At this site, we have long maintained that the anti-Zionist movement inside leftwing Jewish life is burgeoning and will ultimately devour Jewish community organizations, that Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark and Max Blumenthal’s frank description of Israel as a racist rightwing polity is actually now commonplace in the Jewish grassroots, it just hasn’t broken out because it is contained by such official travesties as Peter Beinart and Alan Dershowitz debating the supposed question, Is Zionism in Crisis? in fancy halls in New York, at a time when any fool can see that Palestinians are living under apartheid. That question is so morally obtuse it is no wonder many Jews have walked away from the official institutions and begun a conversation of their own– This Israel you gave me doesn’t share my values or interests, it recently killed nearly 400 Palestinian children in three weeks with your active support–that will one day swamp the official organizations like a tsunami.
Or as I have written on earlier occasions: Roll over Ben-Gurion and give Jabotinsky the news.
There is good evidence for these claims in a Jewish Chronicle piece on a Jewish Council for Public Affairs survey of rabbis showing “that as many as half of the respondents feel that they are restricted in some ways in speaking about Israel in their congregational and other settings.”
I.e., those rabbis want to raise gentle criticisms of Israel, but they feel they can’t; and Ethan Felson of JCPA says the resulting blight on dialogue is occurring throughout the Jewish community. People can’t have a conversation about Israel because they’re too divided.
In an interview with the Chronicle prior to the program, Felson said Israel has always had something of a polarizing effect on the Jewish world. Now, the problem is becoming acute…
That’s right: the traditional Jewish opposition to Zionism has been revived, and we’re not going away.
[This represents] a polarizing problem in the Jewish community. Like much of the country, when it comes to politics, Jews are increasingly breaking off into camps, talking at one another, instead of with one another and eschewing constructive dialogue.
“There’s also a polarization that is sometimes overwhelming in the Jewish community because these issues feel existential,” he said. “People feel that they have a tremendous stake and a conflict, and sometimes they inappropriately choose to act out the conflict here at home.”
“We are seeing more resorts to silencing opposing viewpoints,” Felson said. “We find people taking their marbles and walking away from institutions because that institution isn’t aligned with them, so less of a respect for the debate or, in some cases, some of the majoritarian influences in a community.”
This absence of dialogue is a good thing. The problem is too severe and Palestinian human rights too important to seek to ameliorate matters by dialogue. The institutions don’t want to reflect our views, they want to tincture their own support of Israel with a little criticism. They are corrupted; that is the actual crisis of Zionism, what it has done to Jewish life in the Diaspora; the Rx is not dialogue but adversarial debate; and the anti-, non-, post-Zionists must come up with new institutions that will reflect our values.