Why are American Jews so badly led? Why is it that so much of organized Jewish life is now devoted to causes that have little to do with ensuring the security of Jews or that of Israel? Those are the questions that JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin thinks must be answered at a time when the response of the organized Jewish world to a surge in antisemitism has been so ineffective.
Many groups are obsessed with liberal political objectives and more interested in staying in sync with leftist fashion than in defending Jewish rights. This trend is also fueled by a declining sense of Jewish peoplehood in a population that is rapidly assimilating.
This problem is the focus of a new collection of essays titled Betrayal: the Failure of American Jewish Leadership, edited by Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser, who joined Tobin to discuss the issue and the efforts of the Jewish Leadership Project, a new group that both are involved with.
Jacobs said there is “a moral obligation to explain to the Jewish people that the ones they think are defending them and protecting them are failing them disastrously, that this is careening out of control and that something has to change—and that something has to be our leadership.”
According to Goldwasser, “the left has betrayed the Jews. The left has been a great friend of the Jews for a hundred years. It’s over. They have abandoned the Jews. And it’s hard; it’s painful for them to acknowledge it, but that’s the reality.”
Both agreed that the rollout of the Biden administration’s largely meaningless antisemitism strategy document last month illustrated how Jewish groups are easily satisfied with access and refuse to hold their political allies accountable. This is connected to what Jacobs called the transition “from liberalism to wokeism” on the part of the Jewish establishment. It also accounts for their failure to speak out against the epidemic of antisemitic attacks on Orthodox Jews by African-Americans in New York City, as well as their inadequate response to far-left Jewish groups that embrace the anti-Israel BDS movement.
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