We American Jews get bent out of shape when we’re accused of dual loyalty. But the truth is many of us are guilty as charged when it comes to being proud Americans and supporting the people of Israel.
We should be proud, not ashamed of that fact.
And it’s also true that we give out mixed messages when we say American Jews should be unified in support of Israel, but that dialogue and debate between our two societies is a healthy sign of engagement, caring and passion.
I don’t see that as a contradiction, as long as our disagreements are expressed with compassion and a sense of humility – as non-combatants, if you will.
All of this comes to mind in light of the controversy over the Bnai Jeshurun rabbis of the Upper West Side endorsing the Palestinian Authority’s successful effort to upgrade its status at the UN. Even the rabbis’ revised, more apologetic statement said the UN vote was “a great moment” for all of us and a chance “to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition.”
But that process should be through direct negotiations between the parties, not an end-around to avoid real talks.
I worry that Mahmoud Abbas showed his real colors in his speech the day of his big victory. Knowing he had the votes, he could have given an “I Have A Dream” talk about a future of two states for two peoples living alongside each other in peace. Instead he condemned Israel in the harshest terms, as he did at the General Assembly in September, accusing Jerusalem of ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide.
Besides proving he’s no Martin Luther King Jr., Abbas indicated his readiness to advance his efforts to demonize Israel. Maybe such talk calls for celebration in the streets of Ramallah, but not on the bima of Bnai Jeshurun.