Ensuring we don’t suffer the fate of US Jewry – The Australian Jewish News

SO a lot of what I’ve been studying of late bemoans the more and more problematic relationship between American Jewry and Israel – a state of affairs not too long ago described in The New York Times as “the unravelling of American Zionism”.

The article had me reflecting on a visit to Israel I made after I was simply 21 years outdated and which I wrote about on this very newspaper some 20 years in the past.

I used to be in Poland attending a seminar on the Holocaust together with a gaggle of American school college students and, because it turned out, the journey was an actual eye-opener for me.

Like us all, I used to be a creature of my atmosphere. I grew up in the pretty insular post-Holocaust Jewish neighborhood of Melbourne, inside the metropolis’s considerably extra insular Modern Orthodox neighborhood.

The American school college students on the journey got here from dramatically numerous Jewish backgrounds – some from the Reform/Conservative actions of the time, which bore little or no resemblance to equal actions in Australia. Very few had had an upbringing so permeated by the Holocaust.

The day we visited Treblinka, one thing occurred that profoundly impacted me.

Apart from the notorious prepare tracks and mass graves, there may be nothing that continues to be of the camp itself. What one sees are 1000’s of completely different sized stones, every bearing the identify of a Jewish neighborhood worn out by the Nazis.

Despite the magnitude of the second, my response was nearly scientific and I do not forget that it troubled me.

It was solely at the conclusion of the tekes – a ceremony the place we took turns studying tefillot, poetry and the names of victims – that one thing stirred.

Standing on the floor the place one third of World Jewry was murdered, surrounded by monuments to lengthy misplaced Jewish communities, we sung Hatikvah.

The legacy of these misplaced Jewish communities wouldn’t be confined to a monument of stones, however with the dwelling, respiratory miracle that was the fashionable state of Israel.

That night, Laura – one other pupil – advised the group that she and different members had felt the singing of Hatikvah at Treblinka had been inappropriate as a result of it politicised the Holocaust and was a type of “aliyah bashing”.

And it instantly dawned on me that the exact same expertise that had impressed me had had precisely the reverse impact on Laura.

Since that day at Treblinka, the Jewish Diaspora has modified dramatically – the disconnect with Israel that shocked me again then has grow to be nearly unremarkable, which bothers me all the extra.

Take the letter by 90 American rabbinical college students throughout the latest battle between Israel and Hamas, accusing Israel of “violent suppression of human rights” with out making any reference to the Hamas rockets assaults.

Take the findings of a latest survey carried out by the Jewish Electorate Institute exhibiting that:

  • 34 per cent of respondents agreed that Israel’s remedy of Palestinians is just like racism in the United States;
  • 25 per cent agreed that Israel is an apartheid state;
  • 22 per cent agreed that Israel is committing genocide towards the Palestinians.

The survey was undertaken quickly after the Abraham Accords have been signed. And whereas American Jewish respondents have been pointing the finger at Israel, not a single Arab nation had recalled its ambassador in response.

Is it doable Israel can now count on extra help from the Arab world than from the largest Diaspora Jewish neighborhood?

Of course, this survey just isn’t consultant of all American Jewry, nevertheless it can’t be ignored. And we have to ask ourselves how we obtained right here and what we can do about it.

Caroline Glick instructed that Israelis shouldn’t be involved by the survey as a result of in a single or two generations, most of the respondents would have assimilated. US Jewry might be smaller in quantity however consist of Orthodox or different equally dedicated Jews who’re extra supportive of Israel.

Other commentators, together with Peter Beinart, recommend the troubling shift in sentiment in America is the direct end result of successive right-wing Israeli governments. That US Jews, who’re largely progressive, can not reconcile Israeli authorities insurance policies with their very own values.

That if solely Israel “ended the occupation” every little thing could be okay and Americans would fall again in love with the place.

With respect to each Caroline Glick and Peter Beinart, I strongly disagree.

Laura’s discomfort singing Hatikvah at Treblinka had nothing to do with the battle. But nor, in my opinion, do the alarming survey outcomes.

And Glick’s suggestion that we settle for the disappearance of a considerable proportion of the Jewish individuals as a result of we have drifted aside is, I imagine, essentially inconsistent with Jewish values.

The challenges we face in Australia are very completely different to these confronted by American Jewry. And I don’t imagine that we are merely 10-15 years away from experiencing the similar fate.

But nor do I imagine that our greatest defence is “hasbara” coaching. Jewish identification just isn’t partisan. It just isn’t left or proper.

The solely antidote for what’s taking place to American Jewry and for guaranteeing the similar phenomena doesn’t ever descend upon our neighborhood is … training.

We should be certain that our whole neighborhood is Jewishly literate, that individuals are outfitted with an mental in addition to emotional connection to Israel and Jewish values.

This is why, as a neighborhood we should proceed to put money into Jewish training and packages reminiscent of Masa and Birthright that are a confirmed car to making sure that the subsequent technology of Australian Jews are meaningfully engaged and linked with their Jewish identification and the State of Israel.

Jeremy Leibler is president of the Zionist Federation of Australia. This is an edited extract from a speech he delivered to the ZFA’s plenary on November 21.

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