For much of Israel's short history, it has enjoyed intimate
diplomatic and cultural ties to the U.S. In addition to both being
democracies and sharing a similar agenda in the Middle East, Israel and
the U.S. boast the two largest Jewish populations in the world. But
could the support for Israel among American Jews be slipping? Most
American Jews are liberal, for reasons we explored here
Some liberal U.S. Jews, including Jon Stewart
distancing themselves from what the New York Times calls
"a state whose government is now
dominated by nationalist and ultrareligious politicians." In the New
York Review of Books, Peter Beinart--a prominent, liberal, Jewish
pundit who has long supported Israel--says that American Jewish support for Israel is dropping rapidly
and could, he says, disappear among the liberals who dominate the group.
- How U.S. Jews Are Splitting Beinart writes, "Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially
in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And
there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish
world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people,
Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. ... For several decades, the Jewish establishment has
asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and
now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked
their Zionism instead."
Israel Is Shifting Right Beinart explains, "Israeli
governments come and go, but the Netanyahu coalition is the product of
frightening, long-term trends in Israeli society: an ultra-Orthodox
population that is increasing dramatically, a settler movement that is
growing more radical and more entrenched in the Israeli bureaucracy and
army, and a Russian immigrant community that is particularly prone to
- How U.S. Pro-Israel Groups Are Shifting
Right Beinart explains, "Because they
marry earlier, intermarry less, and have more children, Orthodox Jews
are growing rapidly as a share of the American Jewish population.
According to a 2006 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, while
Orthodox Jews make up only 12 percent of American Jewry over the age of
sixty, they constitute 34 percent between the ages of eighteen and
twenty-four. ... The same AJC study found that while only 16 percent of
non-Orthodox adult Jews under the age of forty feel 'very close to
Israel,' among the Orthodox the figure is 79 percent. As secular Jews
drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their Orthodox
counterparts will likely step into the breach."
For Liberal Zionists? Politico's Ben Smith reflects, "There's no perfect phrase for the
group; I'd initially said 'liberal,
pro-Israel,' which drew reasonable objections from people to their left
who consider themselves pro-Israel; 'liberal Zionist' may draw similar
objections. But there's clearly a strain of thought on the American
center-left, associated with the Democratic Party, which is at risk of
- Israel Lobby Worsens Divide Politico's Laura Rozen writes, "the
American Jewish establishment, by condemning pro-Israel critics of, for
instance, Israeli government settlement policy, risks alienating
broad-based American Jewish support for Israel over the long term."
of Israel Lobby? Media Matters' M.J. Rosenberg sees it
coming. "The decline of the lobby is good news for America, for Jews
and for Israel. That is because it is primarily the clout of the lobby
that has led the US government to support an occupation that has
virtually eliminated America's influence in the Middle East, has turned
off younger Jews to Judaism, and will -- unless ended by Israel under US
pressure -- lead to Israel's demise. The 'pro-Israel' lobby is anything
- Inevitable Demographic Shift Mother
Jones' Kevin Drum looks at
the numbers. "These trends have been apparent for many years, and
it's hard to see how they can be turned aside. It's also hard to see how
they turn out well."
- Who's Really 'Helping' Israel?
Liberal blogger DougJ disputes the notion that because U.S.
conservatives defend Israel, they are working in Israel's best interest.
"A good start would be to stop describing neoconservatism as
'pro-Israel.' Facilitating irrational, suicidal behavior is not normally
considered supportive." A commenter affirms, "they’re a good friend of
Israel in the same way the guy who buys a case of scotch for an
alcoholic is a good friend."
- In Israel, Similar Fears Via Laura Rozen, Haaretz reports: "'Netanyahu should have taken
into account the change within the American Jewish community,' Dov
Weisglass, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told
the MESS Report. 'Their support for Israel is decreasing and they will
defend Israel in the face of the administration only on matters where
there is a real threat to Israel. I have serious doubt that U.S. Jews
see the Netanyahu government's territorial aspirations in Judea and
Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem as an
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