A letter from an American-Israeli Jew to American-American Jews.

Dahlia Scheindlin is a terrific, American-Israeli public opinion analyst based in Tel Aviv who I saw speak at last year’s J Street conference. She was cogent and engaging and willing to tell the truth, to a room full of doe-eyed peace-seekers, about the Israeli public’s opinions about peace negotiations (which are not always as positive as we would wish, btw — they want a two-state peace, they just don’t want to trust the Palestinians to negotiate for it) (though she might put it differently. With, like, numbers, and such).

She also writes, and really well, for the genuinely peerless +972 online magazine (peerless, in that it is an outstanding source, and in that I don’t know that it has anything remotely like a peer in Israeli media).

The other day she posted what can only be called a cri de coeur, a cry from the heart appealing to her American Jewish family (in both the narrow and broad senses) to not betray Israel by betraying their liberal values:

All these years, you supported Israel, because as a Jew you felt connected to the state culturally, spiritually, religiously, nationally, because of the history of persecution, or just because that’s what Jews did. You defended its existence for so long against formidable enemies.

But now, regardless of the enemy, Israel has crossed your political and social red lines.  You can no longer ignore the daily violations of human rights and general freedom denied to millions of Palestinians, the humiliations, the imprisonment, beatings, midnight arrests, lack of due process, circus military tribunals for children, killings, coerced confessions, let alone racist legislation and fundamentalist religious coercion and other things you would never, ever stand for as liberals in the United States….

[Yet] because of your fear – not of the goyim or the anti-Semites, but of yourselves! – you are keeping a low public profile….

I do understand: those of you who still call the Jewish community home, are afraid of the onslaught that you will receive from your (our) very own people. I hold no illusions about how vicious the attacks might be. We Jews, not the goyim, will call you the most painful names, will threaten in various ways to label you as beyond the pale of your people, should you voice your critique. You might be chastised in your professional community. You will be hit not only by shadowy bloggers but by the very cherished and established groups you have loyally, even automatically, supported over the years. The anger might come from your friends and it might even come from your family.

But you are my family, too! You used to argue that I was too naïve and too idealistic. On this trip, I was stunned to learn that now you don’t even really want to visit Israel because you can’t face what you’re increasingly coming to see as a brutal occupying entity flirting with fascist notions….

Here’s how that made me feel: abandoned, by the liberal Jews of America.

Click here to read the whole thing: Dear liberal American Jews: Please don’t betray Israel.

And really: If you’re interested in Israel, Israeli society, the conflict, politics, the whole nine yards, you really should read +972 (they’re also on Twitter: @972mag)

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the signal-boost. I don’t always make time to read all of +972 (or all of anything, really!) — but this is an amazing essay. Heartbreaking, but amazing.