Don’t Stifle Criticism
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Don’t Stifle Criticism

Gary Rosenblatt, in his column, “A Unity Pledge That Backfired (Proving Its Point),” Nov. 18, contends that the ADL-AJC Unity Pledge did not seek to limit criticism of President Barack Obama’s policy towards Israel and that “it behooves the American Jewish community to be on good terms with him rather than burn its bridges in seeking his defeat.”

First, the ADL and AJC said specifically that they sought “to avoid … political attacks … as candidates have challenged … the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-à-vis Israel.” In short, their Unity Pledge was avowedly aimed at curtailing critical discussion. But not all politicians are equal in their support for Israel. This means that, sometimes, the bona fides vis-à-vis Israel of a politician or an administration need to be questioned and challenged.

Second, while it is wise to seek good relations with the administration — and we have publicly praised Obama whenever we thought it warranted — it needs to be remembered that it is Obama’s specific policies and statements that have attracted suspicion and criticism, not the other way round.

We therefore reject the notion that criticism must be stifled or muted in order to remain on good terms. Accordingly, alarm bells should be ringing when Obama’s deputy assistant, Antony Blinken, states that “harm could come” from turning differences over Mideast policy between the U.S. and Israel into “election-year talking points.” Blinken seems to be insinuating that criticism today will be repaid with hostility tomorrow. Such an implied threat would seem to vindicate rather than dispel some of the criticisms that have been made of Obama.

National President Zionist Organization of America

 

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