Apparently eager to disprove the Jewish reputation for intelligence, the Union for Reform Judaism recently adopted a resolution condemning the Iraq War and demanding that President Bush provide "a clear exit strategy," including a plan for troop withdrawals. In a letter to President Bush alerting him to the URJ's action, Robert Heller and Rabbi Eric Yoffe lost no opportunity to flaunt their supposed moral sensitivity. Calling the war a "major tragedy" that has "discredited … America in the international community" and "contributed to the growth of terrorism," the two Reform leaders informed the president: "We also call on Congress to provide more effective oversight of the war and to ensure that the financial burden of the war falls not just on the poor and on future generations but is shared equitably. … We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, violations of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable laws, including torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody … " And so on.
The Reform movement is the largest Jewish denomination in America and the most liberal (politically and religiously). There is nothing new about Reform Jews adopting leftist positions. But this one is particularly galling. Consider the irony: Throughout the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Egypt to Pakistan, huge numbers are convinced that the United States is engaged in Iraq only because a powerful cabal of Jews lured the nation into it. Millions are certain that Jews did not show up for work at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, because they were in on the sinister plan by the Israeli Mossad or the CIA to hijack planes, fly them into the buildings and then blame Al Qaeda. There is only one group that our Islamist enemy hates more than Americans, and that is -- guess who?
Surely, of all people, American Jews ought to have the clearest insight into the stakes in the war on terror. Is Daniel Pearl's fate not instructive?
The Union for Reform Judaism can perhaps be forgiven for its arrogance, its obtuseness and its illogic (it demanded, for example, that the United States "withdraw its forces from Iraq" in a way that would "support the legitimacy of the Iraqi government"). What is unforgivable is the way these American Jews are being chumps. In their pompous proclamation, they distance themselves from ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism), but they offer a big smooch to the United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society (UMC), declaring that these (among others) have "goals and values more consistent with our own." These are ultra liberal church groups (though obviously none of these groups can claim to speak for every person within the denomination).
Matthew Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, points out that the UMC "has formally stated its opposition to the 'continued (Israeli) military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, (and) the destruction of Palestinian homes.' In addition, according to the UMC website, the church's New England and Virginia conferences have called for divestment in companies that support 'the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.'" Brooks went on to observe that the United Church of Christ, "at their 25th General Synod … passed a resolution regarding Israel's security barrier that 'calls upon the Israeli government to cease the project to construct the barrier, tear down the segments that have already been constructed and make reparations to those who have lost homes, fields, property and/or lives and health due to the barrier.'"
The Union for Reform Judaism thus makes common cause with those who object to Israel's attempt to defend herself, even to prevent suicide murderers from entering the country. The security fence has already saved countless Israeli lives, while offering the Palestinians their first opportunity for total self-rule in Gaza.
The URJ letter arrived on President Bush's desk just a few days before Iraqis once again demonstrated their eagerness for democratic practice by standing in long lines at voting places around the nation. How can the United States possibly leave this job unfinished? To leave is to fail. The Islamists know this full well and are banking that just a few more roadside bombs will tip the balance of American public opinion.
Reform Jews would have us abandon this struggle for the sake of "world opinion." They might want to revisit former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's robust reply when confronted with condemnation from many nations: "We are not going to die so that the world will speak well of us."