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US Jewry will no longer be Benjamin Netanyahu’s yes man
Photo: Reuters
Yael Patir
Relations between Israel and US Jewry must be mended
Op-ed: The Jewish American public has the best interest of the Jewish people’s homeland in mind, but the days in which being pro-Israel means blindly supporting the Israeli government’s policy are over.
We have just now concluded a tension-filled Jewish year in Israel’s relations with the US Jewry. The decision to advance the Conversion Bill, along with the decision to suspend the plan for an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall, were probably the main bones of contention with the large majority of American Jews, but they weren’t the only cases.

 

In the past few months, it seems as if the Israeli government is consciously choosing a partnership with radical right-wing forces and a Republican minority in the United States over a partnership with the majority of US Jewry. The Israeli government is leading a move of seclusion, treating anyone who refuses to support its policy as the enemy. As a result, the Jewish public in the US, which has become more and more critical towards current Israeli policy, is finding itself under attack.

 

Netanyahu addresses AIPAC conference (Archive photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Netanyahu addresses AIPAC conference (Archive photo: Reuters)

 

The pro-Israel Jewish public in the US has the best interest of the Jewish people’s homeland in mind, but the days in which being pro-Israel means blindly supporting the Israeli government’s every policy are over. This public will no longer be Benjamin Netanyahu’s yes man. It’s taking responsibility, it wants to belong and make a change, and it wants to be listened to rather than having the legitimacy of its opinions undermined.

 

The lack of any internal condemnation for the meme posted by Yair Netanyahu is an example of the growing rift between the Israeli government and the US Jewry. The Israeli prime minister’s son posts a cartoon seemingly taken from an anti-Semitic manual, presenting George Soros as a Jewish world-controlling stereotype. While the cartoon received the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and his neo-Nazi friends, the Israeli prime minister refuses to say a word about his son’s actions. This silence comes as a slap in the face to every American Jew, who sees the neo-Nazis rearing their heads again under the euphemistic term “alt-right.”

 

The government’s choice

The days of Selichot must be days of self-examination. The US and other Western countries have a young generation of Jews who oppose the Israeli government’s policy precisely because of their Jewishness and love for Israel.

 

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s recent attempt to remove tax breaks for donors to Amnesty International following the organization’s call to boycott settlement products adds more fuel to the fire that is driving American Jews away from Israel. It is turning a large pro-Israel public into the state’s enemy against its will, a public whose opposition to the settlements stems from its love for Israel.

 

The Israeli government can either keep relying on the support of a small minority and exclude the absolute majority of Jews in the United States, especially the young generation, or understand—instead of labeling every criticism as “auto-anti-Semitism” and hatred of Israel—that being pro-Israel does not necessarily mean supporting the Israeli government’s policy. It means supporting Israel and the Israelis.

 

If this situation isn’t rectified, the alienation will grow and the Israeli government stands to lose a large and important base of support among the American Jewry, whose love for Israel is firm and abiding yet accompanied by criticism.

 

Yael Patir is the director of the Israel Program at J Street.

 

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