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Only 20% of American Jews Believe Israel is Important Part of Jewish Identity

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  • Elisabeth April 4, 2012, 3:33 AM

    You write: “It is critical that Israel regain its former role among Diaspora Jews. Critical both for Israel and the Diaspora since it will be extremely difficult for one to thrive without the other. ”

    But has not Judaism in its long history thrived in many places, without Israel? Does the Diaspora need Israel?

    • yankel April 4, 2012, 10:12 AM

      Moreover. Through millennia, Judaism has evolved into being a diaspora-religion by definition. With more and more Jews emerging from the religious fold, it further evolved into a diaspora-culture. This culture bore the socio-liberal-humanist values many Jews — religious and atheists — traditionally associated with their religious-cultural heritage.

      Zionism, by its own definition, was a revolt against this self-perception. The Zionists’ New-Jews were to be “liberated” from their Diaspora-Mentality. Judaism in Israel has thus regressed into a National-Religion where nationalism and religion beat each other’s war drums. Mainstream Judaism in the diaspora aligned itself accordingly, with only the far margins maintaining the “old” Diaspora-Judaism: the super-ultra-orthodox Neturey-Karta adhere to the diaspora-religion while the non-Zionist liberals stand by the diaspora-culture values.

    • Richard Silverstein April 5, 2012, 3:16 AM

      Certainly Jews may survive without Israel as they have for millenia. But I believe that they are each better off with the other as long as one doesn’t demean or deny the value of the other.

  • delia ruhe April 4, 2012, 4:19 PM

    The 80/20 split is not a real surprise; the surprise is in the other details.

    It’s the 20 percent that make all the noise, but it’s the 80 percent — the silent majority — that I wonder most about. It’s probably these whom Peter Beinart wonders about too.

    How many of them care a fair amount about Israel but don’t want to get involved in the brutal politics of it?

    How many couldn’t care less?

    Or, to put it another way, how big is Beinart’s target audience? Maybe none of them give a damn.

    • dickerson3870 April 4, 2012, 7:48 PM

      RE: It’s the 20 percent that make all the noise, but it’s the 80 percent — the silent majority — that I wonder most about… How many of them care a fair amount about Israel but don’t want to get involved in the brutal politics of it? ~ delia ruhe

      AN ISRAELI’S TAKE: Dear liberal American Jews: Please don’t betray Israel, by Dahlia Scheindlin, +972 Magazine, 2/14/12:

      (excerpts). . . After two weeks in America visiting family and friends, two observations struck me powerfully. First, the understanding that Israel is committing terrible deeds that are destroying itself and its neighbors, has penetrated among you. . .
      . . . On this trip, I was stunned to learn that now you don’t even really want to visit Israel because you can’t face what you’re increasingly coming to see as a brutal occupying entity flirting with fascist notions. . .
      . . . My second observation is that because of your fear – not of the goyim or the anti-Semites, but of yourselves! – you are keeping a low public profile. On this trip, I suddenly realized how naïve it was to imagine that J Street had sufficiently opened the door for anyone who cares critically for Israel to speak out. I underestimated how deep and terrible the intimidation has become and that one political lobby group is far from enough.
      I do understand: those of you who still call the Jewish community home, are afraid of the onslaught that you will receive from your (our) very own people.
      I hold no illusions about how vicious the attacks might be. We Jews, not the goyim, will call you the most painful names, will threaten in various ways to label you as beyond the pale of your people, should you voice your critique.
      You might be chastised in your professional community. You will be hit not only by shadowy bloggers but by the very cherished and established groups you have loyally, even automatically, supported over the years. The anger might come from your friends and it might even come from your family. . .
      . . . Here’s how that made me feel: abandoned, by the liberal Jews of America. You were swept away by Ruth Wisse’s thesis that liberals betrayed the Jewish cause by believing too much in rational universalism [e.g. universal human rights] and failing to acknowledge the unique, everlasting threat of anti-Semitism…

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://972mag.com/dear-liberal-american-jews-please-dont-betray-israel/35396/

  • Bob Mann April 6, 2012, 10:26 AM

    How would you have answered that survey question with respect to Israel being an important part of your Jewish identity?