Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Funny little piece on National Review's The Corner yesterday. A bit of background: There's been some controversy about the funding the federal government gives to Middle East studies programs at universities around the country. Said programs (or Said programs, heh heh) are accused of often being Arabist, not practical, anti-American, and so on. Following September 11, it was said that the programs did not produce experts in needed fields, such as confronting threats from the Mideast, and discourage students from working for the government.

I'm no expert, but I can believe this, just from knowing how the academy works. So I'm all in favor of the proposed oversight of the funding and the like (I hate government, but once you accept money from them, at least how you spend that money, if not more, should be fair game).

But I find the quote linked above cute: "signed by nearly every important Jewish group in the nation." Interested, I clicked on the link (go ahead, you do it too- but you have to scroll). Bwah!

American Israel Public Affairs Committee
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Jewish War Veterans
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations

That's it (in all fairness, the National Review poster isn't Jewish, I don't think, despite his name, and the website itself doesn't use that term, but speaks, correctly, of "an impressive coalition"). Now, the first six certainly are seen as major Jewish organizations, much as I may think they're completely useless. And I think the OU is pretty important (although they messed up the name). But only eight? I imagine the Reform and Conservative bodies are pretty important too, for example.

I guess that leads to another question of what Jewish organizations today really are significant. One good measure is the Zionist elections, I think- few people actually vote, but it may be the best measure there is- and even Hadassah no longer runs. The ZOA gets bubkes. It's the three big religious bodies that get all the votes. And if the flap over "The Passion" doesn't prove once and for all how irrelevant the "defense" organizations are, there's no justice. Hmmm. Maybe I'd put AIPAC, and the UJC, up there. Not sure what else. Anyone?

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