Peter Beinart's lengthy essay
on the disintegrating support for Israel
among U.S. Jews has drawn a wide response
. Many observers are trying to
answer the question of why young U.S. Jews are moving away from Israel
and what, if anything, those in the U.S. can do about it.
Dwindling 'Pro-Israel,' 'Anti-Occupation' U.S. Jew The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg asks, "Who
else is still out there arguing that you can be liberal and Zionist at
the same time, meaning, pro-Israel and anti-occupation? There's Leon
Wieseltier, of course, but who else? Tom Friedman is in the same camp
(and has been there for a long time) but he pays only intermittent
attention to the problem."
- Why Pro-Israel Groups Ignore Young
U.S. Jews Spencer Ackerman points out that pro-Israel
groups didn't need to reach out to young Jews once they built "durable
ties with conservative evangelical Christian communities, which have
attachments to Israel based on millennial, eschatological commitments
that are entirely untroubled by liberalism. ... Peter [Beinart] is right
that it’s the moral task of Zionist liberals like, well, himself and
myself and the J Street generation to save Zionist liberalism. But if
you’re [U.S. pro-Israel lobby leaders] Malcolm Hoenlein or Abe Foxman,
why should you care what pischers like us think? You’ve got
aspirant Republican officeholders tripping over each other to profess
their deep faith in Israel."
- They Don't Need Us Matthew
Yglesais sighs, "There’s a common conceit among more-or-less secular
Jews that Israel needs it’s relationship with America’s liberal Jewish
minority. But the reality is that if Israel loses support among American
Jews because most American Jews are liberals, they can always gain
support among the enormous block of white Christian conservative
Americans." This trend "will increasingly put liberal American Jews in
an awkward position. But no country arranges its politics for the
convenience of diaspora sentiments."
- Changing Perceptions of
Israel's Need The Washington Post's Ezra Klein says the generational
shift is based on the changing Middle East power dynamic. Older
Americans who saw Israel seriously threatened and attacked by
neighboring states are more likely to perceive Israel as "a small and
threatened nation ... locked in a war for its survival with a powerful
enemy," thus existentially requiring full U.S. support. But younger
Americans only see Israel as it is now, "the most powerful country in
the Middle East" and at no such risk, thus less in need of U.S.
Counterproductive Conflict Between Israel Lobbies Liberal
pro-Israel lobby J Street, in a statement from its
president Jeremy Ben-Ami, knocks the establishment pro-Israel
lobbies. "Beinart - with his impeccable pro-Israel credentials - is
hopefully an effective messenger to convince the American Jewish
establishment that it is not simply enabling self-destructive Israeli
behavior that is damaging American interests, it is sowing the seeds for
the end of the American Jewish community as we know it."
No Blame on Palestinians? David Marks writes to The
Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, "To me what is more terrifying than the
transient power of the Israeli right in Israel, is the deepening belief
on the American Jewish middle-left that Israel and mainstream American
Jewish organizations are solely to blame for everything, that the
Palestinians have no human agency, and have not contributed anything to
the current impasse in peace negotiations."
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