The recent terror in Israel and the lack of response from America is another sad reminder that the prominent Jews in the American media need to be replaced.
The divide between the two Jewish responses to terrorism makes sense. The same feeling that American Jews felt one day in September fourteen years ago is now being felt in Israel on a constant basis. For an American Jew looking in from the outside of Israel, it is hard to comprehend what a terror attack looks like or how we would respond to something we find so unconscionable. While a lot of us go on Birthright and enjoy Ben Yehuda Street or go on a planned family vacation to get a taste of what Israel is, these brief visits can never replace the knowledge being instilled from a young age that terror and war is a part of life. Many American Jews don’t know anyone who has fought for their country, died for their country, or was murdered for being who they are in their country. While that divide and lack of empathy is understandable, it should never be taken as an excuse for disregarding our brothers and sisters in Israel. From what I have witnessed recently, especially living in Washington, D.C., we have abandoned Israel and the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the prominent American Jews in the media that represent us.
For an American Jew looking in from the outside of Israel, it is hard to comprehend what a terror attack looks like or how we would respond to something we find so unconscionable.
On Friday I saw (via Snapchat) Syrian-Americans protesting Russian aggression in their country while waving their country’s flag. On Saturday I saw (in person) a group of Mexican-Americans protesting Donald Trump while waving their country’s flag at the “Million Man March” 20th Anniversary, which in itself was advertised as a Black solidarity march. Agree or disagree with the views on this activism, at least their communities are doing something.
Where were the American Jews in the nation’s capital this weekend? Why weren’t Jews protesting the administration that gives approximately $400 million annually to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ government that incites violence? (And on that note, why weren’t Jews protesting the Obama administration’s illegal, executive decision to continue that aid after the “unity government” between the PA and Hamas last summer was established?)
In my opinion, the answer is quite simple: Life goes on for American Jews because the prominent American Jews we see in the media have decided that complacency, not ruffling feathers, and a seat at the symbolic table are more important than our global Jewish community. Since these prominent American Jews’ goal is to remain at the table, their message is often just reinforcing the administration that is in power. Thus, when American Jews read The Atlantic, or visit the ADL website, they are met with vague, dithering, sometimes hostile, and overall inept motivations for American Jews to stand up for Israel.
Life goes on for American Jews because the prominent American Jews we see in the media have decided that complacency, not ruffling feathers, and a seat at the symbolic table are more important than our global Jewish community.
Jeffrey Goldberg, perhaps the most influential Jewish columnist in America, writes for The Atlantic. Goldberg has written off the Jews who opposed Barack Obama (as most Israelis do) as racists as far back as 2008. Goldberg wrote a sort of open letter to Jews opposed to Obama by saying that “After a point, it becomes obvious that what you fear is not Israel’s destruction, but the presence of an African-American in the White House. And that’s disgusting”. Over the years, Goldberg has been granted exclusive interviews with the President and has become a sort of de-facto expert for people interested in the U.S.-Israeli relationship and regularly appears on the Sunday talk shows.
Jonathan Greenblatt is the new ADL National Director and has a pristine opportunity to unify the American Jewish voice as terror continues in Israel. On October 2nd, he took a positive step when he re-tweeted the ADL statement that “no words to sufficiently express our outrage, horror & sorrow over heinous attack on #Israeli couple in #Westbank”. However, five days later, after no comment on the numerous terror attacks, Greenblatt tweets “Hoping all sides will move fwd to diminish tension, decrease violence, and find common ground”. If this sounds conspicuously similar to the tone that the Obama administration has taken over the last couple of days that’s because it is virtually the same statement. Why would this be? Well, if you Google Jonathan Greenblatt, you would find that he was a “special assistant” to President Obama and “Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation”.
Contrast these prominent Jewish Americans to the prominent Mexican Americans such as Jorge Ramos and Luis Guitierrez (D-IL) who are constantly making arguments for “Immigration reform” and defending the character of their ethnicity. They even criticize President Obama on occasion about what they see as too many deportations. While I generally disagree with Ramos and Guittierrez, I admit that they have courage. They go toe-to-toe with people who disagree with them such as what Ramos did with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) or taking to the floor of the House of Representatives to bash the GOP frontrunner like Guitierrez did, these people are unabashedly proud of their ethnicity and background. One simply cannot say the same thing about Greenberg and Greenblatt.
This lack of passion by our community’s media elites leads to the sort of apathy we are seeing from American Jews towards defending Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. We are comfortable knowing that our lives can just go on as normal because we don’t have that ardent voice telling us what is going on. Three exceptions to this lethargy that I have found are Avi Mayer, a spokesperson for the Jewish Agency for Israel, Ben Shapiro, a conservative columnist, and Mark Levin, a popular radio host.
I am not saying that every American Jew should have the “Red Alert” app downloaded on full volume or that we should be calling our Representatives 24/7; nor do I have any personal animosity to Goldberg, Greenblatt and their like, in fact they have undoubtedly achieved more for the Jewish people than I have (I am only 22 though!). What I am saying is that while our lives go on as business as usual, Israel once again is under attack and its people, our fellow Jews, have to be cautious just to walk in a street and it is about time the complacency of prominent American Jews be replaced with the passion other advocates such as Jorge Ramos and Luis Guitierrez show on behalf of their people.