ADL National Director Abe Foxman
ADL National Director Abe FoxmanYoni Kempinski

Some years ago, I interviewed Abe Foxman, then head of the ADL, for an Arutz Sheva article on anti-Semitism in America because I had noticed an uptick in reported incidents and wanted to find out how American Jewish leaders and laymen assessed the future.

Other events intervened and by the time I finished the series of interviews, the situation had changed for the worse. I decided to spare the interviewees the publication of how wrong they were concerning the possible spread of anti-Semitism in the land of the free, because, truthfully, most of us were once confident that the Founding Fathers' American value system would win out. (That was before their statues were toppled.)

Some of those I spoke to also talked about Israel. A New York rabbi, in fact, told me that Israel's big mistake after the Six Day War was in not forming ensembles of singers and other musicians to go from Arab town to Arab village playing Carlebach songs and other hassidic melodies. That would have made the Palestinian Arabs want to live in peace with us, he believed. I didn't write that up either.

Abe Foxman, however, always articulate and charming, was careful not to tell Israel what to do, a principle he seemed to have forgotten when he threatened to withhold support for the Jewish State several days ago if the new government doesn't make him – or liberal Jewish donors - happy. It is worthwhile to recall that although he gave an informed and realistic view of anti-Semitism in the USA when we spoke years ago, he lacked, along with so many American Jews, the wandering Jew mentality that could imagine, let alone foresee, its upsurge to today's level.

In fact, regarding Muslims, he said their number in the USA is small and that they would soon integrate and absorb American values (the Squad seems to have missed out on that). On people of color, he said there are some troubling figures like Farakkhan, but they only flirt with antisemitism and are not the leading figures (who could imagine Kanye West et al?). On campus anti-Semitism, he recalled the anti Vietnam War protests in the sixties and said that it is the same 25 colleges out of 3000 magnified by the internet. (JVP is on 200 campuses as of today, and Jewish students and faculty afraid to express pro-Israel views made that claim irrelevant).

Foxman did not fear Muslim, Black and campus anti-Semitism back then, but today he fears Israel's not yet formed newly elected government.

I would be lauding him had he been concerned because:

- For a year and a half, reasons aside, the government's existence and ability to pass legislation depended on an anti-Israel party loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood

- Israeli schoolchildren in public schools are not taught basic facts about Judaism, not even the words of Shema Yisrael and have stopped learning Jewish history during the Temple period (and anything that could show them our rights to the Holy Land).

- The Negev and Galilee have become more like the lawless Wild West than part of a governed country

-Roadworks in Area C of Judea and Samaria, funded and in the midst of being carried out, were halted (use Googlemaps to see the right lane on Route 60 from Efrat to Elazar in Gush Etzion which sits unfinished, check out the dangerous Rechelim intersection where Keren Juskowitz, young mother of six, lost her life several weeks ago), because the Transportation Minister said they were a waste of money, since they were soon going to be part of a Palestinian State.

- Supreme Court Justices in Israel, in contrast to the USA, are not vetted by the Knesset and are chosen by a committee dominated by the justices themselves and the Israel Bar Association whose members regularly appear before them in court.

-Terrorists are living it up in Israeli prisons, all the while knowing their families are well taken care of, Taylor Force notwithstanding.

Well, on election day, a clear majority of Israelis showed they want all that to change. And more.

Abe Foxman did not mention any of the above. He has other concerns:

One, that the new government might act to change the IDF procedures for opening fire.

How easy for him and his fellow Americans to take what they see as the 'moral' high ground. And how shameful. IDF soldiers, our beloved sons, hesitate to fire at terrorists to save citizen's lives and their own, because the left wing media will drag them through the mire, because the USA might send its FBI to investigate, because the policies of insidious European funded NGOs have affected the will to put Jewish lives first of too many commanding officers. Better to fire in the air and let the terrorist continue his murderous spree, better to endanger young solders' lives so American liberal Jews can feel good about the righteous Jewish state. Sorry, but no.

Foxman also expressed concern about not moving forward on official recognition for the Reform and Conservative movements, clergy and conversions, so as to put them on equal footing with those of the Orthodox. Except that they aren't. These movements are not what kept Judaism alive and the Jews praying for a return to Zion. On the contrary, their leaders have been a major factor in destroying Judaism in America and their congregations are fading into oblivion. There is no reason to change the status quo that exists from the inception of the Jewish state.

But there are compelling reasons to change the Law of Return to cancel the "Grandfather Clause."

Members of the above-mentioned movements are as welcome in Israel as any other Jews, of course, but Israel, whose citizens pay an exorbitant percentage of their income in taxes to support security needs, should not be handing out money in the form of immigrant aid packages to those whose grandfathers were so unconnected to Judaism that they married non-Jews, whose parents are both non-Jews and who are two generations removed from that one Jewish grandfather. If it is important to him, that same grandfather might help finance them if they wish to try out being part of the covenant of destiny that binds the Jewish people.

There are certainly individuals for whom the rules will be eased, but a nonsensical "grandfather clause" in the Law of Return (not in the original one passed in 1950 but added in 1970 under a government that Foxman would approve of) is no reason to provide blanket automatic citizenship (and the right to vote) along with significant financial support for Americans who want a free ride. Nor should today's Russian immigrants be covered by that clause. Many of them use the money to help fund their leaving for other countries, as they have no reason to want to remain here. The Law of Return was meant to make sure Jews always had a place to go, and it has been abused.

There is much that needs improvement in Israel, but Mr. Foxman was able to love us for decades despite our deficiencies. Only now has he realized that his love (which seemed to us sincere) and non-interference from a distance of 6000 miles, are conditioned on a government with which he agrees, and that a right wing all-Jewish government is his definition of a danger to democracy.

How is it that the 8000 people expelled from Gush Katif with disastrous consequences for themselves and Israel continued their love of country, although they vehemently disagreed with the then government's policies and suffered from them? What an insult Abe Foxman's words are to all those here who lost loved ones to wars and terror, those whose sons give up years of their lives to protect Jews under governments they oppose, and to those who gave the right wing government its 64 seat victory in a democratic election.

The relationship between world Jewry and Israel is not easily defined and clearly needs serious discussion because I have heard those very same concerns and veiled threats recently from some of my liberal friends and relatives in the USA. Much as I love them unconditionally and would welcome them here with open arms, their donations or lack of them are not what forges our government policies, nor should they be. What does affect those policies is living here and voting.

The Torah reading several weeks ago related how G-d told Abraham to leave his land, birthplace, and father's home for Israel. He didn't mention a change in Abraham's standard of living, but that was an obvious corollary. That one eternal biblical verse enumerates all the reasons liberal American Jews, in contrast to Abraham and Sarah, stay put in what has morphed into the land of the woke and progressives, cancel culture and overt antisemitism. Now they can add another reason to the list – a new right wing government with too many yarmulke-wearing Jews.

Rochel Sylvetsky is senior consultant on Arutz Sheva's English site and its op-ed and Judaism editor. She serves on the Boards of Orot Yisrael College and the Knesset Channel. Formerly, she. worked in math curriculum planning at Hebrew U. and as academic coordinator at Touro College Graduate School in Jerusalem. She served as Chairperson of Emunah Israel and was CEO of Kfar Hassidim Youth Village.