Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Koch's Misplaced Attack on Schumer and Gillibrand.

Ed Koch finds Obama's treatment of Netanyahu to be "shocking", as if the Prime Minister of Israel giving the middle finger to an American president is something commonplace, or certainly nothing which could justify Obama's anger.

But he then goes on to berate Jewish members of the Obama administration for their silence and, rather unsubtly, brings up the Holocaust.

In the 1930s, the Jewish community and its leadership, with few exceptions, were silent when their co-religionists were being attacked, hunted down, incarcerated and slaughtered. Ultimately 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. The feeling in the U.S. apparently was that Jews who criticized our country's actions and inactions that endangered the lives of other Jews would be considered disloyal, unpatriotic and displaying dual loyalty, so many Jews stayed mute. Never again should we allow that to occur. We have every right to be concerned about the fate of the only Jewish nation in the world, which if it had existed during the 1930s and thereafter, would have given sanctuary to any Jew escaping the Nazi holocaust and taken whatever military action it could to save Jews not yet in the clutches of the Nazis. We who have learned the lessons of silence, Jews and Christians alike, must speak up now before it is too late.

So I ask again, where are our Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand? And, where are the voices, not only of the 31 members of the House and 14 Senators who are Jewish, but the Christian members of the House and Senate who support the State of Israel? Where are the peoples' voices? Remember the words of Pastor Niemoller, so familiar that I will not recite them, except for the last line, "Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up."
Until now, it has always been considered anti-Semitic to imply that Jewish senators and statesmen might display "dual loyalty" over the subject of Israel; but Koch here implies that the fact that Schumer is Jewish is the very reason why he must back Netanyahu and oppose Obama. And his call for Gillibrand to offer support is supposedly because she is one of "the Christian members of the House and Senate who support the state of Israel". The implication being if one doesn't back Netanyahu then one clearly doesn't support Israel.

Koch seems not to get it. Even some Israeli newspapers are not on Netanyahu's side in this dispute.

Obama's argument with Netanyahu is about the settlements; a subject which is not popular, especially amongst American Jews, as The Israel Project (TIP) have made clear in recently released documents:
"The single toughest issue" to defend among Americans generally and American Jews in particular is settlements, says the manual, and "hostility towards them and towards Israeli policy that appears to encourage settlement activity. … Public opinion is hostile to the settlements – even among supporters of Israel."
Koch seems not to even consider the fact that the reason Schumer and Gillibrand have not rushed to defend Netanyahu is because Netanyahu is in the wrong.

Instead, he brings up religion and makes a clumsy attempt to weave some comparison between their silence and the silence which preceded the Holocaust. I think that's shameful.

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