As we enter the last weeks of this election cycle, we are inundated with the toxic collision of money, politics and desperation. Unfortunately, the Jewish community is now the target of some of the worst offenses of dirty politics, as our vote is deemed crucial in Florida and other swing states.
While the vote in November may only affect the outcome of one election cycle, the fall-out of being prey to false advertising and divisive practices jeopardizes the long-standing strength of the Jewish community.
For many elections we have seen various attempts to peel off the traditionally Democratic Jewish vote. The recently released video “Perilous Times” is perhaps the most insidious and misleading effort to date to use propaganda to divide the Jewish community. The video is designed to make Jewish voters feel insecure about President Obama’s commitment to Israel by distorting and misappropriating the truth about the president’s and, indeed, America’s, unwavering alliance with Israel.
Early in the video the narrator alleges that when President Obama met in a private meeting with Jewish leaders in June of 2009, there was “stunned silence” as the president spoke about his administration’s vision regarding the Middle East.
I was one of the Jewish leaders in that meeting. I remember precisely what happened; it was not as represented in this video.
The truth is that President Obama spent an hour with 16 Jewish leaders from a wide spectrum of the American Jewish community. We dialogued with the president about ensuring the security of Israel, plans for advancing peace in the Middle East and strategies for ending Iran’s growing nuclear capacity.
The president was clear, unequivocal and passionate. The president articulated that he and his administration are resolutely committed to the security and safety of Israel, to the survival of Israel as the Jewish homeland, and to the pursuit of sustainable peace in the Middle East, a peace that secures Israel.
I, along with many other Jewish leaders, left that meeting confident about President Obama’s commitment to Israel and promising vision for moving towards peace in the region. I left a proud American and a secure Jew.
And today we have good cause to remain proud Americans and secure Jews. Continuing in the tradition of many of the U.S. presidents before him, President Obama has ensured that America is a strong, effective ally and true, best friend to Israel. This administration has demonstrated America’s allegiance to Israel in critical ways, including putting in place the strictest Iran sanctions ever, preventing Palestinian action at the United Nations that would undermine Israel and the peace process, and providing never-before-seen levels of aid to restore Israel’s qualitative edge, and more.
As we respond to the avalanche of targeted efforts to influence Jewish voters, we must remember the horrific ramifications that can come from political propaganda and demonization from falsehoods. Throughout history, we have survived and gained strength by banding together and showing the world we would refuse to be torn apart. We cannot allow ourselves to be turned against each other by blatantly partisan manipulative advertisements.
While we will be flooded these next few weeks with spurious efforts to divide and conquer the Jewish vote, it is imperative that the Jewish community stands united. Our greatest capital, our undivided capital, is our indivisible allegiance to Israel as our Jewish homeland. We may, and probably should, differ about tactics and strategies for achieving a secure Israel, but we must never allow our community to be used a political pawn, to be divvied up by would-be powers for their political gain.
No matter the outcome of this election, we must stand united with Israel, we must work with the administration and Congress to support and strengthen Israel and we must retain our strength as informed, engaged, values-driven voters.
Nancy Ratzan is immediate past president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Common Cause board member, attorney, and past president of Temple Beth Sholom (Miami Beach).