…or completely screw up our political relationships. Relationships with demonspawn, but relationships nonetheless.
The more I think about it, the more I feel that because of the continually precarious situation of the Jew-in-exile or “diaspora Jew,” our Jewish leadership negotiates on our behalf and often against our will, not because they’re necessarily slimy and advancing their own interests, but because they realize they have to French the asshole of every tyrant to whom we find ourselves subject. Case in point, the Iranian Jewish leadership. Or, perhaps a more definitive historical example is that of the pre-Shoah American Jewish appeasers who chose not to speak up about the Nazis lest they worsen the situation for German Jewry.
Personally, I don’t think the approrpiate action in this predicament is autocapitulation to our leadership, as others may. When the country’s turned on the administration and you’re still coddling your relationship, you have to retain awareness that when the emperor goes down, you go down with him. A more effective strategy than developing insider relationships and becoming part of that inscrutable Them, is developing grassroots relationships and becoming part of a real national community. Say what you will about the irrationality of antisemitism, but if Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers) teaches us anything, it’s that appearances are everything. Empires fall left and right, and one crook replaces the next. Jews are persecuted and expelled on the turn of a dime. If you have the public behind you, rather than their oppressors, you stand a better chance in the long run.
In any event, I digress. Here’s what I’m all hopped up about.
The Forward reports,
The country’s two largest synagogue movements are stepping up their criticism of the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program and treatment of detainees, in sharp contrast to the approach of the major non-sectarian Jewish civil rights organizations.
Senior figures of the Conservative and Reform movements have recently called on the White House to prohibit the use of torture and urged Congress to look into the secret wiretapping program launched by the National Security Agency in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Officials at the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Congress, on the other hand, have been silent on the wiretapping program and generally less confrontational when offering any critique of the administration on the torture issue.
The two issues highlight what appear to be both substantive and stylistic differences between the non-Orthodox synagogue movements and the Jewish civil rights groups, as well as policy gaps between the Jewish community’s grassroots and the more hawkish donors who hold increasing sway on many Jewish organizational boards. While the synagogue movements can boast of representing the millions of members of their congregations, observers in Washington say that lawmakers are more likely to see the nonsectarian groups as the Jewish community’s main address on security issues.
Nevermind the fact that 54% of American Jews identify as Democrats and only 16% as Republicans. Or that 44% identify as liberal, 26% as conservative and 29% as moderate. Or that 60% of American Jews disapprove of the government’s handling of the “war on terror,” and that 70% disapprove of the war in Iraq. Halakha states that a Jew is obligated to abide by the law of the land in which he resides. In the United States of America, the Bill of Rights is law, as are the Geneva Conventions and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Bush doctrine is not law. It’s an anomaly, and one, G-d willing, soon to meet its end.
Should I be surprised it’s the religious leaders representing the majority of affiliated Jews who are standing up for real American values over the misdirected self-interest our Orthodox and Right-leaning secular organizations?