whole santa thing either and people don’t walk on water (although at 3 yrs old wendy was fairly compelling and i did spend some effort in my neighbors attic trying to fly out the big window but i always took off from the bed which was about 6 ft away). i’m just not religiously oriented and feel no compunction what so ever to believe every and any allegations by religious people*. period, that won’t change. everything with a grain (or heaping) of salt.

        anyway, i don’t feel too bad. if, after all these years and thousands of comments , this (and some stupid lie i claimed the israel gov was behind a murder in kansas – which i never said) is all they’ve got to try to shame me with it means they have, essentially, nothing.

        yair is sort of a wacka mole type, a gatekeeper who lures in criticism and sets little silly traps. not a big fish imho.

        *including ancient real estate oriented claims by people who are currently colonizing the region.

      • amigo
        November 22, 2016, 2:42 pm

        “yair is sort of a wacka mole type, a gatekeeper who lures in criticism and sets little silly traps. not a big fish imho .” Annie R

        Brilliant , you just unmasked Silmacuz.

      • amigo
        November 22, 2016, 2:49 pm

        “What we need is a cohort, a group, of well-educated and influential and exemplary Jews who can serve as intermediaries and protect us from anti-semites. ” Mooser

        Contact CNN. Ask for Dana und Blitzer.

      • Mooser
        November 22, 2016, 4:01 pm

        I don’t care what you say, I am going to trust the “Jewish leaders” who have always protected us before.

      • jon s
        jon s
        November 23, 2016, 3:35 am

        Noone is urging you to believe in any religion, but if you say that ” i question the accuracy of the location of a temple” , you’re questioning the accepted, conventional, historical and archaeological record. So the burden of proof is on you.

      • annie
        November 23, 2016, 6:31 am

        not so sure about that jon. hostage has several impressive arguments to the contrary in this thread:

      • Maghlawatan
        November 23, 2016, 11:20 am


        I think Hostage’s posts merit their own subcategory on the site .
        Zionism is wall to wall bullshit.

      • annie
        November 24, 2016, 4:50 am

        totally mag, and you’re not the first one who’s thought of that. ever checked out his archives??

      • jon s
        jon s
        November 23, 2016, 12:10 pm

        The location of the temples is not seriously disputed.
        (It even sounds silly to have to assert that “the temples were on the Temple Mount”. Duh.)
        That’s the historical and archaeological record, in Jewish, Christian and Muslim sources, in every conventional history book, textbook, and historical atlas. Anyone who wants to promote some kind of radical , revisionist, alternative version , has to prove his or her case. Including proposing an alternative location for the temples.

        There are plenty of open historic controversies, which I try to use to arouse interest in my students. For example : the debate over the existence and extent of the united kingdom of David and Solomon; the questions and mysteries surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls; the origins of the Bar Kokhva revolt…and more. The location of the temples is not one of them.

      • talknic
        November 23, 2016, 6:34 pm

        @ jon s November 23, 2016, 12:10 pm

        “The location of the temples is not seriously disputed”


        “(It even sounds silly to have to assert that “the temples were on the Temple Mount”. Duh.)”

        You haven’t given that much thought.

        “That’s the historical and archaeological record, in Jewish, Christian and Muslim sources, in every conventional history book, textbook, and historical atlas”

        All of which are hearsay, theory and opinion

        “Anyone who wants to promote some kind of radical , revisionist, alternative version , has to prove his or her case. Including proposing an alternative location for the temples.”

        You first, prove your case

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        November 23, 2016, 7:59 pm

        Anyone who has visited jerusalem laffs at those who think the temple was elsewhere. They are game players.

      • oldgeezer
        November 23, 2016, 8:31 pm


        Now don’t get me wrong yonah as I don’t doubt that the temple was likely where the archeologists have broadly determoned where it was.

        That said I don’t think that tourist is a comprehensive list of the qualifications of being a said archeologist.

        The real laugh is your tourist pals have no clue. Either way.

      • Mooser
        November 23, 2016, 10:04 pm

        “Yonah” who are you arguing with? BTW, what rights do we get cause the Temple used to be there?

        Okay, the Temple used to be there. That’s great. Nice to know.

      • Maghlawatan
        November 23, 2016, 11:42 pm

        The point of Judaism is not the temple. It’s how to live. You don’t need a temple to live as a Jew.

        And the temple is a trap anyway because the holy land is not defensible over the longue duree. Ask any Crusader or Byzantine.

        It’s on the edge of a very large “other”, currently Muslim, area.
        Why did the first Jewish kingdom collapse ?

        Cos they didn’t have the numbers.

        That is the Jewish tradeoff. Purer religious core. Quality not quantity.

        If you want to hang onto the land you need to go for quantity and change the rules on who is Jewish. Convert all the palestinians and maybe the Egyptians.

        But then while you win on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

        The current situation is an example of the trap. Yes, you CAN torture Palestinians, you can bomb them with white phosphorous, you can murder kids for fun in order to allow the prayers. You can do anything you want as a sadist. But what is then the point of the prayers? To get closer to Gd?

        Cruel nature wins again

        AIPAC is compensation for the lack of numbers. Money as power.
        But power is very slippy. Especially in the US now.

      • echinococcus
        November 24, 2016, 12:16 am

        Let them laffff. Serious historians and international archeologists laugh at those who assert that the location is uncontroversial.

      • talknic
        November 24, 2016, 1:19 am

        @ yonah fredman November 23, 2016, 7:59 pm

        “Anyone who has visited jerusalem laffs at those who think the temple was elsewhere”

        And once the world was flat. Beliefs and accusations are not evidence

      • RoHa
        November 24, 2016, 1:27 am

        “Anyone who has visited jerusalem laffs at those who think the temple was elsewhere.”

        How do they react to those of us who don’t know where the Temple was and would like to see some proof before we form a belief about it?

      • Maghlawatan
        November 24, 2016, 4:33 am

        The site in Jerusalem al quds ya qudsu is mystical. Probably because it was where monotheism emerged from the cocktail of ancient gobbledygook that comprised the swirling current of religious thinking in a crossroads region where trade passed freely and ideas mixed constantly.

        The nearest parallel for me is Ayodhya in India, also by the way located on a trade route where lots of ideas and business converge. Like an ancient Airport. Does the faith make the place or does the place make the faith ?

        I knew a driver in India who would visit mosques and temples to soak up the energy of all the faithful that went before him.

        By the time Abraham rolled up at the beginning of history LOLZ the site in J already had the currency.

        Stewart Lee wrote about the mystery of ancient lineage when he took on the British Royal Wedding in 2011. A lot of the mystique is quasi sexual. As is the Jewish thing for the Temple.

      • annie
        November 24, 2016, 4:47 am

        ;) don’t cha!

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        November 24, 2016, 1:12 pm

        When agnosticism re: temple location becomes accusation of antisemitism, indeed, the argument has been cast into emotional territory and a real historian plus a dean of journalists could enlighten us as to what are considered safe assumptions versus healthy skepticism versus denialism.
        I was just saying, if I’m looking at a photo of Willie shoemaker next to wilt chamberlain and you tell me that one is a jockey and the other a basketball player, I would make an educated guess. The location of the temple from my viewpoint is similarly an educated guess.

      • annie
        November 24, 2016, 1:22 pm

        shoemaker next to wilt chamberlain

        why not just go all the way and make it analogous with denying gravity?

      • Mooser
        November 24, 2016, 1:40 pm

        “The location of the temple from my viewpoint is similarly an educated guess.”

        And that “educated guess” and about $3.50 will get you a lousy 12 oz. mocha at any Starbucks. You can bank on it “Yonah”.

      • Mooser
        November 24, 2016, 1:44 pm

        “But power is very slippy. Especially in the US now.”

        And social ascendancy very unstable. And nobody owes it to you.

      • eljay
        November 24, 2016, 1:48 pm

        A Zio-supremacist can make an educated guess about who the basketball player is and where the temple(s) may have been located.

        But ask him whose homeland is the geographic region of Palestine and the educated guess is replaced by indoctrinated certainty.

      • oldgeezer
        November 24, 2016, 3:53 pm


        “The location of the temple from my viewpoint is similarly an educated guess. – See more at:

        Well I’m still laughing about it since you’ve admitted you have no clue. Change educated to wild ass.

        Some day there may be proof one way or another. In that case what happens if proof something else existing there before it surfaces?

        Bottom line is that whatever was there is not relevant to the legal owners today. Nor is relevant to the question as to who is sovereign over the territory it occuppies.

        My best suggestion to Israel is to stop stealing what isn’t yours based on wild ass guesses and pure myth.

  2. amigo
    November 22, 2016, 1:35 pm

    Off topic.

    Trumps new regulations for lobbyists.

    “One would ban registered lobbyists from working in the new Trump administration. The second would prohibit officials leaving the administration from becoming lobbyists for the next five years. The third would place a lifetime ban on outgoing administration officials from becoming lobbyists for foreign countries. The exact language of the proposals and how they would be implemented are unclear, and transition leaders did not provide further details.”

    One has to wonder If lobbying for Israel will be considered as working for a “foreign country”.

    I,m taking bets , that,s the one exception to the rule.

  3. Maghlawatan
    November 22, 2016, 3:24 pm

    If you went back to Germany in the 30s it would have been exactly the same
    In the 40s in Lodz it was exactly the same. Rumkowski thought if he did what the Nazis said they would like him. When they asked him for all the Jewish kids he obeyed because he could save the adults. He was beaten to death in Auschwitz.

    The hypocrisy of people like Hoenlein claiming that Hezbollah or the decent people in Gaza are an enemy of the Jewish people while bending over for Bannon. It goes beyond chutzpah.

    One thing I would say for the Shia of Southern Lebanon is they know how to defend themselves from predators. But they were never a court play. They are just peasants.

  4. Maghlawatan
    November 22, 2016, 3:35 pm

    This reminds me of what Finky said in Defamation. The worst thing to happen to Israel was the warmongering motherfuckers from Palm Beach and New York with their power games and White House access. The problem with power is you lose it.

    What benefit did Jews get from Netanyahu’s Iraq warmongering ? SFA

    Mr Burston has a very strong op ed in today’s Ha’aretz and he quotes Larry Derfner

    “To hell with Jewish peoplehood. There are millions of Jews, especially in the Jewish state, who are my enemies and I am theirs. I feel as much kinship with them as I felt for my fellow Americans the KKK. To hell with the whole idea of the Jewish people, we’re not on the same side, we’re on opposite sides, and I don’t ever, ever want to be on the same side with them.”
    read more:

  5. talknic
    November 22, 2016, 7:33 pm

    The Zionist’s ongoing colonization of Palestine cannot afford to lose the UNSC veto vote. It is the only thing between continuing its vile colonial pyramid scheme and sending Israel bankrupt

    • Maghlawatan
      November 22, 2016, 10:07 pm

      That is such a good point. Without the veto Israel is just another second rate country . Bulgaria for Jews.

  6. Maghlawatan
    November 22, 2016, 9:29 pm

    AIPAC and the ZOA are parasites
    They need a clean host
    But now the host is infected with the Nazi parasite.

    This is the great game.

    AIPAC 2017 is going to be a real humdinger . Because for the first time in a long time the leadership are actually going to have to think. They never thought about what the pauperisation of the American working class might lead to.

    “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to was never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.” Flannery O Connor

    Imagine how much money they spent on Clinton

    And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence
    America needs an Israel strong enough to deter its enemies

  7. Maghlawatan
    November 22, 2016, 11:18 pm

    AIPAC in nature
    The pilot fish congregates around sharks, rays, and sea turtles, where it eats ectoparasites on, and leftovers around the host species;[

    Except AIPAC doesn’t do anything for the shark

    And Israel often jumps the shark

    • annie
      November 23, 2016, 6:44 am

      Maghlawatan, heads up. youtube videos are more likely to show up (vs just the url) if there is no text following them.

  8. Kay24
    November 23, 2016, 6:42 am

    They know which side their bread is buttered. Even with supremacists supporting Trump, somehow Israel will be able to put aside their sensitivities, to make sure their aid and support keeps flowing. It certainly looks like they have been emboldened by Trumps win – they have “unfrozen” illegal settlements that were halted, and will be continuing what they do best – stealing more lands like the dirty opportunists that they are.

  9. RobertHenryEller
    November 23, 2016, 10:11 am

    Zionist thinking, in other words: “We must do whatever we have to do to defend Israel. But Jews? Well, Jews will just have to defend themselves.”

  10. Maghlawatan
    November 24, 2016, 12:36 am

    Jerusalem is the holiest of holies in Judaism.
    But in order to hang onto it the holy city has torture chambers.
    Because the prayers in Jerusalem are purer.
    Isn’t that right, Yonah ?

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