Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert claimed on CNN this weekend that that the “extreme right wing” in the United States helped derail his proposed peace plan with the Palestinians. In fact, Olmert himself is the extremist, with viewpoints well outside the consensus of the organized Jewish (or Israeli) community. Owning a major American public relations agency, I am well aware that words matter when shaping debates and issues – and within the organized Jewish community, the left has hijacked the word extremist – and points it at committed traditional Jews too often.
Extremism is defined as any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political center of a society – and there is no doubt that the left are the extremists, the radicals within the organized Jewish community who are well outside of the consensus. In case Mr. Olmert is confused, Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, and his polling is running super high with possible impending elections. Olmert has no influence and no following in Israeli politics. And it’s unfair and inaccurate to call American Jews committed to and working for a united Jerusalem as “extremists.”
This sick obsession of liberal extreme Jews to label normal, Zionist Jews “extremists” is simply off base. This obsession with labeling people as “extreme right wing American Jews” is inaccurate – whether it’s the heroic Dr. Irving Moskowitz, or Sheldon Adelson or Orthodox Jews, these are people with the simple desire of keeping Israel a Jewish state – and it’s reflected by the current Israeli government. Jews worldwide, and in every synagogue in America, believe Israel must remain a Jewish state.
Mr. Olmert – If you’d like some American Jewish extremists:
- Peter Beinart – whose blog has a mainstream media dedicated platform for a viewpoint which is completely apart from the mainstream Jewish community’s way of thinking. This narcissist has called a boycott of goods made in the Israeli settlements and his opinions aren’t reflective in any manner by the Jewish community. (And all the American supporters of BDS are clearly extremists).
- The New Israel Fund (NIF) – whose associate director commented that she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic. In the words of a high-ranking NIF official, the group believes Zionism itself is anti-democratic and should eventually yield to an Arab state where Jews will once again live as a minority.
The NIF supports Anti-Zionist organizations. The “New Israel” envisioned by NIF will not be a Jewish state. That’s extreme.
- J Street: Which makes a lot of noise, but as Ambassador Michael Oren stated, J Street “is a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government; it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.” Their board members have met with Hamas.
- Norman Finkelstein, Michael Lerner and their cast of misfits who condemn Israel and Judaism every opportunity they get.
The facts are that Jews worldwide are committed to a Jewish state – with Jerusalem as its undivided capital, and every poll shows it. Lenin called those who work against their own people’s best interests in support of their enemies “useful idiots,” and Olmert has joined this category. If he’d like an education on Jewish extremists he should look in the mirror – it’s well outside the consensus of Israeli voters to speak of dividing Jerusalem. He’d be laughed out of politics if he wasn’t already.
In 1908, Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote an essay entitled “Without Patriotism,” which he headed with a quote: “Have pity on me that I cannot love.” As he wrote:
The bitter root of our shame and our suffering… is that we do not give our own people the full love of a patriot. It would be better if we did not love our people at all, if we were unconcerned as to whether it existed or had disappeared, rather than that we should love it halfway, which means to despise it.
Olmert was born in Nahalat Jabotinsky – which was named after Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, and Olmert grew up in the Zionist Youth movement of Betar. He’d be well advised to return to his roots and re-read Jabotinsky. Olmert can sit quietly rather than harm Israel – and should focus efforts on extremist Jews who damage Israel rather than those committed to Israel and traditional Judaism.
Count me among those who are proud to provide financial and other support, as an American Jew committed to ensuring that Jerusalem remains Jewish, and Israel a Jewish state. That’s far from extreme. It’s called Judaism and Zionism.