Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jewish youth and Israel

Sending our youth the wrong signals
Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post

Article follows Moderator comments:

I understand and respect the drive to keep the memories of holocaust from receeding, as the the words "never again" has to be valued. The German integration experience was one of the most shameful of all experiences in human history. Minorities (ethnic, religious, cultural, political) all over the world struggle to be part of the society as contributors and participants, as did the Jews in Germany, but the reward they got in attempted annihlation and holocaust was a shame on humanity. No one should forget about this, and I commend the Jewish communities efforts to keep this alive and I have joined this effort.

The issues highlighted below are the same issues with the Hindus, Muslims and even Christian immigrants in America. The neo-cons of all religions are pushing for extremism in the name of conservatism making religion their villain, and are trying to brainwash their kids not with love, but with anti-someone. The new generation sees the beauty in inclusiveness and pluralistic values of America, those values appeal to them and they detest the old values based on hating some one.

We need to promote inclusiveness, the idea of accepting and respecting the God given uniqueness of each human being. The prejudice is bred in Jewish and Palestinian Arab children towards each other, this is not going to do any good to either one, it is a way of keeping the conflict up and it may be in the interests of those who want to cash in donations by keeping the fear factor alive. We must discourage these folks, who will bring untold miseries to the people while they enrich with donations.

And now the article:


Sending our youth the wrong signals

Alarm bells should be ringing in response to the findings of the recent survey of American Jewish attitudes toward Israel compiled by Professors Stephen M. Cohen and Ari Kelman on behalf of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Foundation. Based on a questionnaire of 1,700 American Jews of all ages, the report excludes the Orthodox (who are today more positively inclined toward Israel than ever) but does include intermarried couples who traditionally display little resonance toward the Jewish state.

The findings are highly disconcerting. Only 54% of the under-35 category was "comfortable" with the concept of a Jewish state, in contrast to 81% of those over 65. More disturbingly, over half of those under 35 would not even be inclined to regard the destruction of Israel as a "personal tragedy." The findings demonstrate that non-Orthodox American Jews under the age of 35 are moving from indifference to outright alienation with respect to their attitude toward the Jewish state. The report challenges the viability of sustaining any meaningful long term Israel-Diaspora relationship.

In retrospect, some erosion was predictable. The memory of the Holocaust has receded from public consciousness and young Jews today simply lack any appreciation of the implications of the powerlessness which prevailed among Jews before the state was created.

Nor does the current generation share the emotional attachments to Israel of their parents who witnessed the Zionist struggle and battles for survival climaxing with the euphoria of the Six Day War and the trauma of the Yom Kippur War. In addition, the combination of media demonization and burgeoning anti-Semitism have influenced many youngsters to transfer their support for Israelis as noble underdogs, toward identifying with what is commonly referred to as the "anti Zionist chic."

WHILE WE were aware that this was the prevailing atmosphere in Europe, we had hoped that America, home of the largest, most affluent and influential Diaspora community in Jewish history, would be different. Besides, in contrast to the intensification of hatred against Israel in Europe, over the past decade, American public support for Israel has reached a higher level than ever before. The report also suggests that in the absence of birthright israel visits, the situation would have been considerably worse.

And yet, beyond religious observance, a connection to Israel remains to this day the most important element in Jewish identity. Thus, unless negative attitudes toward Israel are reversed, a further snowballing impact on assimilation is inevitable.

HOW SHOULD we endeavor to reverse these negative trends? First, the government of Israel must become more directly involved. From the onset of the Oslo Accords, successive Israeli governments had distanced themselves from the Diaspora, on the false grounds that with an "irreversible peace process" a reality, mobilizing on behalf of Israel by Diaspora Jews was superfluous and even counterproductive.

Despite subsequent efforts to reverse the situation by Rabbi Melchior and Natan Sharansky respectively as ministers of Diaspora Affairs, by and large, government leaders have taken little interest in overseas Jewish communities beyond lauding potential donors.

In fact today, hardly any Israeli or Jew in the Diaspora would even be aware that Yitzhak Herzog retains a Diaspora Affairs portfolio because all his resources and energies are directed toward his Social Welfare Ministry.

Likewise the World Zionist Organization which should have filled the vacuum, until recently was more concerned to promote the excessive remuneration of its senior Israeli executives than supporting Zionist organizations in the Diaspora. As a consequence, Zionist federations in most Jewish communities simply faded from Jewish life.

DIASPORA Jewish leaders themselves are also at fault. In recent years, many became increasingly passive in response to the activities of the Jewish defamers of Israel in their midst. Some, in the name of freedom of expression and pluralism, even provided communal platforms for Jews to delegitimize the Jewish state.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the organizers of the successful Limmud education program previously invited Jacqueline Rose, the Jewish author of a fiercely anti-Israeli tract, to present her viewpoint. This year their keynote speaker is former Knesset Speaker and former head of the Jewish Agency, Avrum Burg, who shocked even his left-wing associates by alleging that the Jewish state behaves like Nazi Germany and urging Israelis to obtain foreign passports.

Another example is the head of the principal think tank of Anglo Jewry, a Jew who unashamedly promotes a bi-national not a Jewish state.

In the United States, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the radical journal Tikkun, which publishes vehement anti-Israeli propaganda, continues to receive invitations to address Jewish audiences in temples and community centers.

The New Israel Fund which raises over $25 million from American Jews has the gall to describe itself as a "Zionist" organization which "loves Israel." Yet the JTA reports that it recently hosted an Israeli Arab who stated publicly that the 60th anniversary of Israel represented a "Nakba" (disaster) and expressed regret that Israeli Arabs had "not fought the occupation seriously."

The same organization also promoted Michael Karayanni, an Arab-Israeli Hebrew University law professor who urged American Jewish audiences to support replacing the Israeli flag and anthem imposed on Arab Israelis in 1948. Yet the New Israel Fund still continues to receive funding from Jewish Federations.

And then there is the Israel Policy Forum, regarded as a part of the American Jewish establishment and supported by some Israeli ministers (Deputy Premier Haim Ramon will be speaking to the group next month). Yet it shamelessly lobbies the White House to pressure our government to provide further unilateral concessions to the Palestinians and continually attacks AIPAC for promoting pro-Israel policies.

THE EXTENT of the degradation of Zionist values was exemplified in controversies which recently raged on American campuses over whether it was appropriate for Hillel and other Jewish bodies to provide platforms for Israeli draft-dodgers to address American students in order to justify defiance of IDF orders to serve in the territories.

Jews against Zion are hardly a new phenomenon in Jewish history. They follow in the tradition of Jewish apostates who turned against their own people in the Middle Ages, of self-hating Jews such as Karl Marx, and more recently Jewish communists who applauded Stalin's crimes against the Jewish people and defended Soviet anti-Semitism. The difference is that in the past such people were marginalized from Jewish life and no reputable Jewish organization would conceivably have provided them with platforms in order to demonize their own people.

We must end this madness by launching global educational campaigns to endow our youngsters with an appreciation of what Jewish life was like before the rebirth of the Jewish state and provide them with an understanding of a genuine Israel narrative and the morality of our case.
Let there be no illusions. If the process of alienation from the Jewish state is not reversed, the Diaspora is doomed.

The writer is a former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader.


29. Torah is the future of Israel
11/13/2007 17:44

G-d loving, Torah loving Jews are the vast majority of those making aliyah. G-d hating Jews won't stay in the Jewish community much longer - their children feel no guilt about marrying out and ignoring their heritage. Don't fight it Mr. Leibler - it's like quicksand. The more you fight it, the quicker it sucks you down. Just accept the fact that Truth always wins. Return to our Father, our King, the one and only G-d. He loves you very much and is waiting for your return.

56. Dump Zionism
Dan - USA
11/14/2007 11:46

Israel would be far better off if it became a true democracy. Dump the Zionist Racist stuff. To the rest of the world it looks like a privilege "For Jews Only" Country Club. Make your state religion Judaism, but dump all your laws that relegate non-Jews and the Indigenous people as 2nd class citizens.

48. Israeli Jews suffer the same alientation from Israel
David Wolfe - MO
11/13/2007 20:06

Israeli Jews, and youth especially ("non-orthodox") probably 'suffer' the same alienation from Israel as a modern Jewish State. The reasons are manifold: poor leadership and years of leftist education that have stigmatized the purpose of Israel as a Jewish country; corrupt government that raises the legitimacy of Israel; corrupt judiciary; corrupt media...So the results should be no surprise to anyone!

42. Diaspora and Israel
David - US
11/13/2007 19:25

How can American Jewish youth, mist used to ethics-oriented Reform or Conservative Judaism, relate to a country up to it s neck in corruption, human rights violations and ruled by intolerant rabbis right out of the Dark Ages? David

35. American Jews see their Jewishness as a stigma
Al Kafr
11/13/2007 18:15

We jews are not a religion, but a Nation. We have our own culture, language, history, ethnicity, nationality. But US Jews see "Jewish" as a stigma, not an identity. That is why they assimilate. The "other" is more exciting. Sort of why white American gentiles like Latino/Asian/Black lover as more exciting. Inherently its racist... but it SEEMS the opposite. Boringness is the perception Jews have to combat.

3. Leibler
11/13/2007 14:32

Methinks Isi doth protest too much. It seems that everyone who disagrees with him is a "self-hating" Jew - a term of abuse used by right-wingers who cannot stand democracy. And he is inaccurate, too. The head of the UK Jewish think-tank is not anti-Israel, only against its settlement policies, as are at least half of Israel's Jewish population. Are they "self-haters" too, Isi?

58. Americans See their Jewishness
Mike Ghouse - USA
11/15/2007 19:54

It is the same issue with the Hindus, Muslims and even Christian immigrants in America. The neo-cons of all religions are pushing for extremism in the name of conservatism making religion their villain, and are trying to brainwash their kids not with love, but with anti-someone. The new generation sees the beauty in inclusiveness and pluralistic values of America, those values appeal to them and they detest the old values based on hating some one.

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