Foxman, Ben-Ami Feud Over Palin
ADL, J Street leaders debate the meaning of ‘pro-Israel,’ and chutzpah
Earlier this week, Sarah Palin went on Nightline and told Barbara Walters that she disagreed with the Obama administration’s policy of pressuring Israel to freeze new construction in Jewish settlements on the West Bank, in part because “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” On Wednesday, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, issued a statement accusing Palin of “pandering to her right-wing base.”
Anti-Defamation League chief Abraham Foxman didn’t appreciate that, and he last night he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Eric Fingerhut that Ben-Ami’s statement was “the height of chutzpah.” See, Palin’s statements might have been a “simplistic effort to be supportive of the Israeli government” but they were “clear and well-intentioned,” and, anyway, “all politics is pandering.” As for Ben-Ami, Foxman accused him of “attacking a celebrity for supporting Israel, but not in the way they want her to support Israel.” This morning, Ben-Ami responded with a long, sharply worded letter accusing Foxman of being “willing to go along with the defamation of a world-renowned (and Zionist) jurist”—Richard Goldstone—“who has asked tough questions about the Gaza War,” and also of trying to hijack the designation of “pro-Israel.” “You of course have every right to disagree with us. It’s a free country,” Ben-Ami wrote. “But you have no right to decide who is and who is not pro-Israel based on whether they agree with your views.” We’ll let you know if Foxman responds.