On Saturday night, I am heading to Washington DC to be a part of the AIPAC National Policy Conference as I do every year, but this year things feel different. I wrote to you a few months ago about the small group of Rabbis that went on a special mission to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the Israeli government to talk about steps how to strengthen the relationship between American Jewry and the State of Israel. Our group will be gathering again during this conference and we hope to meet with key political leaders who will be there.
This year as I prepare to go to AIPAC, there seems to be two critical issues hanging over everything - one about the State of Israel and one about Jews living in the United States. While neither is the main focus of the conference, I am sure they will be discussed.
The first is about the upcoming Israeli elections. On April 9th, Israelis will choose their next Prime Minister and members of the next Knesset. As Prime Minister Netanyahu campaigns for this election and makes certain campaign promises I am becoming more concerned about the direction in which he is taking the country. Many of us share concerns about his policies in regard to the Palestinians and the disputed territories. I have strong concerns about his domestic policies including his strong alignment with the ultra-Orthodox and the ongoing refusal to accept any non-Orthodox Jewish communities I and am concerned about the Jewish survival of the State of Israel and how it can remain the homeland to all Jewish people. As a proud Jew living in this country and as a Zionist and strong supporter of the State of Israel, I know that these elections will be critical for Israel's future.
The other significant issue that will be discussed at AIPAC will be the recent comments made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. What upsets me the most about the comments that were made is that they question my loyalty as an American and as a Jew.
In a recent article for The Times of Israel, my colleague Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt shared views that mirror mine:
The accusations by freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar that Jews and supporters of Israel seek to manipulate the American political system through campaign donations is but the most recent expression of her ongoing " fixation " with and antipathy towards Israel and its supporters. In 2012, prior to being elected to Congress, as a Minnesota state representative Omar prayed that Allah would awaken the world because Jews exercised mind-control powers to hypnotize the world to mask their evil doings. She now has a national platform, as a member of Congress to spread, disseminate and promote her anti- Semitic diatribes against Jews. She has not questioned specific actions of the government of Israel but has expressed contempt and disdain for the existence of the State of Israel, questioned the loyalty of Israel's supporters, and accused her fellow members of Congress of being motivated by and concerned only about money. I cannot help but ask why, when she supports countries who are enemies of the United States, has she not been accused of dual loyalty?
We will have a great deal to talk about in Washington over the next few days. I will be back in Princeton on Tuesday after our meetings with Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congresswoman Watson-Coleman. It will be an honor to represent you in those meetings and to return home with many stories to share about the important conversations we will have in Washington during this critical time in the history of the relationship between the United States and the State of Israel.
Rabbi Adam Feldman