Love without rebuke, is not love.
It pains me that these misguided Israeli policies are hurting Israel more long term than it is hurting the Palestinian people.
Younger and older American Jews are reacting differently to the Palestinians’ bid for statehood.
I’ve written harshly of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and assault on Gaza in 2009, and on civil rights issues in Israel. But speaking my mind on these topics — a very Jewish thing to do — has never been easy.
Living in in the New York suburbs, support for Israel was as fundamental as voting Democratic or lighting the Shabbos candles on Friday night.
Most Jews at Hebrew school that Israel was the “land of milk and honey,” where Holocaust survivors irrigated the deserts and made flowers bloom.
But what they don't hear about was the lives of Palestinians.
But when these boys and girls go off to university they make Muslim friends.
These Muslim friends challenged these young Jews to reconcile their liberal, humanist worldview with the fact that the Jewish state of which they are so proud is occupying the land of 4.4 million stateless Palestinians, many of them refugees displaced by Israel’s creation.
Then the American Jews, during during their senior year of college might take the free trip to Israel offered by the Taglit-Birthright program.
Ah, the bliss they feel floating in the Dead Sea, sampling succulent fruits grown by Jewish farmers and roaming the medieval city of Safed, the historic center of Kabbalah mysticism.
But wait all of this gets tempered by other experiences like when they were watching the construction of the imposing “security” fence, which not only tamped down terrorist attacks but also separated Palestinian villagers from their land and water supply.
Or maybe they spent hours in hushed conversation with a young Israeli soldier who was horrified by what he said was the routinely rough and contemptuous treatment of Palestinian civilians at Israeli military checkpoints.
These trips deepened the conviction of young American Jews that as they can no longer in good conscience offer Israel unquestioning support.
Polling of young American Jews shows that with the exception of the Orthodox, many feel less attached to Israel than do their baby boomer parents, who came of age during the era of the 1967 and 1973 wars, when Israel was less of an aggressor and more a victim.
A 2007 poll by Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis found that although the majority of American Jews of all ages continue to identify as “pro-Israel,” those under 35 are less likely to identify as “Zionist.” Over 40% of American Jews under 35 believe that “Israel occupies land belonging to someone else,” and over 30% report sometimes feeling “ashamed” of Israel’s actions.
These numbers a growing and going to grow more if Israel invades Gaza again.
Just look at what has happened recently....
Hanna King, an 18-year-old sophomore at Swarthmore College, epitomizes the generational shift. Raised in Seattle as a Conservative Jew, King was part of a group of activists last November who heckled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with slogans against the occupation at a New Orleans meeting of the Jewish Federations General Assembly.
A more moderate critique is expressed by J Street, the political action committee launched in 2008 as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” counterweight to the influence in Washington of the more hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Simone Zimmerman heads J Street’s campus affiliate at the University of California, Berkeley. A graduate of Jewish private schools, she lived in Tel Aviv as an exchange student during high school but never heard the word occupation spoken in relation to Israel until she got to college.
During Zimmerman’s freshman year, Berkeley became embroiled in a contentious debate over whether the university should divest from corporations that do business with the Israeli army. Although Zimmerman opposed divestment, she was profoundly affected by the stories she heard from Palestinian-American activists on campus.
They were sharing their families’ experiences of life under occupation and life during the war in Gaza.
So much of what is happening to the Palestinians is related to things that I had always been taught to defend, like human rights and social justice, and the value of each individual’s life.
Even young rabbis are, as a cohort, more likely to be critical of Israel than are older rabbis.
Last year, Hebrew Union College researcher, released a survey of rabbinical students at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, the premier institution for training Conservative rabbis. Though current students are just as likely as their elders to have studied and lived in Israel and to believe Israel is “very important” to their Judaism, about 70% of the young prospective rabbis report feeling “disturbed” by Israel’s treatment of Arab Israelis and Palestinians, compared with about half of those ordained between 1980 and 1994.
These misguided Israeli policies have not only lost Israel international support, they are starting to cost Israel the support of the next generation of American Rabbis and Jews.
Read the survey results for yourself and tell me that I am wrong....http://www.jtsa.edu/Documents/pagedocs/Communications/JTS_Rabbis_and_Israel_Then_and_Now_Sept_2_2011_(PDFl).pdf