Please read Harold Meyerson’s column in today Washington Post. It draws the distinction between AIPAC, the pre-imminent Jewish lobby in this country, and most American Jews.
What underpins the resolve of both the administration and Congress to push the Israelis, no less than the Palestinians, toward a settlement is the clear approval this approach commands among American Jews. A poll taken in March for J Street, an organization of American Jews that favors a territorial accord, showed 72 percent support among Jewish Americans for U.S. pressure on Israel and its Arab neighbors to reach an accord, and, remarkably, 57 percent support for U.S. pressure just on Israel. The poll also found 60 percent opposition to the expansion of settlements.
My experience is no more valid than any other non-Jew who has had Jewish friends (some of whom have put me in hot water, but that’s totally unrelated here, and besides, I jumped into the scalding caldron myself). But my friends usually just roll their eyes when talking about the Israeli’s policy towards Palestinians. This is all lost on Congressmen and women who quake in fear of AIPAC. Thus far, Obama hasn’t.
By every measure, American Jews remain intensely committed to liberalism and to universal and minority rights. As a democratic state rising on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel once embodied those values to its supporters, but 42 years of occupation have rendered Israel a state that tests those values more than it affirms them. Its most fervent American Jewish backers, to be found disproportionately among the Orthodox, identify with it for reasons that are more tribal than universal. All of which has created the political space for President Obama to try to craft a resolution to one of the planet’s most venerable and dangerous disputes.
Read it; it’s a great piece. To both Meyerson and Obama, Mazel tov.