Groundhog Day in Israel

Israel should not be in the spot it is in, without a government and heading for a third election within 12 months, an election that – if you can believe the polls – will turn out as inconclusive as the previous two.

At the same time that we see the usual stupid political ads with the stupid music in the background and hear the stupid remarks of the various political figures interviewed on the radio and TV, we watch PM Netanyahu fighting for his political life (and possibly his freedom) over the most technical of technicalities.

Bibi asked the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution, which, if he got it, would protect him until after the election. But in order to do that, his request has to be ruled on by the Knesset House Committee. If they turn it down, he loses. If they approve it, then the full Knesset votes on it.

But because the Knesset was dissolved in preparation for the election, there is no such committee. This suits Bibi because until there is a decision on immunity his trial on the indictments against him cannot be scheduled. And since the House Committee will be selected in proportion to the seats held by the various parties, it is highly doubtful that there would be a majority in favor of immunity. Bibi would like there to be no committee until after the election, which he believes he would win. Then he could ask for immunity from a friendlier Knesset.

The speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, a Likudnik, would like to help him by delaying as long as possible. But the legal advisor to the Knesset has said that it is possible to create a committee now. And if that happens, the House Committee will be created by the Arrangements Committee, which is chaired by a member of the Opposition. The House Committee will then (almost certainly) deny immunity, the indictments can be sent to the court, and a trial can be scheduled. It could even begin before the election.

Yesterday the news was full of reports of threats of legal action by the fiercely pro-Bibi Justice Minister, Amir Ohana, against the Knesset’s legal advisor. The details aren’t important. This is what we’ve come to.

I’ve said countless times that Bibi is the most qualified individual to be Prime Minister. The leading opposition party, Blue and White, is a collection of mediocrities who hate each other. The whole is far less than the sum of its parts, which are not all that much by themselves. Although it seems that a right-wing government can’t be created without the Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”) parties, a center-left one would require the Arab parties. And while a majority of the Arab citizens of Israel are probably loyal to the state, their representatives in the Knesset are not. The law requires that a member of the Knesset must not oppose the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and if the law had been adhered to, they would not have been permitted to serve.

In any event, a government by the mediocrities of Blue and White supported by the votes of the Arabs in the Knesset would be a disaster, open to Arab blackmail. There were serious efforts made to form a unity government including both Blue and White and Likud, but each side refused: Blue and White would not accept Bibi being PM while under indictment, even for a few months, and probably wasn’t prepared to join a government including the Haredim. And Bibi insisted on the inclusion of his whole 55-seat bloc, because that would be his only chance for immunity. It is hard to imagine such a government being functional anyway; they would have to override laws to create additional positions for cabinet ministers in order to pay off all of the demands of the parties. My mental image is of baby birds screaming with their beaks wide open.

A right-wing government would be most likely to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s pro-Israel positions on issues like the annexation of the Jordan valley, which I believe to be necessary for the defense of Israel, and the extension of Israeli law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which is essential to maintain their legitimacy. The medium-term objective must be to establish defensible borders. I don’t believe that the parties to the left of the Likud can be depended on to do these things.

Could there be a right-wing government without Bibi? Possibly there could be, but Bibi ensured that the Likud, at least, would remain pure by trouncing his challenger, Gideon Sa’ar, in the primary election. I think polls indicated that Bibi would do better in the general election than Sa’ar, but that is before Sa’ar had a chance to campaign to the general public. Sa’ar is smart, honest, and ideologically right-wing, although he lacks Bibi’s charisma. He also has a wife who is not an embarrassment.

And now I want to come to the point: I’ve had it with Bibi. Yes, they persecuted him unfairly – especially by way of media leaks – but he and his greedy wife asked for it. Yes, the police acted improperly, especially in the pressure placed on Nir Hefetz to become a state’s witness. Yes, the country does not reward its leaders as it should, but accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of cigars, champagne, and jewelry from foreigners with interests in Israel? The very pettiness of the crime is part of the problem.*

Bibi ought to be honored for all that he did for the country, for being one of its greatest Prime Ministers, but not at the cost of allowing an incompetent and dangerously comprised opposition to take over. There should have been an orderly transfer of leadership in the Likud to someone like Sa’ar; but instead, Bibi will fight until the end, and damn the consequences. He should have been given a deal in which he was exonerated in return for retiring. Even if this couldn’t be – and he certainly didn’t seek it – he should have retired. The state is more important than any one man, as Menachem Begin would have understood. Unfortunately, it’s too late for this.

Our electoral system is seriously flawed. What happened should not be possible. The system must be changed. Some think it would be best for the state to adopt a real constitution. But given the distribution of power and the divisions between the various groups in the country, I can’t imagine such a thing coming about, or, if it did, that it would be a good thing. Changes, if any, will be piecemeal and ad-hoc, because that’s how we roll in the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.

Meanwhile, we will go through another infuriating election campaign with all of its expense and distractions. And we can’t even be sure it will be the last in this series.

Please, may Hashem give us, at last, an unequivocal decision! And somehow, a right-wing government.

* The other charges against him are much more complicated, and include the idea that positive media coverage can be a quid pro quo for bribery, something which is not at all clear, especially if the transaction was only talked about and not consummated.

Posted in Israeli Politics | 2 Comments

Trump Whacks a Terrorist, Shocks the World

The targeted killing of Iranian war leader Qassem Soleimani, in response to attacks on Americans in Iraq and in order to interrupt plans for further attacks, unleashed a flood of reactions from almost every corner of the world and all over the political spectrum. American reactions were sharply divided, mostly along party lines. And the controversy produced what many believe to be the single most craven tweet in recent history, from Hollywood actress Rose McGowan:

Dear #Iran, The USA has disrespected your country, your flag, your people. 52% of us humbly apologize. We want peace with your nation. We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us. #Soleimani

Somewhat less embarrassing but entirely formulaic were the responses of the various Democratic candidates to replace Trump, almost all of whom called his action “reckless” and likely to lead to further escalation, or even war. J Street, the anti-Israel lobby masquerading as pro-Israel, said,

This highly dangerous step, taken without congressional authorization [actually not required – vr], could trigger a disastrous escalation costing the lives of thousands and lead our country into a devastating new war of choice in the Middle East.

A great many reactions took the form of “don’t tug on Superman’s cape because you don’t know how it will end.” Even though Iran is anything but Superman – the US is roughly a zillion times more powerful militarily – these commentators argue that Iran has numerous avenues to damage the US, and Trump isn’t competent to deal with the consequences.

There’s no doubt that Soleimani’s replacement will mount some kind of revenge attack, and it will at least be intended to kill people. But the American home front is unlikely to bear the brunt of it (McGowan needn’t worry); it is likely to be aimed at US troops in the Middle East, Israelis, or both. Indeed, the IDF was immediately placed on alert for rocket attacks or terrorism, and PM Netanyahu flew home early from Greece to meet with his cabinet. Despite this, practically everyone in Israel applauded Trump’s action. Even the editor-in-chief of the left-leaning Ha’aretz newspaper, Aluf Benn, saw it as a good move for Trump, both politically and strategically.

I think this is because Israelis have seen the steady advance of Iranian influence in the region from up close, and they are concerned that the regime is not far from reaching its goal of creating a Shiite crescent through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. At the same time, Iran has destabilized Yemen, which just happens to control a strategic choke point at the outlet of the Red Sea, and from which it can harass its Arab enemies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

The strategy – Soleimani’s strategy – has been to create and support Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria which, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, will ultimately take control of the country and do Iran’s bidding. Soleimani brilliantly took advantage of the rise of ISIS and the chaos in Syria to increase Iranian power, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced inhabitants. His goal was to eliminate American influence from the Middle East, acquire the oil resources now in the hands of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, destroy Israel, and establish a Shiite caliphate across the region. Ultimately, the acquisition of nuclear weapons would make any challenge to Iranian hegemony impossible. And who knows what longer-term objectives, in Europe or even North America, he might have had?

The destruction of Israel is essential to the Iranian plan. Israel is seen both as an outpost of the US and the West, and therefore an obstacle, but also an illegitimate Jewish sovereign state in a region that according to Islamic ideology, must be 100% Muslim. The Ayatollahs want to lead the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. Hence there are both strategic and religious reasons for Iran’s enmity to Israel.

The Obama Administration believed that by appeasing and paying off the Iranian regime, it could prevent direct attacks on Americans and establish a working relationship with the regime. But the Iranians negotiated circles around the US team (led by the less-than-bright John Kerry), achieving a deal which not only did not prevent them from getting nuclear weapons, but guaranteed that within a few years they could proceed with their program. It reduced the strength of UN resolutions limiting their development of ballistic missiles, removed sanctions – most of the text of the JCPOA is a list of sanctions to be nullified – and provided an influx of cash that could be and was used to finance the terrorist militias. It also provided a weak, easily bypassed inspection routine that could not be depended upon to prevent cheating.

Another part of the Obama strategy was to try to buy cooperation from Iran by weakening Israel, to the point that she would be indefensible (this policy was first enunciated in the 2006 “Iraq Study Report” to which Obama confidant Ben Rhodes contributed).

The administration thought it could “bring Iran into the family of nations” this way, but the Iranian regime’s goals were to dominate, not to cooperate. The misunderstanding was massive and fatal. And what is unclear about “death to America?”

The recent series of attacks against American forces and interests in the area that culminated in the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad was intended to break America’s will and precipitate a withdrawal from Iraq and Syria. And this time it was the Iranians who misunderstood. Trump was not prepared to tolerate the deaths of any more Americans. And he understood well the political consequences of “another Benghazi” or “another Iranian hostage crisis.”

For several years, Israel has been fighting a quiet war against Iran, trying to prevent its buildup in Syria, its introduction of precision-guided missiles into Lebanon, and other strategic activities. Israel has been almost entirely alone in this fight.

Now, in one blow, Trump removed a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, numerous Israelis and other Jews, and hundreds of thousands of Arabs and non-Arabs in several nations of the Middle East. Trump interrupted the Iranian plan to dominate the region, perhaps permanently. The Iranian-controlled militias in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria will be orphaned. Who knows, maybe the next step will be to put an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons project.

It is even imaginable that the removal of Soleimani will be the trigger for the replacement of the medieval regime of the Ayatollahs by the Iranian people, and the return of Iran to the civilized world after more than 40 years of darkness. May it come to pass!

Posted in American politics, Iran, Middle East politics, Terrorism, War | 2 Comments

Lessons from the Pale of Settlement

If I go to shul on a Friday evening, I might encounter a group of young black men in their upper teens and early twenties on the street. Instead of worrying whether they will attack me, I tell them Shabbat shalom, because they are Jews, and given their ages, probably soldiers in the IDF. Today it’s better to live in Israel than in Brooklyn, where I was born.

Antisemitic violence by blacks (and a few Hispanics) against Orthodox Jews in New York City, including a vicious machete attack in nearby Monsey, following several murderous assaults by white racists on synagogues elsewhere in America, has gotten major media attention.

The immediate response was that the NYPD should do a better job. Given the constraints placed on them by the justice system, which seems to be unable to hold anyone less murderous than the Monsey attacker for more than a few hours, they are probably doing the best they can. A massive increase in manpower could reduce the incidence of violence in particular areas temporarily, but is unaffordable in the long run.

And now we are seeing the inevitable backlash from the “progressive” community. In response to Mayor De Blasio’s statement that the police presence in affected areas will be beefed up, A group called “Jews for racial and economic justice” tweeted,

This is what dividing vulnerable communities looks like. Instead of investing in restorative solutions that prioritize the safety of all communities, @NYCMayor is implementing a plan that treats abuse of Black and Brown communities as the answer to antisemitic violence. It isn’t.

Police, they think, aren’t the solution – they are the problem, at least for the “Black and Brown communities.” The position of these “woke” Jews is that non-Jewish minorities are “vulnerable” and need to be protected (from police), while Jews need to adopt “strategies” like “interfaith collaboration and crisis de-escalation, as well as long-term interventions such as creating alternative safety teams, rapid response networks, and broader cultural education around antisemitism and white supremacy.” But no police, and of course no guns. For these Jews, the safety of other Jews is the lowest priority.

For total chutzpah or maybe just stupidity, though, nothing beats the group called “A Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP). Usually JVP contents itself with bashing Israel, supporting BDS and working to help Palestinian terror organizations and Iran in their attempt to destroy the Jewish state. Now they seem to have turned to domestic concerns. Here is what they tweeted after eight days of Hanukkah in which New York City saw at least one violently antisemitic incident every night:

We know we have to address rising white nationalist violence – against Jews, Muslims, Black people and all people of color – while not relying on the very forces detaining and locking up and killing our friends, family & neighbors.

It is impossible that they haven’t noticed the color of the attackers in Crown Heights and other Jewish neighborhoods of New York. What seems to be going on is that they believe that “people of color” (POC) are incapable of bigotry (this is an article of faith of intersectional wokeness) and Jew-hatred is a form of bigotry. So it must somehow be that white nationalism, inspired of course by Donald Trump, is poisoning the minds of these POC and causing them to act out violently (please don’t ask me to find a coherent argument here). But whatever you do, don’t try to stop them by force.

As someone who has read a few books about Jewish history, I don’t find any of this surprising. We have a minority of Jews living among a larger low-income gentile population. The blacks of Brooklyn have problems and frustrations, and the reasons for them and the possible solutions are not always obvious. The local prince and nobles (the Mayor and city officials) talk a good game, but little changes. The Jews are nearby, easily identifiable, and there are plenty of antisemitic ideas in circulation, fed by black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam, and increasingly by the white woke Left. Black teenagers who grew up on the street express themselves violently. Of course they pick on the Jews. And as in the days of the Tsar, antisemites can always find Jews to take their side.

The local population is generally antisemitic. Whether their complaints against the Jews are fair or not, they believe them. If they wouldn’t say that they approve of the assaults on the streets, they would say they understand them. The Jews deserve it.

The Jews, on the other hand, grew up coddled by their families and communities. It is hard for them to understand why non-Jews dislike them, since everyone they are close to loves them. Few of them engage in sports or hard physical work, and even fewer are familiar with violence in any form. They are the softest of soft targets. Things have not changed much for the Jews on the ground since my grandfather’s time in the Russian shtetl.

History can be useful. There are lessons to be learned from the Pale of Settlement that can be applied to Crown Heights, Williamsburg, and Boro Park. And here is one of the most important and most relevant:

Jews can’t depend on the goyim to defend them.

The police in New York are not the police of the Tsar. They don’t participate in or even approve of attacks on Jews. But they cannot be everywhere, and there is even opposition to their temporarily increased deployment.

Here is another lesson:

Antisemites can’t be educated by Jews.

Some people, like the aforementioned “Jews for Economic and Racial Justice” think that we can talk to, negotiate with, and educate the local community to stop hating us. We can’t. Louis Farrakhan Is more credible for them than we are. And that will always be the case.

That leaves only two options: defend oneself or leave. Many people, including myself, have called for Jews to learn Krav Maga or similar martial arts. While this would be healthy, most Orthodox Jews – especially the Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”) ones – have spent most of their lives in books and not struggling to survive in the street. They do not have the aggressive personalities or physical fitness that are needed to go with the technical knowledge to defend themselves successfully.

Perhaps it would be possible for Jewish communities to expand self-defense organizations, such as Shomrim. Such volunteer patrols cannot legally carry weapons, although they can make citizen’s arrests. But there can be serious problems resulting from legal restrictions and the complicated relations with the police. While the Shomrim have helped the police capture some of the assailants in recent weeks, the justice system apparently does not treat them in a way that deters them from continuing to commit offenses of the same kind, over and over. And of course the Shomrim are not capable of stopping more serious crimes, especially by armed criminals.

So, what about leaving? Nobody wants to abandon their home, even to go to a safer place. But as Jews –  including my grandparents – learned, sometimes there is no other solution. There is one place that any Jew can go to if he wants to enough, and that is the State of Israel. This is a problem for some Haredi Jews, in particular the Satmar Hasidim of Monsey and Brooklyn, who strongly oppose the Jewish state.

It would be a problem for Israel, too, which surely doesn’t need any more residents, Jews or Arabs, who oppose the existence of the state that protects them and makes it possible for them to thrive. But saving Jews is part of the reason for being of the Jewish state, whether or not they are grateful. That is what this country does. They should keep that in mind.

Posted in American Jews, Jew Hatred | 4 Comments

Why They Attack Jews in New York

Louis Farrakhan holds a copy of his book, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews”

Why are blacks and Hispanics attacking Jews?

I have been searching for a coherent statement by an assailant. Most of them don’t get past “f- you, Jews.” But it seems to me that they blame Jews for something, and feel justified in hurting them. The consequences of doing it are not great, so why not?

Blaming Jews is a subset of blaming others, and the feeling that others are responsible for one’s problems is popular today. There is a concept in psychology called locus of control, and individuals can be placed on a scale depending on the extent to which they believe that their success or failure is due to their own actions, or those of other people or “fate.”

On one end of the scale are those with an internal locus of control, people who believe that what happens to them is primarily dependent upon their actions (or lack thereof). On the external side are people who believe that the course of their lives is determined by external factors, and that their own agency has little effect. Here is a simple test you can take to see where you are on the scale.

Everyone knows somebody on the external extreme, the kind of person that always blames others for their problems. If he or she doesn’t get a job or a promotion it’s because somebody screwed them. Nothing bad that happens to them is ever their own fault. These people can be hard to live with. Their negativity is self-sustaining: nothing good happens to them because they do nothing to help improve their situation, because they believe that nothing they do matters; and this just reinforces their belief that “the system” is oppressing them.

Strong external locus of control is also associated with behaviors like smoking and alcohol usage, poor self-control in eating or taking medication, excessive gambling, and so forth. People with internal locus of control are more likely to be good students and to attain high socioeconomic status.

Obviously, sometimes things happen because of external influences. Sometimes you get lucky or unlucky. Sometimes it helps to know someone. Sometimes the deck is stacked against you. But at least in modern Western societies, you usually get what you deserve. A person in the US with an extremely external locus of control is usually misperceiving reality – that is, their actions could influence the degree of satisfaction they derive from life, but they do not believe this, and therefore do not act in a way that maximizes their satisfaction.

But in recent years it has become an article of faith on the Left that the system is structurally biased against “people of color (POC),” a term which includes black people, people whose ancestors came from a place where Spanish is spoken (except Spain), and Muslims with white skin who were born in the US like Linda Sarsour, and excludes Jews of any color and Protestants or Catholics of European origin. It includes East Asians if they are discriminated against, but not if they are successful.

A key word is “structurally.” The idea is that the colorless people (non-POC) who benefit from the bias made the rules in such a way that the system will help them and hurt POC. This is called “structural racism,” because it has been built into the structure of society, and doesn’t require explicitly racist behavior to injure POC. POC who believe this can complain bitterly that their problems are due to “racism” even if they can’t cite instances of blatant racial discrimination.

POC who are convinced that the system is structurally racist will be less likely to believe that their actions can determine the course of their lives. For them, the deck is always stacked. This ideology therefore conditions them to adopt an external locus of control, with all its negative consequences.

But humans like to anthropomorphize their problems. A Devil is more comfortable to the mind than abstract evil. A conspiracy is more comfortable than a complicated historical process. If society is set up to benefit one group more than others, someone must have set it up that way. And who is at the top of the pile in wealth and influence (at least, so you are told)? Do I need to say it?

I don’t, because people like Louis Farrakhan are saying it over and over, day in and day out. And Louis Farrakhan, the “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time) is one of the most popular personalities in the American black community. According to Farrakhan, the Jews dominated the slave trade, created the Jim Crow system, exploited black talent and creativity to make money while leaving performers in poverty, introduced drugs and sexual deviance into their community, own stores and real estate that exploit POC, and more.

Ironically, Farrakhan’s philosophy calls for blacks to adopt an internal locus of control, and change their condition through action. But at the same time he is telling them that all their problems are someone else’s fault: the Jews.

The idea that a Jewish conspiracy is responsible for the perceived problems of POC in the US is widely believed. The “information bubbles” that surround people today make it possible for what would have been considered extremism in the past to become conventional wisdom within each bubble. If everyone in your neighborhood “knows” the Jews are responsible for its poverty and crime, who are you to deny it?

Just as the Palestinian educational system has produced a generation of young people who will cut a Jew’s throat – even a Jewish child’s – as easily as looking at him, the ideology of powerlessness against a society designed to exploit you, combined with explicit anti-Jewish rhetoric from respected figures, has created an angry young generation.

They are punching, spitting at, robbing, or cursing Jews. They have (mostly) not become murderers like the young Palestinians (yet).

It isn’t enough to discredit explicit Jew-haters like Farrakhan, not that it would be easy to do so. It’s probably also necessary to fight against the epidemic of blame ideology, in which everything bad that happens is someone else’s fault. Those who believe that they are primarily responsible for their own success or failure – a distinctly right-wing belief, by the way – will use their energy to improve their own positions, rather than to strike out at others that they perceive as enemies.

Until Americans figure out how to do that, Jews there will have to study krav maga along with Talmud. Just like Israelis.

Posted in American Jews, American society | 6 Comments

Beinart’s Complaint

A recent news item indicates that among the candidates for seats in the World Zionist Congress – founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897 – are Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben Ami.

To tell the truth, when I see the petulant babyface of Peter Beinart, I experience a feeling of nausea. A misozionist and tikkunist*, Beinart was one of the more successful figures at monetizing his brand with his 2010 article “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” It was followed by a book which expanded on his thesis that established American Jewish organizations were “failing” young liberal Jews because they were not sufficiently sensitive to the “fact” that Israel was viciously oppressing Palestinian Arabs.

Beinart continued to write and speak on this theme, and as often happens, as time passed he became more and more extreme in his anti-Israel expression. Nevertheless, he continues to insist that he is a Zionist. For someone like myself, who believes that the survival of the Jewish people everywhere depends on a strong Jewish state, the hypocrisy of a comfortable American Jew telling Israelis to commit suicide is infuriating.

The mention of hypocrisy immediately brings to mind the organization J Street, which was midwifed in 2007 by a large infusion of cash from groups connected to George Soros (an infusion that J Street lied about until it was exposed). J Street, which also took money from individuals connected to Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to lobby the US Congress, claims to be “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” but its consistently anti-Israel actions have proven it to be neither. Like Beinart, J Street appeals to American Jewish progressives and liberals, who either don’t see or don’t care that the objects of their support are enemies of the Jewish state.

J Street is led by Jeremy Ben Ami, who is himself a study in hypocrisy (or psychopathology of another sort). His father, Yitzhak Ben Ami, was a member of the etzel, the underground army organization led by Menachem Begin that fought the British and the Arabs to create the state of Israel. He came to America during the Holocaust as part of the “Bergson Group,” in an attempt – scuttled by the liberal Jewish establishment of the time – to mobilize support to rescue the doomed Jews of Europe. Thus, Jeremy is on the opposite side of his father’s struggle.

Beinart and Ben Ami are two of a type that has begun to flourish in recent decades: Jews that make a career for themselves – either for money, academic advancement, fame, or all of the above – by exploiting the fact that they have Jewish parents to give them an aura of authority with which to attack the state of Israel. Although they have no personal stake in the consequences of their advice, they give it with a pretense of great moral weight.

Beinart’s complaint (unfortunately) no longer makes sense. In recent years, many “establishment” Jewish organizations in the US – the ADL, Hillel International, the Federation system, the Union for Reform Judaism, and others have moved farther and farther away from supporting Israel. In some cases the reason is simply practical fund-raising: they would like to be acceptable to a new group of donors who are less pro-Israel than their parents, a consequence of the concentrated anti-Israel indoctrination they have received in American universities. In other cases, like the ADL, the dominant personalities in the organizations have been replaced by political operatives with a leftist (and anti-Israel) orientation.

I think that the Obama Administration also had much to do with this, providing support for J Street as their go-to Jewish group, as well as generating a continuous flow of propaganda against the Netanyahu government. The theme was “we love and support Israel, but Netanyahu is making it a racist theocracy.” Liberal American Jews seem to have been very susceptible to this approach.

The change stood out for me when I reread Beinart’s seminal 2010 article. I don’t think that today he would be able to say that the “American Jewish establishment” univocally supports Israel. Indeed, the truth is closer to the opposite. And the “establishment” has been joined by groups like J Street and If Not Now; even Jewish Voice for Peace is being treated as a legitimate representative of a segment of the Jewish population. None of this is an accident: a great deal of money has been expended by anti-Israel foundations like the Ford Foundation and Soros-connected foundations in order to accomplish this. And Beinart himself has been a tireless soldier in this campaign.


The World Zionist Congress consists of delegates from all over the world, in proportion to the Jewish populations of various countries. An election will be held to select them this January, and American Jews can vote for one of several slates of candidates. One is ironically called “Hatikvah”; its platform is a politically-correct compendium of left-wing causes, and its slate contains Beinart and Ben Ami, as well as the full panoply of American Jewish virtue-signalers and opportunists. For those Liberals/Progressives who can’t quite stomach Beinart or Ben Ami, there is a very slightly less aggressively left-wing platform and slate provided by the Union for Reform Judaism.

With due respect for Herzl, I think that the World Zionist Organization and its Congress have outlived their usefulness now that the Jewish state has been reestablished and is thriving. Israel does not need financial contributions from the diaspora, and it needs advice and political pressure even less. The WZO should dissolve itself and turn over whatever resources it has to the true Zionist entity in the world (just ask the Iranian regime), the State of Israel.

For now, I recommend that American Zionists vote for the Herut Zionists, which – unlike “Hatikvah” and the Reform slate, does espouse true Zionist goals like the ingathering of exiles and the development of all of Eretz Yisrael.

* Misoziony (pronounced mis-OZ-yoni) is the extreme and irrational hatred of the Jewish state. It is antisemitism raised up one level of abstraction, although almost all misozionists are antisemites as well. Tikkunism is the ideology that replaces the traditional mitzvot of Judaism with an imperative to engage in left-wing social action.

Posted in American Jews, American society, The Jewish people, Zionism | 2 Comments