Thursday, April 26, 2012

"What Israel Needs From American Jews"

As Yom Haatzmaut draws to a close, it is worth pondering the question Jonathan Tobin asks: What Israel Needs From American Jews.

No, Israel does not require blind devotion. It is only those self-proclaimed "brave" people who stand up to the Zionist state who believe that.

The reality, however, is quite a bit different:
This is a basic truth that most Israelis intuitively understand but which continues to elude some of their liberal American friends. Israeli Independence Day is as good a day as any for some of these preening liberal Zionists to ask themselves why is it that the average Israeli regards their impulse to save Israel from itself with a mixture of humor and contempt? After a generation of territorial withdrawals, peace accords and peace offers that have been consistently rejected by the Palestinians, Israelis are right to view those who act as if the history of the last 20 years never happened as simply irrelevant.

Those American Jews who support Israel against the assault on its existence are often accused by their foes of believing in a mythical Israel and having no conception of the real place. But despite the naivete of some who wish to hear no evil of Israel, it is those liberals and left-wingers who believe that the Jewish state can unilaterally create peace or in any way diminish the ideological and religious opposition of the Muslim and Arab worlds to its existence who are really living in a fantasy world.

Liberal Zionists and other so-called progressives should not feel inhibited from putting forward their vision of what Israel can or should be. But what they first need to do is to show some respect for the people of Israel and demonstrate some understanding of the limits to which their ideas can alter political reality on either side of the security fence. Without that respect and understanding, Israelis are to be forgiven for viewing American liberal Zionism as a thin façade for self-righteous and ignorant claptrap.
Read the whole thing.

A novel idea--to both respect and understand the situation that actually exists and to appreciate that for all the good intentions American Jews may have for their Israel brothers: at the end of the day it is Israel that has to live with the consequences of those ideas.

There was a time that the debate centered around whether American Jews had a right to criticize Israel publicly.

We are long past that point--and the genie is out of the bottle.
The question now is (or should be) whether Israelis have the right to expect American Jews to understand the consequences of living half a world away from Israel.

Hint: the answer is yes.

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