Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Netanyahu unfaithful to Zionism vision

Akiva Eldar,

image from article
On Nov. 14, Netanyahu is scheduled to appear via satellite at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly convening in Los Angeles. Prior to the announcement of his planned appearance, some media outlets reported that the prime minister would not address the assembly, possibly due to the deteriorating relationship with US Jewry. The president of the Jewish Federations of North America, Jerry Silverman, briefed the Knesset committee about the sense of rage and insult among Jewish communities in the United States generated by Netanyahu’s conduct over the Western Wall. He warned that the discrimination against the central streams of American Judaism could alienate young Jews from Israel.
The contempt displayed by successive Israeli governments toward the liberal Diaspora communities is by way of shooting itself in an already injured leg. The comprehensive 2013 Pew Research Center study among American Jews showed that the American Jewish community — a stronghold of Israel’s support — is shrinking. Almost six out of 10 American Jews who were wed since 2000 married non-Jews (only 2% of those were Orthodox Jews). The survey also found that the level of support for Israel was significantly lower among those who described themselves as devoid of Jewish affiliation compared with those who defined themselves as “Jewish by religion.” Only 23% of those without Jewish affiliation had ever visited Israel (compared with 49% among the other group). It seems that the ongoing crisis between Israeli governments and Jews affiliated with the Reform and Conservative streams erodes their linkage with Israel.
Also indicative of the erosion of US Jewry’s affiliation with Israel is the persistent decline in the funds channeled by Jewish communities to Israel compared with the donations used for community needs. According to a recent Haaretz investigative report by Uri Blau, the percentage of funds donated by the federations to Israel is not more than 10% of the money raised.
The Birthright Israel Foundation funded by Jewish tycoons, chief among them Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, brings thousands of American students to visit Israel each year in order to strengthen their affinity for the Jewish state and mobilize their support for pro-Israel public diplomacy on US campuses. Last week, the organization reportedly decided to cut out of the program’s itinerary meetings between the Jewish students and Israeli Arabs. If these students don’t meet Palestinians, they won’t have to deal with questions of their liberal Jewish identity vis-a-vis the occupation policies of the Jewish state. If they only meet attractive Israeli soldiers, they won’t know that the state they are being asked to defend against activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is considered throughout the world as "a pariah state." ...

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