fbpx

Throwing Israel Under The Bus Will Not Save American Jews

Denouncing Israel for genocide and apartheid will only strengthen the anti-Jewish sentiment in America.
[additional-authors]
May 20, 2021
Protesters gather in front of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations (U.N.) to voice their anger at the situation in Israel and to defend the Palestinian resistance movement on May 18, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“Mom, if this is our last conversation, I don’t want it to end this way,” said my 18-year-old daughter before walking out of the house to spend Shavuot with her friends.

“I am scared of rockets,” my five-year-old cried as she kept popping out of bed after “just” one rocket siren we had in the relative safety of Jerusalem.

“We are late,” my husband and son texted me yesterday, “the car right in front of us got firebombed and burnt down completely. The road is blocked, but we are OK.”

“We were so lucky to have left late! There were burning tires and boulders on the road that were thrown at cars just minutes before we passed. And our friends got hit,” my daughter told me. “But now I don’t know how to get to my ultrasound appointment in Nahariya. I am scared.”

We are just one Israeli family, and our experiences of the previous 10 days have been relatively mild compared to those of friends and relatives in southern and central Israel, like my 75-year-old in-laws, who have all of 45 seconds to run down two flights of stairs to the bomb shelter (an elderly woman in a neighboring community found her death slipping in the rush). Like my nieces and nephews dealing with PTSD with as many as 100 rocket alarms a day. Like our friends in Lod, holed up in their apartments, watching helplessly as their Arab neighbors, the people with whom they have lived with in peace for decades, burn their cars, shoot and throw stones at their windows, break into their homes, destroy synagogues and schools and beat up Jews who venture out onto the street.

30 years of living in Israel have helped me work up the resilience to live through scenarios like these. But nothing has prepared me for the shock and dismay of feeling betrayed by many of my American brothers and sisters, the people with whom I grew up before moving to Israel.

Nothing prepared me for comments unequivocally accusing Israel of genocide and apartheid in numerous Jewish Facebook groups or the letter signed by almost 100 liberal rabbinical students telling Israel it deserves the violence while completely failing to mention Israeli suffering, or the demand by Jewish employees at Google that the company publicly call out Israel for “militarized colonial violence” and terminate contracts with Israeli bodies, including IDF.

At first I felt angry and violated. If American Jews were in harm’s way, God forbid, Israelis would show in a heartbeat to help them out. Israelis wouldn’t ask questions of how this happened or take the time to analyze American Jewry’s involvement in various social issues. Israel and her people support every Diaspora Jewish community always, no questions asked. Because this is what brothers do.

But apparently this is not how it works in the American Jewish community. Understandably, American Jewry has a plurality of outlooks on the Middle East conflict. And, also understandably, many American Jews desire to be fair and impartial. This however does not justify embracing the Palestinian narrative hook, line and sinker or willfully ignoring facts, which point to Hamas as the culprit of both Jewish and Palestinian suffering.

It takes a special kind of blindness to dismiss the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization calling for the genocide of all Jews, not just Israelis. It takes closing one’s eyes not to notice that Hamas is performing a double war crime by firing over 3,500 rockets from within its own civilian population onto Israel’s civilian population. It is prejudiced to dismiss Israel’s right to defend her citizens and not acknowledge her efforts to take outmost care to preserve Palestinian lives, forewarning civilians of upcoming strikes. And where is the genocide exactly when thousands of Israeli strikes on military installations have resulted in a very unfortunate death toll of 50 Palestinian civilians, while 500 Hamas rockets falling short have killed as many as 20 of their own people inside the Gaza strip?

It takes a special kind of blindness to dismiss the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization calling for the genocide of all Jews, not just Israelis. It takes closing one’s eyes not to notice that Hamas is performing a double war crime by firing over 3,500 rockets from within its own civilian population onto Israel’s civilian population.

Or maybe it’s a defense mechanism. With race relations and oppression narratives becoming the focal point of American social discourse, many American Jews are anxious to be on the “right” side of political trends. They think that by distancing themselves from their Israeli brothers and vocally embracing the Palestinian racial narrative, they will affirm their allegiance to social justice. With Jewishness now classified as “hyper whiteness,” denouncing fellow Jews has become the ticket into the antiracist club.

This is a mirage. Antisemites on the right and the left do not distinguish between Jews. Denouncing Israel for genocide and apartheid will only strengthen the anti-Jewish sentiment in America. The attackers at the Los Angeles sushi restaurant the other day chanted “Free Palestine” and “Death to Jews” all at once. They didn’t ask the patrons about their political opinions. They punched Jews indiscriminately.

My shock and anger have given way to sadness and fear. The sadness for so many of my brothers and sisters, who are cutting themselves off from our mutual relationship, and fear for the hate they are bringing onto themselves in the process.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said Abraham Lincoln. I hope more American Jews remember this before they throw their Israeli brethren under the bus.


Leah Aharoni is the founder of Machon Arev Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Ha Lachma Anya

This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt

Israel Strikes Deep Inside Iran

Iranian media denied any Israeli missile strike, writing that the Islamic Republic was shooting objects down in its airspace.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.