Jewish Congressmen: Two Opposing Points of View?


Recent events have sparked controversy, even among friends, about the ethics and loyalties of Jewish public officials. Rhetoric aside, the hype remains at the forefront, but our attention must focus on what is actually being done to curtail activities that could destroy the Jewish Homeland. We are at a point in history where action is required. This is the time to identify our true friends.

Separating the hype and rhetoric from action seems the real challenge and a cornucopia of answers seems apparent. Of utmost value are answers to the following questions: Who is sincere and who is covering their own disloyal behavior with demagoguery to the highest degree. We disagree about just whom we can actually trust.

Israel and the Jewish People are challenged to the very core of existence and being accused of crimes they have never committed. They are being demonized in preparation for the next Holocaust, one designed to ensure eradication of the People and the State once and for all.

We view these perilous times as most significant. Thirsting for action, we slowly discover our friends-often in the most unlikely places. However, Jewish people are “a house divided,” and we truly cannot know who among these politicians can be trusted. Ari and I disagree at times about these officials and their motives.

In the end, of course, the future will unravel and posers will be revealed. In this postcard, Ari’s report and findings are presented, then I add another factor into the equation. Ultimately, the reader will offer a third and final thought to the argument. A point-counterpoint and then culmination, so to speak.

Ari’s Thoughts

The Rabbi of a conservative temple in Woodland Hills invited a congregant and good friend, Congressman Brad Sherman to speak.

I could not resist the temptation. The title was “Town Hall Meeting for All Valley Synagogues! … to voice our concerns over the Obama Administration’s stance toward Israel.”

I know Congressman Brad Sherman is a Democrat, generally considered pro-Israel. I knew nothing about Temple Aliyah, but arrived at an overflowing room.

With the exception of maybe a dozen Israelis, the room was filled from side to side with middle-aged Americans. It later turned out by a show of hands the audience of some 300 was pretty much divided between those who elected the President and still support him and those to whom the mantras of “Change,” “Hope” and “Yes, We Can” are nothing but guises of a naked king.

Having recently heard another top ranking Democrat from the Hill, Congressman Howard Berman, I expected very little from Congressman Sherman. Berman was clearly one whose Party* *and President came before everything else, Israel included.

Thus, I came intrigued about why another Congressman would offer to serve as a messenger of concerns from the local Jewish community to the President? Should Congressman Sherman not try to appease his electorate in an effort to ensure his own continued re-electability? The President clearly cares little.

Moreover, I could not reconcile why those who voted for the President, many of whom still believe to this very day he is the manifestation of the Messiah on Earth, have any concerns about His attitude toward Israel. What may have changed arose my curiosity, causing me to drive to the end of the world to investigate.

I found an interesting trend: Jews from both sides of the aisle, still clearly divided along the major rift of the two major parties, all sitting in one place anxious to express their concerns, like a volcano about to erupt. All are concerned. Pre-election promises have not been kept, the recent focus on dividing Israel’s eternal capital and the vicious attacks on the Jewish State (e.g. causing deaths of American soldiers overseas) have reached the breaking point until people feel smothered and nearing suffocation.

I was astonished to hear Congressman Sherman-a true friend of Israel.

For almost an hour, Congressman Sherman straightforwardly answered question after question. If, after this intense grilling hour, I was asked to vote for him, I-the diehard Republican-would not have hesitated for a moment. It has been a very long time since I heard such a true friend of Israel.

I would not have hesitated to entrust my vote and Israel’s future into the hands of this person I had met less than an hour earlier. Clearly a seasoned politician, Sherman impressed me beyond his fellow congressman, Berman. He put Israel first and called Iran the number one enemy of the free world.

The Congressman avoided questions about the health care being shoved down our throats, or why his colleagues refuse his simple “lead by example” idea. Two of my questions were asked-one about Jonathan Pollard and the prospects of him being freed to Israel, the other about stopping payments to the UN and its various agencies, payments that maintain the worst anti-Israel organization in existence.

True friends are measured in time of need, and a true leader is one who says “follow me.” Today, when Israel is in a most precarious position, Jews feel the strain. Under pressure, they begin uniting. Clearly not of their own volition but through lack of choice. We are being pressed into a corner by the immense determined will of the US President, but suddenly we are one, an oppressed people once again.

Congressman Sherman did not spare his repugnance for local Israeli representatives who could not fit last minute attendance into their busy calendars. He was able to accommodate the Rabbi’s request and appear before some 300 people, the Israeli Consulate apparently did not see the importance to do the same or a need to pay respect to his request.

Neither did he neglect to address his fellow Congressman from the same party, in whose district the synagogue resides. His message to the audience was simple: Like him, who showed up as a soldier, we too need to be there when he is under vicious attacks against Israel during CSPAN broadcasts or other town hall meetings where the audience is not pro-Israeli.

Norma’s Thoughts

Showing up to protect 300 votes is far from enough to protect the future of the Jewish people.

In Brad Sherman’s district 300 votes are a significant make or break margin. This is a no-brainer.

I should say I have known Brad Sherman for many years. My opinion of him has always been favorable and I believe him to be an honest man. Of course I believed many other congressmen to be also. I am no longer so foolish.

In 1973 I cried and applauded as I watched President Richard M. Nixon resign from office. For numerous reasons, not the least of which was pride in two reporters who had stood up to the most powerful man in the world and won, I was overcome with joy when the American system won out over corruption.

The process was safe and the country and our forefathers could sleep knowing it all still worked. I, and so many of my fellow Americans, no longer sleep under this illusion.

Where once a president was forced to resign for breaking into the Watergate, playing dirty tricks on Democratic candidates and abusing his power, we now applaud such efforts. We smirk smugly and call it the “Chicago” way.

When did corruption become honorable?

We excuse and cajole these egregious acts and malign those who oppose dishonesty and a lack of respect for American ideals. Welcome back to the Nixon White House ladies and gentlemen.

And now comes Brad Sherman, yarmulke in hand, declaring his outrage over the treatment of Israel.

If indeed he was so offended by the administration’s behavior why didn’t he use it as a bargaining tool? Clearly others did. They copped sweetheart deals to ensure their re-elections and sold out for a price.

Why didn’t Congressman Sherman tell the president, “Sure I will vote for health care, You lay off Israel!?” No, he signed off to the bullying tactics and got nothing. I would not have respected his behavior, but understood it a bit more. Yet to come now and express righteous indignation over the policies of the President before whom he kneels. Pahleeze!

Anyone who believes the sincerity of politicians must examine behavior. Standing in front of an audience of Jewish people and claiming to be “all for Israel” and angered by her treatment is as easy as baking brownies from a mix. Can you say demagoguery? Every Jewish politician will be happily attending such meetings to save their souls, but shall we let them?

Brad Sherman has proven himself to be just another sad representation of what this country has become. His words are as meaningless as his deeds and do not separate him from the other members of congress who must be suspected and held accountable for their actions.

If these are Israel’s friends, she does not need enemies. I would be remiss in calling out only Sherman when the other Jewish representatives also sold out willingly. That is his choice as a free American, it is also our choice to examine his deeds and ignore his honey-coated words spouting principals for which he did not fight.

There will be many more battles in Congress now to fight. Sherman will have to take a stand once more. Will he cow-tow once more to a leader who openly flaunts his distain for America’s only stable allay in the Middle East? Or will he back up his words with brave deeds and tell the President, “you are trying to destroy my people I cannot help a you as it would be an affront to who and what I am.” When I hear these words from any Jewish politician I will stand and applaud their courage. Until then do not ask for any kudos from me for your empty promises and false indignation.

I am certain Brad Sherman is a good man and thus I will attack his issues and not character. Yet the simple fact is he cowered when he should have stood firm. There is nothing in his words and deeds to indicate he will do differently in the future.

Sorry Ari, on singing praises for this politician, I will pass.

This point-and often-counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

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In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.