I have a friend, or at least I wish he were my friend but he hesitates to talk with me because he heard that I was critical of Israel. “Ted” is Jewish. Even though he admits to not practicing any of the rituals of Judaism, such as attending a synagogue or changing his activity on the Sabbath, he is adamant in his defense of Israel. Like many older American Jews, supporting Israel is for him a substitute for being religious and a new way of being Jewish.
There was a time when he would have represented almost the total Jewish community. There was a time when I was cautious in talking about Israel for fear of a certain rejection by anyone Jewish. Thank God, that time is no more. Ted’s tribe is shrinking. He doesn’t want to admit it but there is a huge fracture in the American Jewish family.
Many American Jews break with Israel over the killing of Americans:
Israel has directly killed and injured Americans, from the crew of the USS Liberty in 1967 – 34 Americans killed, 171 wounded, in international waters; to 23 year-old nonviolent activist Rachel Corrie, killed 13 years ago, days before we invaded Iraq; and 18 year-old Furkan Dogan, a passenger on the humanitarian vessel Mavi Marmara, who was killed six years ago. The U.N. Human Rights Council described his killing as, I quote, “summary execution,” by Israeli commandos who boarded the unarmed ship, also in international waters.
Others are distancing themselves over Israeli killings, period. According to Mondoweisss, Israel has killed at least 235 Palestinians in the past year.
But for whatever reason, according to Dov Waxman, “a historic change has been taking place in the American Jewish relationship with Israel.
The era of uncritical American Jewish support for Israel – of “Israel, right or wrong” – is now long past… American Jews, especially younger ones, are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Israel’s policies with the Palestinians and are skeptical of its governments’ proclaimed desire for peace.
Surveys among American Jews show that only a minority – around 30 percent or so – feel very strongly attached to Israel, while a similar number feel distant. The rest are just moderately attached to Israel.
Israel is not the idealistic, peace loving country that most older Americans believe because they read Leon Uris’s Exodus. The conflict between Israel’s policies and Jewish ethics is enormous.
The world owes much to Judaism, not just for its commitment to monotheism but especially for having created a welfare system and ministry of justice and compassion through its synagogues at a time when Jews were a minority in a world surrounded by violence power and greed.
I would love to be able to talk to Ted about the Jewishness for which he could be proud but I fear his Jewishness only extends to Israel.
October 27, 2016
 Huwaida Arraf, Holding Israel Accountable for the Gaza Flotilla Raid, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2016, p.57.
 Two More Shootings in Occupation Bring Number of Palestinians dead to 235 since October, 2015. Mondoweiss, Oct. 23, 2016
 Dov Waxman, Trouble in the Tribe, The American Jewish Conflict over Israel, (Princeton University Press, 2016) p. 4, and 22. By the way, I played off of his title for the title of this blog.