Op-Ed: Yes to Adelson, No to Yoffie
It is time to call a spade a spade. Liberal American Jewish "leaders" harm both American and Israel interests with extremist rhetoric to the media.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's recent op-ed labeled Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the former leader of Reform Judaism in America, an extremist and I second the motion.
While many of us may indeed wish the Pew report would inspire our reform brethren to become extreme in attracting Jews to remain connected to Judaism, Yoffie reserves his extreme comments for attacking the greatest Jewish philanthropist alive today, Sheldon Adelson, for urging Israel to protect itself from Iran.
First, if Yoffie was so concerned about Adelson's comments on Iran, he could pick up the phone to Adelson rather than his PR Agency to issue a press release.
Like many liberals, Yoffie encourages "dialogue", writing recently that “diversity of views should be welcome. Debate should be promoted and controversy encouraged.” He, however, didn’t clarify that dialogue excludes traditional and nationalist Jews.
Yoffie speaks of not extending "adulation and honor" to Adelson, and says "the time has come for important leaders of our community to decline invitations to appear at Mr. Adelson’s side."
This, from the man who addressed the 44th annual conference of Chicago’s Islamic Society of North America and called "for Jews and Muslims to unite in support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." That speech was condemned even by fellow uber-liberal David Harris of the American Jewish Committee. ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, and an ISNA subsidiary had financial ties to a Hamas leader indicted in the U.S. on terrorism-funding charges.
Adelson is in good company - Yoffie previously criticized and called for a boycott of Pastor John Hagee and Christians United for Israel, for their call to "reject any Israeli land concessions to achieve peace with the Palestinians." For Yoffie, dialogue with Hamas supporters matters - but not with people who urge Jews to protect themselves from a terrorist group devoted to Israel's destruction.
Perhaps Yoffie should dedicate his attention and passion to encouraging Jews to be more Jewish. Instead, he writes of intermarriage that “the simple fact is that no feasible strategy is available to lower those rates in any dramatic way. Doing so would require Jews in this country to pull back from full, enthusiastic participation in American life and to construct barricades and bunkers to separate themselves from the American mainstream.”
Perhaps his considerable energies should be devoted to helping Jews – rather than condemning Jewish heroes.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are great American Jewish patriots who donate more than $200 Million to Jewish causes annually, including $100 Million to Birthright Israel, $25 Million to Yad Vashem, and much more. These heroic people should continue to be celebrated for all they do for the Jewish people.
Yoffie is an extremist who regularly criticizes Israel and harms Jewish interests. He should heed his own advice by realizing that the "Jewish problem is far too serious to be handled with bluster, blather, and idiocy." Israel and the Jewish people are much more secure with the support of people like Sheldon Adelson than with the likes of Eric Yoffie.
In 1928, the great Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky said, “Peace with the Arabs is, of course, to be desired. There is no need for a discussion on this matter among the Jews. All of us, one hundred percent of us, want peace.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu proclaimed in the Knesset in 2006, “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”
Yoffie would do well to change the focus of his attentions to those who really endanger Judaism and the State of Israel.
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. Torossian’s book, “For Immediate Release” has been called “the best book ever on Israel public relations” by the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, Likud MK,Danny Danon.