TEL AVIV – In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio Monday, former Senator Joe Lieberman discussed the growing rift between Israel and progressive Jewry in the U.S., as well as expressing his pride in repealing the U.S. Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexual soldiers, and asserting his belief that a Jew could one day become president of the United States.
Lieberman, who is an Orthodox Jew, said he regretted the tensions between Jews living in the U.S. and those living in Israel. Asked about the suspended plans to build a state-recognized egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall, Lieberman said that a segment of American Jews are “bothered by what seems to be to them the unequal treatment of Conservative and Reform Jews, of women in religious services, it puts them at a distance from Israel and it’s something to worry about.”
“Israel is at such a great stage of its history, but it still has to work on human problems. There are divisions among the people, and those divisions have an effect on other Jewish communities around the world, including the U.S.,” the former senator said.
Lieberman also addressed his efforts spearheading legislation to repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy of the U.S. Army enacted by the Clinton administration, which barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving in the armed forces, only allowing them to join if they remained silent about their sexual orientation.
“Every one of us is created in the image of God,” said Lieberman.
“That doesn’t depend on your color, nationality or sexual orientation, and it seems to me that if a soldier is a good soldier why would you kick them out because of their private sexual orientation. So I was very proud in having played a role in repealing that, and I don’t have ambivalence or guilt religiously about it,” he said.
“To me I was doing what I thought my religion required me to do.”
Asked whether there is a glass ceiling for Jews in the U.S., he said, “Obviously the answer is yes.”
However, Lieberman added, “It would depend on how good the candidate was and what the mood of the public was at a given time, but America remains a very open country.”
He added that when it came to his own bid for vice president, in which he ran alongside Al Gore, he never wanted people to factor in his religion before voting.
“When I ran for vice president I didn’t want people to vote for me or against me because I was Jewish, and I think that’s exactly what happened on election day,” he said.