Just another country

By Vic Rosenthal

Nothing that I’ve read related to Israel recently has irritated me quite as much as this (“I look at Israel as just another country“):

“I am supposed to feel something towards Israel, but it’s such a mess over there I generally try not to think about it,” says Molly Umberger, a second-year student at Sarah Lawrence College in New York…

“Because I’m Jewish I should have a loyalty to Israel, but I happen to believe both Israel and Palestine made a lot of mistakes, so I’m not 100 percent in favor of what Israel is doing,” says Umberger, the daughter of [Naomi Paiss] the communications director of the New Israel Fund (NIF). But dismay with the situation or even criticism of Israel has not led Umberger to get more involved…

“My connection is not as strong as that of older generations. I feel I’m not as biased. My grandmother believes that no matter what Israel does, it is always right, but I look at it as just another country,” she explains…

“We are Zionist but very progressive,” says [Molly’s mother Naomi] Paiss.”We think it’s important that the NIF perspective be a part of what young students learn when they go to Israel for the first time.”

And what is the NIF perspective?

“Israel is a downer,” says New Israel Fund Director Bruce Temkin. “What people see is the occupation, corruption, a stalled peace process, and they are frustrated and turned off.” Where Israel used to be the central connecting point for identified Jews, today “Israel is a turnoff,” says Temkin.

I’m sorry Temkin is ‘down’ and ‘turned off’, but I wonder what is so special about Israel among the nations that these are the characteristics that so stand out for him?

Consider the US, the UK, France, Russia, etc. (don’t even mention the Arab countries or the PA!) Is there corruption? Are there military adventures, occupations, political problems that won’t go away? Can you say Iraq, Chechnya, Ireland? Rioting by disaffected ‘youths’? The response to hurricane Katrina?

Don’t forget that pre- and post-state Israel is almost unique in being under constant military and terrorist pressure from its neighbors for almost a century, and is now the object of a worldwide campaign of delegitimization whose goal is its destruction. Nevertheless Temkin is ‘turned off’ by occupation, corruption, etc.

The NIF is just another example (albeit a very well-funded and smooth one) of a ‘progressive’ Jewish organization which has internalized the propaganda of the enemies of Israel and as a result is actually working to damage it, not help it.

There is a difference between a Jew who doesn’t believe that everything Israel does is right, and one who thinks that it does not deserve her support.

It is not surprising that Molly Umberger feels as she does. She is simply reacting logically to the message that she has gotten at home, from the ‘progressive’ media, and from most of her teachers in the ‘progressive’ academic milieu.

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2 Responses to “Just another country”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Casting aspersion on Israel seems to be the fashionable mode for extreme leftist Jews to present themselves as ‘morally superior. However some of us find their position not simply irritating but morally reprehensible to the uttermost degree. They falsify the picture of what Israel truly is, always make it far worse than it is.
    It would be far more useful in this regard if the New Israel Fund becamer the New World Fund and they devoted their activities to the hundreds of millions of people in the world living at subsistence level. There they might really be able to do good instead of harm.

  2. gsdmorris says:

    From Netanya,

    I am a non-Jew from Fresno area choosing to live in Israel 8 months every year. Beliefs about anyone ,anywhere and anything are the result of the information we possess. What I know to be true is the amount of revisionist history and data distortion that has found its way into America and especially onto its college and university campuses has helped form the perception many young Americans have of Israel today.

    To hold unwavering beliefs it is useful to possess accurate information-judge the data against one’s core values and then determine where you stand-especially with regards to Israel. What I have found out, over the years working at a major University in California as well as a college here in Israel is how truly uninformed Americans are-their perception of Israel does not match the reality of what goes on here on a daily basis-so much more the pity.

    GSD Morris, Ph.D.