M E I R K A H A N E
W R I T I N GS
The Ultimate Tragedy
In 1974, the then Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Rabbi Israel Miller arrived in Israel. In a statement to the press he pledged that, in the event of crisis for Israel, “American Jewry will climb the barricades.” I put it that not only will that not come to pass but that added to the growing inevitable isolation of Israel, as enemies, neutrals and “allies” stand to the other side, there will emerge the ultimate tragedy and shame – the failure of the American Jewish community to stand by Israel at its moment of truth.
Let us begin by understanding that the United States is well on its way to disengaging itself from the position of “ally of Israel”. Even if the foolish Israelis and the impossible American Jewish leaders really believed that American policy would stroll arm-in-arm with that of Israel until the end of days, there were those few who understood from the beginning that this was not true. The fact is that United States policy was never in line with that of Israel. At best, when the status quo was kept for six years after the Six-Day War, Washington’s calm was simply because it was not pressured to pressure Israel into concessions. But from the outset, the United States was committed to not allowing Israel to keep any (aside from unimportant areas) of the land liberated in 1967. The Rogers Plan which embodies this American Middle East axiom was, in itself, only an affirmation of a policy statement made by Lyndon Johnson immediately after the Six-Day-War.
The Yom Kippur war was a success for the Arabs precisely as they planned it, in that it shattered the freeze, broke the status quo, and frightened the United States into beginning the job of choking Israel into retreat. I will not go into the history of the errors, retreats and confusion on the part of the Israelis in the less than three years since the Yom Kippur War. Suffice it to say that the United States has clearly moved to a point where it has forced Israel to make concessions the latter never wanted to make and which she had vowed she would never make. Those concessions are not nearly enough for Washington which is now in the process of freeing itself from its refusal to recognize a “Palestine people”and its unwillingness to sit with the PLO. The public relations people and the Jewish leaders of the school of bankruptcy will trumpet the veto by the United States of the recent Arab resolution in the Security Council as proof of American solidarity with Israel. The reality, however, lies in the explanation by Ambassador Moynihan whose words clearly foreshadowed a future change in the U.S. position.
The real pressure has already begun. Premier Rabin was told in no uncertain terms by Ford that Washington expects major concessions by Israel on the “Palestine”question and to prepare himself to meet American recognition of the PLO following some pro forma recognition of Israel by that body. The demands by the United States will include territorial retreat and Israeli sitting with the PLO that will reach the limit of any Israeli government’s ability or willingness to accept. At that moment, the confrontation between the United States and Israel will be a real and serious one. At that point the pressure will be open and ugly and the recrimination bitter. At that point American and Israeli interests will clearly and dangerously differ. At that point American Jews will have to take a stand: Israeli interests or American ones? What will happen? What do you think will happen? When the moment of the barricades has arrived, who will go up on them? Who will ascend the barricades of Rabbi Miller and who will stand within its lofty and dangerous place? Will the American Jewish groups, the B’nai B’rith and Sisterhood of Suburbia, watch the menacing scenario and choose Israeli interests over American ones?
When America tells Israel: “The Palestinian” people have a right to their own land and you yourselves have recognized a “Palestinian”people. The “Palestinians” must be given the right to elect their own leaders and if they choose the PLO so be it. The “Palestinians” have the right to their own state and if they wish to create one between Israel and Jordan, you cannot stop them. The “Palestinians” and the PLO have indicated that they recognize Israel by their willingness to sit with you at Geneva or by their statement that they are willing to postpone their ultimate aim of a “democratic, secular Palestine” until some future time. Therefore, you must sit with them and prepare to give up all the lands conquered in 1967, including the Sinai, the Golan and the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Therefore, you must allow a “Palestine” to be set up immediately and we and the Soviets will guarantee your boundaries. Therefore you must do this because we will not allow you to risk a war and our involvement in it nor will we jeopardize our oil nor will we lose our potential Arab business market nor will we allow the Russians to take influence in the Middle East because we remain stigmatized by the label “ally of Israel”. Therefore if you are not prepared to do this we will cease our military and economic support for you . . . “
When America tells this to Israel and Israel knows that the Arabs are liars and committed to the destruction of a Jewish State of any size or shape. When Israel will protest that it cannot and will not allow the enemy to return to the 1967 borders where he stood a scant 15 miles from Tel Aviv and on the edge of the new city of Jerusalem and back to the Golan Heights where he shelled the Jewish settlements below for 19 years and to the Sinai where Egyptian air basis will be five minutes from Israel’s cities. When Israel finally says “no”and there is a definitive split and Israel and American party company.
With whom will the American Jews go? When the split causes an outcry on the part of the Jew haters and Jew-dislikers and they say that Israel’s “intransigence” causes the American Jewish position to weaken and become insecure, what will the American Jew do? As it becomes excruciatingly difficult and then impossible to back both American and Israeli interests and the American people see it, will Rabbi Miller and the Jewish leaders and the American Jews climb those promised barricades?
I fear not. In fact, I fear the very opposite. I fear that the American Jews, prompted by a large segment of their “leaders” will fearfully urge Israel to make “every effort” to be conciliatory, to be flexible, to be compromising, to “take a chance” for peace. To do anything but jeopardize the American Jewish community by leaving it open to that most frightening of charges, “dual loyalty”. To save the American Jewish community from having to choose between Israel and American interests, and to save the American Jew from a situation that will see anti-Semitism given an opportunity to rear its head in earnest.
For years, whenever the question rose of “dual loyalty”, the American Jew scoffed at the possibility. And when the questioner persisted and spoke of the possibility of a war in which American and Israel were on different sides, the Jewish answer was always an impatient: “Such a thing could never happen . . .” But such a thing is beginning to happen, at least in the political arena, and the American Jew will be faced with a decision that he will have to make.
I fear that he will reject the barricades and, as usual, choose his own immediate, narrow interests. I believe that American Jews, now led by a man like Alexander Schindler, the Reform leader whose concepts are so un-Jewish, will do all in their power to persuade Israel to make dangerous and mad concessions and then rationalize their pressure on the Jewish state. I fear that the worst of all pressure will come, not from the United States, but from the American Jewish Establishment. I fear that Israel’s most difficult struggle will be, not with the gentile, but with the Jew. I fear that the ultimate tragedy will be that at the moment of truth, when faced with a threat to its own peace of mind and security, the American Jewish community will fail the state for which it once promised to climb the barricades.
Written April 2, 1976
[No Jewish Establishment Organization is jumping the barricades. Only a small number of Jews do speak out and are not backed by the Jewish Establishment leader. Once again, Rabbi Meir Kahane was right! bg]
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