Wednesday, August 17th | 21 Av 5782

October 5, 2011 4:21 pm

Young American Jews Have Been Hijacked

avatar by Josh Hasten

Services at a reform synagogue.

The next generation of American Judaism has been hijacked.  More specifically, the notion of what it means to be a good young Jewish adult in the world today has changed. It’s not a new phenomenon, and not all are guilty.  However, after reading a recent commentary in Time magazine by one Dana Goldstein (“Why fewer Young American Jews Share Their Parents’ Views of Israel,” Sept. 29), now more than ever, particularly with Jews living under the Iranian nuclear threat, coupled with the threat of local terrorism, there is room for grave concern.

Goldstein seeks to explain why recent surveys show that support for Israel amongst American Jews under 35 is waning. The main reasons,  according to those interviewed for the article can be summarized by key words –  words used by the Arabs in their 24/7 propaganda battle to delegitimize the State of Israel – ‘Palestinians,’ ‘occupation,’ and ‘settlements.’ As it is said, if a lie is repeated over and over again, it becomes accepted as truth.

One who has the facts could write dissertations on these three key terms. The point is, Goldstein and the thousands of other brainwashed or ignorant young American Jews have taken the bait. They have accepted the Arab narrative as fact while ignoring the realities. The Jewish People,  after suffering unimaginable strife for 2,000 years,  are finally home – in Israel. Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people,  both by Biblical acclimation and,  more relevant for modern times  and from a legal perspective, designated as such following World War I.

But poor Goldstein, proud of her “liberal, humanist worldview,” describes how hard it was for her to write “harshly” about Israel’s actions in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2009, but she says that speaking her mind on these topics, while difficult (boo hoo), is “a very Jewish thing to do.”

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In reality it probably wasn’t that hard after all: she admits her exposure to, and college friendships with Muslims who taught her 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.”

That quote hits the nail on the head of how Judaism has been hijacked. Israel, winning a defensive war of survival in 1948, establishing itself on its God-given land, designated for the Jews as a State by international decree, this Israel in Goldstein’s view is the guilty party. How so? First and most obviously, historically, there was no “State of Palestine,” so Israel is not ‘occupying’ any entity. Second, and more importantly for our purposes, is Goldstein’s ‘guilt.’

Where is the source in Judaism for being guilty over Jewish survival? Doesn’t Judaism value life above almost all other things (there are three exceptions in the Torah when death is chosen over life)?

And, this  is only part of the disease that apparently many Jews in America suffer from in the need to be the victim. Goldstein goes on to essentially admit this “disease” exists. She claims that support for Israel in the “era of the 1967 and 1973 wars” was great because Israel was “less of an aggressor and more of a victim.” It’s very sad to believe, but maybe she’s right. Maybe Jewish America did view Israel as the victim back then.

If Goldstein were true to that credo, she would open her eyes and realize that nothing has changed: Israel is still the victim! Rockets falling in the south, hitting major population centers in the north, shootings, lynching, deadly rock attacks, kidnappings, suicide bombings, etc. etc. are all realities in this generation not in her parent’s  generation.

Unlike those with the “victim syndrome disease,” we in Israel will not be the victim to warrant support! Israel deserves the support of those “liberals” because we are the owners of morality and truth. We are the only democracy in the Middle East, which respects human rights, minority rights (and yes, Arab rights), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and on and on. In fact, Arabs here on both sides of that imaginary ‘Green Line’ have more freedoms here than any other country in the region. And that is was Goldstein and the like have no problem ignoring.

More reason for concern: one of the surveys on which Goldstein reports was conducted amongst rabbinical students affiliated with the Conservative Movement. A startling finding was that 70% of those surveyed reporting feeling ‘disturbed’ by Israel’s treatment of its Arab neighbors. One of the students even quoted the Torah when justifying his critique-laced survey answers essentially saying that “settlements” were anti-Jewish, and that establishing a Palestinian State would be the Jewish thing to do.

Really? Does the Torah call for the transfer of the Land to a foreign entity, particularly one that incites to destroy the Jewish State? Did I sleep through my history courses because in I don’t remember any such thing. I have yet to come across a passage in all the Torah or Jewish Law on the need for taking risks (which history has proven to be deadly for Jews in Israel) by giving away Jewish Land. (As a side note, it should be mentioned that the polls quoted in the article show that young Orthodox Jews still have a very strong connection to Israel. Could it be their education which emphasizes the importance of the Land of Israel in Judaism? I wonder.)

This decline in support is disheartening. I hate to say that Israel is at a crossroads. For the past 63 years we have been in an official state of emergency every single day (it’s like living in the US under a constant ‘red’ threat level). But whether it’s the UN, terror attacks, or Iran, now is not the time for the next generation of Jews in America to waver. Now we need and expect their support more than ever. Of course Israel isn’t perfect, nobody is, but this is above and beyond legitimate criticism.

Perhaps it’s partially our own fault. Maybe Israel’s message isn’t being heard. Or, maybe it’s being heard but simply ignored. While many pro-Israel Hasbara organizations are active in the United States – especially on college campuses –  it doesn’t seem to be enough. We need to figure out communally how to rescue the next generation of Jews from being held hostage. The first step is to make those who have been abducted aware, to let them at least understand and admit that they’ve been captured.

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