Israel Alienating American Jews, or Are American Jews Alienating Israelis?
June 30, 2017
the Israeli cabinet froze a plan, approved last year, to designate a space for
mixed-sex prayer at the Western Wall, a great many saw in this a rejection of
American Jewry by the Jewish state. Evelyn Gordon argues that the rejection may
confrontation [over the Wall] ended as it did partly because too many American
Jews have delivered a resounding message [of “You don’t matter to us”] to
Israelis in recent years. . . . [And] it’s not just because of fringe
anti-Zionist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace or even the growing ranks of the
utterly indifferent, but also because of the attitudes of many American Jews who
call themselves—and in many ways genuinely are—pro-Israel. . . .
doesn’t seem to matter [to these Jews] that after almost 25 years of failed
peacemaking efforts accompanied by vigorous internal debate, a solid majority of
Israelis has reluctantly concluded that while a Palestinian state might be a
good idea in principle, in practice, for the foreseeable future, there’s no
better alternative to the status quo.
liberal American Jews are convinced that they know better—that the continued
“occupation” is mostly Israel’s fault, that Israel must end it immediately
regardless of the price in Israeli blood, and that their job as American Jews
isn’t to support Israelis’ painfully reached conclusions but to pressure
Israelis to disregard the lessons of their lived experience. If there’s a
better way of telling Israelis “You don’t matter to us,” I don’t know
what it might be.
pursuant to that attitude, many American Jews—and again, not just fringe
groups—are actively undermining Israel in various ways. Mainstream American
Jewish groups like campus Hillel houses repeatedly host speakers from
organizations that spew outright lies about Israel, such as Breaking the
Silence, which even recycles the medieval blood libel about Jews poisoning
wells. American Jews also provide substantial financial support to such
organizations, mainly through the New Israel Fund. Rabbis and Jewish
organizations provide cover for anti-Israel activists. . . . American rabbinical
students term Israel’s very existence a cause for mourning and engage in
anti-Israel commercial boycotts. The Union for Reform Judaism urges members to
step up their criticism of Israel. And on, and on.