If I were just a little more cynical, I would ask about the motives behind the Emergency Committee for Israel's calling for a cut in aid to Israel in the middle of aggression by Hamas and response by Israel. This is a time for solidarity, yet ECI has floated the notion of dismantling the bipartisan agreements in Congress that ensure Israel the wherewithal to respond to emergencies. Maybe it is time for ECI to change its name.
Perhaps my growing cynicism is justified. After all, we have heard the unease about Israel's military actions from some quarters in Congress. It is not an unfamiliar phenomenon. Noah Pollak, ECI's executive director, suggests that current foreign-aid consensus gives shelter to people who aren't pro-Israel enough, allowing them to hide behind a vote. The attempts to paint the president, the secretary of state and the chair of the DNC as anti-Israel because of a word here or a sentence there have failed precisely because the record shows that they, along with the overwhelming majority of legislators, are true supporters of Israel. (After all, it is the Iron Dome, a signature Obama administration project, that has saved countless Israeli lives during the Hamas bombardment.) That vote of confidence, as Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States, told me, gives Israel's friends the right and obligation to question and even criticize.
But take away the means for anyone to the left of ECI (which is a lot of people) to demonstrate that love and support for Israel and an opportunity opens to manipulate a phrase and apply a label -- not that ECI would ever do that.
By the way, American Jews can be forgiven for thinking that ECI is a Jewish organization. After all, its executive director and one of its chairs are identifiably Jewish. And most of their advertising has been directed at communities with substantial Jewish populations.
But the agenda of ECI is motivated by the larger goal of moving American foreign policy to the right. In the process, of course, domestic policy would follow. Gary Bauer, one of the two members of the ECI board, is the president of American Values, which promotes three notions: It is anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality and pro-Israel. (NJDC, for the record, is pro-choice, pro-equality and unequivocally pro-Israel.) William Kristol, the other board member, edits the Weekly Standard, the flagship neoconservative outlet that has attacked Common Core, feminism and Hillary Clinton in recent cover stories. (NJDC, for the record, respectfully disagrees.) Both of them articulate a vision that they believe is good and right for America, but neither one would suggest that he speaks for the interests of the Jewish community except as they intersect with American interests.
So I hope it comes as no surprise that NJDC rejects the notion that the United States should divest itself of investments in Israel's security. Israel is one of the very few places where Democrats find common ground with Republicans these days, and that agreement is good for our country, good for our community and good for Israel.
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