Orthodox leader: U.S. Jews have no right to criticize Israel
By Sarah Bronson, Haaretz Correspondent
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
A prominent member of America's Orthodox community, who was also a
Senate staff member for three decades, spoke out on Sunday night
against American Jews who publicly criticize Israeli policies.
"An American who wants to take sides should make aliyah [immigrate to
Israel]," said Rabbi Dr. David Luchins, a national associate vice
president of the Orthodox Union (OU) and a national officer for the
Jewish Council of Public Affairs. "Their kids should serve in the
army. It's better for American Jews to stay out of Israeli politics."
Luchins carefully emphasized that "every Jew has the right to pray
and pay for their side, whether it's Americans for Peace Now or
Americans for Likud," and said he was not speaking on behalf of the
organizations he serves.
However, the former senior aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
added that it's "devastating" for American Jews to criticize Israeli
policies in front of U.S. politicians or in ads in The New York Times.
Taking a public stance against Israel is a "serious mistake," Luchins
said in his speech at Jerusalem's OU Israel Center, because when
American Jews write critical letters to their congressmen or protest
Israeli policies, the average American does not perceive their
underlying love for Israel.
"When the rallies happen in New York against the pull-out from Gush
Katif," he predicted, "the headlines will say, `American Jews protest
against Israeli policy,' and the average American will read:
`American Jews protest Israel.'"
He also said that often, American and Israeli politicians make
subtle, internal agreements between themselves, which they do not
present to the public. A politician's publicly stated opinion about a
peace proposal, for example, is sometimes a carefully planned
diplomatic "charade," he explained. By writing critical letters or
holding rallies, American Jews "sometimes mess up those charades -
Luchins also criticized American organizations that attempt to exert
financial pressure on Israeli politicians.
"An Israeli Arab or a non-Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet
Union has more of a say than the most ardent American Zionist who
comes here 35 times a year," he asserted. Comparing Israeli politics
to a baseball game and Israeli citizens to the teams, he told the
audience that, "American Jewish Zionists have box seats, and we have
the right and obligation to support our team. But we are not playing.
Only the members of the team, even those who are benched, have the
right to take part in team meetings. We fans talk strategy, but the
only ones with the right to decide matters are the team members."
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