Trump’s embrace of apartheid was brought to you by the organized Jewish community

Phil Weiss  the founder of the brilliant blog Mondoweiss as written the most cogent analytical piece of the failed and justifiably ridiculed Trump peace plan.

Trump’s embrace of apartheid was brought to you by the organized Jewish community

Weiss puts the blame on the Jewish community who has refused to organize as equals with the community Israel is oppressing: Palestinians.

In this he is correct. In this highly sensitive piece he exhibits great understanding and compassion for several in the Jewish community who have attempted to move beyond tribalism, the general default position of most groups. He writes

But whenever push came to shove it has sold that principle out in favor of Jewish communal cohesion and support for the Israeli government.

There were brave Jews of course  whose respect for universal values trumped the tribe. He names some of them in the USA. He could have added several more anti-Zionists in Israel who also paid the price for breaking ranks with the community.

To me this is understandable. Jews for obvious reasons have  had to be very careful as members of a minority community in ”Christian” America. Self criticism as Weiss writes, gets you ostracized very fast.

Within the rabbinate in particular no criticism of Israel was brooked so rabbis reflexively toed the line. Those who did like Toronto’s Reuben Slonim were quickly shunned.After the Six Day War of 1967, Jewish life in North America changed. Jews swelled with pride as “little David” destroyed the Egyptian air force. As Norman Podhoretz claimed, “Israel became the religion of American Jews.

The 67 war also created another phenomenon. The sudden emergence of the Nazi holocaust as the “Get out of jail” card for  American Jews who used it at every opportunity to silence any critic of Israel. Former  Israeli PM Golda Meir had boasted, “after the holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything.” 

Then there was the “ecumenical deal” described by Jewish theologian Marc Ellis. The deal replaced authentic interfaith dialogue. Jews accepted Christian  acknowledgement of hisstorical anti-Semitism which helped create the Nazi holocaust which had now become “The Holocaust.” In return Christians were expected to be silent about any justice for Palestine. This was tacitly accepted as the mass murder of Jews was still fresh in our memory and too many Christians were immobilized by guilt.

                       Wealth and Power

Weiss writes: 

Obama and the liberal Zionists crumpled for simple reasons: because the center of the Jewish community was too far right on the issue, and Obama was dependent on that community for financial and political support.

This has always been the case. In the 1948 presidential election Jews  1% of Americans contributed 50% of Harry Truman’s war chest. Today Weiss quoting J.J. Goldberg pointed to the shocking” degree of dependence by Democrats on Jewish donors. Look no further than Hilary Clinton’s fawning over Jewish billionaire Haim Saban whose “only issue is Israel.”Look at all the timorous Democratic hopefuls for president who are  shamed into silence by AIPAC. Joe Biden  could easily speak for all except the one critic of Israel Bernie Sanders. Biden described himself as a Zionist.

This brings us to the power of wealth. According to the PEW forum Jews are the richest religious group in America with prominence in finance and culture. On the Forbes list of American billionaires 25% are Jewish. 46% of Jews earn more than $100,000 per year versus 19% of among all Americans.This oversize influence is a tribute  not to “Jewish blood” but the community’s emphasis on high education. 28% of post grad students are Jews versus 10% of the rest according to Robert Mnookin in his book The Jewish American Paradox:

With money comes power but as another Jew presciently said, “No man can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Jews are like any other group susceptible to the same sweet seduction that affluence brings. As Jews moved to the suburbs the power of prophetic religion grew weaker. The universal values inherent in an exodus religion of liberation to the captives, the memory  of Judaism’s great gift, prophets who spoke truth to power dimmed. Many Jews began to side with Pharaoh, the powerful state  Israel which continued to dispossess the native Palestinians.

My own Roman Catholic tradition  made a similar debilitating trip to the suburbs  and remained mute and  marinated in Holocaust guilt, terrified  to speak on behalf of a largely Muslim people whose world was brutalized  by Zionism. Bishops became absolutely deaf to  solidarity requested by  Palestinian Christians who in 2009  had the courage “ declare that the military occupation of Palestinian land constitutes a sin against God and humanity. We ask our sister Churches not to offer a theological cover-up for the injustice we suffer, for the sin of the occupation imposed upon us.” The Palestinian Christian community is still waiting for a response. 

Weiss of course writes for Jews whose establishment Zionist voice is a tragic betrayal of Judaism’s universal values. Great Jews, many of them rabbis, warned fellow believers not to go down the perilous road of nationalism.Yeshayayu Leibowitz  the  polymath Israeli Orthodox thinker warned Israeli leaders not to make the state rather tham the living God  the centre of worship. This would be catastrophic and a betrayal of Judaism. By the 90s it was obvious that Israel had become a Zionist state and in no way Jewish. He wrote

If there exists Jews willing to join the national-occupationists trend and go so far as to make ‘a greater Israel’…..the essential element of their faith, a religious commandment, well then, these people have become the heirs of worshippers of the golden calf who also proclaimed: “Behold your God, O Israel.” The golden calf need not be made of gold. It may also be called “nation”,“land”, “State.”

Great “Jews of  conscience” saw through Zionism, a nationalist political movement as an ersatz  religion not one a of universal values. Leibowitz  had a clear vision  of Zionist use and abuse of religion.

“It was a spiritual corruption at the hands of lies and hypocrisy that borders on blasphemy, in the fact that a people could make use of the Torah to strengthen its national pretensions, while the majority of its members, as well as the social and political regime that it has adopted, have no connection with religious faith,

Today it is young Jews, reared in the synagogue with authentic Judaic values who are rediscovering the prophetic dimension of their faith and breaking with the “cheque book Judaism” of the Adelsons et al.