Challenging the Leftist Domination of the Jewish Community

By Allon Friedman and Elliot Bartky, AMERICAN THINKER

Change is in the air. From the toppling of Middle East potentates to the Tea Party’s dramatic rise to the recent historic public employee union legislation enacted across the Midwest, things suddenly seem to be turned on their heads. And from the unlikely location of central Indiana a new model has arisen for Jews whose unequivocal support for Israel and America has hitherto been marginalized.

The Establishment of JAACI

With the withdrawal of B’nai Torah’s JCRC membership, the long smoldering fire of pent-up frustration quickly ignited and spread to other congregations, community organizations, and individuals not only in Indianapolis, but throughout Jewish communities in Indiana. B’nai Torah’s last representative on the JCRC, Elliot Bartky, spoke with a broad segment of the Jewish community around the state who shared B’nai Torah’s frustration and were convinced of the need to start a new statewide Jewish organization unequivocally committed to Israel’s defense and the promotion of traditional Jewish and American values. From these discussions the Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana (JAACI) was born.

In contrast to the JCRC, JAACI was established to advocate primarily on issues directly related to the security and well-being of the Jewish people and Israel. In a span of a few months, this governing philosophy has garnered the support of the majority of Jewish congregational leaders in Indianapolis, the majority of rabbis in Indiana, as well as congregants from Indianapolis’ Reconstructionist, Conservative, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogues. In addition to its unequivocal support for Israel, JAACI’s stance on political, economic and social issues is shaped by traditional Jewish values and the enduring principles of the American Republic.

The moment JAACI was established it hit the ground running. In less than five months it has achieved a number of notable successes. Its initial goal was to begin forging relationships and friendships with Indiana politicians regardless of their political affiliation. Its first scheduled event, held shortly before the historic 2010 election, was a forum entitled The Future of Indiana: Challenges and Opportunities, A Legislator’s Perspective featuring Indiana Republican House Minority Leader Representative Brian Bosma. Representative Bosma expressed his appreciation to JAACI for the opportunity to address Indianapolis Jews, noting this was the first time he had heard a point of view from the organized Jewish community so strongly in support of traditional Jewish and American principles. As it turned out, the Republicans ultimately took control of the Indiana state government and Representative Bosma became Speaker Bosma. Soon after the new legislature was sworn in, Speaker Bosma invited JAACI’s halachic advisor, Rabbi Yisrael Gettinger, to give the opening invocation for the new legislative session. This was the first time a rabbi had been accorded such an honor in Indiana’s history. He was subsequently honored with an invitation for a second invocation address, this time for a session of the State Senate. Both addresses were received with much enthusiasm and support.

JAACI is now regarded by the Indiana House and Senate leadership as the “go-to” Jewish organization in Indiana, and they have consulted with JAACI on a number of issues of concern to the Jewish community. A highly contentious and priority issue in this year’s legislative session was the introduction of bills promoting educational reform through new opportunities for public charter schools and school vouchers, allowing students to attend any school of their choice. In previous years the JCRC was one of the most outspoken opponents of such bills, premising its stance on “Jewish” values. This year, however, JAACI was invited to testify before the House on this matter, during which they expressed strong support for the bill, which could strengthen formal Jewish educational opportunities in Indiana. JAACI has also been consulted by the House and Senate leadership on other social, political, and economic issues. Although it has not testified on all the issues where its input was sought it has clearly become a voice state leaders are interested in hearing.

JAACI members also penned a number of essays for local and regional publications. One of them, initially published in the Indianapolis Star, was later picked up by Daily Alert, an internet publication of The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and subsequently disseminated widely throughout the blogosphere.

But certainly JAACI’s crowning achievement was crafting and helping organize support for a bipartisan, concurrent pro-Israel resolution that unanimously passed both chambers of the Indiana Legislature. Co-authored in the House by Speaker Bosma (R) and Rep. Ed DeLaney (D) and in the Senate by Senator Mike Delph (R), the resolution expresses “steadfast commitment” and support by the State of Indiana for Israel, its “greatest friend and ally” in the Middle East. It also supports Israel’s right to act in self-defense and strongly criticizes attempts by the UN, various nations, and other actors to harm or delegitimize Israel. To our knowledge, this is the first resolution to be passed by any state that expresses full support for Israel without directly addressing the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The JAACI Experience and American Jewry

Does the JAACI experience offer any lessons to American Jews for whom the New Jewish Agenda is a hollow, misguided, and ultimately self-destructive construct? We believe it does, and here are some of them:

    * 1. There is no inevitability to the New Jewish Agenda dominating the discourse within and beyond American Jewish communities. Even in a modestly-sized Jewish community such as Indianapolis, a handful of capable, motivated individuals (without any budget to speak of) have been able in a matter of months to completely rewrite the Jewish political landscape. We believe the time is ripe for concerned, informed, and determined Jews to begin to similarly challenge the status quo agenda that exists in many communities around the nation.

    * 2. Politicians are impressed with groups that take pride in and make no apologies for who they are and what they stand for. Hillel’s aphorism “if I am not for myself, who am I?” is a lesson that many Jews need to relearn. Including a spiritual leader(s) or advisor(s) may also strengthen the authoritative nature of such an organization’s positions, especially if they are well respected.

    * 3. We have more friends than we often realize. There are many excellent reasons why the large majority of Americans love Israel. Politicians are no exception. While it is our duty to constantly educate the public on why Israel remains of vital interest to the US, many non-Jews are not only aware that supporting Israel makes sense from a moral, economic, technological, civilizational, and geopolitical stance, but feel fulfilled when doing so. We just have to give them the opportunity.

There are Jews who have criticized us on the grounds that we are dividing the Indianapolis Jewish community. To those individuals we say: our sole intention is to promote Jewish values, ensure the survival of the Jewish people, and strengthen the Jewish state of Israel. We very much look forward to the day when we can combine forces with a local JCRC that shares these priorities. Until that day comes, we will do everything in our power to achieve our goals. We also look forward to seeing many similar-minded individuals around the nation follow our lead.

April 10, 2011 | 9 Comments »

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  1. B’nai Brith use to be the best organization out there to go to if there was anti-semitic ramblings in the community. I live in Sonoma County, California where unfortunately nothing would be done to threats, vandalism, even teaching Holocuast Denial in the local junior high school. Even the JDL refused to take the matter up. The local Jewish Federation leadership wouldn’t help. Just a few of us parents took matters into our hands. This was in early 2001. Today we have leaders who support Ham-Ass and PLO instead of Israel and Jews yet they call themselves Rabbis. Meanwhile there is an exodus of Jews leaving the US and going to Israel for this very reason.

  2. I am from Florida and have watched as Obama ..”threw Israel under the Bus” it is about time that people of the Jewish Faith wake up and see that we are hurting each other and Israel as well if we stand by the Democratic Party , who will not stand with the Jews.. or Israel.. Just because we all were raised by our Parents as die hard Democrats and we all could not stand The Bush’s, does not mean that we cannot change, when we see or realize that we are all on the wrong side.. I also believe in Hillel’s aphorism ,” If I am not for myself, then who am I”? We must watch what a Community like this does, and then all band together or we will never have any strength in our vote or our Voice in America.

  3. Joe: It is “music to my ears” to read about your feelings (as a non Jew) for the State of Israel,
    when so many idiotic Jews on the left either don’t care or are actively against what that
    great country stands for. Now, that it has been about 67 years since my LST (Landing ship)
    touched the sands at Tacloban and discharged our troops on the Island of Leyte to begin
    taking back your country from its invaders, I feel that this is truly some kind of payback.

  4. Three cheers. Many Jewish organizations are dominated by the Left, and promote a leftist agenda, including anti-Israel policies. Many chapters of Hillel are this way, and work with leftist groups, Arabs and Muslims against Israel. It is great to see Jewish groups emerging that have an unabashedly Jewish agenda, and are not arms of the Democratic Party or worse.

  5. Bravo Indiana Jews!

    “Elite”rich Jewish organization have dominated Jewish communities and not helped their own people, while collecting huge salaries.
    It is long overdue to get rid of them, since they are a detriment to Jews and Israel. They are a selfish bunch who are only interested to
    milk Jewish communities and are often against Israel. Israel desperately needs our support, all my respect goes to Indiana Jews who formed
    their own organization of proud Jews.
    I live in New York and give the local Jewish organizations an-F.

  6. It’s long overdue that the Jews whose very cultural and religious roots have been founded upon the very words of God in the Bible finally realize that the Left (and most, if not all of the Democrats and the Liberals) have had quite a very long free ride upon the back of unsuspecting Jews. Put simply traditional Jewish values and today’s liberalism (JFK by today’s standards would be a fiscal and cultural conservative) are at odds and why Jews have flocked in droves to the Democrats is a mystery for me. But thanks to President Obama who has unashamedly shown what Liberals really stand for, and especially in the case of Israel, Jews are realizing that the Left has no love for the Jews or Israel.

    I’m not Jewish(originally from the Philippines) but I’m a big supporter of Israel and the drama of good vs evil is played out very clearly in no other place other than in Israel. If a small country of a little over 6 million people have been able to withstand multiple attacks against much bigger enemies (and against all odds) for so long and prosper, shouldn’t any rational person conclude that there is Divine intervention involved here?

    My prayers are for Jews to wake up politically and may the God of Avraham, Yits?ak, and Yaakov bless the JAACI and its leadership.

  7. It’ll be tough to round up the alta cockas from the rest homes. If it was me I’d serve prunes and metamucil as hors d’oeuvres.

  8. There are Jews who have criticized us on the grounds that we are dividing the Indianapolis Jewish community.

    In other words, the left wants to monopolize the voice of the Jewish community.