For much of Israel's short history, it has enjoyed intimate diplomatic and cultural ties to the U.S. In addition to both being democracies and sharing a similar agenda in the Middle East, Israel and the U.S. boast the two largest Jewish populations in the world. But could the support for Israel among American Jews be slipping? Most American Jews are liberal, for reasons we explored here. Some liberal U.S. Jews, including Jon Stewart, are distancing themselves from what the New York Times calls "a state whose government is now dominated by nationalist and ultrareligious politicians." In the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart--a prominent, liberal, Jewish pundit who has long supported Israel--says that American Jewish support for Israel is dropping rapidly and could, he says, disappear among the liberals who dominate the group.
- How U.S. Jews Are Splitting Beinart writes, "Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. ... For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead."
- How Israel Is Shifting Right Beinart explains, "Israeli governments come and go, but the Netanyahu coalition is the product of frightening, long-term trends in Israeli society: an ultra-Orthodox population that is increasing dramatically, a settler movement that is growing more radical and more entrenched in the Israeli bureaucracy and army, and a Russian immigrant community that is particularly prone to anti-Arab racism."
- How U.S. Pro-Israel Groups Are Shifting Right Beinart explains, "Because they marry earlier, intermarry less, and have more children, Orthodox Jews are growing rapidly as a share of the American Jewish population. According to a 2006 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, while Orthodox Jews make up only 12 percent of American Jewry over the age of sixty, they constitute 34 percent between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. ... The same AJC study found that while only 16 percent of non-Orthodox adult Jews under the age of forty feel 'very close to Israel,' among the Orthodox the figure is 79 percent. As secular Jews drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their Orthodox counterparts will likely step into the breach."
- 'Extinction' For Liberal Zionists? Politico's Ben Smith reflects, "There's no perfect phrase for the group; I'd initially said 'liberal, pro-Israel,' which drew reasonable objections from people to their left who consider themselves pro-Israel; 'liberal Zionist' may draw similar objections. But there's clearly a strain of thought on the American center-left, associated with the Democratic Party, which is at risk of extinction here."
- Israel Lobby Worsens Divide Politico's Laura Rozen writes, "the American Jewish establishment, by condemning pro-Israel critics of, for instance, Israeli government settlement policy, risks alienating broad-based American Jewish support for Israel over the long term."
- Decline of Israel Lobby? Media Matters' M.J. Rosenberg sees it coming. "The decline of the lobby is good news for America, for Jews and for Israel. That is because it is primarily the clout of the lobby that has led the US government to support an occupation that has virtually eliminated America's influence in the Middle East, has turned off younger Jews to Judaism, and will -- unless ended by Israel under US pressure -- lead to Israel's demise. The 'pro-Israel' lobby is anything but pro-Israel."
- Inevitable Demographic Shift Mother Jones' Kevin Drum looks at the numbers. "These trends have been apparent for many years, and it's hard to see how they can be turned aside. It's also hard to see how they turn out well."
- Who's Really 'Helping' Israel? Liberal blogger DougJ disputes the notion that because U.S. conservatives defend Israel, they are working in Israel's best interest. "A good start would be to stop describing neoconservatism as 'pro-Israel.' Facilitating irrational, suicidal behavior is not normally considered supportive." A commenter affirms, "they’re a good friend of Israel in the same way the guy who buys a case of scotch for an alcoholic is a good friend."
- In Israel, Similar Fears Via Laura Rozen, Haaretz reports: "'Netanyahu should have taken into account the change within the American Jewish community,' Dov Weisglass, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the MESS Report. 'Their support for Israel is decreasing and they will defend Israel in the face of the administration only on matters where there is a real threat to Israel. I have serious doubt that U.S. Jews see the Netanyahu government's territorial aspirations in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem as an existential matter.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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