New York Senator Charles Schumer is probably the most cunning politician in the Senate today. I will not describe how I feel about him, however; this is a family paper. But he does have all the instincts necessary for political survival, even if he has very few core values.
When it came to erecting a mosque at the site of the World Trade Center, the normally loquacious Schumer had nothing to say. During the Obama years, Schumer was all for building a border wall. Then suddenly, during the Trump years, he was vehemently against it. No problem switching gears. He literally shed a staged tear when a certain Muslim woman coming from Syria was denied entrance to the USA during the Trump administration. Yet he had nothing to say when Muslims beat up Jews on the streets of America and on college campuses. He was notoriously silent during the Hamas rocket assault on Israel. And now, with Ben & Jerry’s participating in BDS, again silence.
Schumer is not stupid. In fact, he’s quite smart. He fears if he says anything boldly in support of Israel, the left and the AOCs of this world will condemn him and perhaps challenge him in the primary. Yet, the Jews will vote for him anyway. It’s just the way it is. And Schumer knows it.
But haven’t we all become Schumers? How much noise is made by Jews over the serious issues that affect us? We could get almost no one outspoken, besides Dov Hikind. Singlehandedly, Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council, put together a modest rally in Forest Hills during the Hamas war. Yet the well-funded JCC did nothing. All the established organizations did their usual as well: Nothing.
Now we are confronted with the Ben & Jerry’s economic war on Israel. Adding to the hurt is that the company follows the policy of its founders, two Jewish boys from Vermont. We are used to this, unfortunately, from our earliest beginnings. Remember the treacherous Dasan and Aviram, who betrayed Moshe Rabbeinu on more than one occasion?
What stings the most is that even our own Orthodox organizations have been sitting still. The Agudah, to its credit, issued a strong statement. But are they organizing reaction anywhere? Perhaps, but it’s a well-kept secret if they are.
The other Orthodox organizations have issued namby-pamby releases, either lifting from the Conference of Presidents or focusing on the disruption of progress towards peace that the B&J position brings.
And perhaps the biggest and most well-funded Orthodox organization has said nothing! At least nothing public.
Yet, non-Jews like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida took a very strong stand and will cut governmental ties with Ben & Jerry’s. The administrators of the Town of Hempstead, Long Island, did the same. John Catsimatidis, owner of some major supermarkets and other non-Jewish grocery chains, reacted similarly.
Yes, our Vaad Harabonim of Queens issued a very strong statement and many of our local kosher supermarkets courageously refuse to stock B&J, but where are the powerful Jewish organizations? Why have they lost their tongue? Why does the hashgachah agency (not OU) still endorse Ben & Jerry’s? No pride?
I’m afraid we have become Charles Schumer. Why rock boats when it’s easier not to take a stand? Our grassroots will support us anyway.
And that applies to all of us. Why am I writing about this? Everyone reading about this should be up in arms. Look up the organization’s website. See what action they are taking. If you see none, do something about it! Write to them! Call them! Let them know how upset you are. I did, even though the response was very disappointing.
Trust me: I would much rather be writing how we have all become Ron DeSantis.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.