The lack of unity between Jews in the world today, to put it mildly, is concerning. The American Jews are particularly split, and these divisions of thought are only increasing. Formerly liberal Jews are moving further right in defiance of President Obama and others on the left wing are losing their allegiance with Israel, because of their desire for a two-state solution and general disgust with everything Benjamin Netanyahu says and does. Given the uncomfortable relationship that Israel currently holds with the rest of the world, it is not all that surprising that opinions about Israel are changing. It is also not surprising that, J Street, a Jewish American liberal lobby group, supports Obama refusing to use its veto power in the UN to protect Israel.
Given that the election of Bibi Netanyahu has infuriated many Israeli and American liberals, it is inevitable that people will begin to stop supporting the Israeli state. It is also inevitable that supporters of Israel will become even more extreme in their defense of Israel. I know this as a fact, as a Liberal American Jew, living in Israel, whose head feels like it going to explode every time someone starts calling Israel an apartheid state. In full disclosure it makes me want to champion everything Bibi Netanyahu says just to upset the contingent of American liberals who say Israel does not have a right to exist. The devil inside me wants to ask them to leave America and give the land back to the American Indians.
I think the problem with Israel is nothing more than its public relations. Israel's military has been so successful they are viewed as oppressors even though before the wall in Gaza was built, they were under attack on a daily basis. They are viewed as an apartheid state even though Arab Israelis live under full protection of the law. They are viewed as backwards and religious even though women and homosexuals are treated better in Israel than they are in the US. People ignore the fact that Jews were living in Israel before 1948 and no one wanted the land until Jews started to develop Jerusalem in the late 19th century. They don't seem to care that America was unwilling to give sanctuary to Jews before or after the Holocaust. It happened so long ago the history is lost on young American Jews.
Further with secularization and intermarriage constantly threatening American Jewish life there is a lot of ambiguity about what it means to be Jewish in America today. Most Jews go to temple three times a year, if at all. So how can someone make a distinction of being Jewish? It neither means to support Israel, or to be a liberal. Jewish food and humor have made their way into mainstream culture. Anti-Semitism clothed in anti-Israeli propaganda is starting to rise up on campuses, but not in a strong enough way to stir any unified reaction.
So how can we ensure the survival of the American Jewish identity? And further, is it important? In my humble opinion, the survival of the Jewish people around the world is nothing short of a miracle. Given the hatred of the Jews and the Holocaust, it is a miracle there is a Jewish state. The very values that liberals care for exist in Israel, but do not exist in the Palestinian territories, or even in the developed Arab world.
And even though the typical Jewish experience no longer involves being passed over for jobs because of a Jewish last name, anti-Semitism still exists and always seems to enliven throughout history when the Jews find sanctuary. The typical American Jew no longer exists. They are seemingly as diverse in thought and attitudes as America itself, but something about Jewish heritage is felt. This is because we as a people were once united and it lives in our DNA. Whether one denies their religion or practices with fervor, Jews feel connected by their heritage. If Jews do not have the ability to unite above these very real differences, there is a very real danger that the Jewish people will lose the heart of what it means to be Jewish, to be united as one man and one heart, as they received the Torah, the words that have kept the Jewish people together for thousands of years.
The Jewish DNA is liberal in nature, but it is important we care for ourselves before we care for the needs of people who don't believe we have a right to exist. When Jews are able to care for one another above their differences, in doing so, they care for the rest of the world. The only means for Palestine to be freed will come from the unity of the Jewish people around the world. The constant feuding between, religious and secular, Ashkenazim and Sephardic, conservative and liberal, will only work as fuel for the fire of anti-Semitism. In order for the Jewish people to fulfill their role in the world, they must come to some sort of tacit agreement to protect their own interests.
The Jewish people must not allow Obama to stop protecting Israel in the United Nations, which will always vote against Israel, no matter the issue, because of a voting bloc constituted in 1975 by all the anti-Israel Arab states and all the communist countries. As a neutral observer it must seem a little odd that 40 percent of the UN Human Rights Resolutions were against Israel, even though genocide that makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict look like a blip on the radar screen exists in many of the nations represented there. This is because there is not really a fair playing field in the UN, and the natural tendency of the world towards anti-Semitism will always blame the Jews for every problem that exists in the world. While I am tempted to ask for more, all I want as a moderate, liberal-leaning Jewish American is for our people to do anything but aid in the destruction of the one place we all have sanctuary. Even Barack Obama, the enemy of the conservative Jews, is moderate enough for the time being to prevent this from happening, but if Jews continue to push the Democratic Party in this direction, it is frightening to think what will happen to Israel.
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