Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jews on Israel

How do non Israeli Jews feel about Israel ? I would speculate that about 10% of international Jewry are fanatical supporters of Israel. A further 10% are fanatical critics of the Jewish state. The 80% in the middle I believe have a deep concern for the fate of Israel that can vary in intensity. Ireland doesn't have many notable Jews. Actor Daniel Day Lewis and Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter are the most well known. Shatter has always defended Israel where as as Day Lewis is I believe a critic. Another less well known Irish Jew is Israeli born Trinity College sociology lecture Dr Ronit Lentin (pictured). Dr Lentin is a left wing professor who lobbies for a multicultural Ireland as well as fiercely criticising Israel. Pro Israeli Jews refer to someone like Dr Lentin as a "self hating Jew". To me, all her stance on Israel proves is that Jews, like everyone else are politically diverse. Some are liberal, others are conservative. What say ye ? What are her motivations and why is she so disliked by many in the Jewish community.

Below is an abstract from Dr Lentin's column in Metro Eireann.

On 19 January I attended the Holocaust lecture in Trinity College. The lecturer, Dr Nicholas Stargardt of Oxford University, spoke about Jewish children hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. I happened to sit next to a stalwart member of the Dublin Jewish community. When I greeted her, she looked through me. I asked if she is not talking to me and she said: “I am disgusted by you.” She was referring to my opposition to the war in Gaza, and she could clearly make no connection between the death of children in the Holocaust and in Gaza.

Taking an oppositionist stand against Israel's devastating invasion of Gaza has been fraught – many members of Ireland's Jewish community were wholly supportive of Israel's action, buying the argument that it was Hamas, not Israel, who was the aggressor.
I do not want to get into that whole argument here. Let me just say emphatically that opposing Israeli militarist policies and Zionist ideologies – a position I share with tens of thousands of Israelis in Israel and abroad, and many Jews throughout the world – makes me neither anti-semitic nor a 'self hating Jew'. I am a proud Jew and declare my Judaism on every occasion, and have written extensively about anti-semitism.
I do not want to labour the point, nor do I want to focus on police attacks against Israelis who continue to hold vigils and demonstrate in Israel; several thousand of whom (including many Israeli Palestinian citizens) are still in jail. That’s because the focus of the struggle is still freedom for Palestinians and Palestine.
In the aftermath of this horrific war – which saw 1,300 and 1,400 Palestinians killed (including than 400 children) with 5,000 injured, compared to the deaths of 13 Israelis, three of whom were civilians – we must focus on the issues clearly and politically.
Both Israel and Hamas declared victory. So be it. But it is clear that without dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian elected leadership (which currently is Hamas) and without addressing the return of Palestinian refugees, there will be no peace.
I keep thinking about the children left for four days beside the body of their murdered mother. Will they grow up to thank Israel for its 'intervention', or will they be the first to join the armed struggle?
Irish people have been wonderful in their support for the Palestinians – so much so that Israel has targeted its propaganda machine at changing political Ireland's view. Immediately after the ceasefire, Israeli Minister for Education Yuli Tamir, a politics professor and founder of the 'Peace Now' movement, visited Ireland to speak with the Government and the media, and attempt to justify the atrocities.
It is important to name what happened as what it was – a war crime – and take Israel to account. It might not be easy – the Israeli army has prohibited the publication of names of officers who served in Gaza, fearing they will be charged with war crimes.
Israel also knows that the world will not remain silent in relation to its use of white phosphorus bombs, and is proposing to 'investigate' their use. The fact that the use of white phosphorus (not strictly illegal, but not permitted for use directly against a civilian population) causes people with even minor burns to die suffices.
It is not sufficient for Israel to merely investigate – the world must hold Israel accountable.


Paul said...

' She was referring to my opposition to the war in Gaza, and she could clearly make no connection between the death of children in the Holocaust and in Gaza.'

That would be because there is no connection at all. A very dubious example of moral relativity. The rest of her driver reads like that as well. I mean talk to Hamas? Yeah right I mean what could be wrong with that? The reason extreme leftists like her can't see what is wrong with Hamas/Al Qaeda is that they cannot see what is right with a liberal western democracy.

Gary said...

I agree about the large number of Jews who are more in the middle on these issues. American Jews, who have traditionally been quite supportive of Israel, are beginning to show less and less enthusiasm in their support. I believe one reason is that it is now 3 generations past the holocaust and the vivid personal memories and associations are beginning to fade.
As for the good Dr. Lentin, I would pay more attention to her if it were not for quotes such as: "which saw 1,300 and 1,400 Palestinians killed (including than 400 children) with 5,000 injured, compared to the deaths of 13 Israelis, three of whom were civilians –" Those figures omit completely the Israeli casualties that occurred prior to -and were one of the main causes of- the Gaza invasion. Plus, a 3 minute check of the internet showed even those figures were inaccurate. When I see details purposefully misstated I have a tendency to disregard as prejudice the rest of the article.

thesystemworks said...

According to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, about 3% of Jews in the UK consider themselves 'hostile' to Israel. Another 15% or so are indifferent or neutral. Just under 50% surveyed call themselves Zionists or very supportive. The remainder are somewhat or moderately supportive. You can probably find the PDF survey on their website.

In my experience, Jews in the Commonwealth countries like Australia and South Africa identify very deeply with Israel, noticeably more so than their British counterparts. Its very much a part of being Jewish to them. Ireland's Jewish community has always been intensely Zionist, more so than England. Many followers of Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Zionists wound up in Ireland for some reason.

American Jews are interesting. They are the most comfortable and successful Jewish community in history. There is a strong support base there, but a huge amount of American Jews are apathetic about Israel and Israel matters little in their day-to-day lives. They find it tough to identify. One of my friends from New York, who made aliyah many years ago constantly lambasts the American Jewish community for being 'too comfortable', and too slack in their rate of aliyah. Still, while many might be indifferent to their mishpacha (family) in Israel, very few would be crazily anti-Zionist in the mold of moonbats like Norman Finkelstein, who is hated among Jews as much as any non-Jewish anti-Semite.

There are many volunteer and study programs operating to bring young American Jews to Israel. The Birthright Israel or 'Taglit' program is an absolute treasure in this regard (though its not confined to America). I think more and more are coming to study with organisations like Aish HaTorah, which reaches out to newly observant Jews (baalei teshuvah). Jerusalem is buzzing with them on Saturday evenings.

Dnny Ayalon recently said something interesting:

'In our short history, we have fought on many fronts. The Arabs outnumber us 100-to-1, but they could not defeat us militarily – and look where we are today, with the most powerful army in the Middle East. They also tried to destroy us economically with the Arab boycott; not only did they not succeed, but today our economy is among the healthiest in the world. We stopped the terrorism with our intelligence and other tactics like the security barrier. Now they are trying political and legal warfare. And they will not succeed there either'.

I believe this calculated political and legal assault on Israel by the cultural jihadists, Marxist scum and other dark elements may lead to an awakening in the identity of many American Jews, even if they are not totally observant. There is potential here to involve the Diaspora in Israeli affairs, more than they are now, and strengthening their Jewishness at the same time. Certainly, when I volunteered on a secular kibbutz there were very modern young Jews who came and supported a country they believe is unfairly demonised. Many you could say were a reflection of the early neoconservative movement, when former American liberal Jews started getting disenchanted with the moral nihilism of the left while feeling an awakening of a lost Jewish identity. Already, there are Israelis trying to reach out to these people, but the government must do more. We must make the Diaspora a part of this war on the jihadists as much as Israelis are.

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks for your excellent comments folks. I am in a remote part of the West of Ireland at the minute. Internet connection on my phone is sporadic. I will respond in detail later tonight when I return to Dublin. Gary, I hope you are enjoying memorial weekend.

Ted Leddy said...


Good points. It was a textbook leftist rant from the good Doctor.

"The reason extreme leftists like her can't see what is wrong with Hamas/Al Qaeda is that they cannot see what is right with a liberal western democracy".

As I have said before the reason hard core lefties love to flirt with militant Muslims is because they have a very low opinion of western democracy. They therefore do not believe it needs defending.

Ted Leddy said...


Thanks for the comment.

Interesting point about the holocaust. I know from reading some conservative Jewish blogs that they are absolutely furious about leftist American Jews and their failure to support Israel.

As for Dr Lentin, her lazy minded and inaccurate figures say a lot.