(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The suspension of Simone Zimmerman, candidate Bernie Sanders’s Jewish outreach coordinator, for her intemperate remarks regarding Israel and its prime minister, has sharpened the debate over the future of the American Jewish community’s approach to Israel.
Zimmerman’s position became untenable when news broke of remarks she made on her Facebook page about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2015, before joining the Sanders campaign. She described him as “arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole,” adding in a “f**k you” for good measure.
Understandably, her bitter anti-Zionism and support for BDS was found to be repulsive by the American Jewish community. “I believe Bernie Sanders needs to fire Simone Zimmerman,” Abe Foxman, former head of the Anti-Defamation League, said in an email to Jewish Insider. “No amount of word changes can cure her ugly characterization of the prime minister of Israel and the Israeli army and people defending themselves.”
Not the best choice for liaison with the Jewish community, Bernie. Zimmerman has been championed by a coterie of would-be intellectuals, recent college graduates in their twenties, who claim to speak for the young generation of American Jews in their alienation from the traditional community and its organizations. After all, Zimmerman herself was elected president of J Street U, the student arm of J Street, in 2012. During the 2014 Gaza war, she founded a protest group called If Not Now, which aims to change the way American Jews view the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The out-of-touch leadership of the American Jewish establishment tells us – young Jews who believe all people should have freedom and dignity – that our values are incompatible with our tradition,” If Not Now’s website says.
In an apparent attempt to hitch a ride with this new spirit of rebellion and provide it with an appropriate icon, The Forward last week featured a defense of Zimmerman, “This Passover, We’re Joining Simone Zimmerman To Fight for Freedom for All,” by Ethan Miller and Sara Sandmel. Miller, 24, and Sandmel, 25, are both leaders of IfNotNow.
They write: “The leaders of the Jewish establishment think that they can speak for the entirety of the American Jewish community. They think that the only way to ensure Jewish safety is to stand in uncompromising support of the occupation of the Palestinian territories. They reject any conception of Tikkun Olam — the Jewish value of “repairing the world” — if it contains any criticism of Israel...
“What these leaders don’t recognize is that by silencing and ostracizing those voices, they are also alienating an entire generation of young Jews…They are forcing young Jews to choose between Jewish identity and their own moral compass.”
The direction IfNotNow’s moral compass points away from Israel. Ending the occupation is the key to the solution, according to this view, which is anti-historical, to say the least. IfNotNow, like its fellow travelers JStreet and similar anti-Zionist groups, ignores the nearly two centuries of Arab opposition to Jewish presence in the Land of Israel that preceded the occupation of the territories that followed the victory of the Six Day War.
Perhaps one should ask of Miller and Sandmel: Who appointed you in charge of an entire generation of Jews? Only someone seriously myopic or totally sheltered from reality could believe your views are shared by all Jews of your generation. If peace is the goal all share, what is IfNot- Now doing to help achieve that peace, besides encouraging Israel’s economic destruction? Zimmerman exploits the accident of her birth to bestow authority upon herself to speak as a Jew, but her views about Israel mark her as an apostate. She plays the role of the so-called Jew-in-name-only. There is a growing number of such Jews who lack a basic Jewish education and are in consequence largely ignorant of their Jewish identity but act as if they were ashamed of it.
The result may be seen today in the exponential growth of students who are consumed with hatred for the nation of Israel and who are happy to join the anti- Israel lynch mob. Pew studies have revealed the reality of the “millennial Jew”: “When we hit the 50% + intermarriage rate, the resulting children, whether technically Jewish or not, are not committed to Jewish causes and certainly not to Israel.” The term commonly used to categorize too many of such Jews is “self-loathing.” But they don’t really hate themselves – they hate the rest of us.
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