- Part 1 By Avinoam Bar-Yosef, MAARIV, September 2, 1994*

Several weeks ago the rabbi of the "Adath Yisrael" synagogue in
Cleveland Park, Washington, dedicated his Sabbath sermon to the Jewish
cultural and political center now being formed in America. "For the
first time in American history," the rabbi said, "we no longer feel
that we live in the diaspora. The U.S. has no longer a government of
Goyim [Gentiles], but an administration in which the Jews are full
partners in the decision making at all levels. Perhaps the aspects of
the Jewish religious law connected with the term 'government of goyim'
(1) should be re-examined, since it is an outdated term in the U.S."

Indeed, as far as the Jews are concerned, President Bill Clinton has
contributed towards a real change in Administration outlook, having
concluded a series of changes which enhance Jewish power, a process
that began under President Reagan and his Secretary of State, Schultz. 
True, the Jewish political influence was also evident in America in
previous decades. We have already seen a Jewish Secretary of State,
Kissinger, enjoying the full confidence of President Richard Nixon.
There were Jewish Cabinet members also under Carter. However, they were
exceptions proving the rule. Especially, pious Jews were seldom
appointed to participate in political work concerning the Middle East.

The picture has now totally changed, and not only about the Middle
East.  For example, every morning at about 6:00 o'clock, several staff
cars travel from the CIA center to the White House with senior officers
of the American intelligence community, who are about to present to the
president and to the four top staffers a PDB - President's Daily
Briefing - the term for the most exclusive report in Washington. The
document, consisting of 5-7 pages, is often accompanied by top secret
satellite photographs transferred by the Pentagon. It is composed in
the course of the night by the best American intelligence experts who
analyze the telegrams and reports arriving from the CIA's world-wide
network of agents. It contains the most sensitive information regarding
developments around the world. Its uniqueness, compared to all other
American intelligence documents, lies in the fact that it almost always
indicates the source of the information, whether it is a document
stolen by a spy, or an agent or 'mole' infiltrating a foreign
government, or whether the source is tapping by means of satellite. If
Clinton is in Washington, he holds a short discussion on the contents
of the document with the five other addressees: Vice-President Al Gore,
National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, White House Chief of Staff Leon
Panetta, Deputy National Security Advisor Samuel ("Sandy") Berger, and
National Security Advisor to the Vice-President, Leon Perth. Two of the
addressees, Berger and Perth, are warm Jews. They have reached posts
that are extremely sensitive for the U.S. policies. They are by no
means exceptions.

In the National Security Council, 7 out of 11 top staffers are Jews.
Clinton has especially placed them in the most sensitive junctions in
the U.S. security and foreign administrations: Sandy Berger is the
deputy chairman of the council; Martin Indyk, the intended ambassador
to Israel, is a senior director in charge of the Middle East and South
Asia; Dan Schifter, the senior director and advisor to the president,
is in charge of Western Europe; Don Steinberg, the senior director and
advisor to the president, is in charge of Africa; Richard Feinberg, the
senior director and advisor to the president, in charge of Latin
America; Stanley Ross, the senior director and advisor to the
president, is in charge of Asia.

The situation is not much different in the president's office which is
full of warm Jews: the new Attorney General, Abner Mikve; the
president's schedule and programs manager, Ricky Seidman; deputy chief
of staff, Phil Leida; economic advisor, Robert Rubin; media director,
David Heiser; staff director, Alice Rubin; Ely Segall, in charge of
volunteers; Ira Mezina, in charge of the health program. Two Cabinet
members, Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Micky Cantor in charge of
international trade agreements, are Jewish. They are joined by a long
list of senior Jewish officials in the State Department, headed by the
head of the Middle East Peace Team, Dennis Ross, and followed by many
deputy secretaries and even more senior secretaries' chief of staff.

One of the most interesting Jews from the Israeli point of view, who
has rarely been exposed to view till now, is Rehm Emmanuel, Clinton's
senior advisor in charge of coordinating special projects in the White
House. His office is located next to the famous Oval Office. Rehm won
extra points from his boss last week, when he succeeded in passing a
law for combatting crime. He has become an expert at communicating with
Congress and has already had many successes, the most prominent of
which was the ratification of NAFTA. Now he is immersed in the passing
of the Health Bill. Last Thursday his office was in shambles and he
strode around it like a typical Sabra, simultaneously conducting a
lively conversation with me, studying the protocols of the debate being
held at the time by the Senate and watching the report of Wolf Blitzer
(also a Jew) on the CNN and being updated by his secretary and three
aides on the positions of the senators regarding the vote. "Do you
prefer to meet over the weekend or early next week, after this whole
nightmare is over?" I asked him. "That would be a real relief," he
 The following day, after the law passed by one vote, I called to
congratulate him: "If you want to come - you have to come now. The
president decided to take a vacation and told us that whoever wanted to
enjoy the summer should also take a vacation. So I'm packing and
leaving on Sunday morning." Even then he was not calm but nervously
fidgeting in his chair. He has a face that is more suitable for an
Israeli tourist than for a senior official in the U.S. Administration.
"You know, Rehm Emmanuel is a name that would not be out of place in
the Tel-Aviv phone directory," I told him. A large warm smile spread
across his face. "Our original name was Auerbach. We opened the first
pharmacies in Tel-Aviv and in Jerusalem. My father changed his name
after my uncle, Emmanuel, was killed in Israel's War of Independence
[1948-49]. My father was then a member of Etzel [IRGUN] commanded by
Begin and it was customary to change names in the underground. Yes, he
is still a warm Likud supporter, but he also admires Yitzhak Rabin
since he admires whoever becomes Prime Minister as a result of the last
Israeli elections. After the war he came to America, studied medicine
and met my mother who was then a social work student. I was born in
Chicago". Rehm and his two brothers received a warm Jewish education.
"You know, we studied at a Jewish school and had private Hebrew
teachers. My first visit to Israel was three days after the Six Day
War. My father said then that we had to go to Israel. I was eight years
old, but I remember it as if it were this morning. The Arabs were
completely defeated, there was such a joy and it was so very exciting.
There were high hopes that as a result the Jews would enjoy freedom and
peace. Since then I have continued to visit Israel every summer until
1972. Then I began my studies. When I matured I went into politics, the
pastimes of an American youngster."

What meaning does the connection to Israel and to Judaism have for you
today? "Since 1972 I did not visit Israel until 1991. Then the Gulf War
broke out and missiles landed in Tel-Aviv. I immediately volunteered
for one month service in the Israeli army, through the 'Overseas
Volunteer Unit'. (2) What I did then to help the Jews was not much.
Naturally, it was not combat service. But we helped as much as possible
and the main thing was that we were there. Does that answer your

Perhaps the most intriguing thing that happened to me personally in the
course of the past year, since I have been posted in Washington, was
the meeting with the organized American Jewry. The best place to see
them as they are, the place where I always came each year to admire
them, is the annual convention of the pro-Israeli lobby, AIPAC. This is
the place not only to feel the pulse of American involvement in the
Middle East, but also where I felt that somehow it helps me to ignore
the deep distress inherent in the feeling of loneliness of living in a
state located in the heart of so many hostile Arabs. I always asked
myself what was the value of the Jewish experience in America as far as
Israel is concerned. Did the identification with Israel derive from a
deep sensation of a common Jewish fate or was it one of the tools of
the local community to garner power for achieving truly equal rights in
a mixed society comprised also of many emigrants and members of various
faiths? Was the Jewish power in the U.S. a phenomenon which will
decrease or increase? Were the intermarriages of Jews with Gentiles
threatening to weaken the Jewish power in the U.S.? Or, so I was
sometimes afraid, were the American Jews building a new Jewish cultural
center that would compete with Israel?
 "Adat Yisrael" synagogue in Washington is not only a place of worship.
It is a Jewish community center, with a prestigious Jewish
kindergarten, a Jewish school with Judaism, literature, culture and of
course, Hebrew classes. On Saturdays there are always two separate
prayer sessions. The first is the large one, encompassing hundreds of
worshippers, which ends in a food blessing at tables tastefully laid
with Jewish delicacies. Its members belong to the creme de la creme of
Washington society: senior administration officials, successful
lawyers, rich businessmen. All are wealthy people. Next week, on the
Jewish New Year, the prayers will be joined by many other Jews who
usually spend their weekends at the most exclusive clubs, or on the
most expensive golf courses, or riding the best horses, or at their
expensive houses near the West Virginia lakes, or sailing in their
private yachts. Next week, as during all Jewish holiday seasons, the
most expensive limousines that can be imagined will stop at the
entrance to the synagogue, to let out elegant women, the men mummified
in their expensive suits at their side, followed by the well-dressed
children. The entrance fee to synagogue is $1,000 for a single holiday.
In addition to this prayer session another, with younger members and
less expensive entrance fees, regularly gathers in one of the other
halls, where prayers are held according to the customary Israeli style,
except for the fact that men and women sit together. This famous
session has several other characteristics. Most of the members visit
Israel at least once every year. Most of them speak fluent Hebrew. All
of them are familiar with the prayer procedures. Only a few of them
come out of deep faith. Others do so out of the wish to meet the best
Jewish society or to meet a Jewish girl whom they would like to marry.
But the most important reason for their praying is that they feel a
close connection with Israel. Those of them whose love for Israel is
most ardent watch the Israeli TV news every night. It might sound
strange, but the Washington cable station broadcasts the Israeli TV
news program every night at half past midnight.

The other synagogue competing for the young generation of wealthy Jews
is located in Georgetown. It is a fully Orthodox synagogue, but its
prayers are conducted in the Israeli style favored by "Gush Emunim".
The Israeli flag is proudly displayed above the Sacred Ark alongside
the American flag. On each Sabbath the prayers include the benediction
for the Israeli Jewish soldiers and the prayer for the welfare of the
Israeli government and its officials. Many Jewish Administration
officials pray there. They not only don't try to conceal their
religious affiliation but go to a great length to demonstrate their
Judaism since it may help their careers greatly.


(1)  According to the Jewish religion the obligation to follow the
rules and laws of a Gentile government is limited to some extent. For
example, its customs and currency regulations of such government need
not be followed by pious Jews in all cases. On the other hand, the
regulations of a government in which pious Jews have a predominant
influence, even if it contains also some Gentiles, have to be strictly

(2)  By special permission of the U.S. Administration, which is not
often mentioned in the U.S. media for reason clarified in this article,
American Jews can volunteer to serve in the Israeli army and some of
them often do so, especially during Israeli wars. The number of the
U.S. Jews who rushed to volunteer in the Israeli army during the 1982
invasion of Lebanon and who helped it to besiege Beirut was quite large
but since the Israeli censorship banned any mention of them they were
"invisible" to the U.S. media. No other army enjoys a similar
privilege. The service of the U.S. Jews in the Israeli army is not
supposed to include combat duties but only such things as helping to
repair tanks. Some of it certainly takes place in the Territories,
including the Golan Heights.

* From THE HEBREW PRESS, monthly translations and commentaries from
Israel, by Dr. Israel Shahak, published monthly by the Middle East Data
Center, P.O. Box 337, Woodbridge, VA 22194-0337. Reprinted courtesy THE
CHRISTIAN NEWS, October 24, 1994, page 22, 3277 Boeuf Lutheran Rd., New
Haven, MO 63068-9568.

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