Why Did a Major US Jewish Leader Criticize Israel as He Left Office?
Why Did a Major US Jewish Leader Criticize Israel as He Left Office?

Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is retiring from the organization in July after many years at the helm – and for some reason, he chose to condemn the State of Israel on three separate occasions in his last few days of running the organization. This master of Public Relations criticized Israel on different issues in three separate forums – in an op-ed, in a speech and via press release. 

It is true that Foxman undermined the Prime Minister of Israel a few months ago when he urged Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his speech to a joint session of Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat, and that he has stated that those who oppose a two-state solution encourage anti-Semitism, boycotts against Israel, and are bad for Israel.  Foxman has long spoken out on liberal issues.

This week, Foxman wrote an op-ed that criticized Culture Miri Regev for her decision to refuse to fund programs which harm the State of Israel.  Foxman argued that “fierce arguments ensued about when free speech crosses the line into something more dangerous, about the difference between speech that comes from independent institutions or individuals and speech that is funded by government, and about what constitutes the public interest in discussing the curtailment of speech.”

He is wrong – leaders have the obligation to make decisions and to lead.

Foxman then claimed that the minister of culture should not be able to decide what to fund, writing of Regev, “While it is true that she became minister of culture because her Likud Party formed the government, this line of approach is a grave misunderstanding of democratic society and values, and potentially holds within it future threats to democracy.” Wrong again.  Winners win and losers lose.  The Likud Party was chosen in a democratic election to lead the State of Israel. And the left closed the Arutz Sheva radio station on a pretext.

Last week, during a presentation at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Foxman blamed Israel for losing American Jewish support,claiming “I don’t think Israel understands, appreciates, values, respects this partner– this side of the partner[ship]…  There needs to be a lot more sensitivity and education in Israel as to the value of this community beside sending checks or in a moment of crisis, running to Congress.” 

Foxman continued, “Where is [Israel’s] sekhel (intelligence, ed.)? Where is the smartness? Where is it to understand that you need to change that relationship, you need to find ways– and it’s not happening! It’s not happening!”

For the tri-fecta, on a hot summer Sunday evening June, Foxman issued a press release condemning Michael Oren, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.S., claiming Oren’s criticism of President Obama is ““unjustified and insensitive.”

Someone should have suggested to Foxman, that after 30 years of running the ADL, he might wish to close his career with a solidarity trip to Israel, or perhaps a gesture to Jews in Europe who are facing a barrage of anti-Semitism.  It is sad that a high-profile Jewish leader chose instead to attack the State of Israel.  At this time, that is not what Jewish leaders should be doing. It is certainly not what the head of ADL should leave as his legacy.