In his first month in office, Mayor de Blasio managed to turn a routine political event intended to express his support for Israel into a mini-crisis for both sides of the aisle, and a major embarrassment for AIPAC supporters.
Since Mayor de Blasio is a staunch supporter of Israel, “why the need for secrecy?” Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, asks in an Op-ed for Haaretz. Assuming the mayor was accurate in claiming Friday that he was simply accommodating the wishes of the AIPAC leadership, “AIPAC was wrong to make the request and de Blasio was wrong to agree,” Rabbi Yoffie writes.
“From AIPAC’s perspective, the “off-the-record” policy is silly from every perspective imaginable. Most troubling, it gives the event a conspiratorial air—which is both unnecessary and self-defeating. The whole purpose of pro-Israel advocacy is to generate public support for Israel’s cause, which already enjoys significant backing from the American people. Anything that seems to rely on behind-closed-doors confidences can only be harmful to Israel’s image and interests. With very rare exceptions, work on Israel’s behalf should be done right up front, in the light of day.”
“From Mayor de Blasio’s perspective, his bumbling could turn out to be very serious by conveying the impression that an emphatically pro-Israel mayor is perhaps not so pro-Israel after all. By attempting to dodge the press, the mayor provided an opening for critics to claim that he did not want his pro-Israel views to be widely disseminated because they might offend liberal supporters who are less supportive of Israel than he is. This is hogwash, but even the New York Times, which should know better, included the charge in its story.”
“It is hard to know if these charges will have legs, but they might; and if so, the mayor will have a tougher time steering a sensible, pro-Israel course in the future,” he writes. “Given the contretemps of this past week, with his Israel bona fides suddenly being questioned, it would be a little harder” to speak up for Israel.
“The lesson for the mayor and for AIPAC: Forget the hush-hush, “only for your ears” stuff. Invite in the press and everyone else. The only way to keep up the good fight for Israel is to fight the fight in public, for all to hear,” he cloncludes.