I never believed that Abe Foxman had any particular moral principles to speak of. His devotion to fighting anti-Semitism seems, at best, an opportunistic strategem. His devotion to fighting racism seems laughable (what Armenian genocide?). In that context, I find Honest Abe’s response to Avigdor Lieberman’s Israeli election triumph to be of a piece with all his other crass, two-faced posturing.
According to Abe, there’s nothing racist at all with Lieberman’s demand that Israeli Arabs swear allegiance to a state of which they are already citizens:
…The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that is quick to spot instances of discrimination, says Lieberman is right to be concerned about apparent acts of disloyalty by Israeli Arabs.
Abraham Foxman…noted with concern the trips by Arab Israeli Knesset members to enemy states and expressions of solidarity with Hamas by Israeli Arabs during Israel’s recent military operation in the Gaza Strip.
“There were a lot of people who said, ‘Hey, that’s disloyal,’ ” Foxman told JTA. “That’s what he’s talking about. He’s not saying expel them. He’s not saying punish them.”
This notion that Israeli Arabs are traitors to Israel because they visit Syria or Lebanon is ridiculous. They tried to pin this rap on Nancy Pelosi as well when she visited Syria, accusing her of violating the Logan Act, a law no one outside of the Wall Street Journal ever heard of. I note that no Israeli Arab has ever been prosecuted for any of these allegedly treasonous visits. So where does Foxman get off defending Lieberman’s proposal when Israel itself has never convicted an Arab of such “sedition?”
JTA also notes this wonderfully Orwellian quote of Lieberman’s:
“Arabs have all their rights in Israel, but they have no right to Eretz Yisrael.”
How does an Israeli Arab citizen whose ancestors lived in the land that is now Israel longer than many of the current Jewish inhabitants have “no right to Eretz Yisrael?” And if he has no right to the land of Israel how does he have “all his rights in Israel?” The notion is nonsense of course. It’s like someone who sells you a house but tells you the land underneath it will never be yours. If you have no rights to the land of which you are a citizen then you are lacking one major right without which you are not a full citizen.
But hey, Abe doesn’t hold back regarding Lieberman’s REALLY despicable views:
In 2006, the ADL issued a statement saying it was “disturbed” by Lieberman’s call for the execution of Arab legislators who met with Hamas leaders…
“Disturbed” must be Abe’s version of high moral dudgeon. I mean, c’mon, the guy’s done every thing but incite a lynch mob and all you can muster is it’s “disturbing???”
It must feel really good for Abe to be in the same company with Mort Klein, who can always be relied upon to say something nice about Israeli racists and pogromists (he never met a extremist settler he didn’t like). Klein called the loyalty oath a “legitimate” proposal.
What SHOULD American Jewish groups be doing or saying about Lieberman? They should make it clear that a ruling coalition that offers him a major ministerial portfolio is treif, period. And please don’t give me anything about Israeli democracy. There’s no law that says Lieberman has to be defense, interior or foreign minister. If Bibi or Livni are desperate enough to give him such power then American Jews should say: no thanks. That’s not OUR Israel. Lieberman should be ostracized here. If he comes give him the cold shoulder. Let him speak to ZOA. But not to a mainstream audience.
J Street’s statement on the election got it precisely right:
With deep respect for Israel’s democracy, we call on American Jews and organizations that represent them to make clear that we will not remain silent if the prejudice and intolerance promoted by his party actually become part of the incoming Israeli government’s policies and philosophy.
To the extent that the community does anything less than this it is strengthening Jewish racism. Is that how we want to be known? As the community that feted a corrupt thuggish racist Israeli politician?