NOTE: Through a technical error last night’s post about Bibi, Trump and Modi traveling abroad in order to improve their political luck at home, I published a partial, early draft of the post. Please read the full, complete post here.
Whoa…that’s all I can say. The liberal Zionists who run the American Jewish community are getting religion. After American Jews (specifically, Reform and Conservative Jews living in Israel) were slapped across the face recently, by Bibi Netanyahu’s reneging on the Kotel compromise, they did something astonishing. They announced they were endorsing boycotts and sanctions. No, they didn’t suddenly become card-carrying members of the BDS movement (you can’t be a member anyway, but that’s another story). But a number of major communal leaders announced they were either boycotting or sanctioning Israel in various ways. Though this is a small step in the larger scheme of things, it does represent a major change from the community’s previous “turn the other cheek” approach to Israeli insults.
Steve Nasatir, CEO of the Chicago Jewish federation, announced that any Israeli MK who voted for the conversion bill, which would reject anyone converted by a non-Orthodox rabbi, would not be welcome in Chicago. The national chair of the Reform movement announced that she would no longer fly El Al when she traveled to Israel. And a wealthy Florida philanthropist (and Aipac national board member!) demanded the return of the recent $1-million purchase of Israel Bonds he’d made:
This week, Isaac “Ike” Fisher, a board member of the Israel lobby AIPAC from Coral Gables, Florida, threatened to suspend his Israel philanthropy and wrote in an email to JTA that he hopes “Jews in the Diaspora will recognize the threat that a creeping theocracy can have on a democratic state.”
The skeptical among you will correctly note that if and when Bibi caves on this matter, then all will return to normal. All boycotts and sanctions will be rescinded and all will be as it was before. True. But once you open the barn door you can’t get the horses back in. This has become a precedent. Next time, this slow drip of leaders adopting antagonistic responses to Israeli intransigence could become a rushing wave.
Some of those who’ve taken this new approach don’t want to be identified with BDS. They’ve explained that their giving to Israel isn’t stopping. It’s being redirected away from non-official entities like the Jewish Agency or Israel Bonds, and towards NGOs like New Israel Fund promoting Israeli diversity and civil rights. Regardless of these claims, Jewish leaders are radically changing their priorities, at least for the time being. And whether or not that may be defined as BDS is almost irrelevant.