Nikolai (Vladimir) Lenin, Russian leader of the 1917 Communist Revolution, adopted a phrase descriptive of American President Woodrow Wilson’s naiveté in negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, referring to Wilson and other American appeasers as “useful idiots.” In a speech delivered in Moscow on December 20, 1920, he characterized Wilson as “an utter simpleton whom Clemenceau and Lloyd-George twisted around their little finger.” Useful idiots, in Lenin’s mind, were cowardly defenders of and apologists for aggressors who, protecting their lifestyles, were nothing more than “capitalist dupes who will sell us the rope with which to hang them.” For the confused, let me enlighten: there never was a peace process. Oslo was a charade played by princes and “emperors without clothes,” yet I recently encountered a few who are more self-righteous than the average appeasers and apologists.
A number of years ago Israel Bonds brought to Chicago a former Israeli Consul General, Alon Pinkus… a pro of sorts. In various appearances on the talk show circuit, when confronted by some of Israel’s Arab peace-partners, Pinkus did a masterful job of running circles around them. While addressing the Israel Bonds audience, he made two interesting points. First, “Jews and Arabs can’t live together…” (since he was no longer a diplomat , he no longer had to be diplomatic), and second, which was more timely since it was just prior to Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza. Israel, he said, had to leave Gaza because “there are 8,000 Jews surrounded by over a million Arabs.”
Always seeking insight into the professional mindset, I asked the Consul General, during Q and A: “If, as you said, Jews and Arabs can’t live together, and since Israel is willing to transfer 8,000 Jews from their homes and communities, shouldn’t Israel also transfer Israeli Arabs from their homes in a place like Um el-Fahm (an Arab town within the green line)?” When Pinkus began to respond, I interrupted his non-sequitur to rephrase the question: “If the reason for disengagement is about numbers, and considering that the State of Israel is comprised of about 6 million Jews surrounded by over 100 million Arabs, shouldn’t Israel—by your logic—just pack up and move to another place in the world?” Whereupon, to my astonishment, the esteemed Consul General began quoting about the sanctity of the Land given to our people by G-d, and about returning to our homeland after 2000 years of exile… Unable to hold back, I interrupted him again: “The day a leftist like you begins to quote Torah, I know that Mashiach is on the way!” and the crowd broke out in a roar of laughter. Two rabbis caught me on the way out with hugs, their eyes twinkling, as they vigorously shook my hand and asked my name. Yet I did get a few choice words from my wife, who thought Alon was cute and that I had been rude. In that situation, Mr. Pinkus proved to be a cute “useful idiot”. Not long after at a Skokie synagogue, three Chicago advocacy groups, Protect Our Heritage, Hadassah, and the American Zionist Movement sponsored a presentation by a Washington-based organization called The Israel Project. Their website is very impressive—but for two small omissions: First, that the original Palestine Mandate was for a Jewish homeland “on the banks of the Jordan,” with no contemplation in 1917 of a country called Trans-Jordan; and second, it omitted the fact that the first suicide bus bombing took place on April 7, 1994 in Afula. I’m sure these were just honest oversights since all the other bus bombings were documented.
The speaker, a young woman named Meagan Buren, their Communications and Outreach Manager, gave a PowerPoint presentation titled “Bridging to a Pro-Israel Message.” Now I know that among the many Jewish organizations there is consensus that Israel has terrible public relations. Forgetting the press’ bias, “Israeli P.R.” seems like an oxymoron, with various groups insisting that they can do it better. But in a world as goofy as ours has become—over a hundred people slaughtered because of a few cartoons and a 24-hour media always looking to dredge up anything remotely resembling “news”—I don’t know of a country that does look good these days. Surely it isn’t the U.S. or any country in Europe. Go around the globe and try to find a country that does get good press. So this public relations stuff is a bit overblown and highly overrated—which only highlights how paranoid and neurotic Jews can be. Don’t get me wrong—it isn’t that everything is wonderful and that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past—which it isn’t—but the world today is a lot crazier, more volatile and more dangerous than it has been in a long time, and good P.R. will not banish the bad guys… and neither will cowardice and appeasement.
The Israel Project promotes the use of “bridges” as segues to make your “Pro-Israel Message” more palatable. There were four such bridges:
Bridge 1. Demonstrate your empathy for both sides. A bit of a stretch considering that in elections held a few years back, Palestinians rewarded Hamas, the suicide-bombing experts, with an overwhelming victory. This shouldn’t have come as a great surprise. Hamas had boasted responsibility for forcing Israel out of Gaza. The Palestinian electorate had been warned in advance of the political repercussions if Hamas won the elections. The U.S. and the EU sent the Palestinians a message before the election, and the Palestinians sent them back an unambiguous answer. This was not Bush versus Gore 2000—this was a landslide. Kudos to the Palestinians for standing up for what they believed in and being true to their beliefs. Democracy had prevailed. The Holocaust-denier, Arafat-in-a-suit Abu Mazen, lost. Call me mean-spirited, but I just can’t feel a great deal of empathy for young men who strap on explosives to blow themselves up for the purpose of murdering as many innocent Jews as possible. I don’t need or want the candy joyously handed out by the bombers’ mothers, celebrating the families’ honor of these suicide murderers. Ms. Buren, in her empathy for the Palestinians, came off as an apologist for killers.
Bridge 2. [Remind them that] Israel wants peace. “…and has always been and still is ready to make painful sacrifices for peace”. I once heard an Israeli general say to a group, “I’m willing to die for my country!” and I replied, “That’s the problem, General, you’ve got it backwards. The object is to make the other guy die for his country. It’s a good deal for both of you: He gets 72 virgins, and you get to bounce grandchildren on your knee.” Painful sarifices? Enough painful sacrifices. Since Oslo began, over 1600 Jews have been splattered on the streets of Israel. Rabin and Peres despicably called these dead Jews “sacrifices for peace.” Oslo wasn’t the answer and neither were the cowardly withdrawals first from Southern Lebanon as a courtesy to Hizbollah, and then from Gaza, creating what is now, for all intents and purposes, Hamastan. Cowardice nor appeasement are not a strategy for rooting out evil.
Bridge 3. [Point out] shared values/interests [in common with America]—Shared values with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria or Egypt. I wouldn’t rest Israel’s case on the canard of shared values. And for America, Israel is either a strategic asset or it isn’t. As Joseph Sisco, former Assistant Secretary of State, said to an Israeli consul general back in the Cold War Days, “I want to assure you that if we were not getting full value for our U.S. dollar, you [Israel] would not get a cent from us.” American foreign policymakers are pragmatists, not moralists. America has been buying Israel’s loyalty at a bargain-basement price.
Bridge 4. [Agree that] it’s time to end terror and the culture of hate. The “holy” wars between Judeo-Christian “infidels” and non-believers and Islam have been going on for over 1400 years, and the brainwashing of the last generation of Arabs/Muslims is just another link in the chain that began when a guy named Mohammed began praying to a rock in Mecca, and demanded the Jews to come play with him. Three hundred schools have been named after suicide bombers, and they don’t have 300 Muslim doctors, lawyers, academics or scientists to replace the names of their 300 shahids
And that brings me to my main issue with the wunderkind Ms. Buren, which is something that Jay Tcath of the Jewish Community Relations Committee states and restates: If Israel has such bad P.R. in the U.S., why is it that in poll after poll over the last five years—most recently in a Gallup poll taken just last month— 66 percent of Americans sympathize with and support Israel, while only 12 percent of Americans support the Palestinians? This is an astonishingly consistent fact. Americans overwhelmingly get it! If only liberal Jews got it. And even more incredible, the poll found that 78 percent of Republicans are more likely to sympathize with Israel, while only 52 percent of Democrats side with Israel. Christian Americans and Republican Americans know who to “cheer” for. As the Gallup poll shows, it is American Jews of the Democratic persuasion and their J Streeter pals that are truly the Israel-challenged.
“Useful idiots” are those who try to deny the obvious. Armed with excuses and rationalizations, they have created an art form of telling people what they want them to hear rather than what was actually happening. The secret to their ruse has been knowing who to blame for their failures. Yet what particularly troubled me about Ms. Buren’s presentation was her intentional avoidance of the religious argument for the reestablishment of Israel The only reason our people went back to Canaan in 1948 was that it was the land promised to our people in the Torah. It wasn’t promised to Christians or Muslims. It was promised to the Jews as a birthright in an eternal covenant. We are later this year going to be reading the book of Deuteronomy. The exodus was from Egypt to Canaan—or in modern terms, from Europe to Palestine. Most Christians get it—many liberal, secular-humanists non- Orthodox Jews have a problem with it. And when their liberal humanist rabbis (of all denominations) get that thing about the Land and our chosenness stuck in their throats, they should remember the words of an insightfully honest Pope who, upon arriving at his Holy Land (our Israel), stated clearly and unequivocally, “This land of Israel may be holy to all three monotheistic religions, but it was given by our Creator only to the Jews.” He was talking directly to his Christian followers, but hopefully a few of the liberal Jewish persuasion were also listening.
“Useful idiots” may be well meaning, or they may have their own agenda, but encouraging our enemies through perfidious cowardice to believe in their dream of a Palestinian state from” the river to the sea” can only lead to one fate: “dupes who will sell the rope with which to hang themselves”. Shabbat Shalom, Jack “Yehoshua”Berger