Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Israel Fund

I recently received a very nice fundraising letter from the New Israel Fund, which prompted me to look at the NIF website. I was a donor to NIF in 1979 and several subsequent years, but have become what is referred to in the recent news articles on the site as a “disaffected” Jew. As much as I like NIF’s programs and believe that they help some very needy people, I am not persuaded that sending medications to the Titanic, as it were, is a good use of my very limited funds. I suppose my point is to say why I am so disaffected, although you have no doubt heard it all before, and better said to boot.

I am not disaffected out of any sentiments favoring the Palestinians or their Arab enablers. On any comparative scale they are far worse. But the scale is not comparative. Should the day arrive when Israel is judged the same as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Syria, it will be a day of shame for the Israeli and Jewish people.

But it is Israel whose survival is being threatened, and the Jewish people who have much to lose by the viciousness and stupidity of Israel's leaders. I truly believe that the policies Israel’s dominant politicians have been pursuing will lead to its complete destruction within a few years or decades. Their approach, imposing gratuitous humiliation and cruelty on the non-Jews subject to their power, is a tragic failure of leadership, and the American Jewish establishment cheers them on as though we Jews had always been the dominant and privileged people of the world, learning nothing about the horrors of cruelty and unkindness, and having gained no empathy for the oppressed. Even apart from their personal criminality, Israel’s leaders since Likkud first came to power have provided an obscene and depressing spectacle (with the exceptions of Rabin and Barak). Jimmy Carter and Meersheimer and Walt are right in the essentials. Israel’s leaders seem to foolishly believe not only that might makes right, but that they will always have the might. In addition, they have used the basest kind of demagoguery to advance fundamentalist agendas, cynicism, and ignorance at home, with a corresponding malign influence on the nature of Israeli society.

In sum, NIF's struggle against these forces is a noble and honorable one, but unfortunately history is replete with societies that have been destroyed or immiserated for centuries by leaders like Israel’s.

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