The slow awakening?

After decades of brutal Israeli policies, is there some hope for the future? It appears so:

Young American Jews are feeling increasingly alienated and disconnected from Israel, according to a study to be released Thursday by Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman.

Based on the responses of more than 1,700 non-Orthodox American Jews of all ages, the study indicates that successively younger age groups show a greater detachment from the State of Israel.

According to the report, which was based on statistics collected as part of the 2007 National Survey of American Jews between December 20, 2006, and January 28, 2007, less than half of Jews under the age of 35 believe Israel’s destruction would be a personal tragedy, compared to 78 percent of those over 65. Sixty-six percent of Jews aged 50-64 believe it would be a personal tragedy, compared to 54% aged 35-49.

“[F]eelings of attachment may well be changing as warmth gives way to indifference, and indifference gives way even to downright alienation,” the authors of the report wrote. “A mounting body of evidence has pointed to a growing distancing from Israel of American Jews, and the distancing seems to be most pronounced among younger Jews. Insofar as younger Jews are less attached to Israel, the inevitable replacement of older with younger birth cohorts leads to growing distancing in the population overall. If so, then American Jews, as a group, may be growing more distant primarily because younger Jews feel less attached to Israel.”

“These results are very upsetting,” Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Ze’ev Bielski told The Jerusalem Post, blaming a combination of a “comfortable life” in America and growing materialism for the detachment from Israel. “Who would believe that only 60 years after the Holocaust so many of our own people are not connected to the Jewish state.”

I must admit that these figures rather shock me. If a sizeable minority or a slight majority of young Jews in the US simply don’t see Israel in a positive way, then maybe the country’s actions will be forced to change in years to come. Perhaps the Zionist dream is drawing to a close. Perhaps Israeli occupation has taken a (justified) toll on young Jews. And perhaps many are starting to understand that Zionism is little more than an ideology devoted to racial separation.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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