At Princeton University, they had the PA negotiator in the United States at the Woodrow Wilson School; Mr. Falk, the paid anti-Semite of the UN; and then Jeremy Ben-Ami. However, when I tried to arrange for an Israeli diplomat to come, which I did with the help of JNF, suddenly it wasn’t on the schedule anymore.
As a Psychiatrist: I did a lot of research raising my children and I decided that bribery was the way to teach them to read. So I paid them a certain amount per book, and I knew they were better at math when they counted the pages and negotiated a higher fee. So I think, when I was growing up, what good did I see out of being Jewish? Not much. My whole family was killed, they killed my father just later – he predeceased both of his parents by 20 years and his parents had no medical care to speak of. And they were always out to get me. I lived in an Irish Catholic neighborhood where once the children started first grade, they never spoke to me again. It was an interesting parallel universe, similar to what people talk about with some Arabs and Jews living near each other and not interacting.
I think part of the failure of Jewish education in Talmud Torahs that I can speak to directly having gone to one, is that we weren’t taught that Judaism is wonderful, enriching, that Jews gave the world moral values, that if only people followed the Ten Commandments, look how much ahead we’d be. It was all like, “Don’t do this, don’t do that” – none of the spiritual aspects. So I got my love of Israel kind of separately from Jewish education. And I really loved Israel because my parents loved Israel and that’s what they talked about. Every time something happened in Israel, that was our major topic.
The other thing is that my family in particular, and the Hungarian Jews, paid the ultimate price for American foreign policy being anti-Semitic. There is no other way to describe having a conference at Evian and no country, including the United States of America, taking any Jews. That was a death sentence for European Jews. And as Tommy Lapid says much more eloquently than I do, the Hungarian Jews knew something was happening, but it was beyond their ability to imagine that actually the Jewish people were being exterminated. They had no history of that. In Hungary, under the Emperor Franz Josef, the Jews were treated very well. My parents ended up in Czechoslovakia – their town was occupied and annexed by seven countries in the 20th century, but somehow no one talks about that. They ended up in Czechoslovakia, a democracy like the United States; a very close ally of the United States. And still today, the Czech Republic is the best ally Israel has. They thought that someone would save them. They could tell the Germans were retreating. And in fact, as Elie Wiesel pointed out when he spoke at the Yom HaShoah service at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue (which you’ll be able to see for yourselves on Shalom TV), he said: We couldn’t imagine. But you knew. The Jewish leadership in the United States knew. By the time the first Hungarian Jew was deported after Pesach – my parents were in the first transport – the allies had broken the German code. They knew before each roundup. And the Jewish leadership knew exactly what was happening. There were eyewitness reports from Auschwitz documenting that the Germans were preparing to kill a million Hungarian Jews.
So I’ve spent my life – and I could have I guess become a suicide bomber or a psychiatrist – I’ve spent my life examining this – how could this happen? Because anti-Semitism I sort of understand that in every generation there are people that want to kill us. I get that. But how could we abandon our own people? I’m an American and I made a vow not to do that again. So that’s why I speak up and that’s why I have these parlor meetings. Because how can I look at myself and think that people are dissing Israel and it’s just anti-Semitic when Israel’s the only country you call out for things that we in the United States did much worse, as Chuck said.
Richard Kemp, who was the commander in Afghanistan from England – he sounds really smart and you can see him on Shalom TV as well – he said at the UN that the IDF is the most moral army. And Jeremy Ben-Ami said at Princeton Jewish Center – I was in the first row, so I left to avoid bodily harm (his body) – he said, you see the IDF is an immoral army. That’s the kind of stuff J Street does. He said right in front of me that the Israeli textbooks are as bad as Arab textbooks. So I ask you, and I ask everyone here about J Street. My mother told me: George Soros is well known in the Hungarian Jewish community as an anti-Semite who is against Israel, who is not a Zionist. I knew he was starting this pro-Israel organization. It’s like, “Oh, I have 20 billion dollars, and I woke up one day and decided I’m going to start a pro-Israel organization.” Like what chance is there that it’s really pro-Israel? I would like you all to ask yourselves – because I got a lot of push-back about sponsoring this film – what good has J Street done for Israel? It has torn synagogues apart, it has confused our elected officials – people come lobby like I’m going to do tomorrow with Norpac and then the next week some people from J Street are like, “Don’t listen to Naomi, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”