Ron Lauder joins the attack on Israel

Why does the head of a major Jewish organization go to the Times with his complaints about Israel, instead of one of the many Jewish newspapers? What is he saying between the lines?

Att'y Stephen M. Flatow

OpEds Ronald Lauder, head of WJC.
Ronald Lauder, head of WJC.

I glanced at this morning’s headlines and saw quite a few things that could use some attention from the president of the World Jewish Congress.

Palestinians threw bombs at the Tomb of Rachel. How about a campaign, led by the World Jewish Congress, for international action to protect Jewish holy sites from violent attacks?

Kite-bombers are destroying thousands of acres of farm land belonging to kibbutzim in southern Israel. How about a World Jewish Congress fundraising campaign to restore the damaged property?

Several American Jews who advocate boycotting Israel (or boycotting Jews living beyond the 1948 armistice line) were questioned for 20 or 30 minutes when they entered Israel recently. As a result, they are being made into martyrs and heroes by the international news media. How about the World Jewish Congress defending Israel’s right to question those who harass and bash the Jewish state?

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn this week admitted participating in a ceremony honoring the Munich terrorists. How about the World Jewish Congress undertaking a voter registration drive among British Jews to help ensure that Corbyn does not become Britain’s next prime minister?

The government of Colombia announced that it recognizes the “State of Palestine.” How about a campaign by the World Jewish Congress to urge Jewish tourists to stay away from Colombia?

Israel was forced to send troops into the Palestinian Authority-ruled towns of Yatta and Beit Umar this week because terrorists were operating a weapons factory there and, as usual, the PA did nothing to shut it down. How about the World Jewish Congress lobbying Congress to stop all aid to the PA so long as it continues to serve as a haven for terrorists?

During the Beit Umar raid, mobs of local Palestinian residents threw rocks and firebombs at the soldiers who were arresting the terrorists. How about the World Jewish Congress taking out ads in Beit Umar’s local newspaper, urging the residents to support action against terrorists?

Also this week, it was reported that the PA has paid nearly $300,000 to the terrorists who carried out the infamous Sbarro bombing (in which 15 people, including two Americans, were murdered). One of those terrorists, Ahlam Tamimi, is living freely in Jordan. How about a campaign by the World Jewish Congress to demand that the Trump administration enforce the U.S.-Jordan extradition treaty so that Jordan will surrender Tamimi to the U.S. for prosecution?

In all the years I have been working on the issue of American victims of Palestinian terrorism, I do not recall even one instance in which the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, ever contacted me to ask what his organization could do to help bring the killers to justice. I guess he’s been busy with other things.

He wants to tell the whole world that Israel is being awful, and that he’s not like those awful Israelis.
But not too busy, it seems, to slam Israel on the op-ed page of the New York Times. In March, he wrote an op-ed demanding the creation of a Palestinian state, which would mean that Israel would be reduced to just nine miles wide at its mid-section. It’s not hard to understand why so few Israelis have embraced Lauder’s position.

This week, Lauder took to the op-ed page of the Times again, this time to accuse Israel of being un-democratic, intolerant, racist, and homophobic. He even claimed that Israel is to blame for young American Jews assimilating. I’m surprised he didn’t accuse Israel of causing cancer.

I’m not one of those who says that nobody should ever criticize Israeli government policies. I myself have taken issue with some Israeli policies from time to time. But a responsible Jewish leader needs to have a sense of timing and a sense of proportion. When the whole world is ganging up on Israel—that’s not the time to join in the attack. When Jews are facing dangers in so many places—that’s not the time to focus one’s resources on complaining about Israeli airport guards briefly questioning a few BDS advocates.

There’s a reason that the leader of a major Jewish organization chooses to go to the New York Times with accusations against Israel, instead of making his case in one of our many Jewish newspapers. It’s because he wants to tell the whole world that Israel is being awful, and that he’s not like those awful Israelis.

Ronald Lauder’s public attacks on Israel are symptomatic of a broader problem with today’s Jewish leadership. “Leaders” who have been in office for decades, who never have to compete in democratic elections, who take whatever salaries they choose, who take whatever political positions they want without ever consulting their members—those are the kinds of “leaders” who are embarrassing the American Jewish community and need to be replaced.

Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” will be published later this year.