Culture, Global, Identity, Israel, Politics

Orthodox leader: U.S. Jews have no right to criticize Israel

Sarah Bronson writes in Ha’aretz:

A prominent member of America’s Orthodox community, who was also a Senate staff member for three decades, spoke out on Sunday night against American Jews who publicly criticize Israeli policies.

“An American who wants to take sides should make aliyah [immigrate to Israel],” said Rabbi Dr. David Luchins, a national associate vice president of the Orthodox Union (OU) and a national officer for the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. “Their kids should serve in the army. It’s better for American Jews to stay out of Israeli politics.”


He also said that often, American and Israeli politicians make subtle, internal agreements between themselves, which they do not present to the public. A politician’s publicly stated opinion about a peace proposal, for example, is sometimes a carefully planned diplomatic “charade,” he explained. By writing critical letters or holding rallies, American Jews “sometimes mess up those charades – very badly.”


“An Israeli Arab or a non-Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union has more of a say than the most ardent American Zionist who comes here 35 times a year,” he asserted.

Full story.

13 thoughts on “Orthodox leader: U.S. Jews have no right to criticize Israel

  1. Payback time
    By Alec Dubro, Ha’aretz [IL]
    Sunday, June 02, 2002
    For the past 55 years, or to put it another way, for my entire life, Israel has asked me and other American Jews for one thing: help. I think it’s time Israel realized that it might owe a debt to the 60 percent of Jews who choose not to live there.
    That’s right, I want help from Israel, a big favor. I’m asking you to remove the settlements from the West Bank, Gaza and Golan. And try – as hard as you’ve worked to build Israel’s military power – to come to a workable peace with your neighbors.
    I realize you’re in trouble right now and it’s a lot to ask, but then you’ve asked a lot of us. Although it’s hard to get accurate statistics on this, it seems the U.S. sends about $10 billion a year in public and private aid and donations each year. Over the years, that amount may have been less, but comprised a larger share of Israel’s GDP. It’s hard to see how we contributed less than half a trillion to Israel.
    Israelis at least owe me a hearing on this. When I was young, my father worked for United Jewish Appeal and then for Bonds for Israel. We didn’t see too much of him because his work was important. As I got older, I donated money and purchased trees for plantation. To be honest, at a certain point, I ceased to support Israel, largely out of disaffection for Israeli policies, and because Israel became wealthy. But in the last half century, the relationship has been entirely one-sided: You asked, we responded.
    Now, I’m asking. Your insistence on maintaining gated suburban communities in the West Bank and Gaza, and the conflict that flows from this policy, is endangering Jews who live throughout the world. The current spate of attacks in Europe and elsewhere is directly tied to the occupation. I don’t need any lectures about the durability of anti-Semitism throughout the world. I’ve been subject to it and lived with it. But until the last few years, anti-Semitism had grown increasingly marginalized in the developed world. The fight over the West Bank has breathed new life into a moribund, although not dead, ideology.
    From my perspective, Israel is holding the world’s Jews hostage to the principle of greater Judea or greater Samaria or whatever you’re calling it these days. So that 200,000 Jews can live in defiant comfort in the West Bank, Gaza and Golan, the rest of us see deteriorating relations with our neighbors and an increasing sense of danger.
    As far as I’m concerned, the flawed idealism of Zionism has run up against a wall. Even if I accepted the biblical premise that Jews are entitled to that piece of Levantine real estate – and I don’t – the political reality is that you cannot find peace by pursuing your current objectives. And you threaten more than yourselves and your immediate neighbors; you are threatening those of us who contributed so heavily to your existence.
    So I ask you again to have some concern for the world’s Jews, for the supporters of Jews, and for peace in general. If you fail to relinquish your semimilitary communities, there will be only war and division. And, as you further endanger those of us outside Israel, you risk losing your base of support.
    In fact, if Israel insists on maintaining the occupation, I will take action. I will demand my trees back. You owe me.
    Alec Dubro is a freelance writer in Washington D.C.

  2. How can you keep saying that this “occupation” is causing problems for Jews around the world? That’s truly blaming the victim for the crimes.

  3. 1) Due to some other american (and israeli) policies, your trees are NOT in gaza , west bank
    2) since the Israeli politicians claim to represent jews around the world, than jews from around the world should have a say as well.
    3) it is truly a shame that evn in Israel when 80% (or more ) of the JEWISH population votes in a particular way, the media (israeli and otherwise) choose to call it a close call
    IS THIS A JEWISH COUNTRY OR A COUNTRY WITH ALOT OF JEWS.. if the latter is true.. than might as well live in NY

  4. velvel wrote:
    ” Aren’t you included? Not that I agree with this American Rabbi, but shouldn’t you shut up or make Aliyah?”
    Well according to him I should shut up, yes. But screw him – he’s wrong.
    velvel wrote:
    “How can you keep saying that this “occupation” is causing problems for Jews around the world? That’s truly blaming the victim for the crimes.”
    First of all, you should try to differentiate between what I say and what articles I’ve posted say.
    But to address your point, How can you possibly deny the connection between what happens in Israel and repercussions against Diaspora Jews ?
    How is taking Israel to task for its impact on the Diaspora “blaming the victim” ? The victims of attacks against Diaspora Jews are Diaspora Jews – not Israel. If one blamed the Diaspora Jews for being attacked, then that would be blaming the victim.
    Ha’aretz writes:
    ” Since the outbreak of the intifada, no stretch of time has gone by without the repercussions being felt by France’s Jewish community. ”
    After word of Deir Yassin and other atrocities got out in 1948, pretty much all the Sephardi Jews in the middle east were kicked out, or made to feel so threatened/unwelcome that they left. Recognizing Israel’s role in that is not “blaming the victim”. The victims there were the Sephardim.
    Every time Israel has ‘flown off the handle’ in recent times, like in Jenin or the high-profile assassinations of Palestinian leaders, anti-semitic incidents go up all over the world.
    Ha’aretz writes:
    “It is much easier to claim the entire world is against us than to admit that the State of Israel, which rose as a refuge and source of pride for Jews, has not only turned into a place less Jewish and less safe for its citizens, but has become a genuine source of danger and a source of shameful embarrassment to Jews who choose to live outside its borders.”
    Jpost writes:
    “Dennis Ross recommends the creation of a standing committee with which the Israeli government would consult before undertaking any initiative which could impact on the standing of Diaspora Jewish communities. The head of the research committee for this report, Professor Sergio Della Pergola, a highly respected Hebrew University demographer, suggests that the government should begin to consider the Diaspora and Israel as one entity, and that the Diaspora must in future be consulted before Israelis initiate actions that could impact on them.
    Although noting that Israel should be entitled to make the final decision, he goes so far as to define the extrajudicial killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin as the kind of issue that would necessitate prior consultation.”

  5. Sorry John Brown..but the Dennis Ross can go fly a kite. I cant BELIEVE that they could even give an example of Sheik Yassin needing “prior consultation”.
    Thanks putting up the piece. Its a interesting topic.
    As for Dr. David Luchins, I am not a big fan of his but his basic idea is “put up or shut up”. Yes people can have an opinon, but really the people of Israel have the right to do what they like, and if you dont like that you can move there.
    As for Alec Dubro’s peice, my heart bleeds for you and your trees. I am sorry you had a father who did something meaninful with his life by helping out the Jewish people, when most jews are too busy becoming lawyers/dentist/bankers/doctors/etc.
    Obviously his hard work and love for the jewish people and Israel was lost on you and your cheapness to bother to purchase some tress (“Israel became wealthy”).

  6. I guess it’s a good thing if such comments are so rare they merit a news article in an Israel newspaper. As it happens, though, the headline (U.S. Jews have no right to criticize Israel) doesn’t quite match the story. The headline has the rabbi saying Jews have “no right”; the story has him thinking its not a very good political tactics, preferring that Jews make aliyah. Heck: Luchins carefully emphasized that “every Jew has the right to pray and pay for their side, whether it’s Americans for Peace Now or Americans for Likud,” and said he was not speaking on behalf of the organizations he serves.
    Incidentally, as to How is taking Israel to task for its impact on the Diaspora “blaming the victim” ? The victims of attacks against Diaspora Jews are Diaspora Jews – not Israel. If one blamed the Diaspora Jews for being attacked, then that would be blaming the victim — I think the point is that beating people up is not a legitimate form of political criticism.

  7. Give me a break—why is this about Jews? All Americans, Jew and non-Jew, ought to freely speak out how they feel about Israel. We give Israel billions of dollars of weapons, economic aid and loan guarantees a year!
    Luchins can spare me his condescension. When Israel slaughtered civilians with flechette shells (in Qana, 10 years ago), surely this went beyond the pale of a “baseball game.” Surely the continuing brutal occupation has as well—how tasteless of him!

  8. Ah, JohnBrown, you need to listen to the operator of this site:
    [quote] the press is merely a vehicle for prolefeed and not a venue for truth
    mobius in israel • 08/01/04 08:24am [endquote]
    Prolefeed is my new favoritist term.

  9. JBrown,
    why are you comments longer than your posts? Sort of weird way to blog. More suited to a private activist site, rather than a blog, IMO.

  10. sara bronson the former NCSY National President? Isn’t Rabbi Dr. David Luchins involved with NCSY? hasnt Luchins spoken out against Israeli policy, and where does he live? interesting.

  11. In a previous thread, John Brown said Israel *caused* 9/11
    Then he denied saying this.
    Then I compared him to a holocaust revisionist.
    If I make intimations of Israeli “blood-libel” is that “anti-Zionist” as well?
    Cuckoo, cuckoo.

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