How is the debate over Israel changing among American Jews?
The US Jewish community has become increasingly open about criticism towards Israel.
- A recent protest action at the historically Jewish Brandeis University interrupted members of the Israeli Knesset. The activists' shirts read "Apartheid" in Hebrew. Photo: Tess Scheflan for Activestills.
- Though polls show most Jewish Americans vote for Democrats and support liberal policies in the United States, discussion of Israel has long been dominated by American groups that support Israel's right-wing Likud party. The Emergency Committee for Israel, an American political action group, has taken out full page ads in major newspapers and billboards in American cities questioning leaders who criticise the country.
- In the ad below, which appeared this month in the New York Times, left-wing think tanks such as Media Matters and the Center for American Progress who have voiced criticisms of Israel are depicted as wolves in sheep's clothing.
- The Emergency Committee for Israel also has produced a half-hour documentary questioning Obama's record as a pro-Israel candidate.
- Earlier this year, the Obama for America campaign released an information spot called "America and Israel: an Unbreakable Bond," featuring positive comments from high-level Israeli officials, including Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Danny Ayalon.
- In March, the youth wing of Jewish Voices for Peace lost their spot at the largest American Jewish youth festival, TribeFest, without explanation. This promotional video shows members of the group speaking about their Jewish identities.
- Members of Jewish Voices for Peace disrupted a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2010, resulting in their forcible removal from the auditorium.
- Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart, an Orthodox Jew, recently published The Crisis of Zionism, in which he states that "today, [Israel] is failing, and American Jews are helping it fail." He also recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times promoting reinvestment in "democratic Israel" and a "Zionist boycott" of Israeli settlement products. He also advocated removing America's tax exemptions on charities that fund settlements.
- Stand With Us, a US pro-Israel advocacy group, released this video to promote a "Buy Israeli Goods (BIG) Day" in contrast with the Boycatt, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
- The movement recently gained national attention in the United States for a proposed boycott of Israeli goods in a New York-based food cooperative.
- Last month, members of Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted a panel discussion with Israeli Knesset members. In a similar protest action from last year, students listed charges of war crimes against another Israeli official In English and in Hebrew, including torture and the bombing of civilians. They ended their disruption by chanting in Hebrew "Don't worry Avi Dichter, we'll meet you in the Hague."
Israelis are sometimes shocked to find that voices accepted as moderately left-wing in their own country are still considered radical in some American quarters.
Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.