A crisis of Jewish leadership - politics trumps Jewish issues

Biden is never challenged by the media and a progressive Jewish establishment to whom liberal politics means more than Judaism. Op-ed.

Matthew M. Hausman  , | updated: 11:21 PM

(Illustrative) Conference with US Jewish leaders
(Illustrative) Conference with US Jewish leaders
Mark Neyman, GPO
There is a crisis of leadership in the American Jewish establishment, and it was highlighted during the 2020 presidential election by communal leaders who trumpeted Joe Biden’s supposed affinity for Jews and Israel despite his record of ambivalence and hostility.

Since the election, his cheering section has continued its delusional support despite his overt snub of Israel’s prime minister, his stated intentions to appease Iran and reengage the Muslim Brotherhood, his failure to condemn antisemitism among Democrats, and his appointment of individuals with antisemitic or anti-Israel baggage to administration posts.


Why do they ignore the antisemitism that seems to pervade today’s Democratic Party and the progressive movements they support?
In a larger sense, the whitewashing of Biden’s record on Israel and hiring of hostile officials tracks the refusal to acknowledge antisemitism amongst progressives and Democrats. It also reflects the false conflation of liberal politics with Jewish values.

Many Jewish leaders actively campaigned for Biden, and they certainly had the right to do so. What they did not have the right to do, however, was ignore the risk that an empowered left-wing creates for Israel and pronounce Biden “good for the Jews” without critically analyzing his background.

It should surprise nobody that the non-Orthodox movements lined up behind Biden given their hatred for Donald Trump and elevation of secular political priorities over Torah values. Still, it was the height of cognitive dissonance to assert Biden’s philosemitic and pro-Israel credentials in view of his record.

Biden’s history is marked by insensitivity and insult, starting in 1982 when he used his Senate seat to threaten (unsuccessfully) Menachem Begin over "settlements". He thereafter attempted to interfere in Israeli politics, often refused to condemn Islamist extremism, and displayed an inexcusable ignorance of history when criticizing Israeli communities established on ancient Jewish land.

He also served as vice president in the unfriendly Obama administration, which gave the Palestinian Authority millions in funding that was partly used to pay stipends to families of terrorists; negotiated a deal that would have facilitated Iran’s development of nuclear weapons; and legitimized the antisemitic BDS movement. In addition, he participated in Obama’s orchestration of UN Resolution 2334, which sought to erase Jewish history from Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) by denying their ancient Jewish pedigree and characterizing them as “occupied Palestinian territory” as though a state of Palestine ever existed.

Biden’s apologists argue that his harsh tone with Israel is merely politics and does not reflect his regard for the Jews. They would do well to recognize, however, that the BDS movement, UN Resolution 2334, and the false characterization of ancestral Jewish lands as “occupied” are predicated on a rejection of Jewish history, which is indeed a form antisemitism.

To deny Jewish history is to reject Jewish legitimacy, and Biden has been doing it for years.

Just as a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can Biden hide his ambivalence regarding the Jewish state, particularly as reflected through some of his administration appointments. These include a press secretary who defended John Kerry’s infamous Israel-apartheid comparison in 2014; a deputy press secretary who has disparaged AIPAC and falsely accused Israel of war crimes; a Justice Department Civil Rights Division head who vouched for the credibility of a noted antisemite and Holocaust denier; and a proposed senior intelligence director with a history of BDS activism. He has also nominated anti-Israel officials for positions in the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and National Intelligence without criticism from the liberal elite.


To deny Jewish history is to reject Jewish legitimacy, and Biden has been doing it for years.
There is often a disconnect between Biden’s words and deeds regarding Jewish issues. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, for example, he issued a White House press release stating:

“We must pass the history of the Holocaust on to our grandchildren and their grandchildren in order to keep real the promise of ‘never again’. . . ‘That is how we prevent future genocides. Remembering the victims, heroes and lessons of the Holocaust is particularly important today as Holocaust deniers and minimizers are growing louder in our public discourse.”

Though nobody could argue with these sentiments, they seem disingenuous in view of Biden’s dubious appointments, relationships with BDS advocates, complicity in the UN campaign to erase Jewish history, and failure to condemn inflammatory rhetoric spewed by Congressional Democrats like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

A real friend would not commit US foreign policy to resuscitating an ill-conceived deal that would enable Iran’s development of nuclear weapons or seek rapprochement with the radical Muslim Brotherhood – which even some Sunni states regard as a terror organization. Nor would a friend reinforce institutionalized bigotry by rejoining the antisemitic UN Human Rights Council. Or undercut the historic Abraham Accords involving Israel, Bahrain, the UAE, Sudan, and Morocco by reengaging a corrupt Palestinian Authority that supports terrorism, promotes antisemitism, and denies Israel’s legitimacy.

And if Biden were genuinely concerned about the threat of antisemitism, he would not tolerate it within his own party or appoint people to his administration with anti-Israel or anti-Jewish skeletons in the closet.

Unfortunately, Biden is never challenged for hypocrisy because he is protected by a sympathetic press and a progressive Jewish establishment for whom liberal politics means more than Jewish tradition and continuity. They may delude themselves by falsely equating Jewish tradition with progressive values, but their alarming intermarriage and assimilation rates evidence the hollowness of their priorities and lack of commitment to cultural self-preservation.

The Jewish left runs interference for Biden (and bigots within the Democratic Party) by blaming antisemitism solely on the political right; for example, by focusing on antisemitic comments and conspiracy theories attributed to Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Such rhetoric should not be tolerated by anyone in Congress; and Greene’s House Committee assignments were revoked accordingly.

But if liberal establishment leaders were so incensed over Greene’s past comments – as well they should have been – why have they not expressed similar outrage at hateful rhetoric from Democrats like Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez? Why did they not demand censure when Rep. Ted Liu invoked the ancient slander of Jewish national disloyalty in a reprehensible tweet questioning the patriotism of David Friedman, then Ambassador to Israel?

Why do they ignore the antisemitism that seems to pervade today’s Democratic Party and the progressive movements they support?

Progressives spent the last four years accusing Trump of Jew-hatred despite his longstanding support for Israel and Jewish organizations and his warm relationships with Jewish business associates and family members. During his presidency, he was dedicated to repairing a US-Israel relationship torn asunder by the Obama administration. He moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, reimposed sanctions against an Iranian regime that repeatedly threatens to exterminate Israel, made fighting antisemitism a State Department priority, and fostered peace accords between Israel and four Arab-Muslim nations. Liberals nonetheless accused Trump of sounding antisemitic “dog whistles,” which is a conveniently vague term used by critics who cannot connect him to any specific acts of antisemitism.

If they are truly alarmed by anti-Jewish bigotry, moreover, one must wonder why they were largely silent when progressive and minority antisemitism escalated during the Obama years. Or why they now refuse to condemn it in the protest movement spearheaded by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and like organizations.

The reality is that Jewish communal leaders support Biden not because of his supposed affinity for Israel or traditional Jewish values, but simply because he is a liberal Democrat. If they were truly concerned for Israel, they should have questioned his record instead of basking in willful ignorance.

It is incumbent on those who claim the mantle of Jewish leadership to speak with knowledge and historical perspective. However, those leaders who ignored Biden’s documented hostility for Israel and his tolerance of progressive antisemites abdicated their community responsibility for the sake of politics.

And that should call into question their wisdom and authority to lead.

Matthew M. Hausman is a trial attorney and writer who lives and works in Connecticut. A former journalist, Mr. Hausman continues to write on a variety of topics, including science, health and medicine, Jewish issues and foreign affairs, and has been a legal affairs columnist for a number of publications..


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