Hertzberg: U.S. Jews Support Israel but Not Government’s View on Territories

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, former president of the American Jewish Congress, said last night that while there was solid support for Israel among American Jews, there was not such support for the present government’s ideological approach to the issue of the occupied areas.

Speaking on Israeli television in Hebrew, Hertzberg told an interviewer that many U.S. Jews distinguished between security considerations in the territories–on which they totally identified with Israel–and ideological considerations, on which they did not. Hertzberg said he spoke “with absolute frankness, “and noted that he was doing so “in Hebrew, in Israel, to Israelis, “implying that he would not speak this way in American media.

He made the same point in an article in Sunday’s Haaretz in which he referred to himself and those of like mind in U.S. Jewry as the “semi-silent” voice which represented leaders and rank-and-file who were too responsible to criticize Israel openly in American media and to whom therefore the Israeli government does not pay sufficient attention.

“In American Jewry there exists today,” Hertzberg wrote, “massive support for Israel and side-by-side with it widespread disagreement with elements of the Prime Minister’s policy.” He warned Israelis not to draw the mistaken conclusion from the recent public reaffirmation of that massive basic popular supported that the Israel government’s policy is “supported all along the line–that is, Begin’s line….”

Hertzberg cited in his article an unpublished poll which recently showed 80-90 percent of U.S. Jews strongly identifying with Israel–but only one-third of them actually supporting Begin’s policies. Israel television news, in an apparent reference to the same poll, yesterday said it was conducted by the Louis Harris organization and had been commissioned by the AJCongress but that the Congress had subsequently decided not to publish it. (In New York, a spokesman for the AJCongress told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that he had no knowledge of any such poll commissioned by the AJCongress.)

NEXT STORY