Mainstream Jewish Organizations: A Lack of Leadership

By Jerrold Sobel

Once again my mailbox is stuffed with donation solicitations from some major Jewish organizations. Most of you that ever sent at least chai; $18.00 to the ADL, AJC, B’nai B’rith, Hillel, or countless others know what I’m talking about. What I find disturbing about their fund raising is, that it’s fund raising for fund raising’s sake alone. It’s never a call to action. Their promotions always go the same way:

Somebody, somewhere, has done or is doing something bad to the Jewish people and by parting with anything from $18.00 to the sky’s the limit, this or that group will fight the good fight for the cause. Not that I begrudge them their shekels, what I begrudge is their lack of leadership, their failure to unify Jews and their Christian friends into a cohesive political movement. It’s one thing to tell of Jewish students being intimidated and denied equal access at a Rutger University public event and another to do something about it.

Rather than forcefully galvanize the community at large to combat anti-Israel/anti-Semitic outrages against Jewish students in the university system, they meekly approach the problem with what they are best at, pontification, then go on with business as usual. Rarely, if ever, is a major Jewish spokesperson seen protesting anti-Israel bias in mainstream media. Activism such as organizing busloads of people to peacefully march in protest at one of these colleges where only the Arab side of the Middle East conflict is taught; where Jewish students are harassed; where Jewish speakers are shouted down or dis-invited, never seem to be an option. Activism such as this would take some chutzpah, some leadership. These advocates fare no better on the international scene and their defense of Israel.

Always well behaved, but with the exception of the ZOA, not one mainstream organization has shown a predilection to admonish this Administration for its ceaseless pressure on Israel to commit political suicide. Except to the willfully blind, land for peace has been an abject failure that has resulted in nothing but death and casualties to the Israelis. To continue ceding land to a potential Palestinian state sworn to her destruction would be insanity for any government. A Palestinian state, if created today would be born into war with the State of Israel. What other nation in the world would be asked to create and recognize such a hostile entity?

The settlement issue, Jerusalem, the right of return, Israeli security in the Jordan valley, all irreconcilable issues in their own right, yet pale in comparison to the PLO’s anti-Semitic incitement of its population. As the murder of the Vogel family this week will attest, a population that has been taught to hate Jews and despise Israel. A constituency fomented by Abbas and his PLO, a quasi government not democratically elected to represent them. A society which immortalizes mass murderers such as Abu Jihad that hijacked and killed 37 people on a bus. All this to the backdrop of a Middle East, unsettled and up in flames. A region increasingly distrustful of the United Stated and rapidly falling within the Iranian sphere of influence. Yet rather than scream bloody murder against the absurd policies and the Palestinian bias of this Administration, by their public silence, mainstream Jewish organizations have given credence to it. As they go around delivering fund raising speeches at $500.00 a plate, perhaps Israel would be better served if their donors were apprised of the relentless coercion and suicidal pressure Obama is fostering upon Israel. Unfortunately, don’t expect this to happen too soon.

Last week, at the conclusion of a supposed closed door meeting with President Obama, chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, heading the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations deemed the meeting an “an extraordinary session.” What was so extraordinary about it? They claimed it “opens lines of communication with President Obama and his administration” and an “opportunity to articulate the views of American Jews on issues that face the country.” Wow, that’s powerful. As has become his mantra, Obama once again pledged his loyalty to the State of Israel, her security, and avowed to fight efforts to delegitimize her. Unfortunately, despite these niceties, he made no bones that the road to peace rests squarely through Jerusalem….. Israel’s security?

With the same assurances he gave Mubarak, Obama would guarantee the peace treaty with NATO troops stationed in a demilitarized zone in the Jordan Valley. We all know how well that’s worked out around the world when peacekeepers start returning home in body bags. In the name of peace at any price, President Obama has had no compunction cajoling Israel to return to what Abba Eban referred to as the Auschwitz line, the 1949 indefensible armistice line. A pseudo border, only nine miles between a hostile Palestinian state and the sea. Think of it, nine miles, some people travel further for their groceries.

As the meeting progressed, the participants dutifully thanked the president for his recent veto at the U.N. but were perplexed by Administration comments subsequent to the veto. Obama stated he had “to do something to show balance” in view of the delicacy of Arab public opinion during these “sensitive” times. As if by doing the right thing and vetoing the recent U.N. resolution, Israel owed the president quid pro quo by granting the Palestinians further concessions. It’s odd, but it seems the president never has a problem labeling Israel the intransigent of this conflict but feels a need to show equanimity to the Palestinians even when forced to vote against them…… Concessions? Israel, from Southern Lebanon to Gaza and Judea and Samaria has continuously made concessions. With the result only to further whet the appetite of the Palestinians and stiffen their recalcitrance. It’s hastened war not peace. The president also made it quite clear that despite what’s going on throughout the Middle East, tenuous as the the Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is, or the ascendency of Iran in the region; Palestinian statehood based upon Israeli land concessions is foremost in his mind.

In light of all this, one has to wonder if any member of the Jewish delegation took out a map to show Obama the topography of the Jordan Valley and the mountainous terrain so vital to Israel’s security? Because if they did, it was not publicly spoken of, as it should be. Not one representative drove home the point of Israel’s vulnerability to a hostile Palestinian State jutting deep into her middle. Israeli security concerns be damned, If Israel doesn’t acquiesce to his demands Obama has threatened to turn the whole issue over to the group 4 to be resolved; the U.N., the European Union, Russia, and the United States; no doubt Israel would get a fair shake from this bunch.

Out of politeness and a helping hand of timidity, none of the delegates bothered to remind Obama of U.N. Council Resolution 242 which recognized the 1949 demarcation lines as just that, lines showing where armies stood subsequent to the cease fire, not international boarders. 242 recognized Israel’s need for defensible boarders. It’s also curious that while remaining gracious guests the members never asked why subsequent to Palestinian statehood, Palestinians could continue to live in Israel, but Jews would be barred from living in the Palestinian state. Didn’t progressive Americans fight against such injustice in South Africa? Wasn’t that decried around the world as apartheid? Despite all this ambiguity, always fearful of confrontation, ever loyal to the script, and always respectful, the presidents of all the mainstream Jewish organizations felt the meeting a great success just to have a dialogue with Obama. Perhaps at a future meeting they might also remind the president that Israel is the only constitutional, Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East, America’s only real friend, the equivalent of a giant U. S. air craft carrier in a region which hates the U.S. as much as it does Israel. To weaken Israel, is to weaken an increasingly less free world.

As is his custom, the President saved the best for last. Near the conclusion of this pow wow, he requested the group convince their colleagues in Israel to call for more concessions. You have to wonder if at this point any of these esteemed “Jewish leaders” recognized they were dupes being used to deliver a message without receiving anything in return. This is American Jewish leadership today. This is what they consider an “an extraordinary session.”

It’s time long overdue for these organizations and the people that run them to either revamp and lead or get out of the way. For Israel to survive, the righteousness of Zionism must actively be taught to all Americans. That’s their job. However, before they do, they must begin believing it themselves. A segment of American Jewry in turn must lose that “shtetl;” European, acquiescent, ghetto mentality and rally around sensible support for the Jewish State. Israel’s survival should trump petty political affiliations. The unfair political ostracization and double standards by which Israel is judged is a matter that should always surmount silly Republican/Democrat squabbles. When groups such as JStreet, comprised mainly of Jewish youth are angry at Obama for casting a veto against the Palestinians, we’re all in trouble. We’re in trouble not because a bunch of dopey kids and their old hippy parents are the new progressives but because the major Jewish American organizations have never launched a sustained campaign of educating not only Jewish youth but American youth in general of the difference between a constitutional democracy and the despotic dictatorships which permeate the violent neighborhood Israel lives in.

To their credit, mainstream Jewish leadership is rightfully concerned with the Holocaust and sustaining its memory but unfortunately does little to ward off the potential of a second one. At a time when American Jewry of every religious and political persuasion should be united against anti-Zionism and its brother, anti-Semitism, Jewish leadership is in the hands of of fund raisers.

March 18, 2011 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. I agree with all of the above, especially about the terrible “Leadership” of Rabbi Wise.
    Not one Jew in Europe was saved by Rabbi Wise, not ONE. There is no tree in Jerusalem
    planted for Rabbi Wise, (so far as I know), which is very “wise”.

  2. The so-called Jewish leaders of today are comparable to those who existed in the 1940s: Rabbi Stephen Wise and most major Jewish organizations such as the Amerian Jewish Committee who white-washed the Holocaust in the 1940s. They didn’t want to make waves, draw attention to the Jewish communities in America, and negate the dictates of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his State Department that tragically prevented the rescue of thousands of Jews from Hitler’s clutches. Today’s leaders do not lead, they seek recognition for themselves, not for the Jewish people and they appease.

  3. I have stopped giving to mainstream Jewish organizations. I believe the leaders probably collect a good salary and they give lectures. The people I contribute to are those who are taking an active role.. and ask for Z St, Atlas Shrugs, Charles Jacobs..They do more than all the organizations put together. I feel that when I want to memorialize someone, I no longer give to Wiesenthal or the ADL. I’d rather give to the Mogen David
    Adom. I first learned about Fransisco Gil-White on this site. Unfortunately everything he has predicted has come to pass so far..including the totally ineffective Jewish leadership. I am glad to read this article and hope that the mainstream organizations may take note and realize they have to actually do something.

  4. The Jewish nation is a VERY confused Nation! These Jewish Organizations represent their pocket book only. There should be ONLY ONE Jewish Organization outside Israel to lead, really lead, by ACTION, not thousands of them that do nothing and achieve much of nothing for the Jews and Israel! We need real leadership inside and outside Israel! This is well said and disgusting; the only way to change this, it is to STOP funding them! Not even the $18.00 Chai!

  5. The times they are a’changin? They have already changed.

    The generation of post World War Two baby boomers became strong supporters of Jewish Israel in 1967. But that was over 40 years ago, so those guys are now alte kackers.

    Their children and grandchildren were raised under a relentless liberal barrage of muti-cultural, multi-ethnic garbage which has become ever more stridently hostile to Jewish Israel. The degree of demonization of Jewish Israel has now reached the point where the liberals will only be satisfied with its destruction.

    Conservative and Reform American Jews have few children, who get little Jewish education, and have a high rate of assimilation. As a result, their numbers are dwindling, and their support for Jewish Israel disappears along with their support for Judaism in general.

    This leaves “mainstream” American Jewish organizations with an elderly, out-of-touch “leadership”, and a rapidly declining membership. And there is an exactly analogous situation among American Christian Zionists.

    That mainstream Jewish organizations still have any clout at all is due to the paranoid, gentile fear of Jews, and their never-ending delusional belief in powerful, secret Jewish organizations, which leads to their conclusion of dual-loyalty: that all Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their native countries (just look at the life sentence of Jonathan Pollard.)

  6. Sobel Continued:

    Where are American JEWS and their JEWISH Leadership???

    American gentiles have no guilt before the Jews and many feel they help Israel too much. The America of the current political culture will not slaughter Jews but would remain indifferent when others do. American Jews and their leaderships have always supported the Peace process. American Jews and especially their leaders should know that: No state can possibly exist within eight-mile-wide borders, let alone a state besieged by three hundred million enemies.

    America demands that Israel has to fight nicely, send her children into urban combat, and even in combat somehow inquire about a target’s terrorist affiliation before shooting. Israel has to be liberal—that is, abandon Judaism, which demands strict morality. Israel has to open herself to foreign influence, thus forgoing her uniquely Jewish lifestyle. Israel has to be democratic—which means, in plain English, to allow Arab voters to subvert the Jewish state. Israel has to be tolerant of minorities and accept Arabs as one third of her population. What will remain of the Jewish state when all those orders are implemented?

    Look further. The US, our closest ally, prevents us from attacking Iran, which will acquire nuclear weapons within the next year. The US Administration is therefore okay with a nuclear Iran, which wants to wipe Israel off the map. This is not an isolated event: America condemned Israel for bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor. In 1967, the outlook was apocalyptic, Jews dug tens of thousands of graves and prepared for total annihilation, but the US barred us from preempting; it did likewise in 1973. Two years after the Holocaust, the United States and Britain did not give vote in the UN for the establishment of a Jewish state. When the state was established nonetheless, they embargoed weapons sales.

    American Jews and the new Israeli Jew are worlds apart today.

    The generation of Exodus died in the Holocaust. New Israeli Jews are not perpetually suffering weaklings. Some, as in Hebron, are a truly new type of Jews, others less so, but there is a cultural gap between the Holocaust generation and us. And by the way, Hebron Jews are not really a new type. Theirs is a very old type of Jew, the sort which entered Canaan with Joshua and smote our enemies with good bludgeons and primitive swords. The other type died in the German ovens. We remember the persecutions and hope one day to repay, but we are not a persecuted crowd anymore. Jews are taking the Land of Israel not for safety—we will never feel safe amid the sea of Muslims—but because we own this land, having received it in perpetual heritage from the highest authority.

    We don’t need pity and we won’t pity the Arabs who stand in our way.

  7. Sobel; Where have you been for the last 70 years, at the very least? First of all most so called ex-Jews (Leaders) were not democratically elected by the dwindling rank and file constituent members of the organizations they represent but are selected by the boards of each organization. They usually buy their positions with large donations and their ability to fundraise. Most are totally assimilated Jews with little or no real knowledge of Jewish history or even Judaism per se.

    Jewish so called institutional leadership are not leaders, they are heads of communal organizations which gives them a certain status and probably feeds their individual egos but they are not Jewish (in the sense that they lead Jewish lives and are very knowledgeable on most things Jewish or relevant to Jews and Judaism) and not leaders

    I think that today American Jews and Their mirror image leadership are as worthless to us here in Israel and to themselves as as spirit-glasses to the dead. The United Jewish Communities’ “National Jewish Population Survey 2000” — a decennial demographic study — found that, due to a negative net birthrate (i.e., Jewish deaths exceeded Jewish births for that period), America’s Jewish population had declined by 300,000 souls from 1990 to 2000. This translates to an average net loss of 82 Jews per day for that decade. This is hardly surprising in light of the study’s finding that 70% of Jewish women in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were childless.

    The study also discovered that, due to an ongoing intermarriage rate in excess of 60%, of all children under the age of 12 with Jewish parentage in the United States, less than half have two Jewish parents. Of the more than half with a gentile parent, (according to other surveys) only a quarter thereof will be raised as Jews. Of these, only a small minority will marry other Jews, as it will be almost impossible for an intermarried Jew, however sincere, to convince his or her child to do what he or she failed to do, namely: marry a fellow Jew.

    However, Assimilation and a low birth rate are not the only problems facing the American Jewish community. In its June 2002 “Survey Of Antisemitism In America” the Anti-Defamation League found that one third of all Americans believe that Jews have “dual loyalties” (i.e., they are potentially treasonous) and that one fifth of all Americans believe that Jews have “too much power in the U.S. today” (i.e., they are potentially dangerous). Ironically, it was once perversely believed that the multiplicity of ethnic groups inhabiting America — constituting a plethora of inviting targets for the majority population’s hostility — would provide a bulwark against an obsessive hatred of American Jews. Instead, it seems that at least some of these immigrants simply brought their Jew-hatred with them, thereby finding at least some common ground with those Americans who had arrived before them.

    The Message is clear. The American Exile will end, whether by Assimilation or Antisemitism — more likely, by a combination of both.


  8. An excellent op-ed.

    In light of all this, one has to wonder if any member of the Jewish delegation took out a map to show Obama the topography of the Jordan Valley and the mountainous terrain so vital to Israel’s security? Because if they did, it was not publicly spoken of, as it should be. Not one representative drove home the point of Israel’s vulnerability to a hostile Palestinian State jutting deep into her middle.

    Do you honestly expect American Jewry, many of whom have freely chosen to remain in exile, to even be capable of expounding upon the topography or even the history of a nation they have forsaken in favor of a life in Babylon?