There’s been a lot of talk lately in Jewish circles about US Jews losing faith in Israel and the dangers that poses to Israel. Here is a statement earlier this year that no one has picked up, from Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, emphasizing the vital nature of that bond: American Jews are vibranium mined in Wakanda for Israel, or Bitcoin or Ethereum, a “natural resource” you don’t want to “squander” or “sub-optimize.”
“Vibranium” is a component in the armor of superhero Black Panther, who hailed from Wakanda, that made him impervious to many weapons. Vibranium was coined in 1966 by the late Stan Lee, who died this week.
Greenblatt spoke to an Israeli security thinktank last January and began by saying that American Jews are “confused and upset” by many trends in Israel, from the destruction of the two-state ideal to the bar on women’s access to the western wall to growing intolerance toward dissidents in Israel.
They are confused and upset about the perceptions of a changing democratic atmosphere in this country. Again whether you agree or disagree is not my point, the optics of trying to pressure the independent media, the optics of trying to pressure an independent judiciary don’t play very well…
And I think it could get worse. Something I’ve talked to a few people about over the last 24 hours is the situation with the African refugees. Now I’m going to say this and some people might not like to hear it, because there are strong feeling among the Israeli body politic. If you think things are not good today between American Jews, most of whom are progressive, and Israeli Jews when you start physically deporting African refugees, who seem like the dreamers in the U.S., young people who by dint of their parents’ decisions, have grown up in this country, who speak fluent Hebrew– when you start physically picking them up and sending them over the border back to South Sudan and Rwanda, all the while you don’t do the same to Ukrainians and eastern Europeans who overstay their visas– Guys, this is not going to end well…
I think Israel has the most unique, extraordinary asset in its hands, which is the support of the diaspora and American Jewry. This is a natural resource than is more precious and more unique. It’s like vibranium that you can only mine in Wakanda. And it has more value than Bitcoin or erethreum, but it is a natural resource that you will squander and you will suboptimize and that won’t always be there if you don’t manage it well.
This statement is yet another testimonial to the power and importance of the Israel lobby by a member of the Israel lobby. Lose this “natural resource” and you lose your protection in the international arena, Greenblatt is saying. And of course the corollary is the lobby thrives in darkness, you shouldn’t publicly acknowledge the lobby’s power, because that fosters resentment and/or scrutiny. So Greenblatt says this in Tel Aviv, to an Israeli audience.
The ADL’s mission is fighting anti-Semitism and other bigotries, but it mixes that job with advocacy for Israel, right or wrong. It was during this appearance that Greenblatt accused non-Zionist Jewish groups JVP and IfNotNow of being anti-Semites, and the flip side of white nationalists.