Foxman: US shift in Israel policy "deeply distressing"

ADL director joins list of top US Jews speaking out against Obama’s Israel policies.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 26, 2010 08:52
3 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

jewish americans 311. (photo credit: BLOOMBERG)

 
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The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abe Foxman over the weekend joined the growing tide of American Jewish leaders criticizing US President Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel.

In a statement, Foxman described as “deeply distressing,” the “significant shift in US policy toward Israel and the peace process, which has been evident in comments from various members of the Obama Administration and has now been confirmed by the president himself in his press conference at the Nuclear Security Summit.”

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Foxman continued that Obama’s statements that “the absence of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict undermines US interests in the broader Middle East and the larger issue of resolving other conflicts is a faulty strategy” and “an incorrect approach on which to base America’s foreign policy in the Middle East and its relationship with its longtime friend and ally, Israel.”

Foxman’s statement went on to criticize the “blatantly disproportionate number and the nature of statements issued by this administration criticizing Israel as compared to what has been said about the Palestinians,” as well as what he described as “dangerous thinking” that “shifts responsibility for success of American foreign policy away from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and directly onto Israel.”

Instead, Foxman called on the US administration to demand that Palestinians “abandon their tactic of just saying no” and “insist that the rest of the Arab world move toward normalization relations with Israel.”

Foxman was far from alone in his criticism.

Late last week, World Jewish Congress Chairman Ronald Lauder penned an open letter to Obama, published in a number of major newspapers including The Jerusalem Post, in which he, too, called on Obama to reassess his administration’s policy regarding Israel.

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Lauder, who is known to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and ran as a Republican candidate in a New York City mayoral race, also blasted the administration for “seeming to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks,” arguing that “after all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate.”

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel also put his thoughts in print, taking out paid advertisements in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal entitled: “For Jerusalem.”

Wiesel wrote that “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than 600 times in Scripture – and not a single time in the Quran.”

Wiesel emphasized that only under unified Israeli rule, “for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims may all worship at their shrines.”

Wiesel warned against “tackling the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely” and suggested instead to “first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security.”

But Sheldon Schorer, counsel for the Democrats Abroad-Israel, recalled that according to poll recently released by the American Jewish Committee, “the majority of American Jews still support Obama on the Middle East and Israel.

“It could be that these statements reflect some sectors of the American public, but these figures may also be trying to make their voices heard and shore up their position as American Jewish leaders,” Schorer added.

“Speaking out against the settlements pretty much reflects American policy as a violation of the status quo. It is a valid tradition to be opposed to settlements and even during his campaign Obama said that in order to support Israel one doesn’t have to be a Likudnik,” Schorer explained.

“I would personally prefer to see these issues settled at the negotiation table by representatives of the two parties, and in that case, the role of the United States should be procedural.”

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