by Isi Leibler
The virulent global response to our struggle to defend our citizens against a cruel and evil foe confirms that Balaam's biblical depiction of Jews as "the people that dwells alone" remains valid to this day.
Notwithstanding unprecedented efforts to minimize noncombatant casualties among enemies ruthlessly exploiting their own women and children as human shields, we were once again demonized. Diaspora Jews had to endure a new torrent of frequently violent anti-Semitism with demonstrators displaying placards proclaiming obscene messages like "Death to the Jews," "We are all Hamas" and "Jews to the gas." Even more shocking, purportedly respectable liberals joined in some of these murderous hate fests.
Despite being vastly outnumbered by Muslims (other than in the
American Jewry, encompassing the vast majority of Diaspora Jews, remained steadfast in its support. AIPAC, despite having been the target of a radical Jewish campaign seeking to discredit it, retained its standing as a responsible and effective lobbying group supported by the leading American Jewish agencies.
It was gratifying to observe that the highly vocal fringe groups like J Street, Israel Policy Forum and other left-wing clusters who had been urging the US administration to exert pressure on the government were marginalized and to date have been utterly ineffective.
ELSEWHERE, THE response of the smaller Diaspora Jewish communities was sometimes more problematic and largely determined by the attitudes of individual leaders. The vast majority displayed considerable fortitude and responded to the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic venom with public expressions of solidarity. Most Jewish community leaders were also attacked in the media for their support of
Predictably, the obsequious Board of Deputies launched a major appeal for funds to provide medical assistance to be equally divided between civilians in "Gaza and in Israel" presumably to demonstrate that Anglo Jewry is no less distressed concerning the plight of Palestinians than about their own kinsmen. Supporting the humanitarian needs of Palestinians is, of course, commendable. Even residents of the South who endured Hamas missile attacks for eight years contributed aid to noncombatants in
IN CONTRAST to the
Subsequently, when the
In that context, one must commend the courageous South African Jewish Board of Deputies which was not deterred from promoting the case for
ON THE ORGANIZATIONAL level, the poor performance of the New York-based World Jewish Congress whose Plenary Assembly opens in
Their incompetence is also exemplified by the ongoing Chavez fiasco. Last year, the WJC was criticized for groveling to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after he had mumbled a few words about opposing anti-Semitism and signed a statement with the Argentinean and Brazilian presidents "condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Islamism." Despite being aware that Chavez remained totally committed to
When the war against Hamas erupted, Chavez accused
Following this, WJC secretary-general Michael Schneider was urged to speedily issue an appropriate statement and delete the lead story on the World Jewish Congress Web site which continued extolling the virtues of Chavez. Yet, weeks later, after Chavez had already formally severed relations with Israel and virtually every major Jewish organization had condemned the Venezuelan government, the WJC statements praising Chavez remain the lead story. Hopefully the global Jewish body will get its act together after its assembly.
If history is to be any guide, one can expect that sooner or later there will be another upheaval that will again put the Israel-Diaspora relationship to the test. One of the prime tasks of the new government following the February elections should be to resurrect the ministry of Diaspora affairs which went into cold storage after the retirement of former minister Natan Sharansky. This ministry should become an essential instrument for the strengthening of ties between Jews everywhere in peace as well as in war.
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