Israel: The Dream Dies

Print More

Nobody I know is interested in talking about Israel anymore.I think that may be because virtually all my friends are essentially pro-Israel and have supported Israel their entire lives. Now their attitude is “what’s there to say?” as if Israel was a friend with an alcohol problem who, despite everyone’s best efforts, simply chooses drinking to excess over being sober. You know the alcohol is killing him but you also know that it’s his considered choice to drink. He’s weighed the risks and chosen alcohol. There isn’t anything anyone can do.So you stop talking about him, other than the occasional sigh at the mention of his name. It’s wrong, but essentially you stop actively caring.That is the way it is with Israel. Nobody wants to discuss the new conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps adding in his effort to defeat not the Palestinians but Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to achieve peace. First the demand that Israel be recognized “as a Jewish state.” Then allowing the fanatic settlers in Hebron to remain along with the satellite outposts populated by the violent “settler youth.” Then there is keeping troops in the Jordan Valley, along the border with Jordan, thereby ensuring that any Palestinian state in the West Bank would be as sovereign and viable as the ghetto Israel created in Gaza. The latest: Netanyahu is hard at work trying to prove that President Mahmoud Abbas, who Netanyahu himself credits with preventing terrorist attacks against Israel, is, you guessed it, an anti-semite.Why waste time discussing these things? Everyone knows that these Netanyahu conditions are nothing but pretenses.
So we ignore them, even though we know Israel is committing suicide.
In fact, our indifference helps create the conditions for suicide. After all, if Jews don’t much care about Israel anymore, then who does?
Right-wing Christians? True, they “love” Israel but not nearly as much as they love the idea of banning abortion, discriminating against GLBT people, lowering taxes on the rich, erecting walls against immigrants, eliminating unemployment insurance, and winning the War Against Christmas. They like talking about Israel a lot (mainly to inoculate themselves against the charge of anti-semitism which most Jews sense they are) and as part of the active dream of some to convert the Jews. But that is about it.
No, the only Americans that Israel can count on is Jews and they are losing interest. Big time.
But, you say, Israel still can count on the politicians who look to AIPAC for campaign contributions. They aren’t going anywhere.
And that’s true. So long as there is money in it, one can count on Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham, and the like to “stand with Israel.” But that will last only as long as there is money it. And that money will run out as the old Jews die off and their children choose other causes, causes that are not morally compromising.
AIPAC is the only thing that is keeping Congress in line in support of Netanyahu’s refusal to compromise with the Palestinians and his determination to destroy any chance of ending the Iran nuclear problem peacefully. Anyone who thinks that will last knows nothing about the political trajectory of Jews under 70, let alone under 40.
Jewish indifference is Israel’s biggest enemy and Israel, like an alcoholic who decides that he prefers drinking to abstaining, will pay the price.
Does this mean that Jews opposed to Israel’s suicidal course should just shut up. No, although most have. There is, after all, J Street, which struggles to turn things around but is simply not a factor in Congress. That is not its fault. Congress is bought by AIPAC and J Street can not outbid it. If it could, Chuck Schumer woud be leading the forces for peace with the Palestinians and for a deal with Iran. But that won’t happen.
This is the way it will be until either the Israelis bring down its government of setters and religious fanatics, the President decides to ignore the lobby and impose an agreement on both sides, or the Palestinians succeed in changing the situation on the ground. (As for Iran, I think Obama is going to achieve a deal despite AIPAC and its bought friends in Congress, so I am less worried about that).
But basically, I think 2014 will be like every year since the Israeli right murdered Yitzhak Rabin. Israel will unravel and we, American Jews, will look away. It took 1900 years to realize the Zionist dream. It’s taking only a few decades to destroy it. No, not the reality which will hang on, unloved and isolated, but protected by its massive arsenal (that is infinitely better than the alternative). It’s the dream I’m talking about.
By now Herzl would be thinking about moving back to Europe. The secular Herzl, who wanted rabbis out of positions of influence and the Arab minority very much in, would have no place in Israel. But I’m sure he would visit every so often, maybe along with Chaim Weizmann, Ahad Ha’am, and Martin Buber.