Jews: Look in the Mirror
By Isi Leibler
are some unpleasant facts and bitter truths about a large component of Diaspora
Jews that are being swept under the carpet.
reality is that many of those who classify themselves as Jews live in an
environment in which being Jewish has become associated with endorsing a
meaningless universalism dominated by liberal mumbo jumbo.
ever-increasing number of American Jews in this category describe themselves as
secular but they lack the cultural and national characteristics of their secular
predecessors who rejected religion but in most cases retained a national
identity. Having said that, some of their secular predecessors were Bundists,
and until the creation of Israel, most American Jews were non-Zionist.
middle-aged Jews grew up in a postwar world where anti-Semitism was receding and
many concluded that it was becoming extinct. The generation born between 1950 to
1980 was not exposed to the vicious anti-Semitism that their parents endured in
the prewar era. In addition, with the passage of time, the horror of the
Holocaust and what it implied for the Jewish people has become a dim statistical
historical memory rather than a collective experience. This generation of
American Jews never experienced the pre-State of Israel feeling of
was further accelerated by the decline of Jewish education, with most youngsters
not having even a rudimentary knowledge of their Jewish heritage or culture.
greatest factor affecting today’s Jews is the massive acculturation that has
taken place due to the open society in which they live, where, in contrast to
the past, prejudice does not inhibit intermarriage. Today it is estimated that
over 70% of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry – an astronomical figure. Surveys
show that the vast majority of children of intermarried couples are hardly
conscious of their Jewish identity.
relevance of Israel as a haven from persecution simply does not resonate today
as it did to previous Jewish generations. According to a recent Pew survey, only
43% of American Jewish youth have visited Israel and as many as 31% said that
they had no attachment to Israel.
must therefore acknowledge that a substantial and growing proportion of American
Jews cannot be relied upon for support, and for many younger Jews, concern for
Israel’s security has become a low priority.
for some, displaying an anti-Israel attitude is considered chic and a means of
socially integrating into the liberal community where opposition to Israel is
required for eligibility. This has led some Jews, utterly ignorant of their
heritage, to express their Jewish identity by attacking Israel and becoming
darlings of anti-Israel agitators on college campuses and in the left-wing
disturbing trend was accelerated by then-U.S. President Barack Obama, who
created a rift between many of his Jewish supporters and Israel. They remained
silent while he treated Israel like a rogue state and fawned over Iran.
a considerable number of Jewish students choose to identify with Black Lives
Matter or endorse terrorist-sympathizers like Linda Sarsour as preferable to
supporting Israel. Some even prattle about keeping all Jews in the “big
tent” and justify dialogue with anti-Israel Jews and those who actively
campaign for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Israel has somewhat ameliorated this situation but the tragedy is that in order
to curry favor with the Left, both the Conservative and Reform Jewish
leaderships have been heading the charge against Israel on a host of secondary
political issues. When Donald Trump was elected president, the Jewish
progressive establishment lost all sense of proportion and reacted with utter
hysteria. In addition to its unprecedented bitter partisan campaign against his
administration, it intensified its attacks against the elected Israeli
government by accusing it of being extremist and promoting fascist legislation.
issue climaxed when, to save his government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
capitulated to pressure from haredim and rescinded an earlier deal that approved
egalitarian prayer at a designated area at the Western Wall. Even though 60% of
Reform and 40% of Conservative Jews had never visited Israel and most of them
were utterly indifferent toward mixed-gender prayer at the Wall, the progressive
leaders fanned the flames of hysteria over this issue and effectively declared
war on the Israeli government, demanding that it reinstate the deal – some
even threatening to boycott the Jewish state.
Netanyahu facing immense pressures from all sides, one would expect responsible
Diaspora Jewish leaders to display understanding of his predicament and not
declare war over an issue that most of their constituents are completely
uninterested in – as are most Israelis who put up with far greater irritations
from extremist haredi politicians that impact on their lives. Regardless, the
majority still prefer Netanyahu to act as their leader rather than any other
issue was further polarized when Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely
inelegantly told the truth of what has hitherto been considered politically
incorrect to express. The outcry against her reached hysterical levels with
demands for her dismissal and allegations that, by telling the truth, she was
promoting anti-Semitism. Hotovely was expressing facts, but even if she was
merely conveying an opinion, she is surely entitled to do so.
Jews live a life so different from their Israeli kinsmen that most of them –
other than those with close family in Israel – cannot possibly appreciate or
identify with the challenges confronting us. They are not surrounded by enemies
calling for their annihilation; they do not experience the threat of frequent
terrorism; and in the absence of conscription, only a miniscule number of Jews
serve in the armed forces, in contrast to Israelis who are drafted to the IDF
and who often face life-and-death situations.
American Jewish leaders behave with no restraint and feel free to publicly
condemn Israel and criticize the policies of its democratically elected
government despite being aware of the immense, even existential threats it is
facing. But when Israelis say anything uncomplimentary about American Jewry,
progressives immediately accuse them of destroying the relationship between
Israel and the Diaspora. The hypocrisy is offensive and it is time for us to
stop pandering to these groups that are far more concerned about establishing
their bona fides within the far-left liberal community than backing Israel.
even setting aside our contrasting lifestyles, American Jews would do well to
look in the mirror and moderate their triumphalist manner. Despite proclaiming
their pride of residing in the “goldene medina” and claiming to be the most
influential minority in America, they have not been able to stem the
extraordinary rise of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism among leftists and
liberals. With all their wealth and huge scholarship endowments, they have
failed catastrophically on the campuses, many of which have been transformed by
Muslims and leftists into centers of hatred, promoting anti-Israeli agitation
truth is that much as we seek the support of all Diaspora Jews, an
ever-increasing number of people in non-Orthodox American Jewish communities are
so utterly ignorant of their heritage that they simply feel no empathy for
should therefore concentrate on the Orthodox and committed Jews whose support
for Israel has never waned and many of whom are engaged in Israel advocacy
programs. At the same time, we must be aware that despite their leaders, there
are many Reform and Conservative Jews who remain loyal and committed to Israel
and we must encourage and support them.
should concentrate on our real supporters – and emissaries from diverse
backgrounds should be handpicked for either strengthening the committed or
trying to educate those who define themselves as Jewish but are in fact ignorant
of their Jewish heritage.
should cease referring to American Jews as a group and distinguish between those
for whom Israel is a priority and the many “Jews” whose Judaism is based on
liberal stances including supporting positions hostile to Israel.
should also stop prostrating ourselves to those who publicly attack us. Many of
the “leaders” would reconsider their attitudes if they knew that when they
visited Israel, they would be politely ignored by the establishment.
time has come to stop cringing when these fringe Jews abuse us and concentrate
our efforts on offering greater support to those actively promoting our cause.