JERUSALEM (Jan. 27)
The Jerusalem Post charged Wednesday that U.S. Jewish leaders are criticizing Israel’s policies in the administered territories not out of concern for Israel, but because of embarrassment at media coverage of events in the territories.
“Morally, they deserve only to be ignored. As troubled diaspora Jews, they deserve sympathy,” the English-language daily declared in an editorial that was one of the most scathing attacks on American Jewish leadership ever made by a mainstream Israeli publication.
Condemnation of Israel’s beating of Palestinian demonstrators has lately been made publicly by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress.
The Post did not fault the content of the leaders’ criticism, but rather their silence in the face of the policies that the newspaper said has led to the current unrest.
“More than 20 years of government occupation policy lies battered amongst the rock-strewn streets of Gaza and the West Bank. Also in shambles are 20 years of ‘policy.’ to the degree the term applies, of the organized Jewish community in the U.S.,” The Post declared.
It said the U.S. Jewish policy “was based on a handful of fixed premises: Israel knows best. Israel mans the trenches. American Jewry mans the rear lines. American Jewry must speak in one voice.”
The editorial cited the unwavering and unquestioning support of Israel government policies.
“When in 1977, the newly installed (Premier) Menachem Begin made ‘Greater Israel’ official state policy, it was none other than the chairman of the Presidents Conference (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization), Rabbi Alexander Schindler, who came to Jerusalem to endorse the Herut premier,” the editorial charged.
(Schindler denied on Wednesday that he ever supported Israel’s policy of settlements in the administered territories other than those around East Jerusalem.
(He explained in a telephone interview from San Diego that he did not publicly express an opinion on the settlements as chairman of the Presidents Conference because that organization had not reached a consensus on the issue. However, he criticized the policy in private conversations, he added.
(The Reform rabbi, now president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said The Post was either “misreading the facts or rewriting history.”)
The Post editorial further contended that “throughout these long years of what was billed as benign occupation. . . . American Jewry’s spokesmen persuaded themselves, in order to better rub shoulders in Washington, that whatever Israel’s policy might be, it was in the best interests of the U.S.”
The reason American Jewish leaders are speaking out now, according to The Post, was “anguish about footage on their TV screens which embarrasses the American Jewish community for its identification with Israel.”