Young Jews in America, good read

Discussion in 'The Fire For Effect and Totally Politically Incorr' started by cycloneman, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2008

    "I'm trembling," my mother says, when I tell her I'm working on an article about how younger and older American Jews are reacting differently to the Palestinians' bid for statehood at the United Nations. I understand the frustrations of the Palestinians dealing with ongoing settlements construction and sympathize with their decision to approach the U.N., but my mom supports President Obama's promise to wield the U.S. veto, sharing his view that a two-state solution can be achieved only through negotiations with Israel.

    "This is so emotional," she says as we cautiously discuss our difference of opinion. "It makes me feel absolutely terrible when you stridently voice criticisms of Israel." (See photos inside the West Bank settlements.)

    A lump of guilt and sadness rises in my throat. I've written harshly of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and its assault on Gaza in 2009, and on civil rights issues in Israel. But speaking my mind on these topics - a very Jewish thing to do - has never been easy. During my childhood in the New York suburbs, support for Israel was as fundamental a family tradition as voting Democratic or lighting the Shabbos candles on Friday night.

    My mom has a masters degree in Jewish history and is the program director of a large synagogue. Her youthful Israel experiences, volunteering on a kibbutz and meeting descendants of great-grandmother's siblings, were part of my own mythology. Raised within the Conservative movement, I learned at Hebrew school that Israel was the "land of milk and honey" where Holocaust survivors had irrigated the deserts and made flowers bloom.

    What I didn't hear much about was the lives of Palestinians. It was only after I went to college, met Muslim friends, and enrolled in a Middle Eastern history and politics course that I was challenged to reconcile my liberal, humanist worldview with the fact that the Jewish state of which I was so proud was occupying the land of 4.4 million stateless Palestinians, many of them refugees displaced by Israel's creation. (See TIME's photoessay on growing up Arab in Israel.)

    Like many young American Jews, during my senior year of college I took the free trip to Israel offered by the Taglit-Birthright program. The bliss I felt floating in the Dead Sea, sampling succulent fruits grown by Jewish farmers, and roaming the medieval city of Safed, historic center of Kabbalah mysticism, was tempered by other experiences: Watching the construction of the imposing "security fence," which not only tamped down on terrorist attacks, but also separated Palestinian villagers from their lands and water supplies. I spent hours in hushed conversation with a young Israeli soldier who was horrified by what he said was the routinely rough and contemptuous treatment of Palestinian civilians at Israeli military checkpoints.

    That trip deepened my conviction that as an American Jew, I could no longer in good conscience offer Israel unquestioning support. I'm not alone. Polling of young American Jews shows that with the exception of the Orthodox, many of us feel less attached to Israel than do our Baby Boomer parents, who came of age during the era of the 1967 and 1973 wars, when Israel was less of an aggressor and more a victim. A 2007 poll by Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of UC Davis found that although the majority of American Jews of all ages continue to identify as "Pro-Israel," those under 35 are less likely to identify as "Zionist." Over 40 percent of American Jews under 35 believe that "Israel occupies land belonging to someone else," and over 30 percent report sometimes feeling "ashamed" of Israel's actions.

    Read about America's first female black rabbi.

    Hanna King, an 18-year old sophomore at Swarthmore College, epitomizes the generational shift. Raised in Seattle as a Conservative Jew, last November King was part of a group of activists who heckled Netanyahu with slogans against the occupation at a New Orleans meeting of the Jewish Federations General Assembly.

    "Netanyahu repeatedly claims himself as a representative of all Jews," King says. "The protest was an outlet for me to make a clear statement, and make it clear that those injustices don't occur in my name. It served as a vehicle for reclaiming my own Judaism." (Read more about the debate on a Palestinian state.)

    A more moderate critique is expressed by J Street, the political action committee launched in 2008 as a "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" counterweight to the influence in Washington of the more hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Simone Zimmerman heads J-Street's campus affiliate at the University of California-Berkeley. A graduate of Jewish private schools, she lived in Tel Aviv as an exchange student during high school, but never heard the word occupation spoken in relation to Israel until she got to college.

    During Zimmerman's freshman year, Berkeley became embroiled in a contentious debate over whether the university should divest from corporations that do business with the Israeli army. Although Zimmerman opposed divestment, she was profoundly affected by the stories she heard from Palestinian-American activists on campus.

    "They were sharing their families' experiences of life under occupation and life during the war in Gaza," she remembers. "So much of what they were talking about related to things that I had always been taught to defend, like human rights and social justice, and the value of each individual's life." (Read the top 10 religion stories of 2010.)

    Even young rabbis are, as a cohort, more likely to be critical of Israel than are older rabbis. Last week, Cohen, the Hebrew Union College researcher, released a survey of rabbinical students at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, the premier institution for training Conservative rabbis. Though current students are just as likely as their elders to have studied and lived in Israel and to believe Israel is "very important" to their Judaism, about 70 percent of the young, prospective rabbis report feeling "disturbed" by Israel's treatment of Arab Israelis and Palestinians, compared to only about half of those ordained between 1980 and 1994.

    Ben Resnick, 27, is one of the rabbinical students who took the survey. In July, he published an op-ed pointing out the ideological inconsistencies between Zionism, which upholds the principle of Israel as a Jewish state, and American liberal democracy, which emphasizes individual rights regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. "The tragedy," Resnick says, is that the two worldviews may be "irreconcilable."

    Still, after living in Jerusalem for 10 months and then returning to New York, Resnick continues to consider himself a Zionist. He quotes the Torah in support of his view that American Jews should press Israel to end settlement expansion and help facilitate a Palestinian state: "Love without rebuke," he says, "is not love."

    Dana Goldstein is a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Nation Institute.
  2. Jackman

    Jackman Member

    Jan 12, 2008
    " Baby Boomer parents, who came of age during the era of the 1967 and 1973 wars, when Israel was less of an aggressor and more a victim"

    Well I am not Jewish but I've always been impressed by the way the Israelis handle themselves they are totally surrounded by people that hate them and would kill them all given the chance, is it possible that after the 67 and 73 war Israel learned to be more aggressive as opposed to a victim of those that hate them so much.

  3. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    Here is his problem: "During my childhood in the New York suburbs, support for Israel was as fundamental a family tradition as voting Democratic or lighting the Shabbos candles on Friday night". King David bought the land for Israel a long time ago, and to the best of my knowledge Israel hasn't sold it to anyone else, yet. As far as I'm concerned, it still belongs to Israel. Besides, just what country do the Palestinians come from? Think about that question!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  4. obxned

    obxned Active Member

    Mar 4, 2007
    Does it really matter - the palestinians want to destroy Israel and kill every last Jew either way.
  5. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    It does matter when you think about it. Where do Palestinians come from? They can't come from the Country of Palestine, it doesn't exist! They are people from all over the Arab world, they are NOT Palestinians! A lot of them are there because the Arab world wants them there. It is part of their plot to rid themselves of Israel!
  6. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    No matter what it seem we keep ending up back to Canaan line of desent.

    From how i understand it Canaan's was to settle a piece of land but because of the curse, Shem recieved the land and Cannan and his line were to be servents of Shem. So here we are today. Nothing has changed. The battle continues.

    Were not the palestinians given this name from the Romans? So actually they are not Palestinians they are Canaanite's / Correct me if i am wrong please
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  7. whirley

    whirley Member

    Jan 27, 2008
    I am not a Jew. The Palestinians continue to shoot rockets into Israel. They have sworn to kill all Israeli's. Yasser Arafat demanded many concessions from Israel and when those concessions were granted, he refused to sign a peace agreement or agree that the Israeli's have a right to exist. Many Palestinians are gainfully employed and live in Isreal. I'm surprised that a thinking person like yourself hasn't considered both sides of the problem.
  8. Gun Geezer

    Gun Geezer Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Central Florida
    As we have all seen, in our own past American History, merely living on and using land does not make one an owner. The Palestinians are in many ways not unlike the American Indians who's land our forefathers took with much less justification than the Israeli's have. We simply were better at displacing them and in many cases killing them. Those of us who wish to support Israel should be allowed to do so without having to feel guilt, the same as those who would support one church over another. Certainly, no one could argue the past faults of Christianity during the last two thousand years. Israel knows what is best for Israel and we should not try to impose our current political correctness or hypocritical morality on what the Israeli's perceive as the right course to take, especially in light of how well it works for us.
  9. 45Auto

    45Auto Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    Right or wrong our fight against the American Indians was our fight and our fight alone. No body in another country financed it. No body stood up for us in the 19th century court of world opinion either.

    Isreal is a different story. Not many Americans know this, but nearly three billion U.S. tax dollars go to Isreal every year + 1.5 Billion to Egypt so they will not go to war with Isreal. This is well known in Isreal and the Arab world. Because of our financial involvement everything Isreal does is imputed to the U.S. So, every year, American tax payers have at least 4.5 billion reasons to get the Isrealis to work something out with the Palestinians instead of working the system to get more money out of Washington.
  10. Brisk44

    Brisk44 New Member

    Mar 6, 2011
    With Obozo in office I'm sure he's working diligently at ceasing payment of those funds.
  11. 45Auto

    45Auto Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    There is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, they seem to be in competition with each other over who loves Isreal the most.
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