Joe Lieberman: Distance between progressive Jews and Israel worrying

During the interview, the former US Senator, who is Orthodox, was asked about the recent tensions between progressive Jews in the United States and Israel.

June 18, 2018 19:00
2 minute read.
Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Former US Senator Joe Lieberman has described the tensions between Israel and progressive Jewry in the US as a matter of concern which could create distance between the two communities.

Speaking to Army Radio, Lieberman also opined that the believed a Jew could be elected as a US president and took pride in his role in repealing the US army’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for gay soldiers.

During the interview, the former US Senator, who is Orthodox, was asked about the recent tensions between progressive Jews in the US and Israel, and specifically about the now-suspended Western Wall agreement for an expanded, state-recognized egalitarian prayer section, and he sounded a note of warning on the issue.

“They are bothered by what seems to be to them the unequal treatment of Conservative and Reform Jews of women in religious services, it puts them at a distance from Israel and its something to worry about,” said Lieberman.

“Israel is at such a great stage of its history, but it still has to work on human problems. There are divisions among the people, and those divisions have an affect on other Jewish communities around the world, including the US.”

Lieberman also spoke about his efforts during his time in the US Senate in introducing and leading the way on legislation to repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of the US army, which prevented openly homosexual citizens from serving in the armed forces, although allowing them to serve if they did not speak about or declare their sexual orientation.

“Everyone of us is created in the image of God,” said Lieberman, using the Biblical phrase, about his efforts and the legislation he introduced and led to repeal this policy.

“That doesn’t depend on you color, nationality or sexual orientation, and it seems to me that if a soldier is a good soldier why would you kick them out because of their private sexual orientation So I was very proud in having played a role in repealing that, and I don’t have ambivalence or guilt religiously about it. To me I was doing what I thought my religion required me to do.”

Asked if there is a glass ceiling for Jews in the US, he said people frequently posed this question to him, to which he responds, “Obviously the answer is yes.”

Lieberman, who was the running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Al-Gore, added: “It would depend on how good the candidate was and what the mood of the public was at a given time, but America remains a very open country.”

He said, however, that he never wanted his Jewishness to be a factor in how people voted. “When I ran for vice president I didn’t  want people to vote for me or against me because I was Jewish, and I think that’s exactly what happened on election day.”

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