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Hadassah author claims American Jews are turning against Israeli military

Israel/Palestine
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Two months ago, Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, ran an interesting piece in its magazine on changing American Jewish attitudes toward Israel. Writer Gloria Goldreich, who is apparently in her 70s and lives in the Westchester suburbs of NYC, said that she sees American Jews turning on Israel, even refusing to provide sewing kits to the Israeli army.

“The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Zionist” begins with an improbable scene at a dinner party last November where everyone is Jewish and everyone has visited Israel. “Bar and bat mitzvas have been celebrated on Masada. Books by Amos Oz and David Grossman have been discussed at their book clubs.” But the Gaza conflict is underway, and a pediatrician and a psychiatrist at the table express great sympathy for civilians in Gaza. 

The words “disproportionate” and “unconscionable” are used again and again. Will the world turn against the Jewish state?

Unspoken is the concern that such rejection will rebound and affect American Jews.

“How can Israel condone dropping bombs on schools and homes?” our host asks.

“Babies. Little babies,” a woman who has recently given birth moans…

Goldreich starts to argue. Her husband signals her not to get in a fight. They leave the party early and back home, Goldreich calls a friend in Israel, who says that Israel had no choice but to attack Gaza. There follows a statement of Goldreich’s Zionist identity.

“Of course we didn’t,” I agree.

My use of the first-person plural is automatic. I am part of Israel and Israel is part of me. My Zionism is visceral. It has been an intrinsic part of my life since my early adolescence when I attended a Hebrew-speaking camp and fell in love with the language and with the dream. I lived in Jerusalem in the ’50s as a graduate student at the Hebrew University, and the friendships I developed then have endured and, indeed, deepened through the decades that followed. Our family spent summers in Israel when our children were young and visited during their college years when they each spent semesters in Jerusalem. Our son made aliya, became an officer in Israel’s Air Force and lived in Tel Aviv for 10 years. During those years we made annual and occasionally semiannual visits to the country. Our involvement and commitment is, I recognize, atypical and yet I remain confused about attitudes like those I confronted at that dinner table.

That’s Goldreich’s big claim: that American Jewish attitudes are shifting. 

It bewilders me that at a time when Israel is in danger, when Gazan rockets flared in Tel Aviv and fell too close for comfort near Jerusalem, that diaspora Jews do not offer unequivocal support. It puzzles me that in late November, as tensions in Gaza intensified, a Jewish columnist for an influential Jewish newspaper published a piece that argued that it is the Palestinians who have no partner for peace. What welcome public relations fodder that must have been for Israel’s enemies, all the more potent because the author is a Jew…

For some years, I chaired modest fundraisers for Israel projects. Without difficulty, one year we raised a significant sum for the Jewish National Fund, and another year we were able to send a generous check to Magen David Adom. There were subsequent collections for a children’s village and for a hospital. However, when I proposed that our next project concentrate on the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, the board of the synagogue objected. I was not at the meeting, but I gather there was resistance to contributing to anything to do with the military….

“We don’t want to support an army,” a member of the board told me.

“But it’s your army,” I protested, and she looked at me in surprise. That association had not occurred to her….

I am resigned then to recognize that my family and I belong to a proud but lonely minority….We live at a great distance from the country about which we care so deeply. But that distance does not mute our concern nor should it mute our voices. Our obligation is to persistently engage in unpopular arguments, to persistently speak up for the children of Sderot and Kfar Azza…. We will continue to write letters to the editor expressing our solidarity with the people of Israel, although we may despair of ever seeing them in print.

Is Goldreich accurately representing American Jewish attitudes? Having been to some of those dinner parties with people who have David Grossman books, I question her report. Many American Jews are questioning US policy, but it’s typically the ones with little connection to the Jewish state, not the ones who had bar mitzvahs on Masada.

As Nicole Krauss wrote so positively about Israel in The New Yorker recently: 

For certain Israeli and American Jews, Israel has always been the strongbox of Jewishness, the place where the most vivid, authentic strain of its modern existence has been unfolding for the last sixty-five years, and there has been a constant stream of American Jews passing through Ben Gurion Airport on their way to imbibe this heady brew from the source.

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44 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    August 23, 2013, 10:57 am

    What a pity the old guard hangs on so long and so hard to out-dated and now misplaced dreams. Surely reality (did they but avail themselves of means to view it on a daily basis, say by reading Mondoweiss.net), would show them the distance between their dreams and the present — present since 1967! — realities.

    But perhaps not. This article shows they know enough of reality. They know of the Gaza bombings. Babies being killed.

    The psychosis, widespread among Jews of a certain age, of favoring Zionism as a response to Nazism, prevails, apparently unassailable, blinding those sick with it to any sort 0f open-eyed re-evaluation. It seems there is no more a cure for this psychosis than for the Nazi persuasion of the need for a racially-pure greater Germany. Facts and morality fail before ideology and (often ideologically promoted and sustained) emotions such as hatred and fear.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 23, 2013, 12:13 pm

      @ pabelmont

      RE: “It seems there is no more a cure for this psychosis than for the Nazi persuasion of the need for a racially-pure greater Germany. Facts and morality fail before ideology and (often ideologically promoted and sustained) emotions such as hatred and fear.”

      Whatever the complicity of the average German in Nazi Germany; as we all know, so many claim they did not know–how many books have been written about this–and by Jewish authors? It’s actually a Jewish industry, although not as big as say, blood diamonds, or the biggie: Israeli weapons and security industry (# 4 in the world). Consider also that there’s another reasonable argument additional to the ones your suggest, that also put the Israeli regime on a par with the Nazi regime as distinguished from the Western colonial projects in that it did not originate from an actual mother country from which it spewed out colonial settlers akin to England, Holland, Spain, England, France, etc. Zionism only had a many centuries dead biblical mother kingdom (or two?).

    • yrn
      yrn
      August 23, 2013, 12:53 pm

      “The psychosis, widespread among Jews of a certain age, of favoring Zionism as a response to Nazism, prevails, apparently unassailable, blinding those sick with it to any sort 0f open-eyed re-evaluation.”

      You Better STFU

      • Taxi
        Taxi
        August 25, 2013, 1:30 am

        “You Better STFT”.

        Or else WHAT, yrn? You red-faced crybaby. Wotyougonnado? Shoot at pabelmont’s kids and build a settlement on his land?

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        August 25, 2013, 10:31 am

        Ooh yrn is gonna get tough.

        Seriously thanks for the laugh yrn, none of us are Palestinians living under your boot so your threats are just pathetic.

      • just
        just
        August 25, 2013, 10:52 am

        Bad form, yrn. Very bad form indeed.

        I suspect that you don’t care at all.

    • yrn
      yrn
      August 25, 2013, 2:28 am

      “The psychosis, widespread among Jews of a certain age, of favoring Zionism as a response to Nazism,”
      Phil Wiess, is he talking about your grandparents ?
      Or they don’t have this psychosis, as they were safe in the US ?

  2. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye
    August 23, 2013, 11:00 am

    “My use of the first-person plural is automatic. I am part of Israel and Israel is part of me. My Zionism is visceral. It has been an intrinsic part of my life since my early adolescence ”

    ““But it’s your army,” I protested, and she looked at me in surprise. That association had not occurred to her….”

    And she doesn’t question – in the least – her devotion to a foreign country!
    She unquestioningly accepts the GoI pov on all its illegal actions!
    Is she of a generation of non-Israeli zionist Jews who seem to think of Israel as ‘their’ offspring, whom they must support and raise to adulthood (among the nations), but which can be more of a ‘mother’ country to their children and grandchildren? If the loyalty of this woman, and people who hold her views were tested between the country of her birth and Israel, which would prove the more important to her?

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      August 23, 2013, 11:28 am

      Bumblebye,

      Considering that there are Americans who have only served in the Israeli army, the answer is that there is going to be a mix among the State’s supporters.

      The most that can be said for sure I think is that American Jews today don’t care as much about the Israeli State as their predecessors did.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 23, 2013, 11:41 am

        I was surprised and saddened to see that most American Jews oppose even the creation of a Palestinian State, meaning that they support a one state solution, but not one that includes a Palestinian political identity.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        August 23, 2013, 12:24 pm

        @ W.Jones
        They believe either that God gave them the land, or that it’s OK to take land by force and keep it–even though the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Shoah. That’s their morality and ethics. They are part of a tribal root mentality that requires Jewish collective survival at any cost to others, forever on Earth–that’s their form of heaven. Very different from other religious beliefs.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 24, 2013, 2:05 pm

        @W. Jones – – Fair to say most American Jews would like to see Israel take permanent control of most of the West Bank? Exclude areas with too many non-Jews? Perhaps I should say “try to take”?

      • American
        American
        August 23, 2013, 11:46 am

        Does anyone know if any US non Jews have gone to Israel to serve in the IDF? If so how many. I would doubt any more than a dozen over the years if any. And would imagne it to be from some fundementalst religious imperative if so.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        August 23, 2013, 11:49 pm

        American,

        I am sure it has happened. The Isr. State has two programs, Mahal and Sar-El for this kind of thing. It’s probably more than you expect, and probably a decent number of them are not motivated by religion. Isr. officers are also involved in training NYCPD as MW reported, so you have to expect back and forth.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      August 23, 2013, 11:50 pm

      “But it’s your army,” I protested, and she looked at me in surprise. That association had not occurred to her….

      Perhaps this foolish American woman, living in the US, and probably born and brought up there, thought the United States Army was her army. Good thing Goldreich was able to set her right about that.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        August 25, 2013, 6:06 am

        RoHa says:

        “But it’s your army,” I protested, and she looked at me in surprise. That association had not occurred to her….

        Perhaps this foolish American woman, living in the US, and probably born and brought up there, thought the United States Army was her army.

        And she would be wrong about that, as well.

  3. eljay
    eljay
    August 23, 2013, 11:16 am

    >> It bewilders me … It puzzles me …

    Dazzled by Zio-supremacism, she cannot comprehend that it is injustice and immorality, and that she is its advocate.

    She, her ideology and her supremacist “Jewish State” are just poor aggressor-victims… :-(

  4. American
    American
    August 23, 2013, 11:36 am

    1) Some Jews have enough sense to know which side their bread is actually buttered on.
    2) Some Jews prefer magical thinking about the I- tribe.

    “I am resigned then to recognize that my family and I belong to a proud but lonely minority….We live at a great distance from the country about which we care so deeply.”’
    3) Whats keeping him here?

    Best case sceniro, the magical thinkers will get even lonelier and more frustrated and fade away.

  5. Fritz
    Fritz
    August 23, 2013, 1:11 pm

    To Nicole Krauss: What sort of Israeli-American Jewish thinking is represented by Nicole Krauss? I’m reading her novel “Great house”. I’m astonished to read a novel, in which every person has a name, most of them well chosen. Only two have no individual names although important: “a German dancer” and an “Arab” in East Jerusalem. Also the emotional and narrative framing of both persons is disturbing: children murdered by their mother in the one case, a child fleeing an “Arab” man without any reason in the other. What is the perspective of her writings?
    Some ideas?

  6. August 23, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Not too long ago I attended a dinner party in Manhattan and afterward I commented to the Palestinian friend who brought me, What’s this world coming to when a Palestinian friend can’t bring you to a NYC dinner party that doesn’t start w an Israeli prayer? (It may have been “Jewish” prayer, not Israeli, but for some reason I remember the woman saying “Israeli.”)

    Anyway, there were a bunch of internationals at this party, about 12 of us all told, I’d say, w a handful of Israelis. And right before the meal started the host (European) asked for everyone’s attention, she said one of the Israeli guests would like to start the meal with an Israeli/Jewish prayer and asked if there were any objections. To say the response to this request was underwhelming is putting it mildly. No one at the table had the warm and fuzzies for Israel, no one was interested in hearing this prayer. For whatever reason I happened to be focusing on the face of the Israeli woman making this request while all this was going on. Anyone w any sensitivity, not to mention aplomb, I thought then, would have immediately seen the lack of enthusiasm at the request and maybe would have said something like, “You know what? Forget it. I’m starved. Let’s eat.” But Israelis? Aplomb?

    The interesting thing was to me that the expression on this woman’s face never changed. She was going to chant her (very long and in Hebrew) prayer whether we liked it or not. And I thought it presented the perfect picture of the Israeli mindset: your opinion means nothing. We are going to do whatever we want to do, we’re Israelis.

  7. jon s
    jon s
    August 23, 2013, 1:32 pm

    A personal anecdote: a while ago I was talking to one of my many Jewish-American cousins, discussing politics, the Middle-East situation and such. My cousin was saying that we should do this and that, declare this and that…it took me a few moments to realize that when he said “we” – he meant Israel. This is a guy who was born , raised, educated, works, lives -in America, yet his identification with Israel is total.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      August 25, 2013, 6:11 am

      jon s:

      This is a guy who was born , raised, educated, works, lives -in America, yet his identification with Israel is total.

      Israel is the state for all the Jewish people.

    • Djinn
      Djinn
      August 25, 2013, 10:35 am

      Did you point out to him how weird that was?

    • homingpigeon
      homingpigeon
      August 25, 2013, 11:45 am

      As a libertarian, I don’t object if an American citizen identifies totally with Israel. (I disagree but cannot object). I know some that identify totally with Palestine. What is objectionable is that the current system allows the American who identifies with Israel to force the American who identifies with Palestine to support the Israeli project financially through the blank welfare check and a military alliance.

      With a non-interventionist foreign policy, in which state to state aid would be prohibited, a well organized Kyrgyz lobby, for example, would not be able to force Uzbek Americans to support a war against Uzbeks. Every citizen should be free to have emotional attachments to other countries or to Klingons for that matter, but no one should be compelled to support a foreign government. It is offensive enough that we are compelled to support the American war machine.

  8. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    August 23, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Phil, thanks for this piece.

    The Gloria Goldreich article in the Hadassah magazine expresses the viewpoint of the generation now in their 70’s, who “bought” the entire Israeli package, except for actually moving to Israel permanently. (About 1% of American Jews moved to Israel permanently). The article shows how isolated the hard-liners are, even among their friends with similar backgrounds. The article only hints at a generation gap among American Jews, with younger Jews becoming indifferent to the Israeli “cause”. (Younger than 70’s, that is).
    While it is very unlikely that Ms. Goldreich’s friends will ever actually oppose Israeli policy (no matter what Israel does), they are increasingly reluctant to support Israeli policy either. They are “distancing” themselves from Israel.
    Actual opposition to Israeli policy is coming from the younger generation of Jews, many of whom are intermarried with non-Jews. A Jew married to a non-Jew is less susceptible to the nationalist argument that Jews, always oppressed, must stick together.

    Get more details from Norman Finkelstein’s book, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End.
    Before you write in to complain – I know many MondoWeissers have a dispute with Finkelstein. But on this topic, Finkelstein absolutely has it nailed.

    • August 24, 2013, 5:09 am

      Interesting, what is a dispute with Finkelstein? I am new here. Some references, please!

  9. August 23, 2013, 3:12 pm

    Every Jew in the world instinctively knows that there is a big chance anti_Semitism will rise (experience of 2000 years of hitory) and they will have to choose either to stop being Jewish (not simple, anti-Semites will find out, see Mazi Germany or Russia these days) or emigrate to another country. In many cases (far from all though) in these days it is Israel they will chose. Look what happens now with European Jews especially French Jews or Scandinavian Jews. One of the reasons prices of the real estate in Israel are going up are that they are coming and buying. Anti-Semites say “Go to you damn Israel”. Anti-Zionists will then tell them (like I got on these pages) “Go to your damn homeland”.

    • amigo
      amigo
      August 25, 2013, 7:47 am

      “Every Jew in the world instinctively knows that there is a big chance anti_Semitism will rise (experience of 2000 years of hitory) ??? fn levit.

      The rest of the world learns History.So zionists like Prof jnlevit invented “zionit hitory”.

    • Djinn
      Djinn
      August 25, 2013, 10:37 am

      So if it did fnlevit what will Israel’s existence do to help? Just how much of other peoples land will you have to steal and plunder in order to house all these people allegedly flocking to Israel? (never mind that the figures say precisely the opposite of what you contend)

    • homingpigeon
      homingpigeon
      August 25, 2013, 11:55 am

      “Anti-Semites say “Go to you damn Israel”. Anti-Zionists will then tell them (like I got on these pages) “Go to your damn homeland”.”

      No no Habibi, – while it is true that anti Semites will tell you to go to Israel, it is the Zionists who also will tell you to go to Israel. It is the Zionist who is the self hating Jew who believes that Jews can live no where else but Israel. The true anti-Zionist will be happy to have a Jewish neighbor. I will do everything to persuade my Jewish neighbor not to move to Israel where he would live on stolen Palestinian real estate and risk getting himself hurt serving in the IDF.

      Only the anti-Semite and the Zionist are comfortable with the idea of a Jewish fellow in the diaspora going off to serve as cannon fodder in this ghastly experiment.

  10. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 23, 2013, 4:00 pm

    Israel as the strongbox of authentic judaism. Where girls as young as 11 work as as prostitutes. But the settlers need the tax shekels more.

  11. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 23, 2013, 5:10 pm

    “We live at a great distance from the country about which we care so deeply”.
    And don’t speak the language. Don’t share the paranoia.

    Of course the memes are going to deviate over time…
    Like American English and Korean …

  12. Krauss
    Krauss
    August 23, 2013, 7:12 pm

    It’s interesting that the Jewish author in Nicole Krauss’ piece in the New Yorker is photographed in Europe, not in Israel(it looks very much like Amsterdam).

    Also, if Krauss(hey we share the same name!) feels that Israel is so much more authetic, then why does she not live there? This is the AIPAC-syndrome. You live in safety in Long Island but support fanatic nationalism abroad.

    Maybe she should be truer to her words and feelings and pack up and be consistent. But of course, that’d force her to confront her support for Apartheid and she likes to maintain plausable denialability.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      August 25, 2013, 2:15 am

      “feels that Israel is so much more authentic”

      That is so sloppy. Anyone who has ever moved country knows that banality is everywhere. Crap is ubiquitous. There is far too much nonsense spoken about the sanctity of Jerusalem. It is so holy that they have to torture people there. Pray for the sanity of West Jerusalem.

    • jon s
      jon s
      August 25, 2013, 6:09 am

      Krauss, the “Jewish author” is the Israeli Yoram Kaniuk, who died recently. What difference does it make where he was photographed?

  13. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    August 23, 2013, 7:23 pm

    They have bar and bat mitzvahs at Masada?! A place of murder and suicide?

    And they say the Palestinians have a culture of death.

    • jon s
      jon s
      August 25, 2013, 6:16 am

      Masada can be taken to symbolize various messages. It’s indeed a place of death but can also be seen a a symbol of resistance to tyranny. Having a celebration there can be seen as a re-affirmation of Jewish life and survival.

  14. thetumta
    thetumta
    August 23, 2013, 9:42 pm

    Just 10 days too late! You all should be short the ME in your pension funds if you don’t want to work forever and that might not help. That this bullshit could bring down the Great Republic is an obscenity. I for one, will not contemplate any complaints.

    Hej! Tumta

    P.S. Zerohedge is reporting cruise missile attacks on Syria are imminent. Here we go.

  15. ziusudra
    ziusudra
    August 24, 2013, 3:03 am

    Greetings,
    How can an individual claim an ideology as an identity?
    In the entire length of the history of tribalism of the Semites,
    it was a religion that held them together beginning ca 1200BC.
    Zionism comes in the last half of the 19th C. as a political ideology.
    It reminds me of circumcision & the yarmulka, both have nothing
    to do with religion which have been woven into Judaism.
    World Jewry feels content to not recognize their multi faceted ethnicity
    & cultures. Perhaps Israelis & American see themselves as Jews higher
    than citizenship? Pathetic in our times.
    ziusudra
    PS I would feel silly running the earth calling myself a lapsed catholic & even making my children & grandchildren as such.

  16. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    August 24, 2013, 1:08 pm

    One wonders whether the new (younger) managers of formerly-fiercely-Zionist big-money will turn away from that project (because young) or continue to fund AIPAC et al. (because Ziobots). THEY are the “young” people who matter, not the great majority but the members of the big-money class.

    Because this is America and control of government by big-money is the American way and, for some, the American dream come true.

    Big-fossil-fuels invests not much in green energy but sure spends a lot to keep fossil-dependence going. Say a warm, a very warm, welcome to climate change and fracking, because big-money is buying it for you. The American way.

    Big money wants to continue the long (60 years?) American empire with its far-flung and very expensive bases world-wide (expensive in large part for the enmity these military bases raise locally) and with its useless wars and usually pro-dictator politics, and such behavior may well bankrupt the USA as it did the USSR in 1990 — and this bankruptcy is being brought on by the kindly political expenditures of big-ARMS, big-WAR, etc. The American way. (Odd that no other elements of big-money openly oppose it.)

    Will the big-Zion money run dry? Hasn’t yet.

  17. James Canning
    James Canning
    August 24, 2013, 2:03 pm

    I think Israel will benefit if more American Jews make known their serious reservations about merits of occupation of West Bank. And what that occupation is doing to the Israeli army.

  18. hungrydave
    hungrydave
    August 24, 2013, 7:32 pm

    “It bewilders me that…. that diaspora Jews do not offer unequivocal support.”

    In 2003 i marched with 1million others in london to protest the Iraq war II. This is because i have a personal sense of morality that is a developed part of my personality. This morality cannot be over-ridden by my government’s actions or decisions. If i allowed them to, then my morals would have to change with every changing government. If i allow my morals to change, in what sense can i be said to have morals at all. I never thought of myself as anti-british. Britain is my home, but i don’t allow my morals to be dictated to me by David Cameron or Tony Blair. This weird amoral thinking seems to be at the crux of the Israel issue. Goldreich appears to have no morals, At current they are a mirror for Netanyahu, before that Sharon. That is the depth of her soul. Why does she not feel shame to be such a puppet to other’s opinions and thoughts.
    Weird

    • just
      just
      August 25, 2013, 7:04 am

      hungrydave- an excellent comment that I also ascribe to.

      “Why does she not feel shame to be such a puppet to other’s opinions and thoughts.” I would add actions as well. I am deeply ashamed of US and our allies obvious dirty deeds in Afghanistan & Iraq most recently, but also many, many other deeds throughout the ME, North Africa, and beyond. We have an incredibly insane ‘foreign policy’ that has little to do with our national security. We have no right to call ourselves a “shining city on a hill”. ptooey! At the end of the day I am proud to disagree with our policies. These policies desperately need review by our largely uninterested citizenry who accept them as they do a dirty and sour dishtowel to wipe down each new administration.

      If we don’t change and tell our “greatest ally” that our unconditional support is waning because of their intransigence and their flouting of international law, then our hypocrisy will be our ruin.

      We spend untold billions on killing machines and a mere pittance on peace and life.

  19. annie
    annie
    August 25, 2013, 1:57 am

    mrs. goldreich drank the kool-aid

    Moral equivalence is not at play here. Israel does not place weaponry and launching sites in schools and hospitals as Hamas does. Who then is responsible for the deaths of women and children?

    and she knows this how? from reading israeli propaganda.

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