Reform congregations helping to ‘Get Out the Vote’
Thank you for your July 19 article entitled “PA branch of Reform Religious Action Center launches” about the efforts that RAC-PA will initiate. In addition, local Reform synagogues in Pittsburgh are mobilizing volunteers to encourage people to vote. At the RAC-PA launch were 51 attendees from Temple Sinai, Rodef Shalom, Ohav Shalom, Temple Emanuel, Temple David and B’nai Israel. Although not endorsing any candidate or party, our focus includes 100% voting in each of our congregations, reaching out to young voters, reaching out to minorities in and around Pittsburgh, and we are partnering with the Center for Common Ground and the NAACP to reach out to minorities in various states where voter suppression is widespread. We are writing post cards, texting and calling to encourage everyone to register and to vote. In Pennsylvania we are encouraging everyone to utilize mail-in ballots. Everyone who wants to help, please contact one of these congregations as we are looking for others in our synagogues to assist to Get Out the Vote.
Community organizations ‘saving summer’
There are heroes in our midst, and they deserve recognition. For my family, the leadership and staff of Chabad of Squirrel Hill’s Camp Gan Izzy, J&R Day Camp and Emma Kaufmann Camp are saving summer. With tremendous hard work, creative adaptations, and hours upon hours in masks in the heat of the outdoors, they offer fun for our kids, a return to social interactions, and an ability for my spouse and me to work. For other families, the leadership and staff of Beth Shalom’s Early Learning Center and the JCC’s ECDC have done the same for them. The careful decisions of the leadership team at Community Day School have allowed me to sleep at night knowing that my kids will, God willing, be able to pass through the doors of school next month. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has supported all these institutions and tangibly facilitated these opportunities. Thank you to the many employees in our community’s organizations who are working so hard to make this all possible. We are lucky and privileged to benefit from your dedication.
Peter Beinart should have no place at Zionist Conference
The latest Jewish Chronicle op-ed by David Breakstone of the World Zionist Organization (July 17) tries to make the case that Peter Beinart, a strongly anti-Israel American Jewish voice, deserves a seat at the table at the upcoming Zionist Congress. I disagree.
Peter Beinart’s name is familiar to me. He is a former editor at the New Republic at a time when Marty Peretz was the publisher. Peretz almost always defended the Israelis. I cannot remember a single time that Beinart did. That alone should disqualify him from a seat at the table. Beinart has never risked his standing with strong anti-Israel, pro-Democrat press that supplies him with a more than comfortable living.
I reject that the fact that, according to Breakstone, Beinart began warning us 10 years ago that Israel was losing the support of American Jews gives him any standing. It is precisely because of Beinart and others like him that such support has all but disappeared.
Where was Beinart during the numerous times Israel made very generous offers of statehood, only to be rebuffed, often murderously? Did he applaud Ehud Barak’s offer of statehood to Yasser Arafat which led to the intifada that claimed over 1,000 Jewish lives? Did he applaud Ariel Sharon’s decision to unilaterally leave Gaza?
What exactly has Beinart done, then, to afford him a lofty role that might have a lasting influence on the future of the Zionist endeavor? From my point of view, he has done nothing. In fact I think he has done even worse. He has caused irreparable harm. He is culpable of creating the animus of American Jews toward Israel that he has “warned” us of. He harbors those anti-Israel attitudes as well. Further, he does not suffer any consequences because of his views.
What exactly Beinart proposes is unclear to me. Israel’s experience in Gaza is a case in point. Sharon declared that if unilateral departure worked in Gaza, then it would be safe to unilaterally depart Judea and Samaria as well. “Gaza First” was the mantra. We all know how that turned out. Should the Israelis repeat that mistake in the West Bank and risk many Jewish lives if not their existence? That decision is for them to make, not prominent American Jews like Beinart whose lives are not (yet) at risk. And, if things go sideways here as they have in Europe, these same comfortable American Jews will seek refuge in Israel and be welcomed with open arms.
So, yes. According to Breakstone, “the Zionist dream is in trouble.” Tell me something I do not know. When was it ever not in trouble? What to do with that fact is something I would leave to the Israelis, left and right leaning, those Jews who have skin in the game. If that involves finally realizing that most American Jews would prefer keeping their lofty positions in the media, academia and the Democratic party rather than defending Israel’s vulnerability, I side with the Israelis.