JCPA must practice civility


To the Editor:

The narcolepsy induced by ceaseless politically correct blather at meetings of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish establishment’s policy arm, has yielded to hyper-vigilance about one issue: Israel. Communal dissension has become so rambunctious that JCPA conducted a yearlong campaign to engender “civility” and urged rabbis to preach it in High Holidays sermons.

One benefit: less left-wing pulpit moralizing. Angst about fragmentation is encapsulated in one rabbi’s comment at JCPA’s 2010 convention: “Nothing less than the Jewish people is at stake.”

The cause isn’t mysterious: A confident Zionism has morphed within some left-wing circles into a contrary vision. Revelations about the leftist New Israel Fund are indicative. WikiLeaks reported an NIF meeting with U.S. diplomats at which NIF trashed the integrity of Israel’s inquiry into Operation Cast Lead and a ranking official said publicly that an Arab Israel was no cause for anxiety because “it would be more democratic than a Jewish one.” This is treason to traditionalists.

“Civility” can’t bridge chasms. Existential questions demand vigorous debate. Elevating “civility” is a transparent stratagem by the Jewish left to shield statements like the NIF’s from deserved censure. The establishment plays the same game when it refuses to debate opponents on immigration policy — next to Israel, its holy of holies. It prefers to evade questions through vilification, seeking to silence opponents, labeling them racists and xenophobes rather than risk defeat.

Before JCPA gives rabbis marching orders, it should practice what it preaches.

Dr. Stephen Steinlight
Senior Policy Analyst
Center for Immigration Studies
Washington, D.C.

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