An Ominous Portent for the Future of the Israel-US Relationship

For the reasons expounded in this article, Israel may have to learn to manage without the support of America's non-Orthodox Jewry, those that still are Jewish, most of them liberal Democrats who support Obama.

Dr. Harold Goldmeier,

Dr. Harold Goldmeier
Dr. Harold Goldmeier
INN:HG

Ominous results of polls by Frank Luntz and Pew suggest trending toward lessening support for Israel among American college students. Support is a wearing thin among liberals especially Democrats.  

They blame Israel for the stagnating peace process with Palestinians, cruel overkill in the wars with Hamas, and some see Israel as a misogynist theocracy. It may be too late to turn the tide for three reasons.

First, this is the third generation progeny of interfaith marriages. Fewer than 20 percent have visited Israel.  Israel is not on their radar and not a political priority.   Traditional Jewish campus organizations attract smidgens of students to Friday night dinners and events. Even fewer have much if anything to do with legacy organizations claiming to speak for the Jews of America.


I have heard my international university students studying in Israel for a year mock the comment of Israel as a democracy .
The growing minority populations in the U.S. will soon out-birth the white majority. They have traditional Muslim and Catholic upbringings in countries where vehement anti-Israel propaganda campaigns are sponsored by their governments and religious leaders. 

Second, in their world-view, Israel is not a victim, a basket case of Holocaust refugees. Just the opposite, Israel controls a powerful and wealthy Jewish lobby and pari passu Israel is propped by an oppressive mighty military machine. They view her as a nuclear-armed mega-power with extraordinary military might and James Bond-like reach anywhere in the world. There is some admiration, but in a manner of speaking, Israel is a victim of her own successes.

Finally, America’s youth and Democrats are social liberals supporting women’s rights, gay marriage, free choice, equal rights, and other like causes. Moreover, those with some Jewish consciousness hear from their non-Orthodox rabbis how Israel is the egregious boycott leader of non-Haredi Jews, delegitimizes other streams of Judaism, and sanctions non-Orthodox Jews denying them civil rights and the right to practice their faith in Israel.

I have heard my international university students studying in Israel for a year mock the comment of Israel as a democracy pointing to how the religious parties control the State. Talk about social justice, human rights, and seeking a lasting peace get little better play…and these are the students who come to Israel.

Today’s college students and young Democrats are moving into elected office and positions of power in government, big business, and the media over the next 15 years. President Obama is the precursor and personification of the up-and-coming young, well-educated, liberal Democrat.

When I briefly met him in Springfield, Illinois, early in his political careers, Senator Obama seemingly knew little about Israel and less about Jews. The ominous portent is that Israel only has to look forward to the younger generation of Democrat leaders in the Obama mold.

In the past months, the Rabbi of the Wall had a woman taken into police custody for wearing a kipa.  There are the continuing front-page confrontations between his police and women who want to pray their way. Authority over conversions, marriage and divorce transferred back to martinet haredi-controlled ministries in the new government where narrow definitions and roadblocks are exacerbating the alienation in of Jews in the Diaspora.

A friend in America asked me about the cancellation of bar mitzvah celebrations for children with disabilities, because the service was to be held in a Conservative synagogue. “What’s with that crap?” Then came

 the Minister of religious services declaring Reform Jews (a euphemism for all non-Orthodox) not Jewish in his eyes. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s answer to the subsequent uproar is not to fire the Minister, but to call for round table discussions.

Israel feels betrayed and friendless by the tactics of President Obama and his administration being used to pass the P5+1 accord with Iran. American Jews do not get that unless they are among the few active in Israel’s affairs. The rancor caused by Netanyahu’s lobbying of U.S. Congress members and efforts to delegitimize the President of the United States strain the ties ties that bind young American Jews and Democrats in the traditional Israel and America friendship pact.

  




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