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Pundit asks why U.S. leans in Israel’s favor
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Pundit asks why U.S. leans in Israel’s favor

Award-winning columnist Jeff Jacoby says Americans “understand that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies.”
Award-winning columnist Jeff Jacoby says Americans “understand that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies.”

NOTICE: This event, originally scheduled for December 16th, has been cancelled.

Although many in the pro-Israel camp think the country has an image problem, Jeff Jacoby says its support in the United States remains strong.

“It might seem odd that when so much of the world — including Europe — is so quick to denounce Israel, Americans consistently give Israel very strong support,” the Boston Globe columnist told NJJN. “That support shows up consistently in opinion polls, and it explains why the ‘Israel lobby’ is so influential: It reflects public opinion. Why is this? I think there are a number of reasons, both practical and moral.”

Jacoby will share those reasons Sunday, Dec. 16, when he speaks to an Israel Bonds New Jersey reception in Linden. “He always leaves his audience with a better perspective on whatever topic or issue he addresses,” said Rabbi Joshua Hess, leader of Congregation Anshe Chesed, the Orthodox synagogue hosting the public event.

Previewing his talk, Jacoby described the affinities between Americans and Israelis.

“Americans recognize Israel as a stable and reliable ally in an unstable part of the world. They see in Israel a country with democratic, pluralistic values very much like our own. And they understand that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies as well,” he said.

“But above and beyond that is a particular sense of kinship with the Jews that goes back to the earliest days of the American republic,” said Jacoby. “It was no coincidence that Harry Truman recognized the newborn State of Israel moments after it was proclaimed — John Adams or Woodrow Wilson would have done the same thing.”

Jacoby, who grew up in Cleveland, describes himself as “a purveyor of refreshing conservative cheer in the midst of a dusty liberal wilderness.” He was hired by the Globe in 1994 to add a right-leaning voice to its editorial lineup, after serving seven years as chief editorial writer with the Boston Herald. Among his various affiliations, Jacoby serves on the board of the New England chapter of the American Jewish Committee, and he is a director of the Ford Hall Forum, the nation’s oldest free public-lecture series. He lives with his wife and two sons in Brookline, Mass.

In 1999, Jacoby became the first recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism, a $10,000 prize given in memory of the late editorial page editor of the New York Post. In 2004, he received the Thomas Paine Award of the Institute of Justice, an honor presented to journalists “who dedicate their work to the preservation and championing of individual liberty.”

Jacoby doesn’t shy away from controversy. However, he told NJJN, “I’ve learned the hard way that some topics provoke such an emotional reaction in readers that I have to choose my words carefully if I want to have a chance of being heard.

“I have never minded disagreement, and after all these years I am used to that disagreement being fierce. But too much of what passes for disagreement is merely abuse, and when I get e-mail filled with insults instead of arguments, I am more inclined these days to just delete it. I am particularly bothered by a phenomenon I have long observed, especially among liberals: They assume that people who disagree with them are not merely wrong, but wicked — that conservatives are not just people they differ with, but people they must demonize.”

Despite his conservative views he will sometimes surprise readers, as he did when praising Elizabeth Warren, the newly elected Democratic senator from Massachusetts, for her call to end agricultural subsidies.

Israel Bonds holds an annual High Holy Day Appeal in a number of local congregations. Hess suggested they join forces with others in the area to hold a community-wide event in support of Israel.

In addition to Anshe Chesed and Israel Bonds, the event is being cosponsored by Congregation Beth Israel of Scotch Plains, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim of Cranford, Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah of Clark, and Temple Sholom of Scotch Plains.

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