Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jewish Leaders Have Done Us Wrong

The Jerusalem Post recently published a speech by David Harris, the Executive Director of the AJC, in which Harris, under the guise of "caring criticism," perpetuates the myth that President Obama stated in his Cairo speech that the Holocaust is the primary cause for the founding of Israel. Not only is this untrue, it also helps to feed the notion that Obama is anti-Israel, a belief that a number of American Jews seem to accept as fact. When this article landed in my inbox, I scurried to my copy of the Cairo speech transcript and found...nothing that made that assertion. Thinking perhaps I had missed something, I let it go. But then, last night, I came across a Capital J blog post whose author, Ron Kampeas, seemed just as frustrated as I was:

"Obama. Did. Not. Link. The Holocaust. To. Israel's founding.


...America's bond with Israel -- not Israel's existence -- is rooted in three things: Culture. History. And sympathy for the tragedy of Jewish history. In its entirety. Not just the Holocaust. Obama's presumption -- and it's not a stretch by any means -- is to imagine these three elements are what sustain American support for Israel: 'America's strong bonds ... this bond ... it is based.' Nowhere does he say, he has not
ever said, 'And the sole underpinning of this bond is the Holocaust.' Nowhere
does he say, he has not ever said, 'And because of this bond, Israel exists.'
Saying this does not, by any means, discount the lives of the 6,000
Israelis who fell fighting for its independence. It is plainly delusional to
suggest as much."

Pleased as I was to have my opinion vindicated, this episode also left me with a more important question--why do American Jewish leaders continue to give life to this falsehood? Do they not realize that these kinds of misstatements only help to fan flames of anxiety already present within the Jewish community? What do they hope to accomplish? While all Jews may not agree with the path that President Obama is pursuing in the Middle East, that is no excuse for Jewish leaders to be absolved of their responsibility to present accurate information to their constituents. Indeed, if these leaders truly wished to provide guidence, they could do no greater service than to lay out the facts, as they exist--not just how they are interpreted--and allow the average person to make an informed decision for themselves. A shocking proposition...I know.

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