Some Anti-Israel Views Should Not Be Tolerated
There has been a steady cascade of discourse about the growing divide between Israeli and American Jews, and the Judaism that characterizes each.
Differences in attitudes towards Jewishness and Judaism in the two communities has contributed to a perception of a radical divide between them.
But, of course, life is far more complicated. While a minority, there are a great many Jews in America who live more holistically Jewish lives and whose well-being is profoundly strengthened by the comfort of knowing that there is a sovereign Jewish state in the world.
Conversely, there are many Jews in Israel who wish to see Israel’s national life divorced from Judaism. And the presence of the Israeli minority perspective is a significant threat to Israel, even an existential one.
Israel is no stranger to threats. It was born under dire military assault, which to one degree or another continues to this day. Ironically, external threats have strengthened the country by forcing its leaders and citizenry to be vigilant, mindful, and realistic about the neighborhood they live in.
Israel’s greatest vulnerability arises from the internal loss of vision or mission as to what it means to be a sovereign Jewish state. In its more moderate form, this has meant a preference for Israel to be a state of its citizens, rather than a Jewish state.
In its more extreme forms, it has meant believing that Israel is an immoral state, highly deserving of reproach and rebuke, even to the point that the country has no moral legitimacy, meaning no right to exist. This plays right into the hands of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Our purpose here is not to defend Israel’s moral bona fides, but to assert that this slippery slope of outrage exists within Israel.
Sadly, and dangerously, this kind of outrage is found among Israel’s academic elite, which perhaps find themselves identifying more with their international colleagues who are blindly critical of Israel.
There is an unmistakable crisis of self-confidence in the West, as post-modernism has destroyed many traditional Western self-conceptions and axiomatic values. Among those that have gone by the wayside are a belief in the importance of maintaining and cherishing individual nation-states, in the intrinsic worth of one’s own culture and history, and in the genius and rightness of Western values and beliefs, such as the primacy of the individual and his rights of free expression and action.
The new post-modern beliefs, which have taken strong root in Western academia, carry a distinct bias against the Zionist worldview and its singular creation: the State of Israel.
Nationalism and particularism are cardinal sins, and Israel stands convicted in the dock of morality.
Dangerously, this mindset has taken hold among some Israeli academics as well. For example, a recent lecture in Europe given by a senior professor at Hebrew University’s faculty of law focused on how the IDF “exploits” Palestinian Arab children in order to market Israeli weapons as “combat proven.”
This extreme example, which might have been taken right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is part of the effort to demonize and delegitimize Israel from within.
What can and should be done in the face of this reality? We believe that making sure that our citizens and decision-makers are aware of this phenomenon can play a key role in defeating it.
We are firm believers in free speech, and therefore believe that those who exercise their rights to defame Israel are fair game for being called out and held up to the mirror of public scrutiny. If this has a chilling effect on delegitimizing behavior from academics, it is because such views are widely perceived as destructive and dangerous.
Israel, like all nations, is beset with a host of problems and challenges, each of which engenders different viewpoints. That is the glory of democracy.
But democracy is also not a suicide pact. There must also be the willingness to confront and call out accusations whose sole purpose is to provide ammunition for those seeking to delegitimize and ultimately destroy our society.
Matan Peleg and Douglas Altabef are the CEO and Chairman of the Board, respectively, of Im Tirtzu.