The Nation profiles the shifts in young, Jewish identity. Israel right or wrong is so yesterday’s news:
Rachel Jones spent the past week in Washington, DC, at the first annual conference for the new progressive Jewish organization J Street. She was passing out literature for Meretz USA, an American nonprofit that supports the platform of one of Israel’s most left-wing political parties.
Politically and socially, Meretz USA is a far cry from Jones’s upbringing as a devout Jew in small-town Iowa. The only story Jones, now 24, heard while growing up in her tiny community–a story she now calls “right wing”–was that Israel’s borders included Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and that Jewish identity was staked on the country’s defense.
Her transformation from a conservative Zionist to a J Street volunteer is a product of the two years she spent in Israel. “I came to it from such a place of love and admiration and desire, and I wanted to just be completely embraced by my homeland, and all these romantic and idealistic pictures of what Israel was supposed to be for me,” she said. But instead of finding her “homeland,” Jones found the 2006 Lebanon war. The violence she witnessed deeply challenged her religious faith and her confidence in Israel’s actions.