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Young Jews who don’t like Israel are not ‘healthy’ — leading Hillel director

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The American Zionist Movement held a conference in New York in March. The video of a workshop on confronting anti-Israel sentiment on campus was posted two days ago by the Jewish Broadcasting Service.

Andrew Getraer, executive director of Hillel at Rutgers, said the school has the largest Jewish student population on campus in the country, 6,400, and Hillel’s mission is to explain that Jews who don’t like Israel are unhealthy.

We came up with this idea, we are driven by a core belief, that a positive relationship to Israel is essential for a healthy Jewish identity. It’s not about where you are on the political spectrum. It’s not about what party you would vote for or how much you hate Bibi. Which by the way, college students hate Bibi. My sons are in college too, and I’m going to tell you 80 percent of students think that Bibi is a terrible human being. I happen to be the only Likudnik in New Brunswick. So I’m not here to criticize Bibi…

We want to see past that aspect of political Zionism. We want students to have a positive relationship to the state of Israel, because if they don’t they’re not going to be healthy as Jews. People can’t be healthy if they don’t have a good relationship with their family. You can go through life hating your parents or your brother or your sister, but it’s going to be pain for you for the rest of your life. If you’re a Jew and you can’t find that positive relationship to your brothers and sisters in Israel, and the state of Israel, there’s going to be a part of you that’s in pain, even if you ‘re not aware of it, or you’ve rationalized it away, you’re not fully healthy.

Getraer also dismissed the Open Hillel movement as an insignificant effort to delegitimize Hillel’s relationship to Israel.

“It has spread very very poorly. It’s not a significant movement,” Getraer said. The impact of Open Hillel has been “almost completely negligible.”

He said it’s active on seven campuses; that less than 10 students created Open Hillel.

“We sometimes give more credence to IfNotNow, JVP [Jewish Voice for Peace], and Open Hillel, to anti-Zionist groups if you want to call them that that come out of the Jewish community, than is merited by the numbers and the impact they’re having. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned… But we need to remind ourselves, they are not taking over the campuses.”

What is taking over the campuses, he said, is “complete apathy.”

Leonard Saxe, a social psychologist at Brandeis, echoed Getraer’s view that few Jewish students are opposed to Israel, and affirmed that connection to Israel is vital to Jewish identity.

More important for the Jewish community is making sure that our children, that Jewish students, understand something about their history, something about modern Israel. Because if you don’t have that, you don’t have anything. I am the first person to say that some of the things that have gone on on campus and some of the Muslim student organizaations, organizations like JVP and IfNotNow have been and say both destructive and horrible and inaccurate things– on the one hand.

On the other hand, we need to have a dialogue with them. And we have to be very careful not to simply hand them a megaphone. That in fact, what they do is intended to drawing the rest of us  into their discussion and their framing of the problem, rather than our framing of the problem…

Saxe said most young Jews are highly supportive of Israel. But the trouble comes in influence by their non-Jewish peers.

What’s interesting is that yes, the 75, 80 percent who are liberal or moderate, certainly not conservative… are highly supportive of Israel, feel attached to Israel. At the same time they do get flak from their non-Jewish peers. Young non-Jews are not as supportive of Israel. They’re not against Israel. Many of them know even less than Jewish students do. But it does create an issue for Jewish students on campus.

Saxe also criticized liberal Zionists Peter Beinart and Dov Waxman, who have both written books about the crisis over Zionism in the Jewish community.

There are other critics… One of the things about these two academics is that they came out of South African families. Their frame of reference is
apartheid, and everything they see is filtered by that lens. And I think one of the challenges for us is not only to try to talk to people like this and try to be rational in discourse with them, but it’s also for those of us who are Zionists to get out of some of our own personal experiences.

That is unconvincing. Beinart was born in the U.S. in 1971 to South African immigrant academic parents. Waxman was born in the UK and has had a 25-year academic career in Britain and the U.S. I am told that his family is not South African. (Myself, I was born in Boston but when I went to occupied Palestine in 2006 I saw apartheid before my eyes and promptly asked a South African man I’d met there if I was correct. He said yes. So maybe Beinart’s family is helpful.)

Saxe said that the era of Jewish/Israeli dominance presents a challenge to American Jews to rethink history.

Those of us who grew up as Israel went from a nascent struggling country, to a country with a powerful economy, with an extraordinary culture…  The challenge is, How do we change our own understanding of history to confront the new antisemitism which is often cloaked in anti-Israelism, at a time when we are no longer, and Israel is no longer the poor schleppers, the struggling people and we are successful and we are dominant.

The two leaders also discussed Jewish intermarriage rates. Getraer said that many children from intermarried couples are pro-Israel, because it affirms their Jewish identity. “The state of Israel is very often what they can feel attached to.”

Saxe agreed. He has studied Birthright participants, young Jews who take a free trip to Israel for Zionist purposes, and found that kids from intermarriages value Israel.

“What we have learned from 100’s and 100’s of interviews with the children of intermarried parents, is when they got to passport control, and they got that stamp in their passport, they felt legitimated. They felt as if the great bet din [rabbinical court] had made the determination that they were really part of the Jewish people.”

Asked whether the Birthright trip, funded by Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban among others, should allow students to meet Arab students, and get a full perspective on the state of Israel, Getraer dismissed the idea out of hand.

Should Birthright be introducing students to the Palestinian perspectives in dealing with the conflict, on a Birthright trip? I would say, Absolutely not. That’s not what the Birthright trip is designed to do… It’s an introduction to Jewish heritage. And you have a student– who not only, they don’t know where Tel Aviv is. They don’t know that there’s not a temple in Jerusalem. If they knew there ever was a temple in Jerusalem. Or two of them… We’re talking about a trip that is designed to do doing the basic foundational work of introducing young Jews to their history and to their brothers and sisters who now live in our homeland. To go to the most complicated, controversial, difficult issue almost in world politics — this isn’t the trip for that.

Getraer is being openly discriminatory. The population of Israel is about 20 percent non-Jewish. The trip also goes into occupied territories, and the population of the entire land is about half Palestinian, half Jewish.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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29 Responses

  1. bcg on May 17, 2019, 1:41 pm

    “The population of Israel is about 20 percent non-Jewish.”

    25%.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Israel
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Israel#Religion
    http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/israel-population/
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel

    “The Jewish population makes up 6,738,500 (74.8%); 1,878,000 (20.9%) are Arabs (2018); and, those identified as “others” (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc) make up 4.8% of the population (426,000 people). In 2017, the population by religion was roughly 18% Muslim, 2% Christian and 2% Druze.”

    • JohnSmith on May 18, 2019, 11:04 am

      I assume that the point of mentioning either figure is to say “Wow, 20% (or 25%) is a lot of people and a big percentage!”

      Why give so much credence to figures that have to be based on Zionist Israeli government calculations and definitions?

      First of all, look at the real maps of Israel. “Israel” is whatever the Israeli government wants it to be whenever it wants it. It is an amorphous “idea” or “notion” that changes according to the movements of illegal settlers. We are probably talking about a “map” of “Israel” that more closely resembles the worst sort of Republican gerrymandered map carefully engineered to excise certain populations.

      Second, what is the actual national identity of those “Jewish Israelis”? Are they actually Americans who like to use Israel as their go-to place for fun racial-supremacy vacations?

      Thirdly, are they actually even living in “Israel” no matter how you define “Israel”? Do they live in the States? Or the U.K.? Etc.?

      Fourthly, so maybe they live in “Israel.” Are they actually Jewish believers? If they’re not Jewish believers following magical cult beliefs, than they are just as non-Jewish in any reasonable sense as any Muslim and should not count as “Jewish” in population counts. If you count them, then Zionism is just based, as it in fact is, on an ethnicity and not on any other sort of magical rights.

      Fifthly, the majority of “Israel,” the West Bank, and Gaza has probably never been anything less than majority Palestinian / Arab / Bedouin.

      Israel can play whatever games it likes with the statistics and the numbers, but if we buy into it we’re just playing their game.

      If Israel were actually majority Jewish the degradation and mistreatment would not be as vicious as it is. It is as vicious as it is because they are working to keep down the MAJORITY of the population, just like slaveowners on plantations in the antebellum South.

      This is why Republicans don’t want real census-taking. This is why the Zionist Israel government offers us their basically made-up or fudged statistics to define things their way. Because what is needed is fair and impartial observers going from house to house, building to building in the entirety of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and just seeing who is *actually* *there*.

  2. eljay on May 17, 2019, 3:41 pm

    … Andrew Getraer, executive director of Hillel at Rutgers, said …that Jews who don’t like Israel are unhealthy.

    We came up with this idea, we are driven by a core belief, that a positive relationship to Israel is essential for a healthy Jewish identity. …

    Wow. So, to Zionists the most essential thing for a “healthy Jewish identity” is not Judaism – the most fundamental element of their religion-based identity – but a “positive relationship” with a deliberately and unapologetically colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state.

    Ziospeak: Sickness is health.

    • RoHa on May 18, 2019, 2:07 am

      Precisely.

      “We want students to have a positive relationship to the state of Israel, because if they don’t they’re not going to be healthy as Jews. ”

      But they might – horrors! – end up being healthy as human beings.

      • annie on May 18, 2019, 5:20 pm

        he’s lying. They want students to have a positive relationship to the state of Israel, because israel relies on the next generation of american jews for the continuation of US support, both financial and otherwise. not complicated at all.

      • RoHa on May 19, 2019, 2:46 am

        “he’s lying. ”

        No! Really?

    • Misterioso on May 18, 2019, 10:14 am

      @eljay, et. al.

      “We came up with this idea, we are driven by a core belief, that a positive relationship to Israel is essential for a healthy Jewish identity.”

      Au contraire: “… a positive relationship to Israel’ is indicative of an unhealthy “Jewish identity.”

      To wit:

      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-a-trip-adviser-to-the-real-israel-1.7245615

      “A Trip Advisor to the Real Israel By Gideon Levy” Ha’aretz, May 16/19

      [image: Palestinian girl walks by a house following a late night Israeli missile strike in town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, May 6, 2019.]

      “So you’ve decided to come, despite Roger Waters and everything. Welcome to Israel. You’re here and everything is wonderful: sunshine, alcohol, rock and roll, nice people, a terrific production, a big party. I suggest you also dedicate one day to reality. See the Israel that the video postcards show before each song will never show you – the Israel that’s hidden from
      view, the dark side of the moon on which you’re now dancing.

      “It’s immoral to ignore it. Dare to dream? Dream on if you like, but sometimes the party is over. It’s lights out. Forget Trip Advisor for the moment, let me be your personal trip advisor for another type of visit.

      “When you leave Expo Tel Aviv, walk west for a few minutes. You’ll see a huge complex of buildings. This is a security compound, and the people who work there are responsible for many of the crimes and injustices you’ll see throughout the day. From here, for example, they dispatched the agents who instructed female soldiers to conduct a rectal and vaginal search of a Palestinian woman in her home.

      “This is the headquarters for the abuse of the Palestinian people in the name of security. In the parking lot you’ll see a fence, and behind it some abandoned graves. This is the cemetery of the Palestinian village that stood there before 1948. Israel wiped off the face of the earth more than 400 such towns and villages, kindly leaving just the graves. You can meet the descendants of the inhabitants, children of refugees who either fled or were expelled….

      “Southward to Gaza.
      “An hour’s drive from the Expo and you’re at the Erez crossing, the entry to the world’s largest cage. Want to see what human experiments look like? What happens to people when you coop them up for 13 years and bomb them every now and then? Only the journalists among you, with a pass from the Government Press Office – yes there is such a thing in the only democracy in the Middle East – may enter. The rest of you are barred from entering this prison.

      “It will be pretty deserted at Erez. The entry gate for the 2.5 million prisoners is always deserted. Except for a few foreign journalists, merchants and terminally ill patients, some of whom are blackmailed by the Shin Bet security service to obtain medical care, no one goes in and out. Think about a city of 2.5 million back where you come from and about the roads that go to and from it, and imagine that only a few dozen people are authorized to drive on them each day.

      “You’ve never seen anything like it. Just one hour from the exuberant Expo. It’s a place the United Nations says won’t be fit for human habitation by next year. The year 2020 will be the end for life in Gaza and no one cares. Now, with Qatari money, they’re handing out thin soup there, and the lines to mark Nakba Day, and soldiers fired at them.

      “From here we’ll head east to the West Bank. Occupied territory. No country on earth recognizes the occupation. Two peoples live here – Jewish settlers, who have invaded in the last few decades and possess all the rights and resources, and the Palestinian natives who have been living here for centuries and are devoid of rights. Most of their land has already been stolen, plundered by the settlements, sometimes by force, and always under
      the state’s sponsorship. This is apartheid. This is what it looks like. This is how it behaves.

      “Then South Mount Hebron, where Israel is even dispossessing the cave dwellers. Let’s visit the H2 section of Hebron. A ghost town. Thousands of the Palestinians who lived here have fled because of the settlers. There are roads there for Jews only, imagine that. To the north and south are the Al-Fawwar, Al-Arroub and Deheisheh refugee camps. Third World sights. During Passover, the residents were kept out by checkpoints and armed troops so the Jews could celebrate their holiday. You can see similar sights throughout the West Bank, what’s left of the Palestinians’ land.

      “And here we are back at the Eurovision compound where it’s all partying and
      fun. Let’s raise a toast to Israel, the fantastic host country.”

      MAJOR KUDOS TO GIDEON LEVY!!

    • Stephen Shenfield on May 18, 2019, 2:42 pm

      The object of loyalty, arguably indeed of worship, is the tribe, perceived as a big family. Israelis are ‘brothers and sisters’ of Jews in other countries. Loyalty to the tribe is essential to the good health of the individual because the tribe is the primary locus of life (Am Israel Chai). Separation from the tribe is therefore pathological. This is organic nationalism in its ultimate form. The Nazi concept of Volksgenossenschaft is moderate by comparison: a ‘people’s comrade’ has a weaker call on one’s loyalty than a sibling.

  3. just on May 17, 2019, 5:38 pm

    I have to say that it seems that the only unhealthy pathology exhibited is by these Israel- firsters.

    It’s a collective & resistant form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is also an element of groupthink and cult behavior, too. What is remarkable is that there is nary a mention of Judaism or faith in their words, only of Israel and Zionism and Jewish. Similarly, there is apparently no concern for the US and the UK~ it’s only Israel that matters. This should be of great concern to their fellow citizens imho. In the end, it is clear that these folks and Israel itself are self- delegitimizing. BDS has nothing to do with that and neither does anti- Zionism = anti- Semitism. As for their collective erasure of Palestinians and their culture, history, and existence~ polite words fail me here.

  4. wondering jew on May 17, 2019, 7:38 pm

    Actually Zionism is the most significant political development of the Jewish people in the last 74 years. The prosperity and success of the Jewish community in America is also quite significant and certainly needs to be viewed at the same time, but in fact Zionism is a major development. Opposing that development is not a small thing, it’s a major thing. Very few antiZionist Jews consider it a small thing either, they consider it a major thing, a thing that they feel they must oppose. Those who do not reach that conclusion, but instead avoid the entire issue, are missing a major story of the political development of the Jewish people in the aftermath of the European cataclysm.

    I don’t think Zionism is nearly enough to sustain the Jewish people living in America. Without a Shabbat ritual, Judaism does not have much to stand on and the political story of Zionism is certainly not enough to make up for no Shabbos. But building a Shabbos ritual is really hard work and visiting Israel for 10 days is relatively easy. That’s just the way the world is built and the state of ritual in the current tense of modern city dwellers.

    • eljay on May 18, 2019, 8:46 am

      || wondering jew: Actually Zionism is the most significant political development of the Jewish people in the last 74 years. … ||

      It is tragic that deliberate and unapologetic colonialism, (war) criminality and religion-based supremacism – which Zionists sometimes quaintly refer to as “necessary evil” – are the “most significant political development of the Jewish people in the last 74 years”.

      || … Opposing that development is not a small thing, it’s a major thing. … ||

      Sure. But injustice and immorality shouldn’t be given a free pass just because opposing it is a “major thing”.

    • Misterioso on May 18, 2019, 10:18 am

      @wondering jew

      Wake up!! Zionism is a horror story for Palestine’s indigenous Arab inhabitants, a betrayal of the six million Jews who perished during WWII and a curse for Judaism.

    • bcg on May 18, 2019, 5:48 pm

      @Wondering Jew: Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong circles, but all the Jews I know seem unconcerned about being “sustained”, and they seem perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what kind of sustenance they need, Jewish-wise and in every other respect.

      • Mooser on May 18, 2019, 6:31 pm

        .“..they seem perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what kind of sustenance they need, Jewish-wise and in every other respect.”

        Without consulting “wj”? They haven’t got a chance.

      • eljay on May 18, 2019, 8:02 pm

        || bcg: @Wondering Jew: Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong circles, but all the Jews I know seem unconcerned about being “sustained”, and they seem perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what kind of sustenance they need, Jewish-wise and in every other respect. ||

        y.f. knows more about Jews than they know about themselves. Why, just the other day he provided to Danaa a very thorough assessment of her Jewishness:

        … You are a former Jew. … you are a former Jew. … they washed the Jew out of you. … I think you show zero human feelings towards the Jews.

        The Jews you know who “seem unconcerned about being ‘sustained'” obviously don’t know themselves half as well as y.f. knows them.

  5. RoHa on May 18, 2019, 2:13 am

    Attempted argument by analogy

    “People can’t be healthy if they don’t have a good relationship with their family. You can go through life hating your [literal] parents or your [literal] brother or your sister, but it’s going to be pain for you for the rest of your life. ”

    OK. May well be true.

    But

    “If you’re a Jew and you can’t find that positive relationship to your brothers and sisters in Israel, and the state of Israel, ”

    Most of the people of Israel are not literal brothers and sisters of American Jews. The state of Israel is not any sort of literal family member.

    Analogy fails.

    More evidence that logic is anti-Semitic.

  6. RoHa on May 18, 2019, 2:25 am

    “More important for the Jewish community is making sure that our children, that Jewish students, understand something about their history, something about modern Israel. ”

    What is “their history” for American Jews?

    The History of the USA?
    The history of Jews in the USA?
    Or, perhaps, for each American Jew, the history of his/her family?
    (“A hundred and twenty years ago, your great-great etc. grandparents came to the USA from the old country. I can’t remember which country it was, but it was very old.)

    But how is the history of modern Israel part of any of these? Does he mean, perhaps, the history of the support American Jews gave to Israel?

  7. MHughes976 on May 18, 2019, 3:49 am

    I agree that people who break with their families might feel some distress, even sickness. But that isn’t the whole story. The family majority will also feel some distress and their celebrations, carried out in unspoken consciousness of the separated brethren, will be a source of gnawing self-doubt. So both sides have reason to do something to improve the situation and the least practical idea is that the separated ones should simply and unconditionally join the party and agree to gloss over the family secrets, itself an action full of hesitation, hypocrisy and health damaging things. But that idea is the only one that even occurs to the Hillelites reported here.

    • RoHa on May 19, 2019, 2:45 am

      “agree to gloss over the family secrets”

      We turn his picture to the wall, and never talk about him again.

      • Mooser on May 19, 2019, 4:05 pm

        “We turn his picture to the wall, and never talk about him again.”

        And he loses the battle of wills.

      • RoHa on May 19, 2019, 7:51 pm

        Cut off with a shilling.

      • Mooser on May 20, 2019, 11:46 am

        “Cut off with a shilling.”

        Yes, but at any rate, finally cut off from all the shilling.

      • gamal on May 20, 2019, 2:59 pm

        “cut off from all the shilling”

        How many luckpennys in a Shilling

        “Together (she is a poor waif, a child of shame, yours and mine and of all for a bare shilling and her luckpenny), together they hear the heavy tread of the watch as two raincaped shadows pass”

        It’s in the book no one has actually ever read, poor waif ” she dare not bare the sunnygolden babe of day”

      • RoHa on May 20, 2019, 10:16 pm

        yes I said yes it’s from the first one. Not the other book which no-one has actually ever read.

  8. Ossinev on May 18, 2019, 10:26 am

    “To go to the most complicated, controversial, difficult issue almost in world politics — this isn’t the trip for that”

    Absolutely not. It would completly undermine the Zio brainwashing process. The last thing these students need is education.

  9. Avigail on May 18, 2019, 12:37 pm

    And in the old days of the Soviet Union anyone who disagreed with the regime was seen as mentally ill. We’re really in trouble when oppressive, cult-like regimes/systems define mental health in terms of agreeing or disagreeing with the dominant belief system the group lives by. This does not even deserve engagement. As soon as people talk like that they expose what they are… 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • Mooser on May 18, 2019, 6:55 pm

      “As soon as people talk like that they expose what they are… “

      …to most adults with a well-grounded identity.
      It can work well on kids and adolescents (who may not have a choice of engagement.) Especially if co-signed by numerous adults.

  10. scott9854958 on May 18, 2019, 2:07 pm

    As always, the framing is paramount.

    No South Africans allowed. Their “lens” is all wrong.

    No Palestinian perspectives allowed either. Can’t muddle the framing!

    We control the lens, the framing and the debate. You rabble can only nip at the margins, but you will fail.

    Thus we see what they were up to at the UMass forum. That was a lens and framing pogrom that needed to be shut down. By the way have you guys posted video of this event? I can’t seem to find it.

  11. Sulphurdunn on May 21, 2019, 7:37 am

    “… One of the things about these two academics is that they came out of South African families. Their frame of reference is apartheid, and everything they see is filtered by that lens.”

    I’ve noticed that Zionist arguments spend a lot of ammunition shooting the messenger.

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