September 18, 2019

‘Distancing’ from Israel is used to drive political and institutional agendas

My new paper on “distancing” – the alleged drifting away of young American Jews from Israel – is now available online. It is a policy paper written for the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) and it is quite long (I wrote it with my colleague Inbal Hakman). Those of you who really want to understand what it says will have to make an effort and read it in full here

. Those who do not have the time or the interest can do one of two things.

1. Read the couple of paragraphs provided in this post.

2. Read a shortened version of the paper (2,000 instead of a 12,000-word version) that appears today on the Times of Israel website.

Anyway – here’s the busy/lazy one paragraph version:

[C]urrent claims of young Jewish Americans’ “distancing” from Israel rely on research that examines emotional distancing primarily, for which there is no research-based evidence at present. Nevertheless, the “distancing discourse” – which has been enormously influenced by essays in the public sphere such as those by Peter Beinart in The New York Review of Books and Daniel Gordis in Commentary—


on phenomena primarily associated with cognitive distancing, for which there is some circumstantial evidence at the present time. The discourse tends to


behavioral distancing, for which there is some supporting evidence (i.e., fewer sermons about Israel), but also much evidence to the contrary (i.e., increased visits to Israel, and increased financial giving to Israel).

If you have another minute, here’s another, short, paragraph:

Turning to the distancing narrative to advance the goals of various ideological and institutional actors has tended to obstruct a pragmatic and objective discussion of what needs to be done to promote a healthy partnership between the two communities, minimizing distancing drivers and maximizing attachment drivers.