Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Israel's Best Friends and Supporters

On some days of the week you'll hear that America's Jews are Israel's most important friends and allies, and must be treated accordingly (by having a say in Israeli legislation, say, or perhaps even in Israeli political decision-making). On other days of the week you'll hear other melodies, such as that Israel's increasing bellicosity or extremism are forcing America's Jews to lose interest and wander off. (Assuming of course that the bellicosity and extremism are demonstrably true - a highly unlikely proposition, of course).

Actually, the case for the involvement of non-Israeli Jewish communities in matters of Israel is more complex, and doesn't rest, ultimately, on the degree of support they evince, rather on their strength as parts of the Jewish people and the relationship between Jews. In the meantime, however, over the past few years I've been wondering if it's intellectually honest to make the claim about America's Jews being number one supporters at all. There are these folks over here, who seem to be considerably more numerous, probably stronger politically, and, let's face it, these days probably more adamant in their support than too many of America's Jews. Moreover, if the description is accurate, they're putting considerable effort into multiplying their numbers:

Attendees of this year's gathering are visibly different from those in the past: about one in five of the 5,000 participants was from a Hispanic Church. “Last year we had about 300 Hispanics, but this year we started specific outreach to the Hispanic churches where Spanish is a language of worship”, says David Brog, the executive director of CUFI. “We have started an outreach to African-Americans. It was always our goal to broaden our base ethnically, geographically and theologically”.

Haaretz, predictably, inserts a You-Tube video with Medea Code-Pink Benjamin in the article, since she's an important part of the story, I suppose. Given that Benjamin actually is Jewish, I'm not certain they thought through the implications of that one.


Soccer Dad said...

Do you realize that David Brog is a (first) cousing of the Defense Minister?

Not really important, but possibly interesting.

Avigdor said...

It was only a few years ago that CUFI was a minor player in the pro-Israel community, and we were wondering if it really had staying power. Its well on its way to rivaling AIPAC as an effective organization that doesn't simply marshal existing Jewish community resources and milk a shrinking base of Jewish super-funders, but enjoys true grass roots support and is growing at a staggering rate.

Interesting enough, the pro-Israel shift in the evangelical christian community sometimes has consequences beyond mere political support, and into the religious sphere. Evangelical groups have had to distance themselves from missionary activities targeting Jews to be embraced by the larger pro-Israel community.