Five months after Ron Lauder, the head of the World Jewish Congress, was granted a platform on the New York Times op-ed page to warn that Israel’s leadership was isolating the country through its unending settlement project and growing intolerance, America’s leading newspaper gave him the page again yesterday, this time to decry Israel’s new nation state bill and its indifference to the opinion of liberal American Jewry. “Israel, This Is Not Who We Are… we cannot allow the politics of a radical minority to alienate millions of Jews worldwide.”
Here are some interpretations of Lauder’s second coming.
—The New York Times as a mouthpiece for the American Jewish establishment has decided to take on Benjamin Netanyahu hammer-and-tongs as a threat to Israel’s future– and implicitly, as a pox on the Jewish image globally.
–Does Netanyahu care? Probably not. He needs to appeal to his rightwing base to win reelection and escape corruption charges. He’s just another tinhorn martinet indifferent to world opinion.
–The piece is significant as another marker of divorce between American Jews and Israel. Jewish Insider stresses how intentional it was of the Times to run the articles, and quotes the passages in which the old conservative Likudnik who helped make Netanyahu warns him that American Jews are not on board: “[A]s a loving brother, I ask Israel’s government to listen to the voices of protest and outrage being heard in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. As president of the World Jewish Congress, I call upon Israeli leaders to rethink their destructive actions during this summer of disharmony. This is not who we are, and this is not who we wish to be.”
–The article contains one very important concession: Israel discriminates against LGBT community. This is the exact opposite of Israel’s claims!
If present trends persist, young Jews might not acquiesce to an affiliation with a nation that discriminates against non-Orthodox Jews, non-Jewish minorities and the L.G.B.T. community.
–The article is frank about the fact that young Jews won’t fight BDS. So BDS is not about anti-Semitism.
They may not fight the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, they may not support Israel in Washington and they may not provide it with the strategic rear guard that Israel so needs.
–The article contains a howler that is intended to warn Netanyahu about his danger to American Jews, but that surely reflects badly on Jews in the eyes of the world:
For 4,000 years, the Jewish people were seen as the world’s moral compass.
Really? “Imagine being an adult who believes this statement,” our publisher commented wryly. And:
The Zionist movement has been unwaveringly democratic from its very start.
“It’s clear that Lauder’s knowledge of the history of Israel is lacking.”
–Lauder swears fealty to Israel throughout. “I have always stood by Israel and I always will.” He’s a pillar of the Israel lobby. It would be nice to get an anti-Zionist on the op-ed page, but it’s not going to happen any time soon. The New York Times serves a Jewish audience, assiduously; and Jews are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. There’s a reason that most of the last half dozen Jerusalem bureau chiefs have been Jewish, that recent hires include two pro-Israel Israeli writers (Shmuel Rosner and Ronen Bergman), that most of the columnists who opine on Israel are Jewish. A lot of the Times readership are New York Jews; and the Jewish establishment reads the Times. Remember that Jerrold Nadler said he had to buck his Manhattan district to oppose the Iraq war, and many questioned his commitment to Israel. That’s who lives there. Utah newspapers have to be sensitive to Mormons…
Thanks to Adam Horowitz and James North.