Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

The Trail of Treason

Eliot Jager, one of the earliest pro-Israel activists after the Oslo disaster was revealed, has made a tremendous contribution to the history of our time with a doctoral dissertation at New York University titled, "A Case Study of the Activities of the Organized American Jewish Community in Regard to the Decision by the United States Government to Enter into a Diplomatic Dialogue with the PLO -- 1967-1988." The long title could be summarized with a briefer title: "The sellout of Israel by the American Jewish Leadership."

I have been privileged to receive a copy of the 566-page dissertation and wish to share with my readers a synopsis of this profound, penetrating and devastating analysis of our times.

Jager traces the slow process by which American government officials and other circles -- with the tacit support of some American Jewish organizations -- adopted the name "Palestinian," which had been unknown years ago. Even in the 1967 U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 there is only talk of "refugees," no mention of "Palestinians." Golda Meir, on one of her visits to the united States in the early 1970s, still questioned the validity of the term "Palestinians."

While in those years Israel considered it anathema to negotiate with the PLO, the U.S. government sought the support of the organized American Jewish community to legitimize contact or negotiation between the United States and the PLO. Despite the total prohibition against such contacts in Israel, it was the American Jewish leadership that repeatedly met with U.S. officials to consider the possibility of including the PLO into any peace process, despite the repeated acts of terrorism and murder by the PLO against American and Israeli targets.

The Jager study traces the different changes of perception that led, step by step, to legitimizing the PLO. The study shows that it was only after the Jewish leadership came to subscribe, more or less, to the U.S. administration’s assessment of the conflict, that the U.S. government acquiesced in a Palestinian-Arab and later, PLO role. In fact, various administrations aggressively sought American Jewish support. The implication is that if the Jewish leadership -- in particular the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations -- had steadfastly resisted such contacts, they would not have taken place.

After the Six-Day War the lineup of the two opposing views on the Israel-Arab conflict is described as, on one hand, the State Department, Arabists, oil lobbyists, Christian missionaries, the Jewish New Left and the Old Right (neo-Nazis). Those supporting Israel were the majority of American Jews and many non-Jewish allies. This was soon enough after the Holocaust that the murder of six million Jews in Christian lands was still firmly fixed in Christian conscience.

In those days, I.L. Kenen founded AIPAC with a small Washington office, starting a pro-Israel lobby, which, until the days of the Rabin government, represented Zionist goals. Other Jewish groups, especially the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress, are singled out in the study for their critical view of Israel’s policies, even at an early stage.


Zionists would still vigorously argue that the British Mandate of Palestine included both sides of the Jordan. Only after some years, was 20 percent of Palestine set aside for the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, while 80 percent was renamed the Emirate of Transjordan. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement by Churchill when he was in charge of colonies. But when he moved to a different ministry his intentions were forgotten, and Transjordan was never re-united with the area of Palestine west of the Jordan. This strong argument that Transjordan rightfully belonged to the Jews was by and by discarded by the Jewish pro-Israel leadership.


Meanwhile, in January 1964, the PLO was founded under Sukeiry, who very soon made the infamous declaration that the purpose of the PLO is "to drive the Jews into the sea." King Hussein personally opened the first PLO congress, held in Jordan-controlled Jerusalem. (All this is of course today conveniently forgotten.) There was little evidence of reaction to such declarations by the Jewish leadership in America.

A sens of unity within the American Jewish community lasted only a short time after the Six-Day War. But with Israel no longer perceived as the weak David challenged by the strong Goliath, the liberal-leftist forces started criticizing Israel for exercising control over the population of Judah and Samaria won after the war of aggression by Jordan.

Anti-Israel Forces Among American Jews

With each successive Israeli government, the left became more and more outspoken. Those who are today trying to muzzle criticism of the Rabin government were engaged in almost daily attacks on the Begin and Shamir governments.

The first person to call for a Palestinian State was Nahum Goldmann. Although an executive vice president of the conference of Presidents, Goldmann broke with the normal consensus of opposition to a Palestinian State. The phenomenon of Goldmann’s’ personality is perhaps not easily understood, but I would like to add my own perception here.

Goldmann grew up in Frankfurt and attended the Orthodox Samson Rafael Hirsch Schule. All those who remember him from that time will tell you that he was a "holy terror," constantly fighting with the teachers. His main contribution to the State of Israel was that he negotiated the Wiedergutmachung (restitution) with Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s chancellor after the war. But he was eternally angry that Israel did not consider him as president after it gained independence. In that he shared the fate of Weizman and Abba Eban. All three had performed splendidly abroad and had great influence wither with Britain, in Weizman’s case, the U.N. in Eban’s case, or Germany, in Goldmann’s case. But they were considered out of step with the rank-and-file Israelis and therefore were never popular at home.

Anti-Israeli Jews

Jager spends some time reporting the activities -- increasingly hostile in Israel -- by such self-hating, suicidal Jews as those who formed Breira, New Jewish Agenda. Peace Now, Jewish Peace Lobby -- started by Jerome Segal, who ended up being Arafat’s advisor on negotiations with Israel -- and others, whom he calls the "Peace Camp." Initially at the periphery of the mainstream Jewish community, it was only by and by that they, with the encouragement of such liberal opponents of Israel as Henry Siegman of the American Jewish Congress, and Rita Hauser, that the Peace Camp became mote prominent. Their great breakthrough came about in 1993 when, to most Zionists’ outrage, the Conference of Presidents admitted into its ranks Americans for Peace Now, even though some of the leaders had been in constant contact with Arafat and had become his pipeline to Jewish public opinion.

Typical is the "conversion" of Rita Hauser, who was opposed initially to the PLO but gradually became the spearhead for legitimizing Arafat. This resulted in the greatest historical defeat for Israel, when she took a delegation of leftists to Stockholm to meet Arafat. She later explained that she was an atheist with no Jewish education. In that she became typical for some of the "leaders" who surfaced during the leftists’ onslaught against a strong Israel. People who in the past would be dismissed as alienated and indifferent to the fate of Jews became spokesmen and even took it upon themselves to speak for the Jewish people in the White House. It was this encouragement or the lack of opposition by such Jewish "leaders" that the U.S. government finally took the plunge and okayed the dialogue with the PLO.

Conference of Presidents

Jager focuses most attention on the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. It is with nostalgia that one reads in Jager’s work of giant demonstrations organized by the Conference of Presidents over burning Jewish issues. Thus they mobilized demonstrations of 50,000, 100,000, and even 200,00 Jews -- in the latter ease for the cause of Soviet Jewry. Today, by contrast, the Conference of Presidents is seldom heard from, certainly they never back any public demonstrations. That is nowadays left to committed Jews, who are united by their burning desire to help Israel when no one in the establishment is there to help.

Jager goes through chairman after chairman of the Conference of Presidents to analyze their respective attitudes toward Israel, degree of support in the United States and, in general, evaluate their worth. He has no quarrel with such committed Jews as Rabbi Herschel Shacter, Rabbi Israel Miller, Julius Berman and Shoshana Cardin. (In the latter case, I can testify for her hard work for Israel, which I witnessed when I attended the Peace Conference in Madrid.)

Jager faults some of the other chairmen, who after a while "defected" to the opposition to Israel’s policies. These include Alexander Schindler and Morris Abram.

Looking Back

Jager does not ask the obvious question that every student of his thesis automatically asks, because he does not have to -- it is so evident. Will the supporters of "Land for Peace," the Oslo agreement and the abandonment of the settlements now admit their errors? These Jews who trusted Arafat to be a man of peace and believed he had truly renounced terrorism -- what is going on now in their minds and hearts in the face of the total collapse of all their illusions? Do the torrents of Jewish blood resulting from their "liberal" attitude to the PLO trouble them?

The answer is: Those who truly car about the fate of the Jewish people no doubt regret their role in pushing Israel to the brink of disaster and possible disappearance. Those who all along were indifferent, alienated from the Jewish fate, probably could not care less. But the trust of Jager’s thesis is, how did the rank-and-file Jews, staunch Zionists, allow these often self-appointed "leaders" to corrupt the 2,000-year-old Zionist dream? Were there no built-in democratic safeguards to protect the aims and aspirations of the majority of Jews against those ready to throw Israel to the winds of the Arabists, the PLO and the Islamicists intent on gobbling up every inch of Israel?

History will judge. I shudder to think what future Jewish history books will say about them. But meanwhile, we have a most valuable, well-documented, advance view of what historians will say in the future. Jager deserves a great deal of gratitude from all who love Israel and who wish her well. It is my hope that his dissertation will soon be available in book form, and will be used for a full and open debate in the Jewish community. That way our villains and culprits will have to explain their deeds before us all.

Yasher kouch, Eliot




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