Drifting from Israel, per Rabbi Eric Yoffie
Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s most recent piece in Ha’aretz, the Israeli daily, makes the case that young U.S. Jews are not all that enamored with the Jewish state, and goes on to explain why.
First, some context: Rabbi Yoffie led, for more than 16 years, the largest (and only growing) denomination in diaspora Jewish life as President of the Union for Reform Judaism. During his tenure, which roughly spanned the immediate aftermath of Oslo & the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin through the end of the second intifada.
“Israel’s government needs to understand that young Jews will not be satisfied only to hear how Israel’s enemies are the bad guys; these young people want Israeli leaders to make a case for how Israel sees the future.”
It’s not simply that Israel needs a positive vision for the future, it’s that young U.S. Jews are increasingly alienated from the narratives of victimization and ethnic unity, which are inherent in discourse about Israel’s enemies and security needs.
The recent J street U convention helps illuminate the discussions happening on campuses from coast to coast, and, as Rabbi Yoffie explains, Jewish students want to know, exactly why Israel has the security policies that it does. They don’t need explanations of how complicated the conflict is, rather, Jewish students just want to understand why a place they are taught to love is not universally accepted.
“They hate us because we’re Jews” doesn’t measure up as an answer to this generation, who in particular have individually faced less anti-semitism and overt discrimination than previous generations.
To get a better idea of Rabbi Yoffie’s argument and what it means for the future of Israeli-Arab piece, check out the entire post.