Israel versus Jews
According to family lore, my great-aunt and great-uncle were living in Romania in 1942.
They were 12 and 14 years old at the time. It was the old country, so the house was full with extended family.
One afternoon my great-aunt and great-uncle came home from school to find the house was empty. My relatives were Jews. They were all grabbed by the Nazis and sent to a death camp.
What followed was a saga of two adolescent refugees, without money or family, trying to smuggle themselves out of WWII Europe while being hunted by the SS.
But that's a story for another time.
I only told you this because I'm about to criticize Israel, and far too many people equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
The Jewish people were oppressed for nearly 2,000 years.
Besides being the scapegoat for every plague and misfortune that befell their neighbors, they were kicked out of almost every nation in Europe at some point in the middle ages.
By being oppressed, Jews in Europe began identifying with socialism and the politics of oppressed groups. In fact, the words Jewishness and socialism were practically redundant until recently.
Where the Jews found refuge was in muslim nations. For example, around 150,000 Jews lived in Baghdad at the end of WWII, and they had been living there for over nine centuries.
My point is that most of the oppression experienced by Jews, until very recently, has been at the hands of fundamentalist Christians, not muslims. Which makes the current alliance between the state of Israel and right-wing American Christians to be bizarre, and dangerous to Jews all over the world.
Quite possibly the most bizarre political relationship in America is Jews and Evangelicals.
For the most part, despite Evangelicals’ support for the Jewish state and desire to embrace the Jewish people, their affection has often largely gone unrequited. In fact, only one-third of American Jews view Christian Zionists in a favorable light. This harsh reality, however, has not deterred Evangelicals from trying to befriend the Jewish people both at home and in Israel. According to a recent Pew poll, 69 percent of Evangelicals view American Jews positively, while 64 percent of American Jews view Evangelicals with skepticism or even negativity. In fact, Jewish Americans trail only atheists in their coolness toward Evangelicals.
U.S. Jews even rate muslims higher than Evangelicals.
The reason for this is based on both history (i.e. it was usually fundamentalist Christians that massacred Jews) and for the disturbing reason that Evangelicals support Israel.
Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson were instrumental in creating this Israel/right-wing alliance, and it goes beyond just religion.
Netanyahu broke away from the traditionally statist Israeli right to support economic policies that lined up with those of U.S. economic neoliberals. He shares a major supporter — Adelson — with many top U.S. Republicans, and he has cultivated personal relationships with U.S. Republican leaders.
When Republicans now look to Israel, they see in Netanyahu a leader cut from a similar ideological cloth to many of their own representatives — not just in terms of foreign policy beliefs but also in economic positions, one who shares a Republican skepticism of the welfare state and embraces free markets. A 2015 poll found that Republicans ranked Netanyahu alongside Ronald Reagan as the “national or world leader you admire most.”
The creation of Israel changed everything.
Today Israeli Jews and American Jews have little in common.
A poll for the American Jewish Committee in June found that while 77 percent of Israeli Jews approve of Trump’s handling of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, only 34 percent of American Jews approve. Although Trump is popular in Israel, only 26 percent of American Jews approve of him. Most Jews feel less secure in the United States than they did a year ago...The AJC poll was done a month before Israel passed a law to give Jews more rights than other citizens, betraying the country’s 70-year democratic tradition.
“We are the stunned witnesses of new alliances between Israel, Orthodox factions of Judaism throughout the world, and the new global populism in which ethnocentrism and even racism hold an undeniable place,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem sociologist Eva Illouz wrote in an article appearing this week on Yom Kippur in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper titled “The State of Israel vs. the Jewish people.
While fundamentalist Christians and the U.S. government give Israel unconditional support, U.S. Jews are much more skeptical.
At the same time, many American Jews express reservations about Israel’s approach to the peace process. Just 38% say the Israeli government is making a sincere effort to establish peace with the Palestinians. And just 17% of American Jews think the continued building of settlements in the West Bank is helpful to Israel’s security; 44% say that settlement construction hurts Israel’s own security interests.
U.S. Jews are not down with the knee-jerk accusation of anti-Semitism every time someone criticizes Israel, nor do they believe that Israel should be an important issue in American politics today.
The biggest division between U.S. Jews and Israeli Jews is on the subject of democracy in Israel.
Bolstering this result is Americans’ views on the Jewishness and democracy of Israel: If the two-state solution were no longer possible, 64 percent of Americans would choose the democracy of Israel, even if it meant that Israel would cease to be a politically Jewish state, over the Jewishness of Israel, if the latter meant that Palestinians would not be fully equal.
Interestingly, a recent poll shows that 72% of the Israeli public feels their government disrespects US Jews.
I support the existence of Israel for one reason and one reason alone: Christians can't be trusted around Jews. Sooner or later some of them will eventually try to kill all the Jews.
The tying together of the idea of Jews and Israel is dangerous to Jews around the world.
The right-wing, reactionary, apartheid government in Israel, that is bent on ethnically cleansing the region of Palestinians, is the opposite of the history of the Jews and is an offense to the memory of every Jew that has suffered oppression.
Of any group of people in the world, Jews should be the very last people oppressing others. It's inexcusable.
More importantly, it puts Jews living overseas in danger to racist backlash and terrorism.
Israeli Jews are being selfish and short-sighted by disregarding this danger.