Friday, June 29, 2007

My friend Tom wrote this. It's quite cutting edge and he's not worried about saying what's on his mind.

The following is what I would say if given the opportunity to give a speech at an AIPAC conference, and the hypothetical response. Though this is a hypothetical situation, I believe the reactions in real life would be quite similar, and for those of you who disagree, I ask you to consider just how honest with yourself you are being...


Shalom, hello. I would like to start by doing a little social experiment if everyone would let me. How many in the crowd here are Christians? Please raise your hand. That's a fair amount, thank you. And how many of you believe in G-d? (The same amount of hands are in the air) Now, of you who have your hands up, please keep them up if you believe the Jews are a chosen people and they and Israel will have a role to play in the end of times (roughly the same amount of keep their hands up). Thank you, you can put your hands down. Now, how many people in the crowd are Jewish, please put your hands up (the majority of the people raise their hand). Ok, of those of you who have your hand up, please keep it up if you believe in G-d (a fair amount, though a minority, of the hands go down). Thank you for your honesty, don't worry I won't tell your local rabbi. Now please keep your hand up if you keep kosher or observe the Sabbath, otherwise put it down (about half or more of the hands drop, though many of those who keep their hands up drive on the Sabbath or keep "kosher style" or keep kosher at home but eat non-kosher food when they go out). Ok of those of you with your hands still up, please put them down unless 1) you are a man who tries to wrap tefillin every day or doesn't own a pair but would if he did, or 2) you are a woman who goes to the mikveh or plans to once you get married (almost ever single hand goes down). Thank you.

It goes without saying that Israel is important to everyone in this room. We've all devoted time, money and or energy to defending and supporting it or support those who do. We all want to see Israel fare well and succeed. It would make sense that to achieve this goal we would want to work in the most efficient way possible, as one would with any goal. In America we live by the mantra, work smart not hard. To work hard on something in an inefficient way is not only working too hard, but also an actual loss as it is a mismanagement of opportunity cost.

How many of you would go through the effort of building a car, and not bother to put the engine in it? Not a single one I'm sure. Yet my friends, specifically my Jewish friends, we need to do some soul searching because this is exactly what AIPAC has been doing. Why is this? Because it is an origination, primarily of Jews, fighting for Israel, yet lacking faith to back it up. It appeals to every politician and leader far and wide to support Israel yet fails to appeal to the leader of the entire world, G-d, for the same (at this point a disproportionate amount of people start yawning and or step outside to go to the bathroom or check their voice messages).

AIPAC is a lobbyist organization. It works hard for a good cause, and it is indeed important in a democracy such as the United States to have such lobby groups for such good causes. Yet would we depend solely on lobbying as if it would be our savior? In pre-war Germany the Jewish citizens were leading the pack in all aspects of society- medicine, the arts, science, literature, you name it. It would have been the simplest thing in the world for a lobbyist to argue on a logical basis why the Jews were good for Germany, yet that wouldn’t have convinced that powers that be. Today we use the same approach, though instead of it being that the Jews are top notch citizens of the state, we claim that the Jewish state is the top notch citizen of the world. We cite its (debatable) status as a democracy, the only one in the Middle East. We cite its championing of human rights. We cite its inventions that lead the way in the fields of medicine and high tech. We cite its innovations in preventing terrorism and their contributions to our own fight against Islamic Extremism. Do not get me wrong, these are all wonderful things, but is this all to say that if Israel wasn’t the only democracy in the Middle East, and was only moderate with human rights, and didn’t come up with any great inventions, and didn’t contribute greatly to the fight against Islamic radicals, then Israel wouldn’t deserve to be supported and defended?

Israel is the land of the bible, yet too often the only people who seem to care about this, at least enough to vocalize it, are the Christians. Jews, the very people of the bible to which Israel was designated, continually fail to make this the centerpiece of their argument in supporting Israel, often searching for any reason BUT the bible to be used. And it is no surprise… just look at the outcome of our social experiment dealing with observance levels shortly ago. To say that Israel is the land of the Jews and deserves to exist, be supported and defended as such is to contend that the bible is right, and if one wants to say that the parts of the bible referring to that are right, one would logically have to assume that the other parts might be correct as well. This would be a big problem for many of us Jews who don’t live exactly as the bible would suggest we do, or don’t do so nearly enough. It’s understandable, the bible is nice and all but following it causes for many inconveniences. It’s one thing to ask your average Jewish supporter of Israel to write a check or even fire off an email to their congressman. But to expect them to put down that delicious hamburger in order to help Israel?!? People! Let’s not get too carried away here!

This is not such a new idea, in fact it’s thousands of years old. To quote Psalm 81 G-d says, “But My people did not heed my voice; Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, that they might follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors I would turn My hand. Those who hate Hashem would lie to him; but their time would be forever. And He would feed him with the cream of the wheat, and from a rock I would sate you with honey.” Ladies and gentleman, I think we would all like to see the foes of Israel be subdued. I think we would like the hand of G-d to be turned against the tormentors of Israel. I think we would all like to see Israel sated with honey. I know I certainly would, and I hope that you all would as well. Yet what do we do? We do not heed G-d’s voice and instead we follow our own counsels. What greater counsel, if any, do the American Zionists of today follow more than this counsel, the ultimate orgy of pro-Israel feel-goodedness?

AIPAC was named the second most powerful lobbying organization in the country by Fortune Magazine in 1997 and by the National Journal in 2005. Yet for such fearsome lobbying might, how has it failed to convince a single American president to date to sign into law congress’s desire to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the true capital in Jerusalem? How come it has failed to secure the freedom of Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who has spent the last 22 years of his life rotting away in prison for spying for Israel, sending the Jewish state information on its enemies that was of no harm to America, and had actually been promised to Israel but had been failed to be delivered through the proper channels. The average sentence for the crime Pollard has committed is 2-4 years, yet he was punished with a life sentence in solitary confinement, spending his days cleaning toilets so that he isn’t forced to violate the Sabbath and work on it. Indeed, a search on the AIPAC website for the name “Jonathan Pollard” or even simply “Pollard” turns up no results, though if you misspell it by using only one letter “L” then it politely asks you, “did you mean Poland?”

During my junior year of college I participated in an AIPAC student leadership trip to Jerusalem where they flicked us around the city having us listen to the best and the brightest of Israeli and American politicians, bureaucrats, and political thinkers, all of whom were continuously brainwashing us into believing that disengagement from Gaza the previous summer was a resounding success and seemed to suggest that any who disagreed were right wing extremists or religious fanatics. The full implications of the disengagement hadn’t even begun to present themselves yet so these arrogant fools were able to smile while they sold us their smug lies. Yet a little more time would show that Hamas won the election, sparking a civil war that resulted in them taking power in Gaza. The citizens of the Gush Katif area, which had by years of blood sweat and tears created beautiful homes for themselves and a vibrant economy, were forced into long term living in what was meant to be short term housing. Much of the money they were paid as compensation for their lost homes has been spent on repairs on the shoddy temporary housing they are forced to cope with. 20 months after being taken from lives where joblessness was virtually unknown, unemployment jumped to 37%. Many people have been forced to continue to pay mortgages on homes that don’t even exist anymore. Yet a search on AIPAC’s website of the words “Gush Katif?” You’d have as much luck as searching for Jonathan Pollard.

One of the biggest problems with this organization people fail to see, though it is blatantly clear if one has rudimentary knowledge of how these things work, is that AIPAC is never truly free to serve Israel’s interests because it is not independent to do so. It is simply part of a three point circle that forms a continuous feedback loop. AIPAC lobbies the American government to support Israel. The issues AIPAC chooses and where it stands on these issues is based on the current policy of the Israeli government. The Israeli government is run mostly by corrupt politicians who rather than do the will of the people, take orders from the American government via the State Department in order to cling to their positions of power.

So I suggest you all gathered here, especially those of the Jewish persuasion to take into consideration what I’m saying, think about what really matters and what’s really effective. Put down those cheeseburgers and stop kidding yourselves.


…If having made it successfully through the entire speech without having my mic shut off or being kindly escorted off stage, most people would simply wait foaming at the mouth to hear some politician up for reelection make promises and pledges of support to Israel, whether empty or not, in exchange for votes. The speech would receive zero coverage and the masses would give it little consideration while wolfing down their delicious cheeseburgers later that night fantasizing about whoring themselves out to any politician or person of power that spent the breath to say, “Israel is ok by me I guess.”

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