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Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Florida grandparents shouldn't ignore their grandchildren

This weekend, hundreds of young Jews are visiting their grandparents in Florida trying to convince them to vote for Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama. Jerusalem Post columnist Jonathan Rosenblum says that the grandparents should ignore the kids.
The grandchildren will seek to prove that Obama is good for Israel, but their identification with Israel bears no relationship to that of their grandparents. For them the Holocaust is the stuff of history books, not a living memory. Ditto the UN vote on Israel's creation. They did not huddle around TV sets listening to the UN debates leading up to the 1967 war. Nor do they remember the 10,000 graves dug in Tel Aviv in anticipation of war casualties. Many have never heard of Entebbe.

A 2007 study by sociologists Stephen Cohen and Ari Kelman found that more than half of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 would not view the destruction of the State of Israel as a personal tragedy. The death and/or expulsion of millions of fellow Jews is something they can live with. By those standards, they probably would not see the Holocaust as a personal tragedy either.

Indifference to Israel, Cohen and Kelman found, "is giving way to downright alienation." Israel complicates the social lives and muddles the political identity of young Jews. Only 54 percent of the under 35 cohort profess to be comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state at all.

THE GRANDCHILDREN will cite Obama's high rating from AIPAC as proof of his pro-Israel bona fides. Irrelevant. Every senator with national ambitions has such a high rating, which is based on nothing more than voting for appropriation resolutions. Far more crucial to determining a candidate's likely relationship with Israel as president is his worldview.

Obama views talk as a universal solvent, and seems to believe that most conflicts can be solved by sitting people down around a conference table to air their grievances. That makes him remarkably sanguine about resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he says would be a high priority from day one of his administration. The last time an American president made solving the conflict a high priority, Israel ended up with the Aksa intifada and open warfare.

If Obama thinks there is an easy solution to the conflict, it can only come in one form: Israel's return to its 1967 "Auschwitz borders." He basically confirmed that in a June interview with Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz, in which he allowed that Israel might justify "67 plus" in terms of a security buffer, "but they've got to consider whether getting that buffer is worth the antagonism of the other party."

Yet an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would almost surely result in a third Iranian-armed and financed adversary confronting Israel, just as previous withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza led to the takeover of heavily armed Iranian proxies in the form of Hizbullah and Hamas. Israeli security officials estimate that absent an Israeli presence in the West Bank, Hamas would take over there almost as quickly as it seized Gaza.

Not that the Palestinian Authority is much better. Its leader Mahmoud Abbas made a special trip to personally congratulate child-murderer Samir Kuntar on his release from Israeli jail, and the PA recently honored Dalai Mughrabi, the mastermind of the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 37 Israelis.
Read the whole thing.

Rosenblum is right, but he ignores an issue that goes far beyond this election: The grandchildren are going to be around a lot longer than the grandparents. My generation doesn't remember the Holocaust either (we do remember Entebbe) and those who do are unfortunately dying off. Israel should be acting now to ensure that we have Jewish support thirty years from now - much as we appreciate the support of evangelical Christians, Jews themselves have a far better argument for the existence of the State of Israel than the Christians have. Sadly, like so many other things, the Israeli government is doing very little on this front. The only initiative that seeks to show young diaspora Jews what Israel is about - Birthright - is a private initiative that often finds itself hijacked by the Left. While Orthodoxy is the fastest growing branch of Judaism in the US, it is still a minority. There are a lot more Jews who feel less connected to Judaism than the Orthodox and who won't be part of the Jewish community - or support Israel - in another generation. Something must be done.

So the grandparents shouldn't ignore the grandchildren when they're told to vote for Obama. They should give the grandchildren a Jewish history lesson instead. It's badly needed.


At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From last weeks Parsha:

"Remember the days of old; reflect upon the years of [other] generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you your elders, and they will inform you."
- Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:7

At 3:08 PM, Blogger PdAnuva said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing.
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At 3:38 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Of course the grandparents are of the generation that largely ( with some exceptions) were deafeningly silent during the Holocaust. In fact I just read on A7 that the Rav stated in 73 that we should add an al chet for our silence. Turns out my Rabbi was with him then.


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