Democratic Jewish Group Silent on UN Resolution, Kerry’s Israel Speech

By Patrick Goodenough | December 29, 2016 | 11:23 PM EST


( – Jewish and non-Jewish voices from across the U.S. political spectrum – and around the world – have weighed in on last Friday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel and Secretary of State John Kerry’s controversial speech on Wednesday.

But one voice has been curiously muted:  The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) has not issued an official statement on, nor dedicated even a single Twitter post to, either subject.

The silence comes after a busy first half of December, when the NJDC posted 18 tweets or retweets, most of them critical of President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for secretary of state (Rex Tillerson) and ambassador to Israel (David Friedman).

The organization also issued official statements on December 13, criticizing the Tillerson nomination; and a day later, responding to on a news report citing an unnamed Israeli military officer as saying there were concerns Trump budget cuts may affect security assistance to Israel.

But a review of its website, Twitter feed and Facebook account finds not a single official NJDC reaction, positive or negative, to the Dec. 23 Security Council resolution and the U.S. decision not to veto, or to Kerry’s Mideast speech – two developments that have arguably generated more global media copy relating to the U.S.-Israel relationship than any other news story in recent years.

Notwithstanding the NJDC’s silence, the administration’s decision to allow the resolution to pass has drawn considerable criticism from Democratic members of Congress.

Queries to the NJDC inviting a reaction to the Security Council resolution – which effectively declares Israel’s presence at its most sacred sites in Jerusalem’s Old City and Jewish Quarter to be illegal – brought no response by press time.

The NJDC on its website describes its mission as maximizing “Jewish support for Democrats at the federal and state levels of government,” and educating “Democratic elected officials and candidates to increase support for Jewish domestic and foreign policy priorities.”

“We do this to promote both social justice in America and a secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel.”

On the NJDC’s blog, a Dec. 26 posting by Jewish Democratic activist Steve Sheffey did address the Security Council resolution, although it does not amount to an official NJDC reaction.

The posting mostly gave the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt, but concluded that it was hard to understand why the administration had not vetoed the resolution, given that it acknowledged that it disagreed with some of the language. The administration’s decision to abstain instead allowed the measure to pass.

In contrast to the NJDC’s silence on the resolution and Kerry’s speech, the organization’s Republican counterpart, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) has responded with strong criticism of the U.N. resolution, the U.S. decision to abstain, and Kerry’s speech.

Citing the U.S. abstention, RJC executive director Matt Brooks said that “the actions of the Obama administration will forever be remembered as a dark, shameful moment for our country.”

And on Kerry’s speech, Brooks said that “by claiming this speech is a framework for peace in the Middle East, President Obama and John Kerry are playing the Jewish community for fools.”

He added that the RJC was “deeply saddened and troubled by the actions of President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the U.N. and are confident that President Trump and the Republican Congress will work quickly to reverse these statements and actions, and reestablish the strong bonds between the U.S. and Israel.”

On its Twitter feed, the RJC also noted the silence from the NJDC.

“Does NJDC believe the Jewish Qtr & the Western Wall are ‘occupied territories?’ Not much of a voice for Jews in the Democrat Party ...” it tweeted a couple of days after the resolution.

A day later, the RJC tweeted again, “Still nothing from the NJDC …”

The RJC also retweeted a message saying, “Another day & NJDC still hasn't offered a single criticism of Obama's UN vote just in case you thought they were pro-Israel.”

To which the RJC’s Brooks added his own comment: “Their silence is deafening...”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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