Friday, May 28, 2010

Wrong Numbers

Wrong Numbers
This article is a critique of Peter Beinart's article. The authors observe:
Our response to Beinart and others who share his view of a profound and growing schism between liberal American Jews and establishment advocacy organizations is not based on political differences. Rather, our concern is that he and others have allowed their own political allegiances to color their interpretation of the views of the broader American Jewish public. In so doing, they give a distorted impression of American Jewish opinion and overlook important developments in the relationship of American Jews to Israel.
As a result of these [Birthright] initiatives, for the first time, in some studies a larger share of young adults report having been to Israel than older adults. For these young adults, Israel is a central part of their identities in a way that was simply untrue for the vast majority of their parents’ generation. They have more direct ties to Israel including Israelis they met during their trips. They are more likely to return to study, volunteer, or work. And they are more likely to connect to Israel in the United States, through film, music, food, and via the web. Israel advocacy—of either the AIPAC or J Street variety—is just a part of the broader repertoire of connections that young adults increasingly maintain with Israel.
Although Beinart may not be a reliable guide to American Jewish opinion in the past or present, he may yet prove to be a bellwether. When he writes that under the Netanyahu government lines are being crossed and Zionism increasingly seems at odds with liberalism, he expresses the sentiments of an influential segment of the American Jewish intelligentsia. The tension between American Jewish liberalism and the policies of the current Israeli government is real, and the prospect of substantial alienation in the future cannot be dismissed. It should be remembered, however, that American Jews have had plenty of experience with U.S. administrations they did not support politically. For the foreseeable future, diverse personal connections, alongside a basic belief in the need for a Jewish state, will help the next generation of American Jews remain committed to Israel even in the face of distressing political developments.
And if you can read more, see as well this article in Commentary magazine.  Let the discussion and debate continue!

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