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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why younger Jews don't feel the same love toward Israel

Richard Baehr has got it right. He shows the connection between a lack of connection to God and Judaism and a lack of connection to Israel among American Jewry. Lack of support for Israel is a symptom of a much larger problem: Lack of religious feeling.
There are many explanations for why younger Jews do not feel the same way about Israel as earlier generations. For one thing, young liberal Jews today are increasingly the product of secular parents, mixed marriages, and homes devoid of serious attachment to not only Israel, but God and Judaism. Secular Jews have become increasingly suburban and affluent and there is little sense of struggle or threat in the lives of the younger generation (other than whether they can get into an Ivy League college or professional school and make their parents proud).

These young liberal Jews know very little or nothing of World War 2, Jewish life in Europe, the Holocaust, the 48 War, the 6 Day War, the Yom Kippur War, or even the scud attacks in the ‘91 Gulf war. They are comfortable. And since most of the people they come into contact with on campus, or in their new professional lives are liberals, they do not want to cross swords with them by backing Israel (the politically incorrect stronger party) against the Palestinians (the weaker party). It is hard to defend Israel, and not lose points earned for all one's good deeds -- attacking capitalism, greedy Wall Street bankers, George Bush, Sarah Palin, Christian conservatives, and Tea party bigots, and backing all the noble causes: abortion rights, ending global warming, raising taxes on the rich, making health care cheap, accessible and high quality through a public option, saving Darfur, and did I mention abortion rights? How can one be for all these noble and moral causes and not also fight for human rights in Gaza and the West Bank?

Blaming AIPAC or the Conference of Presidents for young liberal Jews' lack of enthusiasm for Israel is absurd. This is like blaming the schools as the principal reason for the performance gap between African American kids and Asian kids. I would cast my vote for the differences in the home environment. I think the near 80% black illegitimacy rate, and Asian parents' obsession with educational performance are a lot bigger deal than the public schools in explaining the performance gap, even with all the obvious problems with the union dominated school system, and the effects of tenure in 3 years, protection of incompetents, and teachers' low expectations of minority kids.

The Jewish organizations Beinart attacks are pretty much all that is left in the Jewish community to defend the Jewish state. Such defense will not come from the Reform movement, or the Rabbis fasting for Gaza, or Rabbis for J-street, or Rabbis for Obama, or Jews for Peace and Justice, or the NJDC or Peter Beinart. Does Beinart believe no one should defend the Jewish state? Or would he leave it to the editorial pages of the New York Times to find out the level of support that is acceptable?
Read it all.


At 1:59 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I'm sorry but IGNORANCE does not excuse them: there is so much history to prove the case against the lefties,arabs and their blood-libels.

If they don't feel Jewish they should say they are not.Not use it as a stick to beat Israel.

Although my parents were Orthodox, I grew up as a fairly secular Jew but contrary to my parents I always loved Israel, visited and stuck up for it. I am Jewish to the core and feel it! It gives me huge pride. and I know quite a number of people who have converted and ARE converting to Judaism.

So maybe what we need is this injection of new blood!

At 2:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - just a few threads back I mentioned how G-d making a reappearance in Israeli life only underscored the divide between Israeli and American Jews would lead to a divorce between them. I think that's true when the two sides have nothing in common to hold them together. The Israelis will have G-d and American Jews will have liberalism. Now show me where there is a basis for common ground between them. That means in America, the only folks who will really support Israel are Orthodox and yes - increasing numbers of haredi Jews along with religious Christians. And why will it be possible for even ultra-Orthodox Jews to support Israel? Its now a matter of fearing G-d and really, as liberal Jews assimilate and disappear from the Jewish people, a century from now, those are the only Jews left that will matter in the world.


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