January 17, 2013

Blogging about the actual "Jewish lobby"

Have I been naughty? I did not reveal any deep secrets, but my latest op-ed in the L.A. Jewish Journal connects the dots and points out what is obvious to most -- if not all -- of my colleagues in the Jewish community: "Yes, there is a Jewish lobby". My main points are outlined there, but here are a few additional thoughts...

It is Jewish because it was founded by Jews, and it's run by Jews, and there should be nothing wrong with that. For valid historical reasons, we prefer to call it "the pro-Israel lobby". It also makes for good branding, much as "women's rights" has evolved into more issue-based, mass-appeal movements like "pro-choice", "equal pay", "race for the cure", etc. And the LGBT community has the Human Rights Campaign. But while we prefer our branding be accepted universally and consistently, we cannot control the consumer.

Chuck Hagel made one reference to "the Jewish lobby", out of frustration with the pro-Israel movement's very effective and integrated fundraising/lobbying strategies. But that was not frustration with Israel, nor was it resentment of Jews per se. Once we organize and register, and walk the halls of Capitol Hill, we become fair game. We don't get special rights to anonymity just because we endured centuries of European persecution, or because we keep messaging that we're not there as "Jews" but as "pro-Israel activists". Of course we're there as Jews.

The Jewish Week posted an article this week, titled "Hagel Backed By Pro-Israel Leaders In Congress," and curiously all the "pro-Israel" leaders mentioned also happen to be prominent JEWISH leaders. And it's my guess, the reason these individuals are pro-Israel is that they strongly identify as Jews.

American Jews can take pride in supporting Israel as OUR issue, even as we invite others to join in for their own religious and personal reasons, and because we truly believe that supporting Israel is in America's best national interest. But if someone slips up and calls us "the Jewish lobby", better to remind them quietly of our long-term branding campaign and not make that the issue instead of Israel.

No comments:

Post a Comment