Here’s a little insight into Jewish priorities these days that probably won’t surprise you.
Last week I received at least 25 statements and press releases from Jewish groups and assorted Jewish politicians urging a U.S. veto of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s settlements. (The U.S. DID veto the resolution on Friday, and there’s no evidence pressure from Jewish groups was the reason).
In that same period, I received 4 statements and press releases about the extraordinary budget battle taking place in Congress – with the House passing a stopgap budget measure with $61 billion in discretionary spending cuts and the Obama administration fighting for smaller cuts but agreeing that a wide range of programs that serve the nation’s most vulnerable citizens will be hit hard in the coming months, and almost certainly much harder in the next fiscal year.
The UN resolution was clearly one sided, but in the real world nothing would have changed if it had passed.
Almost every country except for the U.S. and Israel already thinks settlements are illegal and a major obstacle to peace; almost everybody who has an opinion on about the Middle East has an opinion on settlements that probably wouldn’t have changed if the Security Council had passed yet another one-sided resolution about Israel.
On the other hand, the epic budget battle will inevitably affect the lives of millions of Americans, including the growing number of Jews slipping below the poverty line as critical health and human service and education programs get cut to tatters.
It will also affect hundreds of Jewish agencies that depend heavily on government money to provide critical services. You can bet that many will be forced to reduce services, and some will probably go out of business, because of the cuts being debated on Capitol Hill.
I’m not saying the UN vote was insignificant; I am saying that as Congress considers a fundamental shift in the role of government that will affect just about every Jewish human service program in the country and affect the lives of countless Jews, the disproportion in attention by our communal establishment is striking.