Gary Rosenblatt’s “Next-Gen Americans pulling away from Israel” and NJJN’s editorial “‘It’s the morality, stupid’” (June 27) highlight the report by Brand Israel on diminishing support for Israel.
Conspicuously missing is recognition of how Israeli government actions, policies, and ministerial statements adversely affect American-Jewish perceptions of Israel, particularly within the non-Orthodox sector. In my mind, the problem for many American Jews is that there seem to be two Israels. On the one hand, there are creative and socially liberal currents in Israeli society. On the other hand, these elements sometimes conflict with Israeli government officials in areas such as religious pluralism, attitudes toward Israeli minorities, and the lack of a vision about how to move forward with the Palestinians.
Our youth see not only the positive messages regarding the activities of NGOs and Israeli citizens, and sometimes the Israeli government, in areas such as tech innovation, caring for wounded Syrians, sending medical missions to disaster areas around the world, and more. They also listen to and watch American and Israeli news outlets, and read social media posts. While some of these may be biased, others are simply the reported statements of political and religious authorities in Israel. In my experience, these areas of Israeli political life create for many American youth, including those who are Zionists, serious reservations about the direction of Israeli society and their desire to engage with it.
It’s not only “the morality, stupid,” but, it’s “the policy,” which many American youth view as inconsistent with their understanding of morality and ethics that should be projected by a government in its affairs. Thus, efforts to strengthen engagement with Israel need to deal with the impact of Israeli policies and pronouncements that are negatively perceived by many Jewish youth in America.
Jerome A. (Jerry) Langer