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Originally Published in Tikkun Daily |

According to a Pew survey, American Jews are becoming increasingly critical of Israel, with nearly 50 percent no longer believing that its leaders are sincerely interested in making peace with Palestinians.

The Pew survey's findings are particularly significant when one considers what Peter Beinart calls the "American Jewish cocoon." Within many segments of the American Jewish community, honest looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not normative in synagogues or Jewish institutions, and a majority of Jewish leaders tend toward reflexively supporting Israeli policies (such as settlements and the occupation) which are both self-destructive and hurtful to Palestinians.

However, the views of American Jews at large are straying from the institutional norms, particularly, and perhaps most significantly, the 18-29 set.  

For example, 48% of American Jews no longer view the Israeli government as making sincere efforts at peace, as opposed to 38% who do, and for those under 30, only one in four (26%) view the Israeli government as sincere brokers.

Additionally, 44% of American Jews now view Israeli settlement construction as hurting Israeli security, as opposed to a mere 17% who think it helps. For those under 30, the numbers skew even further, with 50% finding settlement construction as self-destructive as opposed to 11% who feel that settlements help Israel. (I understand some might find the question offensive, thinking, The settlements are hurting Israel? But please note that the Pew survey attempted to measure American Jews' connection to, and concern for, Israel.)

And perhaps most significant, one in four (25%) of American Jews under 30 feel the United States is too supportive of Israel considering the country's policies, compared with just 11% overall.

While the figures also skew along religious/non-religious and liberal/conservative lines, this trend of younger American Jews being more critical of Israel is, in my view, particularly striking. One reason for this trend, perhaps, is due to younger Jews getting their information from increasingly independent sources that stray from mainstream U.S. outlets' tendency to cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of good versus evil.

Indeed, the role of progressive and independent media sites, such as this one, in shifting public opinion with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be understated. For it is my view that Israel, as a country, is incapable of extricating itself from its settlement enterprise and the occupation, and that only pressure exerted by the United States could compel Israel to abandon such geo-political stances.

And in order for such pressure to be exerted, internal pressure must be exerted upon American politicians by U.S citizens in general, and American Jews in particular. Pressure which will only come when public opinion shifts.

And that shifting appears to be underway.

                                                           --ยง--

What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.


Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 06:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yes, this poll also measured whether Jews (28+ / 0-)

    view Palestinians as being sincere about peace efforts, with only 12% they are.

    However, this statistic is not surprising considering a) how mainstream media views Palestinians, and b) how rare it is to speak about Palestinians in American Jewish communities, much less actually speak with a Palestinian.

    Again, though, this is shifting among younger Jews, with 18% viewing Palestinians as sincere.

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 06:42:09 PM PDT

    •  since this isn't a tip jar . . . (6+ / 0-)

      I'm glad you added this comment, because it makes your diary congrue nicely with a recent piece by Peter Beinart in the New York Review of Books: American Jews have strongly negative attitudes toward Palestinians largely because they're never given the opportunity to hear from, or even hear about, actual Palestinians.

      Anyway, fine work as always -- my compliments.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:07:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, and now I see that your diary link (2+ / 0-)

        even refers to that very essay.

        Guess I should read the links every now and then before commenting. :-)

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:08:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  *grin* -- no worries. I think this Pew study (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo

          is a nice counter to the Bienart piece, while also backing it up regarding the stat in my comment.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:14:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Do you think it might also have something to do (0+ / 0-)

      with the Palestinian use of terrorism, such as blowing up university cafeterias?

      Yes, this poll also measured whether Jews view Palestinians as being sincere about peace efforts, with only 12% they are.

      However, this statistic is not surprising considering a) how mainstream media views Palestinians, and b) how rare it is to speak about Palestinians in American Jewish communities, much less actually speak with a Palestinian.

      Anyway, don't hold your breath.

      Bacon eating Jews like me mostly have none, one, or two kids.  Meanwhile, the Orthodox Jews in places like Borough Park, Brooklyn, have broods of kids following them, often over 10 for a man in his forties.

      What kind of Jews do you think are going to predominate in 10, 20, or 40 years?

  •  This is about to matter very little. 26 hours. (0+ / 0-)

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:14:45 PM PDT

    •  If only I understood your comment, I would (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, snoopydawg

      respond.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:22:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fluffy

        American opinions are built on economic and military power. If we default, they both go away...not quickly since the ripples will take some time to flow outward, but they'll be present in a real way.

        Your diary is interesting in its suggesting that Americans can have some effect.

        But the idea that once the USA is forcibly replaced because of its inability to provide a core of international economic stability the opinion of Americans will matter much (either way!) is laughable.

        Americans have an effect, and their opinion a worth, globally because of economic power. The biggest policy decision facing Israel is a domestic budget issue to be decided in the next 25.5 hours.

        it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

        by Addison on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:36:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What does your comment mean? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snoopydawg
  •  I know more Israeli Jews critical of Israel (5+ / 0-)

    Seems to me American Jews are more reflexively pro-Zionist. Little known to Americans is the fact that Israelis are far more secular as a population than are Americans.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:16:09 PM PDT

    •  This is absolutely true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:22:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you believe the perception provided (0+ / 0-)

        by the American press, one might think all the population of Israel looks and behaves like the population of Jerusalem. For those who do not know (as I know you do) the world of Israel outside of Jerusalem (and the settlements) is a world away.

        A Jew living in the Old City has his heart and head centered there. Jews outside it may still have their hearts in Jerusalem, and their heads are elsewhere.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:19:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not for long (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      It is estimated by 2050 a third of Israel's population will be ultra orthodox.

      •  That is not sustainable and everyone there knows (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        highacidity, isabelle hayes

        it. The welfare system is already far too generous to the Orthodox. You wanna piss off a young Israeli entrepreneur? Start talking about Yeshivas.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

        by pajoly on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:22:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As long as we keep supporting Israel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Celtic Merlin

          then she can maintain a welfare state we can't even dream of here.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 06:48:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wrong. Few here dream of a welfare (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            isabelle hayes

            state that pays religious fundamentalists not to work in the pursuit of religious study that excludes modern science, math, technology, etc. It is an awful system that neglects needs of the truly needing in favor of zealots literally solely focused on study of the Torah.

            I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

            by pajoly on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 10:37:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah most Israelis hate it (0+ / 0-)

              but problem is the ultra-orthodox are growing at an exponential rate, so whether you like it or not they will be dominating Israeli politics in the near future.  That's reality, and that is something Zionists are going to have to deal with.

  •  if we had a better option for a mideast ally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fluffy

    we don't give a fuck about either the Palestinian or the Israeli people.  Israel is our strategic ally, so, we support them.  i don't think we're going to do anything but keep on supporting Israel until there's better option for us.

    •  It's a matter of shifting what "support" looks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, petral

      like, not finding a new destination to funnel money.

      At least in my view.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:26:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How is Israel a strategic ally? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      Israel makes Obama's job so much more difficult in the Mid East.

      The only reason we are as close as close to them as we are is because of domestic political considerations.  

    •  I don't support Israel's treatment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      Of the Palistinians. Nor their taking their lands, not allowing a decent amount of meds or food in to their country.
      I expect people that were treated horribly to have a little more compassion.
      The IDF kills way too many Palistinians.
      Nor do I support my taxes going to Israel or any other country.
      Not while their sre so many needy people, schools and infrastructure here that could use $3 billion.
      Plus the fact that the 'aid' goes to defense contractors who then supply arms to those countries.
      If the aid actually helped the people, that would be another thing.
      Israel is rich. Why do they need our tax dollars?  
      Just another transfer of wealth away from things that need fixing in THIS country.
      Why don't WE the People get a say?  
      Congress does not represent us.
      They represent the corporations.
      They should wear company patches like NASCAR does.
      Bring out which corporation bought witch politician.
      Just my opinion.

      Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

      by snoopydawg on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:40:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't agree with all policies, but here's one (0+ / 0-)

        data point. People ask why sometimes Israel embargoes building supplies, like cement. This news story just broke: A large amount of cement was used to build tunnels running from Gaza into Israel. The IDF just discovered them within the last few days. http://www.bbc.co.uk/...

        •  I don't agree with all of the policies of the (0+ / 0-)

          Chinese government, but here are some semi-defensible examples where China is not being a totally shitty...

          Yeah I'm sure there is some valid reasoning for some of the things Israel does, but given the fact that Israel is an apartheid nation and they are ethnically cleansing Arabs from the West Bank and the Negev desert, it's hard for me to give them the benefit of the doubt on things like this.

          •  The question was raised (0+ / 0-)

            why Israel does some things that seem harsh. I provided evidence that there are security concerns that directly explain some things. There are two sides to this conflict. It isn't innocent Palestinians vs. big bad Israelis. The "poor Palestinians" used  a whole lot of precious building materials -- supposedly in short supply in Gaza -- to build tunnels through which they could attack Israel. Poor innocent victims. Not.

            Israel is not an apartheid country. That's propaganda.

            •  What are the security considerations for the (0+ / 0-)

              Prawer plan?

              And yes it isn't 100% Israelis are good and 0% Palestinians are bad.  But it isn't A 50/50 proposition either.  To suggest otherwise is a false equivalency.  Israel is clearly more a fault.  

              Israel could solve a lot of problems with the West Bank Palestinians if it essentially accepted the Green Line.  And I have read opinions by multiple security experts and there is nothing to suggest the Green Line is an indefensible border.  So the fact that there is no peace with Fatah in the West Bank is almost entirely on Israel, merely because they want Palestinian land.  That's it, not because of security.

  •  I'm reading Richard Ben Cramer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, isabelle hayes

    I'm reading Richard Ben Cramer's How Israel Lost. It accurately captures how state power dilutes and ultimately corrupts the power of a positive and constructive vision. No matter how bad its opponents are, if a state cannot offer something to aspire to, it will decline. The fact that Israel continues to push Palestinians (and now Bedouins) off of their own land, and to make their existence miserable undermines the very real and impressive material gains that Israel has made.  

    It troubles me that a state founded to protect the principal People of the Book should not understand that Book's fundamental lessons.

    •  Great comment! (0+ / 0-)

      Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

      by snoopydawg on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:41:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know a sensibility is turning when: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        petral

        1. Anthony Bourdain's show on CNN spends a lot of time showing viewers Palestinians cooking, and has a vignette about settlers living in a suburb while at the doors of that gated community there are graffiti that say bad things about Palestinians (terminology cleaned up).

        2. Bill Richardson on CNN tonight talking about mediation and what works and what not, refers to an Israeli bombing raid that Iran should have to expect, rather than a US raid or whatever gussied up we-would-do-it-for-them wording he might once have used if we were expected to be the ones doing it.

        3. Does anyone remember in this post September crisis if anyone mentioned the need to protect Israel in particular with foreign aid or anything else over against the Teabaggers, who are nothing if not xenophobic?

    •  the Book's fundamental lessons? (0+ / 0-)

      Would those be in Genesis chapter 1, or in Joshua chapter 3?

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 06:51:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   Lev 19:18 seems to have been pretty popular,corvo (0+ / 0-)

        According to Jesus, the fundamental teachings of Jewish scripture are that one should love God and love one's neighbor. As for the neighbor part, he elsewhere makes it clear that our neighbor is anyone in need.

        As for the God part, since we cannot experience God directly, that injunction is equivalent to saying that we should love eternal things: things like truth and justice.

        Those would be my suggestions for the fundamental lessons of the Book.

  •  I'm happy to know this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg

    I've been concerned by America's reaction - or lack of one - to the shenanigans of the Israeli government.  Our future is in our young.  I'm glad they are paying attention.

    11:11 being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 07:41:49 PM PDT

    •  Unfortunately Israel's youth is the opposite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      33% of elementary school age Israelis are ultra orthodox... Scary.

      Even the secular under 30 youth are increasingly conservative and jigoistic.  

      Israel really has no future, or at least not a good one.  The sooner the U.S. end our alliance with Israel the better.

  •  Mandatory military service (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, snoopydawg, Celtic Merlin

    I've often wondered about the extent to which conscription in Israel creates a militaristic and xenophobic mindset. When all you want to use is a hammer.... (Note the modification there.)

  •  I had a very wonderful, Jewish friend (0+ / 0-)

    in Berkeley, who took the Talmud and the old Testament seriously, who used to say, 'there are no Jews in Isreal'

  •  Settlement question offensive how? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, JLan

    Of course much offense is often taken on anything relating to Israel, but this bit in the diary surprised and confused me:

    some might find the question offensive, thinking, The settlements are hurting Israel?
    Can you summarize why some people might find that question offensive?
  •  I read a few Israeli papers... (0+ / 0-)

    I think I happened on the conservative ones, but the way they claimed the settlers could do no wrong and that the Palestinians were idiot savages, animals who needed Jews to lead them to civilization, and they should be happy with whatever land they were given, and stripped of voting rights...
    Well, I realize it is bad form to compare to nazism, but the land grab, "lesser race," and quasi-concentration of Palestinians in camps seemed kinda familiar.  
    So that's why this young Jew doesn't support Israel, that and the fact that the settlements mean that there will be no peace with their neighbors, which means a few more US supported wars ending in the destruction of the nation unless they find a way to make nice.
    Why should the US support them if it just makes them so cocky that they destroy themselves?

    The President has the power to delay funding of (for instance) military contracts until after the debt ceiling is lifted

    by computant on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 08:43:23 PM PDT

    •  Actually that has more in common (0+ / 0-)

      with Western attitudes toward Native Americans . . . surprise surprise.  Small wonder we find it so easy to support Israel.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 06:53:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Israeli situation is much more akin (0+ / 0-)

        to the situation we'd have if a Native tribe took back part of its ancestral territory and most of the white people who had been living there moved out. E.g. if a Native tribe took back the lower peninsula of Michigan and most of the white people moved to Ohio or the Upper Peninsula.

        •  yeah, if you say so n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Celtic Merlin

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 07:12:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have to say that I've seen more thoughtful (0+ / 0-)

            counterarguments in my lifetime, at least occasionally.

            •  some "arguments" aren't worth (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Celtic Merlin

              much counter, sorry.

              Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

              by corvo on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 07:17:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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