In an era in which American Jews can proudly espouse any political position they wish, why are so many young American Jews turning away from Israel? Why has Zion shifted away from the core of their national sensibilities and dreams? The most obvious reason, as stated, is the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. These young people have no memory of Israel’s past fragility, or of a time before the international community’s endorsement of Palestinian national aspirations. Israel’s re-creation and even the 1967 and 1973 wars, when the Arab nations pledged to “push the Jews into the sea,” are ancient history.They have misguidedly and foolishly chosen the former. There, fixed it.
Today, what these young Jews see is a power imbalance. One side is an internationally recognized democracy with nuclear weapons, a world-class army, and a robust economy. The other side has none of these. In what is a radical departure from the mindset of their parents, these young Americans’ earliest memories of Israel are of the Intifada, of heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrayed against young Palestinian boys “only” throwing rocks. Sensitive to the underdog everywhere, and with a deep-seated belief in fairness, they insisted and continue to insist upon balancing the scales. The Palestinians, they decided, needed a state.
Palestinian statehood, however, has been slow in coming. To be sure, some of these young American Jews understand the impasse stems from the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel and continuing insistence that any political settlement with the Israelis allow for the return of the now-millions of people classified as “refugees” by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency). Israel, in turn, understands that with the immigration of those original refugees and their descendants the state would cease to be Jewish—which is precisely what the Palestinians intend.
At the same time, these young Jews have also intuited that the Palestinians will not change. Therefore, because they cannot bear a conflict that simply cannot be resolved, they conclude that something has to give—and if the Palestinians will not give, then that something has to be Israel. But then, as this thinking goes, if Israel refuses to budge, it is Israel that is responsible for the impasse. Faced with a choice between loyalty to their humanitarian values or to their parents’ Zionism, they have chosen the former.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
"Underdogma" Causing Young American Jews to Cast Their Lot With Palestinians, Not Israel
Daniel Gordis writes: