Jean Pierre Braun

What is the value of a Jewish life?

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The matter is not new: at the worst moments of the 2nd World War, attempts were made to rescue Jews for ransom, most of them unsuccessful. The two that succeeded, albeit to a very limited extent, were in Slovakia, where the “working group” managed to save almost 4,000 Jews for an estimated ransom of $1 million, and in Hungary, where under the leadership of the controversial Rudolf Kastner, 1,680 Jews were saved for a ransom estimated at almost $2 million.

The idea may seem cynical, but it appears to me that what is happening right now between President Biden and Israel is essentially the same approach: sacrificing or saving Jewish lives in exchange for money.

Let’s look at the facts: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both advisors to Joe Biden’s campaign for his re-election as President of the United States, issued a warning to President Biden and his entourage a few weeks ago, saying in essence:

1- Your Gaza policy is far too biased in favor of Israel,

2- Many Democratic voters are unhappy with it, particularly in the very important swing states of the Northern Midwest.

3- If you don’t drastically change your policy towards Israel, very wealthy pro-Palestinian donors will refuse to finance your campaign.

4- The amount in the balance (and therefore at risk of losing) could be very substantial, ranging from $30 million to several hundred million dollars, depending on the source.

To add credence to what I’m saying, here are a few press excerpts (source: USA Today online, among others):

“Two major donors said they did not attend the March 28 fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York – headlined by former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton – in protest of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip.”

“One of the donors, who was also a former senior Obama administration official and helped raise more than $5 million for the party, said it was “morally wrong” to join the campaign team, donate or volunteer until the Biden administration changed course in its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Another donor, political activist and philanthropist, Amed Khan, left Biden’s Victory Fund National Finance Committee last fall because of the president’s handling of the Gaza war. ”

“Tory Gavito, co-founder of Way to Win, a national network of progressive donors that has raised more than $300 million since 2018, said she expects many donors with Gaza in mind to continue withholding support for the president’s campaign. ”

End of quotes

The sum is large, the threat is real. Very quickly, following these warnings, Biden changed his tune. All of us in Israel noticed this about-face between the compassionate and understanding Biden of the recent past, and the threatening Biden we’ve seen at work since the start of Ramadan.

The new position of the Biden / Blinken duo is very simple: Israel must give Hamas everything it wants, with almost no limitations, whatever the cost, whatever the risks that would ensue from this capitulation. In exchange, Israel must ask little or nothing of Hamas.

Hamas remains in place in Gaza, rearming and rebuilding itself, and in no way renouncing its ultimate goals: to wipe Israel out of the map and to kill all the Jews. Because, despite the way Israel’s so-called friends interpret them, Hamas’ threats are real, you must believe what they say, they’ve been hammering it for so long, it’s really what they intend to do.

All this so that Joe Biden can receive his $30 million (or perhaps much more) from anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian donors, and thus bolster his campaign for possible re-election.

President Biden, far be it from me to compare you in any way to the Nazi regime of the Second World War. No one here in Israel harbors such thoughts.

On the other hand, your sudden change of attitude towards Israel, your open hostility towards our democratically elected Prime Minister Netanyahu, the appalling blackmail over the use and delivery of weapons to Israel, in other words your absolute insistence on ordering Israel if, when and how our country can defend the lives of its inhabitants, all so that you can receive millions of dollars from pro-Palestinian donors, let me tell you, it is unacceptable.

Therefore, I ask President Biden and his advisors again: What is the value of a Jewish life to you?

The answer is simple: you put the lives of 7 million Jewish Israelis at risk, to receive $30 million, or perhaps more, i.e. just over $4,000 for each Jewish life you put in clear and present danger of death if you persist. The exact sum doesn’t matter, it’s the principle that’s being discussed here. What leader of a civilized country would take such a step?

There’s nothing more to say. This is not the first time in history that Jewish lives have been exchanged for ransom or other sums of money. The People of the Book has survived every time. What’s different today is that the majority of the world’s Jews find themselves gathered in this tiny space called Israel, the reliable friend and ally of the United States, the only democracy in the entire Middle East. The return of Jews from all over the world to Israel is a good thing; it’s what the Jewish people wanted. But it’s also a high-risk situation: any existential threat against Israel would have lethal consequences for Israel, for Israelis, but also undoubtedly for Jews the world over and the future of Judaism. Remember: Jews have always been regarded as “the canary in the coal mine”: civilizational conflicts often begin with anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish people, but they inevitably spread to the nations of the world: “Little Satan, Great Satan.”

Allow me one additional thought to conclude: throughout history, the exchange of Jewish lives for money has always been about saving lives. Mr. Biden, do you really want to be seen by history as the innovator, the first one who received money not to save, but to sacrifice Jewish lives? Please think about it.

About the Author
Jean Pierre Braun is a retired Silicon Valley CEO now living in Jerusalem. Born in Paris, Jean Pierre immigrated to the USA after completing its Electrical Engineering degree in France. Besides being a serial entrepreneur, Jean Pierre was also the founder of a unique, very successful Silicon Valley Synagogue, and upon his return to France became Vice President of a local CRIF branch, and the President of the Rachi community in Grenoble. A father of 3 and grandfather of 10 ב'ה, Jean Pierre and his wife Annie made Aliyah in 2016.
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