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Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Israel from Cairo to Damascus"

Section from an interview of Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on the Nachum segal show last Friday morning (clip here, at about the 12:50 mark):
Nachum Segal: Are you capable of stepping up and going against the organizations you represent, Mr. Hoenlein, and by the way, my question is a follow-up to that. If you would have, would it have stopped that disengagement? Would Jews still be living in Gaza, if Malcolm Hoenlein would have gotten up from 6,000 miles away and said "this is outrageous" and by the way, on this program you've said many times how you, personally, are against all types of disengagement. You've made that comment-
Hoenlein: I want Israel from Cairo to Damascus. It's that simple.
Segal: You're like the enemy. You're the only guy brave enough to be like the enemy.
Where do I even begin. First of all, the idea that had Hoenlein gotten up, from 6,000 miles away, as Segal puts it, and opposed the disengagement, that his opposition to the pullout would have somehow stopped it in its tracks is laughable.

Second, the comment itself. The elephant in the room. The statement, that he wants "Israel from Cairo to Damascus. It's that simple.", and that having been his reason for his not speaking up in opposition of the Gaza disengagement. This is just crazy, on so many levels. The fact that he even said what he said is just shocking. In the current tense political climate that exists in the Middle East, for a leader that stands in representation of 52 Jewish Organizations and is ostensibly the spokesman for American Jewry to say this?? Does anyone think that any of the organizations that Hoenlein represents would ever put themselves behind his statement? A public statement that is completely beyond the pale from even most right-wing American Jewish Organizations?

Third, Mr. Segal's assertion that somehow, by saying, almost a full year after the disengagement has come and gone, that somehow Mr. Hoenlein is "brave" for speaking up now? Because he speaks "like the enemy", he is brave? Last I checked, the rhetoric of wanting to throw all Jews out of Israel is precisiely the kind of rhetoric "the enemy" is constantly being excoriated for using.

Publicly, Hoenlein purports to be supportive of the Israel government in their actions, but when pandering to a right-wing American Orthodox Jewish audience, he shows his real politics. He's absolutely entitled to his views, however, they seem to be well outside the mainstream. Is this the man who should represent US Jewry?

Hattip: Canonist

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could have sold me that the comment came from Abbas. Make sure to save the audio clip, peeps. I have a feeling that Malcolm is going to want this clip taken down and fast. And Nachum Segal, with all his a**-kissing of anyone RW, will comply instantly.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Ortho-
Assuming your post is accurate.Hoenlin must resign immediately. No one who represents the consensus of American Jewish Organizations even if he believes what he is quoted as saying can say that publicly.
His words can cause great difficulty to Klal Israel and Israel in theUS.

On a separate issue is this the mainstream of Ortho politics?

3:39 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Ortho-
Assuming your post is accurate.Hoenlin must resign immediately.


It's accurate, but don't go on my say-so. Listen to the clip for yourself.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crazy.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

"It's accurate, but don't go on my say-so"

Ortho-I trust your facts-you say you heard the language that is a 100% proof in my mind. We've argued on policy-interpretations-but I've never said that if you say you saw something it is not true.

9:15 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Ortho-I trust your facts-you say you heard the language that is a 100% proof in my mind. We've argued on policy-interpretations-but I've never said that if you say you saw something it is not true.


Thanks. But on the actual statement, I'm surprised that no one has had anything to say on this yet. Shouldn't this be a major news story? A leader who purports to represent all American Jewish Organizations publicly expressing politics that are so beyond the pale?

9:22 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

It seems like a strange statement to me (the phrasing of it). I don't believe I have ever heard someone call for Israel "from Cairo to Damascus" before. Is there a reference we're missing here (like a PLO/Hamas statement calling for a state from Cairo to Damascus or something)?

OM - I didn't see anything in the statement about throwing the Arabs out, but I can see why you reasonably assume that was the intent. I would like to offer the alternate possibility (spin, if you will), that he think Jews should be able to live anywhere in that area, which would not be possible unless Israel is in control because the Palestinians have that irritating age old habit of massacring local Jewish populations (See, e.g. Hebron, 1929). This would be a far less offensive statement, although a relatively unrealistic one if meant as a statement of policy rather than principle.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been friends with Malcolm for over 30 years.He is the only "Jewish Leader"who actually is l'shmo with no interest in self aggranizement or his bottom line.
In other words lay off him.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Anon 10:11 - so to defend Malcolm against attacks you go and slur every other "Jewish leader"? That's wonderful.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM,

I heard it live, and it was completely tongue in cheek. YOu are making something out of nothing.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

But on the actual statement, I'm surprised that no one has had anything to say on this yet.
I am surprised too

Shouldn't this be a major news story?
Yes-certainly in the Anglo-Jewish Press-but gut if anyone picks it up it would be the Forward. BTW I have no connection to anyJewishnewspaper-other than buying or paid subscriptions to a few.

A leader who purports to represent all American Jewish Organizations publicly expressing politics that are so beyond the pale?
Where is the outcry?

11:19 AM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

I heard it live, and it was completely tongue in cheek.

If it was tongue in cheek Hoenlin is incompetent-one does not talk tongue in cheek in the diplomatic sphere esp. today with internet when literal words are transported around the world instantly.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

mycroft - Not making any judgment about whether it was actually tongue in cheek or not, I think you are being just a bit harsh here. Can a public figure never make a tongue in cheek remark? Granted it is important to watch what one says and all that, but a small bit of humor makes one incompetent? I don't know that any of us could survive under that level of scrutiny, every comment being subject to public examination and any misstep designating us incompetent. If it wasn't serious, then saying it may have been a mistake because of the potential for misreporting, but its not that big a deal either way, and certainly doesn't make the man incompetent at his job.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

I should note that it being tongue in cheek explains the strangeness of the statement that I noted earlier. I hope this was the case, as I'd hate to think major American Jewish leaders have completely gone off the deep end.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Can a public figure never make a tongue in cheek remark?

No!!!!

Granted it is important to watch what one says and all that, but a small bit of humor makes one incompetent?

One does not attempt humor with secret service, TSA workers, or on diplomatic matters

I don't know that any of us could survive under that level of scrutiny, every comment being subject to public examination and any misstep designating us incompetent.
I couldn't but I am not a leader ofAmerican Jewry. One must be totally careful. BTW other missteps in "judgement"-in the 2004 Conventions he attended more political GOP than Dems. As a leader he has to be neutral in thought action and deed.

BTW-for those who read other blogs-I have consistently taken that position concerning other people eg Roshei Yeshiva, Rabeim that they should never be scarcastic. The stakes are just higher when one is the Exec. Dir. Of the Conf of Prezes of Majorjewish Orgs.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous oh please said...

I've been friends with Malcolm for over 30 years.He is the only "Jewish Leader"who actually is l'shmo with no interest in self aggranizement or his bottom line.
In other words lay off him.


Malcolm Hoenlein does nothing unless it directly benefits Malcolm Hoenlein.

There are plenty of other jewish leaders who are "lshma" you just might not know because they dont go around telling everybody and dancing for the cameras.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Mycroft - Fair enough. I agree it wasn't wise to say it, I just don't think that saying it makes the guy incompetent. Agree to disagree and all that.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

I should note that it being tongue in cheek explains the strangeness of the statement that I noted earlier.

What basis do you have for saying that the statement was made in jest other than the fact that the statement is dumb? And what would have been the point of the joke? Was he exaggererating? Being sarcastic? The problem with your theory is that the statement doesn't even work well as a joke.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

krum - someone else said it was in jest. I have no idea if it was, it just makes more sense than the statement (which seems odd to me) being meant seriously.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Somewhat Anonymous said...

krum - someone else said it was in jest. I have no idea if it was, it just makes more sense than the statement (which seems odd to me) being meant seriously."

Listen, it's no secret that Malcolm is a rabid Kahanist. The problem is that he actually admitted it this time. Even if he didn't mean it seriously, as you say, its a crazy comment. Would we excuse Mohammed Abbas for sayiung he "wants Palestine from Cairo to Damascus" if he said he was kidding? Yeah right.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Malcolm Hoenlein = Mahmoud Abbas - you heard it here first folks.

I have a hard time believing that a "rabid Kahanist" would be allowed to hold his position if it were "no secret." So pardon me for being just a bit skeptical.

4:33 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Pandering? He was indicating that he believed in the Biblical borders when Mashiach comes. Something wrong with that?

5:25 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

ymedad - don't we get like half of Iraq (up to nehar peras) at that point to? why did he stop at Damascus? (Disclaimer: this statement was said tongue in cheek)

;-)

5:28 PM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

I'm sure he will be quoted extensivly in all Arab propoganda/media and throughout the Muslim world:

"See...here is the proof of the real intentions of the Zionist dogs!! (or is it Zionist Pigs? I always forget) From the mouth of one of their most important leaders!!The evil Jews will not stop until your houses are burned and your fields are stolen and your daughters and wives are raped!!"

Or something like that.

Nothing like giving a little helping hand to the peace process...

(Disclaimer: this statement was said tongue in cheek) ;-)

8:42 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'is this the mainstream of Ortho politics? '

No.

Remember that a large fraction of Orthodox Jews in America and in Israel -- at least a third, and possibly even a majority -- are anti-Zionist charedim. (According to Marvin Schick, enrollment in US charedi schools is double that of modern Orthodox schools. And compare the combined votes for Shas and UTJ in Israel to that of the NRP/NU combo.)

11:44 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Remember that a large fraction of Orthodox Jews in America and in Israel -- at least a third, and possibly even a majority -- are anti-Zionist charedim.

A lot depends on your operational definition of Orthodoxy.

(According to Marvin Schick, enrollment in US charedi schools is double that of modern Orthodox schools.

And compare the combined votes for Shas and UTJ in Israel to that of the NRP/NU combo.) Israel probably has a much more developed genuine MO community than in the US. BTW a big problem for MO they don't supply their own teachers-thus the teachers don't believe inMO curriculum-they rarely send their kids to such a school. THus kids believe teachers are hypocrites.

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