American Jews Divided Over Israel

by Amna El Tawil
 
When it comes to Israel and the nation’s relationship with the United States, opinions are divided. While some people assume that the US should always support Israel, others see no reason to do so. Growing are the attitudes suggesting that the US isn’t obliged to “cuddle” Israel, instead, America should let it solve its own problems and build a better relationship with other countries, which isn’t possible with the US involved. During his inaugural speech, Trump said “America first”, claiming he will put this nation’s interest above anything else, but babysitting Israel doesn’t fit into line, according to political analysts.
 
It’s not only political experts who are divided over Israel issues, American Jews have similar attitudes as well. The New York Times published an interesting piece describing these opposing beliefs in American Jews. They wrote: “For Rabbi Gerald Sussman of Temple Emanu-El on Staten Island, the Obama administration’s recent confrontation with Israel was a stunning turn for a president who had enjoyed support from many members of his congregation. “The word ‘betrayed’ would not be too strong a word,” he said.
 
But in Los Angeles, Rabbi John L. Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood, who is the chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, felt differently. He applauded the speech delivered on Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry explaining the decision by the United States not to block a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Rabbi Rosove also suggested that many American Jews were broadly supportive of the Obama administration.
 
“I felt Kerry was exactly right,” he said. “The people who will criticize him will take a leap and say he’s anti-Israeli, just as some American Jews are saying Obama is an anti-Semite. This is ridiculous. They recognize and cherish the state of Israel.”
 

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“There’s a very clear values clash going on,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights organization. “On the one hand, we have a small but vocal minority of American Jews who believe that supporting Israel means supporting the right-wing agenda, the current government. And on the other, there is a larger percentage of American Jews who are committed to Israel and committed to democracy and want to see it as a safe place that reflects our values.”
 
This is a community that is hardly monolithic. For one thing, younger Jews are seen as less likely to identify themselves as religious or supportive of Israel and do not share memories of the Holocaust or the wars with Israel’s Arab neighbors. American Jews are also overwhelmingly Democratic; Jews voted for Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump, 71 percent to 24 percent, according to exit polls.
 
Steven M. Cohen, a research professor at Hebrew Union College and a consultant to a recent Pew study of American Jews, said that Mr. Kerry’s speech represents the viewpoints of most American Jews. “On survey after survey, American Jews are opposed to Jewish settlement expansion. They tend to favor a two-state solution and their political identities are liberal or moderate,” he said.
Although Netanyahu has a great relationship with Trump, a lot of people don’t consider it sincere from his part and accuse him of using the US president to achieve his own agendas.