Josh Nathan-Kazis, editor of "New Voices," argues that Jewish doves in the United States have made a big mistake by focusing so much attention on Israel’s actions in Gaza:
While the American Jewish Left was busy losing the debate over Gaza, Israeli parliamentarians tried to kick the major Arab parties out of the Knesset. American Jews must focus on supporting the democratic rights of all Israelis, before it’s too late. …
American support for Israel (the so-called “special relationship”) is predicated on shared values, democracy chief among them. American Jews can base their support for Israel on ethnic solidarity when they’re chatting around the Shabbat table, but arguments in the public forum need to rest on a rational foundation. It will be impossible to construct a rational defense of an Israel of loyalty oaths and disenfranchised Arabs.
There’s nothing we can do about the results of an Israeli election, but American Jews do have influence over mainstream Israeli politicians. While J Street spends its time locked in righteous yet futile battles with the boomer establishment over Israel’s use of military force against civilian populations, we need to help turn the influence of the American Jewish community towards convincing Israelis that democratic rights must be extended to all. It’s hard to imagine such an initiatives being met with the same kind of resistance that J Street’s efforts have come up against. Beating back the brewing anti-democratic storm may not feel as pressing as confronting the situations in Gaza and the West Bank, but it is just as vital to the future of the state.
It’s an interesting take, though this paragraph was a bit much:
The security of Israel is the particular obsession of the generation of American Jews that came of age between the triumph of the Six Day War and the near-tragedy of the Yom Kippur War. The boomers’ inability to grasp the strategic importance of Israeli military restraint is the dual product of their parents’ experience in Eastern Europe and their undiminished thrill at the novelty of Jewish power. Until they hand over the reigns to a more sensible generation, initiatives like J Street may not be able to muster enough support to force the United States government to play a constructive role in reforming Israeli security policy.
First off, last time I checked, plenty of Jews who came of age before 1967 — like, say, during the 1930s and 1940s — have plenty to say about Israeli security. And last time I checked, buses being blown up and airplanes being hijacked left an impression on some of those geezers who started thinking about such things in the 1980s and 1990s. Oh, and let’s not forget those dinosaurs who still remember when Israeli towns were being hit by thousands of Israeli rockets and people were panicking about an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Imagine what he’d say if some geezer like me had written:
The idea that concerns about Israeli security are passe is the particular obsession of the generation of American Jews that came of age between Miley Cyrus’ first and second albmus. Their inability to grasp the strategic importance of Israeli security is the dual product of their experience in listening to their IPods and their undiminished thrill at the novelty of Twitter. Until they hand over the reigns to a more sensible generation, initiatives like the campaign to keep a nuclear weapon out of the hands of Iran may not be able to muster enough support to force the United States government to play a constructive role in helping Israel maintain its security.
OK, enough of that. As I said, the piece is worth reading (and thinking about). Even if you’re too old to know what Twitter is (and even if you’re so out of touch that you don’t even know that there is something called Twitter that you don’t know about).