During the Bush Administration years, Chabad of Greenwich, where I attend Shabbat services, had a speaker from the Israeli Embassy at our Kiddush lunch. His title was something to the effect of “Outreach to Evangelicals.”
I listened with attentiveness and interest to his speech about efforts to garner increase support from Protestant Evangelical mega-church leaders and their flocks. Afterward I raised my hand and asked the question that had started to bother me as he spoke: “Why are we allying ourselves with people who only want there to be an Israel so that the Rapture can happen, and then if we don’t accept Jesus as our personal Saviour we take the down escalator to the hot and fiery place?”
He shrugged and responded “We don’t believe the Rapture will happen and Israel needs support now.”
While I understand Israeli pragmatism, the response bothered me then, and as I watched the recent GOP debate, I couldn’t help thinking how this full-throated embrace of right wing evangelicalism has been incredibly short-sighted on Israel’s part, serving to alienate a wide swathe of American Jews.
During the debate, several candidates made statements that were contrary to Jewish law on abortion, in attempts to pander to evangelicals. Scott Walker said that there should be no exception to save the life of the mother, claiming it is a “false choice.”
"I believe that that is an unborn child that's in need of protection out there, and I've said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That's been consistently proven," Walker claimed, despite the fact that back in 2012, in response to another GOP politician making such claims, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated: “Despite all of our medical advances, more than 600 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons right here in the US. In fact, many more women would die each year if they did not have access to abortion to protect their health or to save their lives. These inaccurate comments are yet another reason why (The College) message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms.”
Mike Huckabee, Israel’s Evangelical BFF who in July claimed that by negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven” went even further. “I think the next president ought to invoke the fifth and 14th amendments to the Constitution. Now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception."
Interesting, because under Jewish Law, the unborn fetus is not considered a person until it has been born. In fact, until forty days after conception, the fertilized egg is considered as “as water.” Yet this man, whom the Israelis court and view as a friend, went so far as to claim,"It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being.”
Perhaps Governor Huckabee – and the rest of these pandering candidates - should read George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport to remind themselves the precepts of religious freedom upon which our nation was founded.
As if this weren’t enough to turn off a thinking, literate, American Jew, there was the recent “inspirational Christian romance” from Kate Breslin, For Such A Time, in which a concentration camp inmate falls in love with the SS Officer commandant, billed as a retelling of the Story of Esther with a magic New Testament.
I. Just. Can’t. Even….
My dear mishpoche in Israel, who send emails telling me how I should vote…(not to mention the disgustingly racist ones that if one substituted "Jew" for "Muslim" read as if Goebbels had written them, which I've learned to delete without reading) this is why I ignore your advisements.
You’ve chosen to ally yourself with forces in our country that you wouldn’t dream of electing in your own.
What’s more, we’re then subjected to insulting pieces calling us “cowards” for supporting Israel without blind obedience, like this recent one: “Liberal Jews are afraid to oppose the Iran Deal” by Vic Rosenthal posted on the Jewish Press. The Jewish Press was formerly edited by the late Meir Kahane.
While insulting the vast majority of American Jews, and complaining what a shanda is it that the AIPAC meeting supporting the Iran deal has to be held in an Evangelical church instead of a synagogue, Rosenthal conveniently neglects to mention the long list of Israeli military and intelligence officers who support the deal.
He isn't the first American Jew to make such insulting and patronizing remarks. Years ago, I spoke to a retired men's club at a local conservative synagogue. I was told, as a member of the press who writes opinion columns, that I should keep any criticisms of Israel "in house."
Apparently being a Jew isn't compatible with my First Amendment rights. Yet these same gentlemen were asking why moderate Muslims weren't speaking out against extremists. Perhaps moderate Muslims were getting the same message I was?
I was also berated loudly by a man at shul during the period of saying kaddish for my father because I said I wasn't going to the Stand with Israel Now rally. I explained that I felt conflicted about the bombing of Gaza, something that caused this man to go red in the face and start shouting at me.Israeli soldiers in the IDF who fought in Protective Edge apparently have the right to feel conflicted and express themselves about it, but I, as an American Jew, do not.
If Israel is losing support amongst American Jews, it is their own government's policies they should blame, not American Jewish cowardice.