A front page article in today’s Ha’aretz struck me with the thought that, no matter what happens with the peace process, it is becoming impossible to expect non-Orthodox (i.e. 90-plus per cent) of young American Jews to identify with today’s Israel.

There, on page one, was a photo of a beautiful young couple in their early 20′s who are seriously dating. One is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s son. The other is a Norwegian girl who happens not to be Jewish. Sweet looking kids. But, in Israel, a scandal.

Consider: more than 50% of American Jews of all ages marry non-Jews. Younger Jews, in their teens and 20′s, don’t even consider the race, religion or ethnicity of who they are dating. Some old Jews agonize over this. Young Jews, the same young Jews who overwhelmingly accept gay marriage and rejoiced at Obama’s election and re-election, don’t even think about it.

But in Israel, it’s huge news that the prime minister’s 23-year old son dates a Protestant.

And then there is this: the denunciation of young Netanyahu’s  relationship by the head of the Shas party, Israel’s second largest party and part of Netanyahu’s coalition.

From Ha’aretz: 

“Woe is us if it is true,” [Shas Chairman Aryeh] Deri said. “If it is true, he [the prime minister] and Sara have a great heartache.”

Deri told the interviewer that the criticism was not an attack against the premier, but rather an issue of national concern. “I try not to raise personal criticism, but if, heaven forbid, this is true, it is no longer a personal matter – it is a symbol of the Jewish people.”

The Shas leader went on to describe the great efforts being made to prevent assimilation, saying, “I have friends who invest tens of millions, hundreds of millions to fight assimilation throughout the world. If, heaven forbid, this is true, woe is us. I hope it is not true….”

Meanwhile, last night, here in the United States, the Grammy Award for best song went to Same Love, an anthem about marriage equality. Watch the video. It will give you goosebumps. And it will help you understand why American Jewish kids just aren’t into an Israel run by religious fanatics and ethnic chauvinists. No wonder, Israel is reaching out to right-wing fundamentalist Christians.

As I say so often, Theodor Herzl is spinning in his grave. This was not his dream.

As for mine, a secular State of Israel with equal rights for all its citizens (Jewish and not) and no role for religion (any religion) in public life. In short, I want an Israeli James Madison!


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