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WHAT RABBI WEINREB DOES NOT KNOW...
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the chief non-honorary officer of the largest Orthodox Jewish group in the USA (the OU - Orthodox Union), recently gave a revealing interview shedding light on his organization's policies toward Israel: www.jewishactivistnetwork.com
The OU's Israel policies first became an issue when the OU failed to come out against the unprecedented forced deportation of the 9000 Jews of Gush Katif. These policies remain a central issue because if the OU and like bodies maintain them, the joint US-Israel plan to establish an Islamist terror state a mere bike ride away from Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion airport, is practically assured. It is urgent for all of us to convince Rabbi Weinreb and his like-minded colleagues to rethink these policies quickly. It seems they have not yet internalized that the following political chain is going to determine whether Israel is still here in 5 years time:
* Israel's continued survival depends -- among other factors -- on its ability to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. This is because this Palestinian state will be a terror state, of course, located just a bike-ride away from Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Israel's sole international airport. It will be yet a fourth major threat on Israel -- in addition to Gaza in the South, Hizbullah in the North, and nuclear Iran. But it will be far more serious than either Gaza's threat on the southern town of Sderot or Hizbullah's threat to Israel's northern towns during the Second Lebanon War: Protecting thousands of people in Israel's sparsely populated South and North from bombardment has been a terrible financial drain, but protecting millions in Israel's densely populated central region which is right next to the planned Palestinian state is simply unaffordable. This is why a Palestinian state is an existential risk for Israel. If this were not enough, the new terror state -- as recently acknowledged by Tony Blair -- is also expected to rain rockets onto Ben-Gurion airport. And since Israel is isolated from all surrounding states, her economy is totally dependent on that airport.
* Preventing the establishment of the proposed new terror state requires Israel to rapidly persuade the American administration not to support establishment of such a state.
* Israel desperately needs the OU and similar American Jewish organizations to urge Washington and Congress not to support establishment of the Palestinian terror state. These organizations' involvement in fact counts two-fold -- because the level of American Jewish opposition to a Palestinian state is the upper bound for the level of involvement of the powerful neo-Conservative and evangelical camps.
The heart of the American Jewish (wo)man in the street, by the way, is in the right place: the 2007 AJC poll of American Jews clearly showed that there is no longer a majority supporting Palestinian statehood. The problem is at the leadership level. So, this brings us directly to the Orthodox Union and to Rabbi Weinreb who, within the OU, is supposed to be leading the struggle against establishment of a new Palestinian terror state. Why then is he not doing so?
Here is an analysis of the 4 arguments which Rabbi Weinreb uses in the interview to justify NOT taking part in the struggle to prevent establishment of a Palestinian terror state:
1. "Jerusalem is enough...."
The OU (like haredi Agudath Israel) has taken an explicit position against dividing Jerusalem. That ought to be enough, says Rabbi Weinreb. But a Palestinian state is also on the table--not just Jerusalem. Forcible deportation of 80,000 Jews, termed a crime against humanity by Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Israel Aumann -- is also on the table--not just Jerusalem. Can 6 million Israeli Jews all squeeze into a single city--Jerusalem--if the Palestinian state idea explodes onto all of Israel's big cities as the Gaza idea has exploded all over Sderot? If not, then how can the OU speak out only about Jerusalem, implying that the rest of the Annapolis deal -- chiefly the notion of a new Palestinian terror state -- is OK?
b. "The democratic process in Israel is enough..."
Rabbi Weinreb insists that defeating the proposal to establish a new terrorist state just a bike-ride away from Israel's population centers should be dealt with through the democratic process in Israel. But the 'democratic process' has no role in Israel when territorial concessions are on the table. For example -- and this is not the only example -- when the Israel Government initiated an official referendum on the disastrous Gush Katif deportation plan, to be held in the 300,000-member ruling Likud party, the joint plan, although approved both in Jerusalen and in Washington, was voted down by a defiant Likud public. But the disastrous plan proceeded anyway; the voice of the people was unabashedly ignored. Rabbi Weinreb does not understand the ground-down nature of Israel's democracy and its inability to overcome longstanding, massive Arab and European infusions of support for the Palestinian "cause". His reliance on the Israeli democratic process in this connection is a terrible error in judgement.
c. "How can we possibly lobby the US Congress against the Israeli government?"
"We as a Diaspora organization have no right at all to speak out against the Israeli government," Rabbi Weinreb says, as if that were the OU's only option. It is not.
The OU can cleverly oppose the prospect of a new terror state -- by actually encouraging Israel's timid government. The OU can, for example, lobby in Congress on behalf of Foreign Minister Livni's recent comment that "Nobody wants to see another terror state". The OU can urge Congressmen to pledge support for Prime Minister Olmert's half-hearted promise last year to Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Israel Aumann, according to which the Jews of Judea and Samaria will never be subjected to forcible deportation. Finally, the OU can also be vocal in its support of the official Israel government decision according to which terror, violence, and incitement on the Palestinian side must cease completely, before the Government even considers razing crucial Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria.
d. "It's not my [Rabbi Weinreb's] fault..."
Rabbi Weinreb suggests that the rank and file in the OU and in Israel rise up and replace or overrule their political leaders. But this process is slow and uncertain, particularly pitted against the fast-moving terror organizations trying to get control of the areas overlooking Israel's big cities and airport. The faster option, and therefore the correct option, is for leadership to act like leaders and solve the problems facing Israel rather than waiting for a clumsy uncoordinated army of cleaning ladies, housewives, garbage collectors and kindergarten teachers to somehow do it for them. Rabbi Weinreb must act like a leader, initiating and fostering support in Congress and in Washington for any reasonable option for Judea and Samaria other than establishment of a terror state next-door to Israel. Policies for Judea and Samaria are born of two parents: the Government of Israel, and the US Administration. Rabbi Weinreb must work tirelessly to influence the latter, while being tactful toward the former as only he knows how; that is how he can and should save Israel.
If you are concerned about what you are reading here, please forward this email to Rabbi Weinreb at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for his response. Even better, write to him politely in your own words. Yes, it has been rumored that Rabbi Weinreb does not appreciate getting lots of e-mail. If true, this is symptomatic of the problem. We are at a critical time for Israel and world Jewry. The Palestinians are moving very fast: their spear-head Hamas movement captured Gaza in a single day, and they moved a quarter of a million people from Gaza into Egypt, also in one day. In worrying contrast, leaders of major American Jewish organizations are still getting huffy about the state of their inboxes.
If you are reprimanded by OU staffers for writing directly to Rabbi Weinreb, respond immediately. Bring to their attention that just a few days ago, on 30 January, hundreds of Israeli citizens dialed Minister Eli Yishai's home telephone number, late at night, regarding an issue pertaining to Judea and Samaria. Yishai is a senior minister with the additional responsibility of presiding over a huge and needy political movement, Shas, with 600,000 mostly destitute voters. But Eli Yishai did not complain even once about all the phonecalls because he -- unlike many American-Jewish leaders -- understands that the situation is grave. Jewish leaders in the US have to understand this as well. It is time for them to wake up.
Susie Dym, spokeperson, Mattot Arim
Mattot Arim is an Israeli grassroots organization working toward peace for peace since 1992. The assistance of Aryeh, Ira, Jon, Mike, Moish, Rosalie, Sara and many others who generously provided valuable input, is gratefully acknowledged.
Thank you very much -- from Israel.