In his 1988 book, Israel’s Fateful Hour, the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, regarded up until the day of his death in 1994 as perhaps Israel’s premier expert on the Arab world and Islam, wrote the following:
“Given that Israel’s predicament also affects Jews in the Diaspora, they too should take an active part in the debate. Israelis must allow them to do so and listen to what
they have to say…they must not be banished from the discussion, and to this end they must do their homework. They must also dare to speak their minds candidly, without being afraid to disagree with Israel. The reticence of the American Jewish leadership is not to their credit. Instead of publicly expressing their concern, they act as apologists for policies and conduct of which many of them privately disapprove, abdicating their responsibilities as leaders in America and as influential advisers in Israel.”
Harkabi is surely spinning in his grave today.
In two separate but parallel incidents, the assault on dissent from Israeli policies, and especially on Jewish dissent, continued and grew in intensity. The first, an all too typical example of the craven way in which the American Jewish community narrowly confines debate for its own people, was at Brandeis University, where the local Hillel chapter refused to admit the campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.
The second was more stunning, and more of a departure from business as usual. This was the announcement that the leading crusaders against democracy in the Knesset – Othniel Schneller (Kadima) and Danny Danon (Likud) – are taking aim outside of Israel’s borders and targeting J Street.
On the Brandeis matter, I will be brief and refer you to the excellent reporting of the matter done by Jeremiah Haber at The Magnes Zionist. Jerry’s excellent take on the matter can be found here, his report on Brandeis’ J Street U chapter criticizing JVP’s exclusion despite the political differences between the groups is here, and Jerry’s spotlight on the Brandeis JVP chapter can be found here. Also, check out Meretz USA’s statement at their blog. (more…)