Israel isn’t good for the Jews anymore. That’s the news from New York.
It happened in the last week, or the last two years. A feeling has taken root deep in the American Jewish community that Israel is hurting us, hurting our standing in the world and our future. The restrictions on democracy, the curbs on women, the intransigence vis-a-vis the Palestinians when Obama has demanded movement, the indifference to the Arab Spring– Israel is a society we no longer recognize as Jewish like we’re Jewish, and worst of all, its militarism is exposing American Jews to the accusation that we are dually loyal. And we don’t like that: We’re Americans.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was clearly the oafish ad campaign that targeted Christmas and intermarriage– the ad campaign that Netanyahu cancelled. Even rightwing Israel lobbyists were stunned by how clueless the ad campaign was. But it was an expression of genuine Israeli attitudes. And that is what’s so scary: American Jews are waking up to the fact that Israeli society is nothing like ours. Hillary Clinton could only launch her criticism of religious restrictions on women in Israel because she knows that American Jews feel this way. Ambassador Howard Gutman was speaking for many sensible American Jews when he said that Israeli policies are hurting Jews by fostering anti-Semitism.
We are integrators. We live in America because we want to be Jews in a diverse society. That is the spirit of American Jewish life by and large. And now these Zionists–separatists whom we never completely trusted when we were arguing with them in Eastern Europe–are quietly understood to have hijacked Jewishness and taken it to a dark ugly place. And their cake is cooked; Israel has produced “apartheid on steroids,” as a Jewish leader in the Nation wrote this fall; he wanted no part of it.