web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Divided Loyalty, Again?

Rabbi Stephen Wise

Rabbi Stephen Wise

American Jews made their choice clear: they would stand with their president, who provided them with passports to American respectability even as besieged European Jews were denied entry to the United States and condemned to horrific death. They hoped to demonstrate – to anyone (and there were many) who might doubt their loyalty to their true promised land – that they were genuine Americans.

American Jewish intellectuals, prisoners of their own lofty universalism, also remained conspicuously silent. As Saul Bellow subsequently noted, they ignored “the central event of their time, the destruction of European Jewry…. We should have reckoned more deeply with it.”

In some American Jewish circles indifference to the plight of European Jews eventually morphed into anxiety lest a Jewish state compromise the loyalty of American Jews to the United States. American Jewish Committee president Joseph M. Proskauer, an outspoken anti-Zionist during the war and postwar years, worried incessantly lest American Jews be accused of “political schizophrenia.”

It might be argued that American Jews finally learned the lesson of indifference to their besieged fellow Jews elsewhere. They have proudly proclaimed that “We Are One” with Israel. But how far does this affirmation really extend? Enthusiasm has quickly subsided whenever Israelis have elected a right-wing government that declined to take dictation from the White House. Then a discernible undercurrent of anxiety emerges lest Israel act in ways that challenge their liberal principles and forces them to choose between their Jewish and American loyalties.

Their “oneness” surely does not include religious Zionists, who ever since the Six-Day War have built new communities in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli settlers who fuse Judaism and Zionism (rather than Judaism and liberalism) are routinely vilified by diaspora Jews (and secular Israelis) as misguided fundamentalist zealots who will drag Israel into a calamitous holy war over “Palestinian” land.

Given their loyalty vulnerability and liberal values, most American Jews prefer a Jewish state that closely resembles the United States. Replete with malls and discos rather than settlements, focusing more on gay rights than the internationally guaranteed right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, Israel could then live in two-state peaceful bliss with its Palestinian neighbors. Even before the arrival of the Messiah, haredi lions and feminist lambs, wrapped in tallitot and tefillin, would dance together at the Western Wall.

“The liberal betrayal of the Jews,” as Harvard professor Ruth R. Wisse trenchantly observed two decades ago, has now refocused on Israel. American Jews who define themselves as “liberal Zionists,” even if they reside six thousand miles from Israel, remain trapped within the dilemma that once paralyzed and silenced Rabbi Wise.

Journalist Peter Beinert’s recent analysis in The Crisis of Zionism exemplifies the abandonment of Israel by American Jews to preserve their liberal credentials. Barack Obama has replaced Franklin D. Roosevelt as the liberal exemplar whom Beinert worships as Rabbi Wise did his Democratic predecessor. Indeed, Wise is Beinert’s heroic model for elevating liberal values above such parochial interests as Jewish survival.

But what if the survival of six million Jews living in the state of Israel is imperiled by an impending Iranian nuclear attack while another American president leads from behind? Will American Jews once again cower in fearful silence lest they be accused of compromising their loyalty to the United States? As Sol Stern, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, noted in his appropriately scathing review of Beinert’s book, “There is no Zionism worthy of its name without the priority of rescuing Jews in mortal danger and distress.”

* * * * *

A new generation of American Jews – the very cohort whose spokesman Beinert and J Street wish to be – may yet confront the identical loyalty dilemma that tortured their predecessors during the 1930s and 1940s. The fawning deference of American Jews to Roosevelt was an American Jewish tragedy. Their complicity in the abandonment of the people, their own people, chosen by Hitler for annihilation was grounded in their yearning for acceptance as loyal Americans.

American Jews have tended to be fickle defenders of Israel, which must pass liberal muster for their approval. Yet, as Professor Wisse astutely observed in If I Am Not For Myself, “Jews have more concurrent rights to their land than any other people on this earth can claim: aboriginal rights, divine rights, legal rights, internationally granted rights, pioneering rights, and the rights of that perennial arbiter, war.”

About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Divided Loyalty, Again?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
France Jew in a French synagogue talks about rising anti-Semitism.
Israel to Ease Absorption, Employment for Immigrants from France
Latest Indepth Stories
Jo-map

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

bulb

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

Medics evacuate the dead and injured after attack on Har Nof synagogue Tuesday morning.

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Kfar Kana Riots

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Front-Page-081514

Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.

Jerold S. Auerbach

During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/divided-loyalty-again/2013/07/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: