United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks with Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon before the start of a UN Security Council meeting on Jerusalem and Palestine..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The people are voting with their feet – literally.
Thousands upon thousands of tourists, many from Europe and but most of all loud, boisterous, teenagers from the United States are descending upon Israel. As they say, ‘tis the season. Rather than bemoaning the traffic jams caused by tourist buses clogging almost every juncture and the obligatory zigzag dance necessary to walk down most major boulevards – rejoice.
It’s not the tourist dollars that matter so much now, although they should not be discounted, it’s the vote of confidence American Jewry is casting for Israel. Does Israel need America - it does. Does Israel need American Jewry – it does. Does Israel need the support of the White House and the Administration, of Donald Trump and of Nikki Haley – again, it does.
And Israel has that support.
The constant harangue about the status of Israel in the minds of Americans has been blown out of proportion.
The latest Gallup poll to quantify the relationship between Americans and Israel turned conventional wisdom on its head. According to the poll, as published on its website, Americans today support Israel as much or more than they have supported her for decades.
They support Israel as much as or more than they have ever since Gallup first polled the question. All Americans, not specifically American Jewry or, even more specifically, Orthodox American Jewry.
Does that surprise you? Sixty- four percent of Americans feel positively towards Israel.
Nineteen percent feel positively towards the Palestinians. In other words, Americans are 45% more favorably inclined towards Israel than towards Palestinians. Those numbers tie the 1991 Gallup poll taken during the first Gulf War and the 2013 poll taken during the tenure of US president Barack Obama.
The non-Jewish community in America is still very much in Israel’s court. It’s not only the Christian Evangelical community that cares, it’s just that the Evangelicals are obvious Israel supporters.
The other 17% of America doesn’t care one way or another.
That’s not a big number – and it wouldn’t be a disturbing figure if it didn’t also include American Jewry. The reality is that many American Jews just don’t care about Israel. The sad reality is that some Americans are actively anti-Israel – and even pro-Palestinian.
But that’s to be expected. The United States is the most free of all societies Jews have ever lived in. There are no social barriers and no limits are placed upon Jews. The 21st century has its challenges, but freedoms are not challenged. Today’s youth in the United States live a life of freedom that their parents did not experience and that their grandparents could never have imagined. And they take it for granted. America is synonymous with freedom for Jews like they have never experienced in history.
Part of that freedom is the acceptance as Jews by society and by government, in the classroom and at the office, in small towns and big cities. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is hampering that acceptance, but only as an uncomfortable statistical blip.
In today’s modern America, in the eyes of assimilated Jews in America, there is no real reason to be Jewish. Once upon a time one major reason for being Jewish was because the host community would never let you forget that you were a Jew. Not now, not in 2018.
Today there is a choice. So when the major Jewish institution Hebrew Union College, the rabbinical school of the Reform movement, invites bestselling author Michael Chabon to deliver their commencement address he raises only a few eyebrows.
When he asserts that Jewish marriage endogamy is ghettoizing and that intermarriage, known as or “exogamy”, should be the ideal for American Jews. It seemed that fewer American Jews took umbrage than those who take it in stride.
Intermarriage is rampant and non-affiliation within American Jewry is commonplace.
But the other side of the coin is that American Jewish youth who come to Israel on short term summer programs and on long term programs “identify” as Jewish and support Israel.
Bottom line is that Americans and Israel are in sync despite media reports. In the Trump era Israel has a friend in the White House, this relationship is unparalleled in history. And Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, is a beacon on light for Israel.
Do not waste time and worry about the unaffiliated – they have little interest in anything, not just Israel. Those who love Israel are serious Zionists.
So next time you trip over those gangly kids as they block your way, give them a high five and say “Shalom.” They’ll be thrilled and it really is a good thing that they chose to come to Israel – not Thailand or Turkey or Italy – for their summer vacation. Actually, it’s inspiring.The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @Micah- Halpern.
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