It's Time For Some Courage

Jim Shipley - Heritage, Florida Jewish News - July 9, 1993

Jews have always been at the cutting edge of social change. Was a time we were classed as super liberal. For years, our so-called "Defense Organizations" had no problem leaping to the barricades in defense of blacks, workers, our own victims of anti-Semitism and various others who seemed in need of justice. We fought quotes; we fought segregation; we fought for the State of Israel. We rallied to her side every time she was in mortal danger.

For over fifteen years the so-called "Jewish Establishment" felt very much at home with the Labor Government. But, when the government of Menachem Begin came to power, the American Jewish Establishment adjusted admirable. They cultivated new relationships, took a tack to the right and learned that it didn't hurt a bit. Overall, there was solid unity in the statements and policies of those who purported to speak for American Jewry.

When the Laborites reclaimed the prime minister's office, they wasted no time in lashing out at those in the American Jewish community whom they feel got too close to the previous government. But again, organized Jewry seems to be willing to give this rather rudderless Israeli government the benefit of the doubt and move back to the other side.

Most Jews will do that. Yes, we look for leadership, but most of us feel that we have no right to criticize the policies of the State unless we live under the gun, pay the taxes and walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Still we are there when called upon to raise our voice in defense of Israel and her policies.

That can be a problem. Articles are rife in the Jewish press asking the question: "Who speaks for the Jews?" The truth is, no one ever did. Not completely. There have always been organizations that had the money, the political clout, the money, the direction, the money, to be the most visible of Jews. There is great confusion in the non-Jewish world as to what each of the too many Jewish organizations stand for. They all seem, to an outsider, to be of equal weight. One has real cause for worry when a twerp like Michael Lerner has the ear of the "three named" First Lady. Just what is the meaning of the Politics of Meaning, anyway?

There is one interesting development which bears watching. The ever-present danger in which Israel finds itself is at last becoming believable to Americans. They see more and more "plotters" rounded up. They watch television and begin to mumble about the blind Muslim Cleric who is on a couch in Jersey City and not either in jail or on his way back to Egypt.

America is beginning to understand that Israel is not paranoid. Although, just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you.

And in that understanding, is it not time for the groundswell of support for Jonathan Pollard to become an organized shout from all our many organizations regardless of size or credibility? Isn't this one thing that we can all agree on now? Look, Jonathan Pollard is no Jack Slater, no super hero of any kind. Matter of fact, his cause has become a small growth industry. But, the fact remains, this guy saw information which Israel was entitled to have, information about the intentions of Saddam Hussein in his planned destruction of the Jewish State. He saw that Israel was not going to get it and he got it to them. He didn't sell information to Libya or Russia or the Martians. He passed on vital information to a very loyal ally whom he believed, and probably rightly so, was entitled to it. Whether he acted as a righteous Jew or as a rogue agent is academic at this point.

An extremely anti-Semitic secretary of defense went out of his way to get even with Jews. Jonathan took the fall. He has done hard time for over seven years. Enough. Can we not, left or right, ins or outs, join now to show some courage and put some pressure on the guy we helped into the White House to cut Pollard some slack. Let Johnnie come marching home. That would be real Politics of Meaning.