Robert Cherry
Author: Jewish and Christian Views on Bodily Pleasures

Ignorant and Elitist Liberal Jews Pile on Israel

In the last month, three momentous events have taken place: US decision to leave the treaty with Iran, the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, and the violent confrontations at the Gaza border. In response, sections of the liberal US Jewish community have sharply denounced Israel. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote,

“Trump has empowered what’s worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity … A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it’s supposed to be our friend.”

For liberals like Goldberg, the only thing that they know about the treatment of Arab citizens of Israel is the periodic threat to demolish Bedouin homes and Netanyahu’s fomenting of anti-Arab attitudes. They know nothing about the dramatic Arab economic and occupational advances. They are unaware of the dramatic increase in the number of hi-tech Arab workers and entrepreneurs, of the increases in Arab teachers in Jewish schools, and the unprecedented increase in infrastructure funding in Arab towns.

These advances have occurred because the Arab List under the effective leadership of Ayman Odeh, together with important NGOs, has been able to convince right-wing legislators to implement important funding initiatives. Unfortunately, none of these organizations are willing to publicize these findings when speaking to the US public.

They will discuss approvingly these changes when seeking funding support from US organizations but never when writing in the New York Times, Washington Post, or liberal magazines. After all, indicating that Naftali Bennett has been instrumental in the success of initiatives to increase Arab employment in the hi-tech industry and in Jewish schools would not sit well with those who wish to label anyone associated with Jewish West Bank settlements as a stone-cold racist. Unfortunately, their silence enables the fiercest Jewish critics to present a one-sided view, leading writes like Goldberg to spew her vitriol with impunity.

On the Iran front, liberal pundits continuous harp on the disaster of Trump’s decision, isolating the US from its European allies and risking renewal of its nuclear weapon program. These writers never question EU policies and whether they may be driven more by economic benefits to their companies than a lasting world peace.

Most telling is how they judge why Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two countries that would be most harmed by the renewal of Iran’s nuclear weapons projects, are firmly in support of Trump’s decision. After all, it is not as if Iran’s intercontinental ballistic and future nuclear weapon systems would attack the EU. In their arrogance, the liberal elite do not feel it has to explain why the Saudis and Israelis are wrong. Indeed, one of their spokespersons, Peter Beinat, dismisses their behavior as a “desire to prevent any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.”

Fortunately, more objective reporting indicates that Trump’s action comes at a most inopportune time for the Iranians: Their economy is in the tank and US sanctions will only make it worse. This is why the Iranians are desperate to maintain the nuclear deal. These facts, however, have little impact on the EU and its liberal US allies who wish to follow the policies of the late Neville Chamberlain: Placate you foe at all costs.

None of this means that the Israeli and Saudi decision to confront Iran’s expansionist foreign endeavors now will prove correct or that Israeli policies towards its Arab citizens are perfect. It does mean, however, that Trump’s decision to exit the Iran treaty might have much more merit than the liberal elite wish to consider. It also means that we should be more critical of Ayman Odeh and his allies for being two-faced in their public pronouncements. Indeed, I believe that if the true story of the Arab advances in Israel were known in the US more broadly, the harshest anti-Israeli rhetoric would be undermined.

About the Author
Robert Cherry is a professor of economics at Brooklyn College. Author of Jewish and Christian Views on Bodily Pleasures: Their Origins and Relevance to Twentieth Century (Wipf & Stock, 2018); Increased Constructive Engagement amoAung Israeli Arabs, (Israel Studies, Jan 2014); Rethinking Poles and Jews (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
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