A Changing Reality
August 18, 2009
The face of the Jewish community is changing. The change is subtle, but
the undercurrents are strong. Slowly, we are waking up. We are still
dazed, more from the realization that we are suddenly leaning to the
right, less "liberal” and more protective of our self-interests and
As if emerging from under a haze, even Democrats are uncomfortable with
the direction of the new Administration. The New Deal is not good for
the Jews. Those in a position of power face a double sword: They need to
justify these actions and ensure their survivability as elected members
of Congress. The latest follies: Much of what circulates on the internet
is utterly false and soon there will be a compromise about expansion of
the so-called Settlements which will be a middle ground so neither the
President nor the Prime Minister loses face. Apparently, it boils down
to a definition of what is "natural growth.”
While action is the most potent remedy to dispel any unease Jews feel
given the current positions of the Administration, inaccurate reporting
can be dealt with simply by presenting the "true” facts. Yet, when the
only "inaccuracies” are those that do not sit comfortably with
wishy-washy demagogies, there is a real problem: The speaker must change
course and the listener better be alert to internalize the situation.
I have now observed the Jewish community over a period of many years,
and there is a clear reversal from the previous liberal-Democrat-"get
out of the West Bank”-"the Palestinians deserve a state” to a slightly
more cautious approach. It has become abundantly clear to all that there
is no partner for peace, unilateral action is doomed to fail and all
concessions are viewed not as gestures of goodwill but as clear signs of
weakness. No attempt has been made to change the textbooks or the hatred
spewed over loudspeakers from the mosques or the PA-produced and
sanctioned TV and radio programs. Most recently a new language has
arisen: The mere thought of Israel as a Jewish State is racist.
Once there were "moderate” Arabs (Fatah) and "terrorists” (Hamas), but
the differences have washed away. Today, there is only one enemy to
peace in the Middle East, although for the purposes of channeling
billions of dollars and Euros in aid and internal power struggles, some
are led to the mistaken notion of two distinct Palestinians authorities.
Iran’s reach and grip on Gaza may seem stronger at the moment, but it
spreads fast, through Judea and Samaria into Israel proper. The grasp
has tightened, and misleading labels do little in the fight for
The Jews are still obfuscated in an internal debate: How to better the
lives of the Palestinians; How to change our ways to accommodate their
aspirations and demands, which could only be satisfied on the ruins of
the Jewish State; Why it is our fault that a "freedom fighter” goes into
an Israeli town and smashes the skull of his enemy – a 13 year old boy –
with an axe; Why profiling or a fence causes great inconvenience to the
Arabs and thus must be abolished, yet these are the most effective ways
to deter terrorism.
Our narrative slowly changes. Where once we had the right and obligation
to openly criticize the State of Israel, we have witnessed this posture
has led to worsening Israel’s position. How far can we malign the Jewish
State and remain unscathed, unaffected by the poison we constantly
administer? We did not achieve success, but rather we have contributed
to the weakening of Israel.
The Jewish community’s defenses and overly creative mindset deflected
and we are now much worse off. Not only are we perceived weak by our
enemies, the US Administration under President Obama has reached the
decision that since all previous Administrations – whether Democrat or
Republican – failed to bring peace, a new course is necessary, one in
which Israel as an ally and friend is no more the highest priority.
I am content that the Jewish community will change even further; it has
no other choice. The most recent ads by the Anti-Defamation League are
but another sign that this is happening. In the meantime, the venomous
arrows will continue hitting us, with ever-increasing frequency and
accuracy, and the poison more potent, spreading faster than ever.
Oh, then a day will come when the Jewish community’s narrative will be
so drastically different than before, one will listen with pride once
more to the ancient melody of inner strength and unyielding convictions.
Only by that time it would be too late, rather than a cry to battle, it
would be a lamentation of a defeated people, a cry over a dead body,
temperature still warm, lying before one’s eyes.
Israel from the Jewish community will be too little, too late. Many
elders of American Jewry have not yet visited Israel. A majority of the
youth is comfortable with a notion of life without a Jewish State. With
each generation, the distance from Israel increases, the seams loosen,
the connection becomes more garbled and less important. Thus, we must
call on others for aid and sound the horn reverberating throughout
foreign lands to other religions that still see the goodness within, who
understand the importance of supporting Israel.
About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from
Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers
throughout the world to join them as they present
reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes:
Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related
- the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts -
and so is this "point - counter-point” presentation
that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.