An important method by which the Jewish community and its leaders engage with American political leaders on issues we care about is through meetings and briefings.
Such meetings sometimes take place in person and sometimes are conducted via conference call. These exchanges are important and impactful in that they allow us to hear what policymakers – from the President on down – are thinking and offer feedback.
In recent weeks, with the re-launch of Israeli-Arab peace talks, the Obama Administration has convened two such briefings via conference call, and with regard to each of them, some in our community have violated the “ground rules” put in place by those calls and thus embarrassed our community and compromised our opportunities to have such exchanges with The White House.
On August 20, senior White House officials held an “off the record” conference call with Jewish community leaders about the re-launch of peace talks, and one participant provided a reporter with the dial in number so he could listen in and report on what was said.
Last week, President Obama held a conference call – again, officially “off the record” – with American rabbis, and a participant not only recorded the phone call, but provided a copy of the recording to a reporter!
Of course, no “state secrets” were compromised in these incidents and no real harm of any kind resulted. But what has been compromised by this behavior is the reputation of the community in the eyes of The White House and the prospect of less communication between the Administration and our community on critical issues at critical times.
This is the season of recognizing our misdeeds – individually and communally; this kind of behavior must cease.
Posted by Nathan Diament