Many American Jews have insisted that a healthy, mutual friendship with Israel entails criticizing Israel. Many Israelis, especially those who work with Jews from the center and the left, have accepted those marching orders, creating paradigms about “hugging and wrestling.” And they share reassuring philosophical insights like Harvard’s Michael Sandel’s teaching that embarrassment reflects belonging — Syrian brutality does not embarrass us: Israel’s milder mistakes do.
When it comes to the election, American-Jewish attitudes are closer to those of Israeli Arabs than Israeli Jews.
If Mitt Romney is elected president next week, Bibi Netanyahu will finally exhale, with a sigh of relief. The Israeli prime minister can feel confident that he will not be pressured to make peace with the Palestinian Authority anytime soon.
Are American Jews, especially young ones, driven away from Israel by its growing haredization?
Jerome A. Chanes
Special To The Jewish Week
In 1948 the new government of Israel, under the hegemony of David Ben-Gurion and his Mapai party, entered into deals with two crucial groups: the Religious Zionist party, Mizrachi, and the anti-Zionist Agudat Yisrael. (By 1948 Agudat Yisrael had become a political entity; a year earlier Ben-Gurion had sent its leaders a letter outlining the pact). The goal of the deals was to retain the “status quo ante” — the religious reality that was in place before the creation of the state.
‘Come Home’ ads expose cracks in relationship between American Jews and Israeli officials.
Editor And Publisher
The news reports about Israel’s latest, ill-fated public relations campaign have come and gone. But the impact lingers, and it’s worth exploring how Israeli and American Jews, despite all their professed connections, still misunderstand each other in troubling ways.
The most recent example, in brief: A $300,000 ad campaign to encourage Israelis living in America to come home, sponsored by the government in Jerusalem, became known to and immediately was criticized by mainstream, fervently pro-Israel American Jewish groups, and others, as deeply offensive.
Responding to a talk on the Israeli-Palestinian situation by the PLO representative to the U.S., Maen Rashid Areikat, in New York the other day, an Israeli professor at NYU commented publicly how ironic it was that the PLO ambassador sounded more reasonable than Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
Areikat smiled broadly and many in the audience, a group of several dozen Jewish leaders and graduate students, nodded approvingly.
On Christmas Eve of this past year, Yediot Achronot, the largest circulation newspaper in Israel, ran an interview with David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, which has attracted a great deal of attention in the online Jewish world for comments he made about the latest failures in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
His 1986 book on Jews in America sounded optimistic note.
Charles Silberman, a magazine writer-turned-author whose widely discussed study of American Jewry a generation ago portrayed a largely rosy picture of the Jewish community, died Feb. 5 in Sarasota, Fla., of congestive heart failure. He was 86.
Almost eight years ago I traveled to Israel for the first time on a Birthright Israel trip through Hillel. Recently I returned with my husband, brother and uncle to visit my sister, who is spending the year there on a Young Judaea Year Course. At first glance this hardly sounds different from the experiences of any other Jewish professional.
But my siblings and I are the products of a typical American Jewish narrative: attractive Italian Catholic pianist from Brooklyn meets disengaged Jewish rocker from Yonkers. They fall in love, get married, and have a family.
Even as many sectors of the American Jewish community struggle to return to pre-crash contribution levels, the Israel advocacy sector is booming once again. With challenges to Israel’s legitimacy coming from both outside and inside the Jewish community, significant new resources are flowing to those organizations that are seen as defending Israel from its detractors.
But more effective than all of the defense and advocacy strategies would be an effort to strengthen the fabric of Israel’s democracy. The threats abound.
I'm hearing a lot of reaction to Jeff Goldberg's ultra-provocative Atlantic blog on “What if Israel ceases to be a democracy” - the inevitable result of Goldberg's stature as one of the most outspoken, well-informed bloggers on the pro-Israel scene and a true centrist