I consider Dovid Efune a friend and believe he should be applauded for his work at the Algemeiner Journal. As editor, he has managed to revive and electrify the newspaper. Dubbed in the 70s as the largest Yiddish weekly in the United States, today, since switching to English, the Algemeiner and its website have become well-read sources of news and information on Israel and Jewish happenings for the readers around the world.
That said, I am disappointed with the Algemeiner’s recent political gimmick. While not expressing outright support for Mitt Romney’s candidacy, the paper named him number 1 on its list of “Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future 2012”. Of course, President Obama didn’t even make the list.
Efune’s reasoning “Romney’s vocal support for Israel as a contender for the world’s top job, has challenged the incumbent and many Americans to rediscover their own understanding of the United States’ special relationship with the Jewish state. His tough stance on Iran has put the Ayatollahs on notice.
In his recent trip to the Holy Land, he acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cited the historic connection of the Jewish people with the land, which has gone a long way in underlining the Jewish narrative regarding Israel on the world stage, thereby earning him the top spot this year.”
The transparent ploy of choosing Romney, demonstrates, at the very least a basic lack of journalistic integrity bordering on outright deceit.
Efune surely knows that the last three presidents, while running for office, all made similar statements, and only a naïf could believe that Romney, if elected, would actually be able to follow through on his statement “to move our embassy ultimately to the capital (Jerusalem).”
Bill Clinton in 1992 supported “the principle of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”
George W. Bush vowed in 2000 to “begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
And in a speech in June 2008, Obama said, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” And later on, while on a trip to Israel, Obama said on ABC News, “The fact is thatJerusalem is Israel’s capital. And so I was simply saying a fact.”
On Sep 23, 2011, I was present in the United Nations for Palestinian President Abbas’s address. Minus the short distraction of a fistfight when the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to enter the guest section, instead of the area assigned to dignitaries, the vibe and general atmosphere in the room were overwhelmingly in support of Abbas. The Palestinian president was interrupted several times, with standing ovations and the crowd even broke out in song in support of his bid for statehood. In contrast, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke, the only people I saw clapping were the Israelis, Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, and a few elderly women in the guest section.
It was President Obama who stood up to the international community and played the lead role in outmaneuvering the statehood bid, which if successful, would have been a serious blow to the safety and continuity of Israel.
I too, like many in the Jewish community, wasn’t happy with Obama’s speech of a “Palestinian state based on 1967 borders”, and I didn’t feel his clarification at the the AIPAC Policy Conference “Mutually agreed swaps means. By definition, it means that the parties themselves, Israelis and Palestinians, will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967” was sufficient. But that speech gave him the needed credibility with the international community to stop the statehood bid.
And all this hogwash that Obama didn’t visit Israel in his first term and therefore isn’t a friend—surprise surprise, George W. Bush didn’t either, but Bill Clinton did.
During his presidency, Obama has surrounded himself with people like White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, and Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, a traditional Jew and strong friend of Israel. Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was a civilian volunteer assisting the IDF during the Gulf War.
All Romney did was make a few statements to garner votes; Obama actually acted for Israel. The current administration has given more in security aid to Israel than any other White House administration in the history of Israel.
On the way out of the United Nations, I rode the elevator down with Alan Dershowtiz. Someone asked him what he thought of Obama’s speech about the 1967 borders. He replied, “This is what I told the president, ‘Mr. President, the problem is not the actual speech it’s the background music. You need to change the background music.’”
I believe Obama has since changed that background music.
If the Algemeiner wants to support Romney, so be it, but don’t insult our intelligence. Take him off the list.
Rabbi Yaacov Behrman was ordained by the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu in 2006 and received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership in 2009. The views expressed above are his own.