Saturday 31 October 2009

The CIA no longer trusts Jews—and for good reason

The chickens are coming home to roost. Or soon will be.

Case one: Earlier this month, "60 Minutes" featured the case of Adam Ciralsky, an observant Jew fired by the CIA.

During the segment, a CIA official said the agency believes the Israeli government has a program that recruits religious American Jews to spy on the United States.

Ciralsky himself said the agency subjected him to "ethnic profiling" and suspected him of spying for Israel.

You know what? Tough.

I bow to no one in my condemnation of anti-Semites. And if, in fact, anti-Semitism is at all in operation here, that must be stopped and those who engage in it, fired.

But I'm not so sure anti-Semitism is at play here, as quick as some Jews are to believe that.

What's really happening here, to my mind, is that the chickens have come home to roost.

Let's face it. If there is suspicion about Jews working at the CIA, it's understandable. Let's face it. If Jews, especially religious Jews, are feared to be working for Israel, we deserve it.

For we have done so much to make the suspicions seem justified.

No, I'm not talking about Jonathan Pollard. One lousy, rotten apple shouldn't spoil the barrel for the rest of us. What I am talking about is how the Jewish community has seen the Pollard case and reacted to the Pollard case.

In a word, the Jewish community's behavior has been nothing short of shameful.

Almost all Jews, and even more sickeningly, almost all Jewish organizations have taken up Pollard's cause. They have called for his release and have either stated or implied that anti-Semitism is keeping him in jail.

They say that even though President Clinton, Israel's best friend ever, has said that Pollard should not be released because he did so much damage to U.S. national security.

Don't like or trust Clinton? How about the fact that every single top administration official has said the same thing. How about the fact that every single top congressional official, including Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, has said the same thing. How about the fact that Les Aspin, Clinton's first defense secretary and one of Israel's best friends, has said the same thing.

Now, you either have to believe that every top American official -- Democrat and Republican, civilian and military, executive branch and legislative -- is an anti-Semite or you've got to recognize that Pollard did such overwhelming harm that all agree he must be punished by staying in prison the rest of his life.

Still, most American Jews call for his release and excuse, if not justify, his actions. Doing that most loudly and strongly are right-wing Jews, right-wing both politically and religiously.

And so, why shouldn't the CIA have reason to be suspicious. If we, as a community, had shown how much we abhor Pollard, we would have sent one kind of signal. Instead, we've sent a very different kind of signal.

After all, how many Jews have I heard say, "Well, he was doing it for Israel" -- as if that made it OK or at least not so bad, as if doing it for Israel is any kind of excuse or explanation or factor.

But to many Jews, it is. And that is why the chickens have come home to roost and why the CIA has reason to think twice about Jews who are religious or have ties to Israel.

Case two: I didn't think it could get this bad. I didn't think my friends on the right-wing could sink so low. But they have. And the chickens are going to come home to roost big time on this one.

As we all know, Israel and Syria are involved in negotiations that will probably involve Israel giving up the Golan Heights, a prospect many Jews are not very happy about.

It's their right to be upset. And it's their right to voice their views and to try to convince the Israeli government not to do it. They have that right as Jews and as lovers of Israel.

But there is a line, a line that American Jews have no right to cross. Ever. No matter what.

And that line is fighting the Israeli government via the American government.

That is out of bounds. That is so harmful to Israel in such fundamental ways that it is unbelievable any American Jew would do that.

But a bunch of right-wing American Jews did just that earlier this month. What they did was go to Capitol Hill to lobby legislators to oppose U.S. support for a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

Reading about that took my breath away. Here are Jews, who probably think of themselves as the ultimate lovers of Israel, going to American politicians to urge them to be against something the elected government of Israel deems is in Israel's best interest.

How dare they? It is one thing to express their views within the Jewish community, one thing to try and influence Israeli public opinion and policy. But for American Jews to go to Congress to tell it to oppose the Israeli government is an act almost treasonous in nature.

Yes, I know that's a harsh charge, but it is appropriate for those who try to get Congress involved in a Jewish family disagreement.

Think of the signal it gives, the message it sends. And think of what it may mean for Israel in the future.

The one thing that has been true and consistent during Israel's first 50 years is that Congress has known the American Jewish community is behind it all the way. Sure, they know we fight among ourselves, but they also know those fights stop at the borders of Washington.

Do the right-wingers really think changing that scenario is best for Israel.

I can already hear the chickens.

Chicago Jewish News.


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