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 "liberals" and more protective of our self-interests and ourselves.
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 not 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 survival.
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.
Help to 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.
"For a gentile nation you do not know you will call, and a gentile nation who does not know you will run to you, for Lord, your God, and for the Holy One of Israel since He has glorified you." Isaiah 55:5
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. Feel free to share with others.
Postcards from Home, August, 2009