Ideological tide in the US turns against Israel


Recently I attended an ‘interfaith scholar weekend’. At a session at the local Reform Temple (others were held at a church and at a mosque), a fellow wearing a kippa stood up and was recognized as ‘rabbi’ (a visitor, not the rabbi of the Temple). He proceeded to say something in a remarkably offensive, smug tone, about Muslims being ‘ganged up on’ by extremist Jews and Christians (I am not sure if the Jews he was referring to were settlers or neo-cons; the Christians in question were Christian Zionists).

The mostly liberal Protestant audience applauded (I hissed, and soon left before making a bigger scene). Quite a statement for a rabbi to make while the rockets are falling on Sderot and the few million Jews of Israel are threatened with nuclear attack.

More and more, in intellectual, media, and liberal religious circles in the US, the ‘Palestinian narrative’ of the conflict is becoming received opinion. This despite the fact that the primary face the Palestinians are showing lately is that of the totalitarian, extremist, murderous Hamas, who fire rockets at schoolchildren and burn down Christian libraries.

In Europe, although there is a certain backlash against Muslims who burn vehicles, riot over cartoons, and threaten to blow things up, one proposition that the Right and Left seem to agree on is that Israel should be liquidated.

American politicians, nothing if not good at smelling out a trend, make statements about supporting Israel but support policies that are dangerous to her security. My expectation is that shortly even the pro-Israel statements are going to stop, when they find out that the much-discussed ‘Israel lobby’ has fewer teeth than previously thought.

Are the Palestinians and Arabs so good at public relations? Why are the clumsy Pallywood productions so universally accepted as true at first glance?

There isn’t a simple answer, but we can list some of the reasons: the turn of left-wing ideology against Israel since 1967 and the traditional left-wing bent of academics; their influence on young people, opinion-makers and media; the huge amount of recycled petrodollars that are used to buy US politicians, lobbyists, the media, and former Presidents; European feelings of guilt over the Holocaust and anger at Jewish efforts to remind people about it; the psychological tug of extremism, and the perverse reaction — the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ — to the fear of terrorism.

Unfortunately, the process of ideological change includes a positive feedback mechanism, whereby the more anti-Israel a segment of society is, the more likely it is to move even further in that direction.

Finally, it’s impossible to ignore the close relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism — or to deny the existence of antisemitism among people of Jewish extraction.

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One Response to “Ideological tide in the US turns against Israel”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is something I have been watching and afraid of for a long time. I believe important American Jewish leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein also are very aware of the trend to accept the ‘Palestinian narrative’. The High Church liberal Christians and the Saudi subsidized Middle Eastern Departments of many universities are a source of this. My immediate worry is that all this will come together in the candidacy of Barack Obama. His foreign- policy advisors, Brezhinski, Malley, Dennis Kucineh, Susan Rice are strongly anti- Israel. Only Dennis Ross is pro-Israel among them. Moreover he has Jeremiah Wright and Ali Abunimeh in his world.
    But my sense is the great share of the American people, not to speak of the Evangelicals and a strong majority of the Jews still understand the rightness of Israel’s case and cause.