Call to GA Participants
By Isi Leibler
permit me to open this column by expressing my distress that for the first time,
the Jewish Federations of North American are holding their General Assembly in
Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. I doubt this was a coincidence. Israelis are
delighted with the U.S. government’s relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv
to Jerusalem. I hope JFNA’s diversion of the GA from Jerusalem does not
reflect an anti-Trump paranoia.
should assume that the representatives of Federations are more conscious of
their Jewish identity and better informed than the average American Jew.
are surely concerned with the loss of Jewish identity among increasing numbers
of young Americans of Jewish ethnic origin who were not even provided with an
elementary Jewish education. Lacking any foundation of Jewish identity, many are
alienated from Israel and seek to distance themselves from Zionism and the
leading American Jews falsely accuse Israel of not supporting them and of
conducting an extremist policy in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. In
addition, they accuse Israel of discriminating against non-Orthodox Jews as
exemplified by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s retraction of an agreement
to allocate an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. One might argue
that he should have ignored haredi extortion and dissolved the government. But,
rightly or wrongly, he gave precedence to the urgent security issues of the day.
American Jewish progressives, few of whom visit the Western Wall, would have
been nonplussed had their rabbis not whipped up hysteria over the issue.
my message to American Jewish leaders is not to blame Israel for your
shortcomings and the escalating intermarriage rates.
responsibility, prioritize Jewish education and overcome Jewish illiteracy. That
should be your overriding concern and objective.
should also realize that the creation of a Jewish state following the Shoah was
supported by all Jews and was a key component in fostering a healthy Jewish
identity among the entire Jewish people.
today, this is not the case and I lay the responsibility primarily on Jewish
leaders – especially since the election of President Donald Trump.
the past, mainstream Jewish organizations strove to be nonpartisan. But alas, no
longer, with the majority of the non-Orthodox strongly opposed to their
would not be so bad if they did so as Americans, but to do so as an expression
of their supposed Jewish identity, or in their capacity as Jewish leaders, is
what is utterly outrageous is the attitude displayed by Jews toward Trump’s
is your president and as Americans you can hate him or love him. But as Jews you
should appreciate what he has done for us by being the first American president
to openly ally himself with Israel and avoid moral equivalency by telling the
truth about Palestinian duplicity and terror.
transferred the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, which may mean little to you
but overjoyed Israelis. His predecessors promised to do so but always backed
merged the Jerusalem consulate with the embassy to ensure that there is one
clear message directed toward the Palestinians.
told the Palestinians that he would take punitive steps if they refused to
negotiate toward peace and closed their Washington mission.
warned them that he would not tolerate hundreds of millions of dollars being
paid as an inducement for killers and their families.
exposed the sham of the “5 million” Palestinian refugees and curtailed funds
to UNRWA, an organization that perpetuates the refugee problem.
former President Barack Obama, who appeased the Iranians who have pledged to
destroy us, Trump applied sanctions and warned that he would not tolerate
Iranian nuclear weapons.
the first time, the United States has spoken up uninhibitedly for Israel at the
United Nations and other international bodies. Trump even orchestrated a joint
statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin supporting Israel’s security.
is why Trump has a 69% approval rating in Israel and almost 80% of Israeli Jews
approve of his handling of U.S.-Israel relations.
committed members of the American Jewish community, even the liberals among you
who clearly dislike Trump (as is your right) should recognize and appreciate
what he has done for Israel.
while you may not like Netanyahu (that, too, is your right), Israelis would
undoubtedly re-elect him today.
residents of a country on the other side of the world, you should display
respect for the will of the majority of a democratic Jewish state – a beacon
of light in a region that has returned to the Dark Ages.
should respect our security requirements, which are endorsed by the clear
majority of the nation. A two-state solution remains the long-term goal but
today that would lead to the emergence of a terrorist state which could become a
launching pad for Iran, a country committed to our destruction. This view unites
the government and opposition and has the greatest consensus of any issue since
the failed Oslo Accords.
is not perfect, and I have frequently penned criticisms of aspects of our
policies. You, too, may feel free to criticize us, but you should hesitate
before condemning our security policies. It is we and our children – not you
– who will live or not with the consequences.
differing on individual policies should not deter you from supporting our one
and only Jewish state.
are your challenges. Give your children a Jewish education and provide them with
a Jewish identity. Teach them the history of the Jewish people and explain to
them how powerless we were until the establishment of a Jewish state, just 70