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Columnist Dana Milbank Writes of "Watching Israel In Horror"

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2018

Washington Post (Sept. 23, 2018) columnist Dana Milbank discussed a sermon given by his rabbi, Daniel Zemel of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. on Kol Nidrei, the holiest night of the Jewish year, Rabbi Zemel told his congregation that, "The current government of Israel has turned its back on Zionism." He declared: "My love of Israel has not diminished one iota but this is, to my way of thinking Israel's first anti-Zionist government...” He recounted Israel's transformation under Benjamin Netanyahu: "...the rise of ultra-nationalism tied to religious extremism, the upsurge in settler violence, the overriding of Supreme Court rulings upholding democracy and human rights, a crackdown on dissent, harassment of critics and nonprofits, confiscation of Arab villages, and alliance with regimes---Poland, Hungary and the Philippines---that foment anti-Semitism. The current government of Israel has, like Esau, sold its birthright."  
Milbank writes that, "Similarly anguished sentiments are being heard in synagogues and in Jewish homes throughout America... For 70 years, Israel survived, in no small part because of American Jews' support. Now, we watch in horror as Netanyahu, with President Trump's encouragement, leads Israel on a path to estrangement and destruction. Both men have gravely miscalculated. Trump seems to think support for Netanyahu will appeal to American Jews who are appalled by his treatment of immigrants and minorities. (Trump observed Rosh Hashanah by ordering the Palestinian office in Washington closed, another gratuitous blow to the moribund two-state solution that a majority of American Jews favor). But his green light to extremism does the opposite."  
In Milbank's view, "We are stunned witnesses of new alliances between Israel, Orthodox factions of Judaism throughout the world and the new global, populism in which ethnocentrism and even racism hold an undeniable place. Netanyahu is betting Israel's future on people such as Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, featured at the ceremony for Trump's opening of the Jerusalem embassy. Hagee once said, 'Hitler was a hunter' sent by God to drive Jews to Israel. Netanyahu's moves toward authoritarianism and away from negotiated peace also make it more difficult for traditional liberal supporters of Israel to counter the left's Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement. American Jews can't appreciate the daily threat Israelis face from Hamas and Hezbollah. But if the answer is an ultranationalist apartheid state, American Jews have a duty to tell Israelis that support cannot be sustained here nor should it be." •

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