Assimilation and the "Humanitarian" Flotilla

by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

I am not a great enthusiast of statistics. They leave me unimpressed. Yet I find there are exceptions to the rule. For example here is an interesting set of statistics that bode badly for world Jewry as a whole and Israel in particular.

Barack Obama in his bid for the Presidency enjoyed almost 70% of the vote of American Jewry – the highest percentage of any definable group in the United States save for African Americans. Today, as the horror of not only anti-Israel but anti-Semitic sentiment is being fully revealed in the world via the flotilla incident with President Obama playing it close to the chest in support of Israel (as I write he is waiting for a full investigation of the flotilla incident), 50% of American Jewry is still firmly in the Obama camp. Add to this the 63% support Israel enjoys in the general American population and you have a set of statistics that demand real consideration and response.

Let me begin by stating some simple facts although I realize that facts have little relevance when considering the actions of the Jewish People past and present underscored by the outcry of the world in condemning the actions of the State of Israel- the Jewish State established by the United Nations. (Astonishing isn’t it?)

We all know the line – “war is hell.” It is “hell” because war not only results in the death of combatants, it results in the deprivation and death of the citizenry of a nation. For example, toward the end of World War II the suffering of the German People was evident. Food shortages, lack of medical supplies, the laying waist of cities by the allies, Dresden comes to mind, left the German population in a terrible state. And while no decent person wishes to starve women and children, the suffering of the citizenry of a hostile nation is an element, indeed a major element, in forcing that nation to surrender. And while it could be argued, as history demonstrates, there were various groups in German society especially toward the end of World War II who opposed Hitler and his National Socialist Party, the Nazis, I never read that the United States and its allies permitted food and medical supplies to be delivered to the impoverished and suffering German people until Nazi Germany’s surrender. In contract, President Obama just stated he wishes to send hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to Gaza to build new homes. Do you honestly believe Hamas will use that money to build homes?

Now let us turn to the present – Gaza. As you may recall it was at the urging of the United States through then Secretary of State Rice that elections in the occupied territories were held. The people of Gaza knowing full well the aims of Hamas almost unanimously voted in Hamas as their representative. The Fatah, the so-called moderate force among the Palestinians, was literally run out of Gaza. International oversight insured a fair and honest election. Is it not then a fact, pardon an obscene word, that the residents of Gaza willingly and enthusiastically supported and support the aims of Hamas – the annihilation of Israel and Jews across the globe? Are not Israel and the Jewish People as a whole called upon to defend themselves in a war aimed at their destruction supported in part by the people of Gaza?

Yet Israel, unlike the United States and its allies in World War II, permits humanitarian aid to be given to its sworn enemy, the people of Gaza. Worse Israel facilitates the delivery of this aid to its sworn enemy.

And now comes the flotilla. As more and more evidence emerges it is apparent that the purpose of the flotilla was not to bring humanitarian aid to the Gazans for as we now know Israel transfers about 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza every week. The flotilla’s sole purpose was, counting upon the world’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic nature, to place Israel in the hot seat once again. As Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah said, “If the ships reach Gaza it is a victory, if they are intercepted it will be a victory too.”

There was a time when American Jewry immediately and enthusiastically came to the defense of Israel. I remember that for years there was an unwritten protocol, that no matter the government, not matter its decision, we, Diaspora Jewry in the United States, strongly supported Israel. We understood that Israel is not separate and apart from our own existence. Without a land, without an army, we are destined to be ever the “Wandering Jew” reviled and persecuted wherever we attempt to set down our roots. Israel then is our dignity and our first defense in a hostile world – our refuge in times of persecution.

Remember “The Goldbergs”, one of the first sitcoms on TV? Molly Berg, the creator of “The Goldbergs” and its star, is an icon of early TV. Poor Molly. She went on the Ed Sullivan Show one evening and told a joke about her family purchasing a Hanukah bush. The Jewish response was unbelievable. She was strongly condemned. Her remark was a national scandal for American Jewry! That joke cost her dearly, significantly affecting her career.

Remember Hannity and Colmes on Fox News? Alan Colmes was the Liberal foil to Shawn Hannity’s Conservatism. Colmes frequently stated he was a proud and a functioning Jew. Yet a few weeks ago on The O’Reilly Factor he told Bill O’Reilly that he, the proud Jew, attends weekly Mass with his Catholic wife. O’Reilly was so shocked he was left speechless. Yet unlike with Molly Berg, there was no outcry from American Jewry. Not a sound. Apparently O’Reilly who at the end of his program reads his viewer’s mail, received no comment on Colme’s “Jewishness.”

Assimilation is a debilitating disease gnawing away at the very soul of American Jewry. 50% of American Jews still support an American President who, before he states his solidarity with Israel against murdering terrorists, must have an investigation. The President just met with Abbas to discuss how to maintain the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza while limiting arms smuggling as well as ways to lighten the Israeli blockade. Abbas has no sway over Gaza. I’m confident he would fear a visit to Gaza concerned that he would be assassinated by Hamas supporters. This is the same President who refused to have a photo-op traditionally held with foreign heads of state so that he wouldn’t be photographed with the Prime Minister of Israel. With 63% of the American population in Israel’s camp, with CNN reporting favorably on Israel in the current crisis, one would think the outcries of American Jewry, and here I speak of the average man in the street, would literally crack the walls of the White House.

Are we Jewish Americans or American Jews was once the choices offered in analyzing the Jewish population of the Untied States. Today we have a third category – a growing category that places no demands upon the individual – an American of Jewish descent. We can practice another religion, ignoring Jewish practice. We can regularly draw an equivalency between the goals of the Palestinians and the Israelis, condemning Israel at every turn, and still claim the mantle of being a Jew with no fear of repudiation.

The line has been drawn in the sand. The anti-Semites some. albeit less and less of them, disguised in the cloak of merely being anti-Israel, are vocal. They no longer care if their motives are known – Helen Thomas. And we, the American Jews, are weaker than ever. Apathy and down right hostility to Israel are now clearly an acceptable part of the American Jewish scene.

Some statistics, as in this case, do matter. They portend the dismal future that awaits American Jewry and in turn its negative affect upon Israel and world Jewry as a whole.

It is time to address assimilation realizing that among its many ills it opens the door to further attacks upon Israel, upon Jews, yes, and even upon Americans of Jewish descent.