Jewish Journal

‘Not Israel’s deepest thinker’

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 6, 2008 | 3:50 pm

That was Jeffrey Goldberg‘s response to a comment Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave him. It appears in this month’s Atlantic cover, and its good fodder for piling on:

I asked Olmert about a flaw of personal concern to me: Why is Israel less physically safe for Jews than America?

He answered: “I’ll tell you something that you have to realize, and this is the most important thing and this is the most significant thing. First of all, no people are safe anywhere, okay? Let me tell you, Jews are not safer in Israel than they are in other parts of the world, but there is only one place that Jews can fight for their lives as Jews, and that is here. They can fight as Americans, they can fight as Australians—but as individuals.” He banged on his desk. “Jews were persecuted, Jews were attacked, Jews were suppressed, Jews were killed. But they could never defend themselves as Jews.”

So the success of the American Jewish community doesn’t lessen the necessity for the state of Israel? “Never, never, no way,” he said. “By the way, Jews in Germany—and I don’t draw any comparison at all—Jews in other parts of the world were very successful all their lives, and that didn’t provide them with safety.”

The prime minister of Israel should be able to muster an argument for the necessity of his country without forecasting a Holocaust in America. His was a careless and cynical statement, one that supports the notion that he is not Israel’s deepest thinker.

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