In a recent New York Times op-ed, Peter Beinart called for Jews not only to
boycott Israeli products produced beyond the 1949 armistice lines, but also to
lobby more broadly against Israeli economic interests. Though he undoubtedly
intends his position to catapult him to prominence among liberal American Jews,
this argument instead firmly plants him in the small fringe camp of Jewish
pseudo-intellectuals who set themselves apart from, and usually above, the rest
of their people.
These Jewish Israel-detractors almost always wrap
themselves in their Judaism before lashing out at their fellow Jews. Beinart
writes in his op-ed, “I am a committed Jew.
I belong to an Orthodox
synagogue, send my children to Jewish school and yearn to instill in them the
same devotion to the Jewish people that my parents instilled in me. Boycotting
other Jews is a painful, unnatural act. But the alternative is
The alternative to which Beinart alludes, of course, is
supporting Israelis’ rights to elect their own leaders who set their own
policies in the democratic state of Israel.
In this same column, Beinart
admits Israel is not the “worst” human rights abuser, though he does not
acknowledge that in fact Israel has among the best human rights records,
certainly in the Middle East if not in the world. But he insists that even so, a
boycott might make Israel a more perfect democracy. You see, Israel should be
held to a separate, unachievable standard.
In December, New York Times
columnist Tom Friedman backhandedly proclaimed his Jewishness, writing, “I’d
never claim to speak for American Jews, but I’m certain there are many out there
like me... who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today.”
thrust of Friedman’s column was that the freely-elected prime minister of Israel
is leading his nation toward corruption of the very character of the state, as
defined by Friedman. He opines that the score of standing ovations Netanyahu
received in Congress last year were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
In other words, Jews and their money control the Congress of the United
Friedman later tried to walk back the “bought and paid for”
phrase, choosing to substitute the words “engineered by.” One can assume
Friedman means that, even without using their money, Jews are wily enough to
twist the American government to their aims.
M. J. Rosenberg, of Media
Matters Action Network, takes it a step further by invoking his connection to
“My wife was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany
to Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust.
Many in the family didn’t,
including my wife’s uncle, for whom our oldest son is named, who was caught by
the Nazis putting up posters in Warsaw urging resistance. He was gassed in
Maidanek along with his young sister, just engaged to be married.”
is the same posting in which Rosenberg vows he will no longer use the term
“Israel-firster,” originally coined by historian Abram Sachar with one meaning
that Rosenberg employed with a distinctly different and thoroughly pejorative
denotation, namely that American Jews who disagree with his views disloyally put
the interests of Israel above the interests of the United States.
Rosenberg will no longer slander others as “Israel-firsters,” he will refrain
only because the term “has proven to be a distraction” from his argument that
American Jews who disagree with his views disloyally put the interests of Israel
above the interests of the United States.
Beinart, Friedman, Rosenberg
and others in this clique of Jewish Israel-detractors decry charges of
anti-Semitism. Yet they actively hold Israel and Jews to an unattainable double
standard, promote the idea that Jews secretly control, or attempt to control,
global politics and disseminate charges that Jews are a disloyal fifth column.
To say this is not anti-Semitism is to say The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
is not anti-Semitic.
These Jewish Israel-detractors disparage “geriatric”
pro-Israel Americans, pretending to speak for young, cool Jews. How ironic,
then, that they personify a concept illustrated in the Haggada, written,
according to scholars, in the third or fourth century.
defamers are the embodiment of the Wicked Son who, had he been in Egypt at the
Exodus, would not have been redeemed. What makes this son wicked and unworthy of
redemption? Only that he sets himself apart from, and above, the rest of his
The stories in the ancient Passover ritual may be unhip for the
self-referential yet one can hardly deny their truth and timelessness.
for today’s wicked sons and daughters, Jews who disparage Israel and their
fellow Jews, who have an oversized platform but a minimal following, it is time
for the truly pro-Israel Jewish community to turn to another page in the Haggada
and chant, “Dayeinu.”
We have had enough.
The writer is
international letterwriting director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Any opinions
expressed above are solely her own.