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Monday, July 11, 2011

Israel is becoming more Jewish, more hawkish and more rightist

On Monday evening, the Knesset will vote on the second and third readings of a bill that would allow citizens to bring civil lawsuits against people or organizations who call for economic, academic or cultural boycotts against the Jewish state, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control (read: Judea, Samaria, 'east' Jerusalem and the Golan Heights). The bill would also prevent the government from doing business with companies who initiate or participate in such a boycott.

The bill is being brought to a vote because its chief sponsor, coalition chairman Zev Elkin, believes that he has enough votes to pass it.

The fact that the government is going to enact an anti-Boycott law is just one symptom of a relatively new phenomenon. In the aftermath of the Gaza expulsion of 2005, the 2006 Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, and the reaction of the 'international community to the actions that Israel had to take to protect itself, Israelis have become more Jewish, more hawkish and more rightist than was previously the case.

Part of that is demographics. Look at my biography and compare it to the biographies of some of the Leftist bloggers. If I have eight children and they have one (and a dog), eventually the Right is likely to gain (only four of my children are currently eligible to vote, but if this government serves out its term, a fifth child will be eligible to vote the next time, God willing). But it's more than just demographics. It's a change in the way people think about the chances for peace.
Several processes are slowly making Israel’s Jewish society more conservative. This is not just a result of demography, which is working in favor of the haredim and traditionalist Jews and against the seculars. We are dealing with a plethora of cultural tendencies that have nothing to do with births.

The Jewish bookshelf is sweeping many groups and is turning into an element that holds ideological, not only cultural, influence on those joining the trend. The “Jewish new age era,” a sort of counter-reaction to the “candle era” of the peace children, is lifting geographical boundaries.

Samaria is suddenly turning into a site that belongs to “every Jew.” Workshops and trips there constitute the settlers’ “quiet revolution.” Even celebrities who “discovered” the synagogue at the heart of Tel Aviv are starting to arrive.

Meanwhile, the Russian and Ethiopian communities, as well as residents of the periphery, are mostly holding clear hawking views, despairing over the chance to see peace from the Palestinians, and are eager to see us using our power and producing deterrence. Territorial concessions are not perceived as a move that would affect the end of the conflict.


Similar phenomena are taking place among some groups within Israel’s leftist camp; the moderate Left, known as “activist” in the past, which lives in “border areas.” The Gaza-region kibbutzim, which in the past granted the leftist Meretz party many Knesset seats, are showing ongoing support for Lieberman’s positions ever since the current government’s establishment. No less surprising: Even among these leftists, a majority characterizes the settlement enterprise as Zionism in every way.

Meanwhile, Meretz and Labor, which produced “Oslo,” are turning into niche parties. Kadima, which is led by people formerly associated with the Right, is the only dovish element with aspirations to take power.

Jewish perception and heritage are penetrating civics studies and the military and national service. The education minister is bringing awareness of Hebron to Tel Aviv. Moreover, members of the religious Zionist community are increasingly active in academia and in the film industry; they produce culture and convey their messages.

Israelis are becoming more spiritual. And no, this is not the spirituality associated with the flower children. It is the kind of spiritually associated with Rabbi Kook. It comes with love for the land and great belief in the ban on renouncing it.
This will also have some impact on our relations with diaspora Jewry, at least in the United States where much of the Jewish community is affiliated with non-Orthodox movements, the Democratic party and liberalism. If anything, the choice between supporting the liberal value of the week and supporting Israel may become even starker than it is today.

And while I have argued many times on this blog that American support for Israel depends far more on American Christians than it does on American Jews, a decline in or indifference to Jewish support for Israel has other implications we won't necessarily like. For example, Israel restricts the ability of missionaries to operate here. What will happen when and if American Christians decide to contest those laws or to 'lobby' us to change them?

Please don't get me wrong. I believe that Israel's shift to the right is a good thing. I believe that it makes us more unified and more idealistic in the struggle against our enemies. But I also believe that we need to be prepared to deal with the side issues that may arise.

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At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For example, Israel restricts the ability of missionaries to operate here. What will happen when and if American Christians decide to contest those laws or to 'lobby' us to change them?

This has been happening for years and it is only getting much worse.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The laws are not intended to protect Jews. They prevent exploitation of people who are culturally Jewish but not necessarily Jewish according to the halachic definition. There are plenty of mixed families, notably from Russia, in Israel. Every one but the Orthodox rabbis see them as Jews anyway because they live a Jewish life. If they don't convert, its a good guess their children and grandchildren will grow up to be Jews. The Rabbinate's concerns about them are valid up to a point but they would be lost to the Jewish people anywhere else in the world for good.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger meltonkt said...

Don't count out the non-Orthodox American Jews too quickly. I am a Conservative Jew in every sense, a dedicated Zionist and hawk. Virtually all of my fellow members of my congregation are every bit as devoted to our homeland as any evangelical and more, since we don't want to keep the homeland Jewish for some ulterior agenda. Certainly there are those around that would have Israel sell its soul and its land for the illusion of peace, but there are still many of us that believe in peace through superior firepower. We just don't should as loud and our signs and banners aren't funded by foreign dollars. We say our prayers for the IDF along with our prayers for our own country every Shabbat. We just don't get as loud and therefore do not get the notoriety.

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this supposed to be something good? The world is turning left, and Israel is going the opposite way? Kinda like Afghanistan's Taliban you mean?

At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world is turning "left" as in kinda like National Socialist left in the autocratic, fascistic Arab and Islamic Levant, and decadent left with murderously cynical appeasers following in the footsteps of British Fabians and Sartre KBG fellow travelers alike. Jews don't fare too well with these crowds and it is a happy development that Israel's Jews are wising up.


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