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Israel doesn’t get it yet–but they sure are hearing

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Daniel Gordis of the Shalem Center has a piece in the Jerusalem Post, wringing his hands over the protests against fellow aliyah-shapeshifter-Michael Oren appearing at the Brandeis graduation. It used to be that our side did all the handwringing! No more. Inter alia, Gordis shows that he recognizes the real trends that are working against blind Diaspora support for Israel. I’m cutting all the flubber in the excerpt:

For many young American Jews, the only association they have with Israel is the conflict with the Palestinians. Israel is the country that oppresses Palestinians, and nothing more.

No longer is Israel the country that managed to forge a future for the Jewish people when it was left in tatters after the Holocaust. Israel is not, in their minds, the country that gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from North Africa when they had nowhere else to go, granting them all citizenship…

For many young American Jews, it is only the country of roadblocks and genocide, of a relentless war waged against the Palestinians for no apparent reason….

Jeremy Sherer, president of the Brandeis J Street U Chapter, wrote to [the school paper] The Justice, “I am… bothered [by the invitation to Oren] because I disagree with his politics.” That’s what education is now producing – people who want to hear only those with whom they agree? “I’m not exactly thrilled,” Sherer wrote, “that a representative of the current right-wing Israeli government will be delivering the keynote address at my commencement.” 

…The president of the Brandeis J Street U Chapter, who writes that he’s of “Israeli heritage” (whatever that means), did not see fit to say a single positive word about Israel. Not one. One wonders what the “pro-Israel” part of J-Street’s “pro-Israel, pro-Peace” tag line means to Sherer….

Ironically, though, some of the attempts to defend the invitation to Oren were no less distressing. A student representative to the Board of Trustees writes in a disappointingly anemic piece to the The Justice that Oren “is being invited for his academic achievements, not his political ones,” and then launches into a recitation of Oren’s many academic accomplishments. 

Here, too, however, not a single positive word about Israel… That sort of pride appears nowhere in The Justice’s editorial, the J-Street representative’s piece or the op-ed defending the invitation. For too many American Jewish undergraduates, it’s simply no longer part of their vocabulary.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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