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Understanding the NJDC

Last weeks Maccabean contained an article from the National Jewish Democratic Council, which was endorsed by its editorial.  The perspective offered was that the recent Obama meeting with US Jewish leaders wasn’t so bad after all.  It was actually good news, and critics of the meeting were only “distorting the facts, just so that it all fits comfortably with their world view”.

Both the article and the editorial endorsement are somewhat naive.  Some facts cannot be distorted.  For example, facts like a number of mainstream Jewish representative groups were deliberately excluded from the meeting.  Facts like Obamas poll rating with Israelis and US voters (including a massive portion of the 78% of US Jews that voted for Obama) has plummeted.  Facts like Obama using his Cairo/Poland tour to reinforce the dangerous and flawed concept that Israel was born out of Holocaust guilt, as opposed to thousands of years of national Jewish aspiration.   

A quick read of the NJDC website will show not so much that facts of this body are distorted, but that only selected or desired snippets of information regarding the Obama administration’s view to Israel are conveniently cited by this group.  As a political interest and lobby group the NJDC hold an important place in the US political landscape.  However they need to be an honest broker of the US Jewish community interests.  Supporting a political drive to force unilateral and unjust concessions from Israel, forcing the division of Jerusalem, and failing to act decisively to prevent Iranian nuclear development are all products of the Obama administration to date.  None of these are in the interests of the US Jewish community and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise.  

Here is another perspective on the NJDC that helps to provide an understanding of the political dynamics surrounding Obama’s Jewish constituency: 

Right of Reply: Barack Obama is no friend of Israel

Aug. 9, 2009

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) recently criticized the Web site American Thinker in a Jerusalem Post op-ed entitled The chutzpah of Obama’s Jewish critics for having a “fictional understanding” of Barack Obama’s approach toward Israel. This kind of attack is typical of the NJDC which maintains a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach toward the president on this and every other issue. This willful blindness is both wrongheaded and a disservice to Jews who care about the fate of Israel.

By its loyalty to a president who has gone out of his way to distance his administration from Israel, and who has singled it out for harsh criticism while emboldening its adversaries, the NJDC has served as an enabler of Obama’s Mideast mischief.

Increasingly, Obama is being referred to as the least friendly president toward Israel since its founding. In recent weeks, even liberal media organs, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Republic, have criticized the president’s approach to Israel in articles, columns and editorials. The assistant editor of The New Republic, James Kirchick, wrote an op-ed in June saying Obama has betrayed Israel and blames him for the decline in American support for Israel. Somehow all this has escaped the attention of the NJDC, a group that has the gumption to call Obama a great friend of Israel’s.

We disagree.

THE AMERICAN Thinker was prescient in being wary of Obama’s views toward Israel early on. We published our first article on this topic in March 2007, based on Obama’s own words before a pro-Israel advocacy group which revealed very little empathy for the Israeli people. We wondered how he came to have his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Did they come from Jeremiah Wright – a man who he credited with calibrating his “moral compass”? Or was it from Palestinian activists and friends such as Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada, or Rashid Khalidi, former PLO spokesman and fierce opponent of Israel, whom Obama credits with informing his views of the Middle East? Or perhaps from Samantha Power, his closest foreign policy adviser, who has a long history of anti-Israel views – including cutting off foreign aid and imposing a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, which might require an invasion by foreign troops?

Even The Los Angeles Times perceived the reality behind the façade when it published an article “Allies of Palestinians have a friend in Obama.” Indeed they do.

Given his words and actions in just six months in office, it should come as no surprise that only six percent of Israelis now regard Obama as pro-Israel. Campaign promises have become “just words” as Obama himself might describe them. Israelis, as the Jerusalem Post-hosted blogger Shmuel Rosner put it, understand what Obama’s Change agenda means for them.

What changes have we seen over the last few months? Obama has shown a coolness toward Israel that has warmed the hearts of its enemies around the world and has hardenened the resolve of its adversaries. Mahmoud Abbas and the supposed ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority have refused to make any overtures toward Israel, and the current Fatah Convention is keeping alive the armed struggle. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have also refused to offer any conciliatory gestures. Israel’s enemies may now feel secure in thinking that Israel will be delivered to them on the proverbial silver platter.

OBAMA IS the one who should be charged with having a fictionalized understanding of the conflict and Israel’s history. During his speech in Cairo, Obama made clear that he thinks Israel was founded as an act of atonement by the Western world for the Holocaust, a narrative that is both an insult to the 3,000-year history of the Jewish people and one that reflects the ideology of Arab and Persian rejectionists – that guilty Europeans stole the land to create the state of Israel. Did President Obama not learn anything during that widely publicized photo-op Seder?

During that speech, Obama also equated the Holocaust to the Palestinian predicament, which to a large extent has been caused by the Palestinians’ self-destructive behavior. This was not only wrong but an insult to the memory of the 6 million people who were murdered by the Nazis.

While Obama seems to have an infinite degree of patience regarding the Iranian nuclear program, his administration has been on an obsessive quest to halt Israeli settlements, demanding a complete freeze, a policy that ignores prior agreements between president George W. Bush and prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Further, the State Department has called in Israel’s ambassador twice in recent weeks to harangue him over the building of 20 apartments in Jerusalem, and challenging an Israeli Supreme Court decision ordering the removal of Palestinian squatters from two apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. This level of interference brings into question whether the Obama administration considers Israel a sovereign nation or an American vassal. His approach to peacemaking makes clear that he believes the Israelis are the obstacle to peace in the region, ignoring a long history of Arab rejectionism.

Is this a way to create trust with a nation which has already shown the willingness to make sacrifices (and suffered for doing so) such as the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and from Gaza?

While meeting with a group of Jewish leaders, Obama made clear that he intended to create “daylight” between Israel and America, arguing that the two countries had been too close for eight years, during which no progress toward peace had occurred.

Again, Obama fictionalizes history: Israel has taken many steps for peace with very little to show for it other than rocket attacks and suicide bombings. During the same meeting, Obama had the audacity to lecture the Israelis to be more self-reflective – a condescending, contemptuous statement given the nature of Israeli society. After 60 years of near total rejection of Israel’s existence or permanence in the region, perhaps the president might have counseled some self-reflection by the Arabs and Palestinians.

WHILE OBAMA focuses his ire on Israel, Teheran gets a pass, and continues to spin its centrifuges. Here in America, the NJDC continues spinning too – for its man in the White House. Israelis are not buying the spin. Even some Jewish Democrats seem to have become a bit concerned by the bait and switch on Obama’s policies toward Israel. As independent unpaid writers who support a strong US-Israel relationship, we will continue to report the facts in American Thinker, not the spin required of paid propagandists.

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