In my last post, I urged American Jews to take a firm pro-Israel position, because it is in their interest.
It is only very recently and only in Israel and the democratic West that Jews have been able to escape the condition of living by the sufferance of the majority, dependent upon the attitude of the rulers and the populace, upon how the wind is blowing on a given day. The presence of a strong state of Israel is at the same time a source of psychological strength and self-respect for those diaspora Jews, as well as a practical refuge — something which has been demonstrated clearly over and over since 1948, but which for some reason is often derided by ahistorical US Jews, who seem to think that the conditions of post-1945 America will continue in aeternum.
It is fascinating to watch Western anti-Zionists rationalize their opposition to the state, as opposed to the Arabs, who simply want to conquer it, kill the Jews and take their possessions; or the Iranians, who see it as a stumbling block to their hegemony. As they become more and more agitated, this anti-Zionism exposes itself simply as a need to put the Jews back in the ‘rightful’ place as marginal and despised creatures. But that’s another article.
What is becoming more and more clear to me, though, is that American Jews have a significant role to play in determining the future of Israel, and — since Israel really is the front line in the conflict with Islamic imperialism in the Mideast — possibly the West as a whole.
That’s a big claim, and I’m not going to try to prove it here. But I want to respond to those who say that pro-Israel people in the US should direct their arguments to the non-Jewish 98% of the US population, because there are so many more of them. Obviously it’s necessary to try to counteract the flood of misinformation and outright lies that appear in every venue. But it is also critical — critical — to try to unify Jews in favor of Israel.
The other side knows this. They know that there is no anti-Zionist argument more powerful with the American public than this: “look, even Jews oppose Israel.” For example, here is a quotation (h/t: Barney) from a recent email sent by an organization called “Jews for Justice,” apparently connected with UC Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which wishes to place an ad in the student newspaper in favor of a resolution that the university divest from companies which support ‘occupation’:
Please stand up for justice and sign an ad in support of the divestment bill! Details below…
On April 14th, the ASUC [student] Senate will convene to decide whether or not to override the President’s veto…
NOW IS THE TIME for Jews to take a stand for justice. We seek to run a full-page advertisement in the Daily Californian student newspaper, imploring the senators to stand by their principles.
Please read the text of the advertisement below, and if you agree with it, send an email to … and state that you wish to be a signatory. In your email, please be sure to include the following:
– Confirm you are a Jew. Only Jews are invited to sign the ad…
I wonder if they would accept my parents’ ketuba as proof, or would I need to also send a photo of my circumcised organ?
Do you see? They get it. Why don’t we?
There are lots of reasons. American Jews are historically left of center, and as you know the extreme segments of the Left have adopted anti-Zionism on a par with anti-colonialism, anti-racism, anti-globalization, etc. This point of view, especially with the election of a Democratic president who is — in fact if not in word — anti-Zionist, is spreading more and more into the liberal mainstream, where most US Jews are located.
Many of these moderate, liberal or progressive Jews — take your pick — supported Barack Obama and continue to do so out of loyalty to party or a disinclination to admit their mistake. Some, unfortunately, have internalized the anti-Israel positions that are so prevalent in academia.
We need to get over this. We need to pay more attention to who are our friends and who are not, and act — and vote — accordingly. Do we contribute to universities, and send our children to them? We should hold them accountable for the anti-Zionist politics of their faculties. Do we support public radio? Talk to them about NPR’s bias. Candidates for local office, for school boards, for state legislatures should also be considered with respect to their positions about Israel; these are the folks who control the education of our kids, who influence textbooks, who issue permits for demonstrations. A local Palestinian activist arranged for his mosque to give an award to the chief of police here several years ago — we need to do this kind of thing too.
Muslims throughout the world, Sunnis, Shiites, Islamists and nationalists, Persians and Arabs — no matter what their disagreements, and they are many and often express themselves violently — all agree to despise Zionism and Israel.
We need to learn how they’ve achieved this kind of unity on an issue!