Channeling Beinart, Yoffie says settlements are ending US Jewish love affair with Israel

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 9 Comments

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in my humble opinion, was the man who, as head of the Reform Movement, turned a movement once known for its deep commitment to social justice and universalism into a front for Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine. Reform rabbis quickly learned what Yoffie expected and they obliged.

Yoffie, that is, did to the Reform Movement what Abe Foxman did to the Anti-Defamation League (ruined it).

You know how bad things must be for Israel when a premier apologist like Yoffie is mining Beinart (without credit, of course) on Israel’s settlement “problem.” Forgive me if I can’t find any words of praise for Rabbi Yoffie for venturing out of the bubble so late in the game.

So much for the notion (spread by the pro-Israel pundit class) that Beinart is irrelevant. (See especially, for the fullest expression of this wishful thinking, Jason Zengerle in New York Magazine)

The article is “Settlements threaten American Jews’ connection with Israel,” in Haaretz, by Eric Yoffie. It begins:

I spoke a few weeks ago with someone who works with American Jewish organizations in planning programs for their meetings and conventions. “Israel is out,” he told me. The demand for speakers about Israel or from Israel has dropped dramatically over the last decade. American Jews are simply interested in other things.

This was a man who understands the U.S. Jewish zeitgeist, and I was initially stunned by his statement. After all, he was not referring to the assimilated minority of Jews who are distancing themselves from all things Jewish; neither was he talking about the anti-Israel Left. He was describing the mainstream, organized Jewish community, which—sadly, tragically—is drifting away from its deep connection to the State of Israel.
Shortly after this conversation, Israel’s government announced that while it would evacuate five homes constructed on Palestinian-owned land in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank, it would also build 851 additional housing units elsewhere in the territories. The prime minister declared that: “There is no government that supports, or will support, settlement more than my government.”

These two developments – increasing U.S. Jewish disconnection and the Israeli government’s expansion of settlements – are intimately related

9 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    June 26, 2012, 4:05 pm

    what’s happening to the US Jewish love affair with Israel?

    going
    going
    going
    gone

    and in its place?

    the chance for a just and peaceful world

  2. Krauss
    June 26, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Ah, yes, Rabbi Yoffie. The man who described in frank terms that ‘I don’t want to live with too many gentiles’.

    That this man was even appointed head of the Reform movement is pretty scary. Just like the recent head of Amnesty is a liberal neocon who shills for Israel.

    Forget the conservatives. Until we clean up at our own door there will never be any real change.

  3. chet
    June 26, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Mr. Zengerle”s article in New York magazine is well worth the read.

    The conclusion with Pres. Obama’s “Hang in there” for Mr. Beinart is particularly gratifying.

  4. Nevada Ned
    June 26, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Hey, folks.

    Peter Beinart has gotten a lot of press recently, but the person who really anticipated the end of the Jewish love affair with Israel was Norman Finkelstein. The title of Finkelstein’s most recent book on the topic is

    Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish romance with Israel is coming to an end.

    Beinart (an religiously observant Jew and recovering ignorant war hawk) is a totally different demographic from Finkelstein (a secular leftist and longtime critic of Israeli society and policy).

    Finkelstein has taken his lumps on Mondoweiss recently for his defense of the 2SS, but that’s another story.

  5. seafoid
    June 27, 2012, 4:23 am

    Yoffie is Reform- the israeli hardliners will say he is not a proper Jew and doesn’t count.

    It is going to get real vicious before it eventually falls over .

  6. American
    June 27, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I noticed the past two days CNN has been reporting (at length) on Israel. Today it was about the West Bank settlers that are to be moved out and yesterday is was about the economic protestors. It wasn’t pro or con, iow, nothing critical of Israel.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 27, 2012, 1:50 pm

      the past two days CNN has been reporting (at length) on Israel….. It wasn’t pro or con, iow, nothing critical of Israel.

      hmm. the western press loves reporting on israel when it appears to be standing up against the settlers, as if the supreme court somehow represented the gov, which it doesn’t. i wouldn’t be surprised if they humped the removal of settlers from ulpana if and when that happens. what a startling difference to palestinians being removed from their homes, and/or the bulldozers/home demolitions.

      • American
        June 27, 2012, 2:16 pm

        Maybe I imagined it but the feeling it gave me when they were reporting on the economic protest was that it had something to do with the US…as if it was happening ‘here’. They spent a long time on it more than just a news blip…more in depth than on the protests in Greece or for instance reporting on a bridge collapse that injured people in the US. Maybe I just got that feeling because I spend time here at MW on Israel but it was sort of weird.

  7. Sin Nombre
    June 29, 2012, 8:34 am

    Ilene Cohen wrote:

    “Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in my humble opinion, was the man who, as head of the Reform Movement, turned a movement once known for its deep commitment to social justice and universalism into a front for Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine. ”

    Ms. Cohen fails to believe her own evidence: Just how “deep” can that commitment have really been given its turn into that front for colonialism (and indeed worse)?

    I.e., isn’t the evidence that the movement was really just self-interested all along and merely found it helpful to merely *say* it was working for “social justice and universalism”?

    After all, it’s a helluva big leap to go from universalism to colonialism: And yet we are still supposed to believe that the good Rabbi and his movement once felt the former “deeply”?

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