A group of prominent liberal Jews are criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio for delivering a pro-Israel speech at AIPAC last week.
In an open letter to the mayor, published in The Jewish Week on Wednesday, the group took exception to de Blasio’s remarks at the Jan. 24 Manhattan gala, which were meant to be off the record, before it leaked by ambitious Capital New York reporter Azi Paybarah.
“We would not presume to define your job for you,” the letter signed by group artists, professors, rabbis and communal leaders aligned with the group, reads. “But we do know that the needs and concerns of many of your constituents — U.S. Jews like us among them — are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so.
“AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.”
Among those signing the letter were Karen R. Adler, president of the Jewish Communal Fund, who worked with de Blasio on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign; Arlene Alda, a children’s book author and wife of actor Alan Alda; pianist Emanuel Ax; author, journalism professor and Open Zion blogger Peter Beinart.
Other signatories include feminist philanthropist Barbara Dobkin; “Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler; author Erica Jong; feminist icons Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Gloria Steinem; novelist Anne Roiphe, and Rabbis Rolando Matalon of Congregation Bnai Jeshurun, Rachel Cowan of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and Burton Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
In a response emailed to The Jewish Week, the mayor’s press office said, “Mayor de Blasio is committed to preserving and strengthening New York City’s relationship with Israel because of our shared values and the threat of terrorism that we both face. His commitment to this goal transcends any particular organization and is rooted in the people of New York City and their values.”
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)