Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, explained in a conversation with Israel National News TV that the participants try to relate to the events in the region, while at the same time trying to strike a balance between avoiding presenting the events as being tied to Israel and addressing the dangers and ramifications of the turmoil.
“I agree that we should not be interposing ourselves in the middle of the issue, but on the other hand we have to recognize its potential impact on all of our concerns,” he said.
Another issue of balance is how to address the threats and dangers: is it better to emphasize the fact that the Iranian nuclear plan is a global threat or to make a point of relating to the Iranian regime's direct threats against the existence of the State of Israel?
“Ahmadinejad makes it a Jewish issue,” said Hoenlein. “We believe it’s a global issue and we have made this the campaign theme: that this is not a Jewish issue, it’s not an Israel issue, it’s a world issue. And I think that the public opinion polls show a complete reversal. Whereas 80 percent thought two years ago it was a Jewish issue, 80 percent today understand, in the United States at least, that this is a world issue and an American issue.”
One Jewish organization which is not part of the Conference of Presidents and did not even apply to be part is J Street.
“I think J Street is exposing itself, by virtue of its activities,” said Hoenlein. “People have come to see that they are not pro-Israel and not pro-peace by their activities.”
Regarding U.S.-Israel relations, which seem to have gone through some rough times since President Obama came into office, Hoenlein is optimistic.
“I think the day-to-day relationships between the United States and Israel are very strong,” he said. “You saw the visit of Admiral Mike Mullen, you heard the words he used, that the relationship between the militaries is probably the best it’s been.”
Hoenlein noted that “there are tensions. There are differences and that’s natural in every relationship, but our hope is that the overriding interests and the commonality of values and goals will overcome any differences that arise.”