Op-Ed: AJC, Hit the Refresh Button
The High Holy Days offer all Jews the opportunity to hit the refresh button and start over. So perhaps the organizational leaders of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) should take this chance to pledge to spend this next year truly supporting Israel and Jewish causes.
While it would be great if they would focus on constructive ways to lower assimilation rates among American Jews, perhaps this year, at the very least, AJC leaders can vow to support Zionist leaders of Israel and not stand in blind support of a Palestinian State, a choice which endangers Jewish interests.
All Jews recite prayers facing Jerusalem, but there are those among us who go one step further. They proudly view Israel as the Jewish homeland, and have immense love for Israel. Most Jews admire the State of Israel, ideologically support Aliya, immigration to the country, and love and relate to Israel as the Jewish nation, as the homeland for all Jewish people.
There are also those American Jews who believe Israel is just another country, and that it does not hold a special place for the world's Jews. And while they have that right, they shouldn’t claim to speak in the name of the American Jewish community. I would include the American Jewish Committee in that group.
It isn’t well known that among the founding principles of the American Jewish Committee is a document known as “the Ben Gurion-Blaustein Exchange”, which was signed by the State of Israel's then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the President of the AJC. The document, which was first created in 1950 and has since been re-enforced, saw the AJC agree to drop its opposition to Zionism. Israel, in exchange, stated that that “the State of Israel spoke only for its own citizens, and that Jews in other countries had no political obligation to the State of Israel.”
The master document of the AJC continues to live on its website and is a guiding doctrine for the organization and its subsequent lay leadership and senior staff.
A principle for the AJC remains that American Jews have no political obligation to the State of Israel. I, on the other hand, would venture that American Jews have an obligation to Israel just as we have both a mother and a father.
American Jews have an obligation to Israel just as we have both a mother and a father.
Unfortunately, “the Ben Gurion-Blaustein Exchange”, historically, as well as in the present, defines the AJC much as David Harris and his liberal viewpoints define the organization. It can perhaps even account for the recent decision to “effectively shut down the group’s core activity in Israel,” according to The Forward.
While AJC claims that “advocacy for Israel is the core of its mission”, it seems to pursue a decidedly counter-Israel agenda, including a recent op-ed in the Huffington Post entitled “Give The Peace Process A Chance.” The AJC keeps supporting its version of peace above all else.
Nothing can deter it; not mass murder in Syria or the instability in Egypt, let alone the Palestinian leadership’s unyielding belief and hope that Israel will be gone one day, even if it signs a temporary accord.
This magical, mystical word called “peace,” may not mean what most of us believe it means when discussing the Middle East. It should be noted that the AJC version of peace condemned Minister Naftali Bennett for supporting the right of Jews to live anywhere in the Land of Israel. Apparently, peace does not include Jewish rights to live freely.
The AJC issued a statement together with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) before the U.S. elections asking Jews not to make Israel a political Issue. But asking Jews to be silent rather than oppose the Obama Administration is also “political” – and it looks as though they don’t deem their support for a two-state solution a political issue either.
From past to present, the AJC has made it clear that it is not necessarily pro-Israel. In 1943, its leaders objected to Zionism and attempts to establish a Jewish state. In that same year, the AJC President proclaimed “In the United States as in all other countries, Jews like all others of their citizens are nationals of those nations and of no other..”. Straight through up until today, they publicly pressure Israel.
As historian Stephen Bayme has written, the AJC "worked to contain nativist sentiment in America rather than work to open America’s doors to refugees" during the Holocaust."
"The rescue of Jews never attained as great a priority for America as the destruction of Jews did for Hitler," Bayme said.
Recently, Phillipe Karsenty, the journalist who fought the Mohamed Al Dura ‘blood libel’ fiction noted that the AJC has “viciously attacked three of Israel's best defenders - Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky...” That is part and parcel of AJC history.
Indeed today, while the AJC has $100 million in assets with which to make noise – it makes noise that often runs counter to the needs and interests of the country of Israel and Am Yisrael, the people of Israel.
The AJC’s interests aren’t really those of American Jewry, nor of the State of Israel.
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and CEO of 5WPR, a top 25 U.S. PR Agency.