Monday, August 27, 2007



Rabbi Michael L. Lerner, editor and founder of Tikkun Magazine and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco has written a thought provoking article in the September-October issue in which he states that the Israel Lobby is “bad for the United States, bad for Israel, and bad for the Jews.”

Always an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, and its continuing right to exist within the lawful boundaries granted by the United Nations in 1947, Lerner has long advocated a two state solution where Israel’s settlers and military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would be withdrawn and a viable independent Palestinian state created.

Lerner believes that the Israel Lobby must be confronted and opposed because:

• It is bad for the world because the lobby has become a major perpetrator of the fear orientation in politics that Lerner believes to be at the heart of many of the problems facing the world. The Lobby’s fear orientation leads to the “Strategy of Domination: we must conquer or dominate others before they conquer or dominate us.” Lerner would maintain defensive military strength, but urges that “security can come through generosity and caring for others.” Lerner believes that ongoing military domination of the West Bank by Israelis and Iraq by the Americans is counterproductive in the long run because it increases Muslim resentment and hatred toward the West.

• It is bad for the United States because the “Israel Lobby identifies the best interests of the United States with those of the Israeli right-wing, and that right-wing engages in activities against the Palestinian people in particular and against surrounding neighboring states, which have inflamed global public opinion not only against Israel but against the United States…and might yet, if Bush and Cheney get their way, lead to military strikes against Iran.”

• It is bad for Israel because the “Lobby strengthens the hands of the most right wing forces in Israel while reinforcing the view that the U.S. is going to back their intransigence and militarism and that, hence they have a blank check to do whatever crazy and self-defeating scheme they come up with, including the war in Lebanon in 2006, the dropping of cluster bombs in Southern Lebanon, the refusal to give up the land of Syria’s conquered in 1967, the holding of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Israeli prison camps, the use of torture, the violation of the rights of Israeli citizens who happen to be Arabs, and the refusal to acknowledge any responsibility for the Palestinian refugees.”

• It is bad for the Jews because it is failing to keep younger Jews connected to their Judaism. The reasons are the spiritual deadness and materialism they encountered in the Jewish world and the “anger and frustration that young Jews experienced facing the “Jewish Political Correctness around Israel…” “The most decisive reason the Israel Lobby is bad for the Jews is that it strengthens idolatry in the Jewish world by reinforcing our tendencies to believe in power and domination rather than love, generosity, compassion, and open-heartedness.”

When Lerner speaks of the Israel Lobby he means a group of Jewish organizations working in tandem such as the Congress of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and many others. “In the broad sense that I’m using the term ‘Israel Lobby,’ I’m referring to everyone who enforces--on the individual or communal level—what I describe as Jewish Political Correctness.”

Lerner says the Israel Lobby’s “Jewish Political Correctness” has put a straight jacket on public conversation about Israel in American media and in American politics. The Lobby attempts to defeat any elected official who in any way criticizes Israel or proposes fair treatment for Palestine.

Lerner himself has been a victim of the Lobby as have many others. Spokesmen for the Lobby routinely label critics as “lacking balance” for failure to criticize sources of injustice other than Israel, and call non Jews as “anti-Semitic” and Jews such as Lerner, “self-hating Jews.” The Lobby helped to remove Congressman Jim Moran as head of the Democratic Caucus. It worked to defeat, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Congressman Earl Hilliard, and Senator Charles Percy, and withheld funds from Adlai Stevenson when he sought to run again for Governor of Illinois in 1981, according to Michael Massing in a June 6, 2006 article entitled “The Storm over the Israel Lobby” in The New York Review of Books, page 64.

No comments: