This is Not the Way: Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel

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My preferred solution would be for the West Bank and Gaza Strip to become a Palestinian state, thus giving Palestinians in those territories citizenship in an ethnically nationalist though hopefully democratic country of their own. But, in a post-Holocaust world where anti-Semitism remains frighteningly prevalent, I want Israel to remain a state with a special obligation to protect Jews.

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We are simply saying that we want to base the existence of the state not on the preference of Jews, but on the basics of equality… The state should exist in the framework of equality, and not in the framework of preference and superiority. Israeli Arab lawmakers were ejected from parliament as they stood to protest a speech by Vice President Mike Pence. These are reasonable criticisms. But are Zahalka and his colleagues — who face structural discrimination in a Jewish state — anti-Semites because they want to replace Zionism with a civic nationalism that promises equality to people of all ethnic and religious groups?

There is, finally, a third argument for why anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. In reality, however, just as virtually all segregationists are also racists, virtually all anti-Zionists are also anti-Semites. You rarely find one without the other. But that claim is empirically false. In the s, the Polish government adopted a similar tack. Because it wanted Polish Jews to emigrate. And a Jewish state would give them somewhere to go.

If anti-Semitism exists without anti-Zionism, anti-Zionism also clearly exists without anti-Semitism. Consider the Satmar, the largest Hasidic sect in the world. Neither is Avrum Burg.


Burg, the former speaker of the Knesset, in declared that settlement growth in the West Bank had rendered the two state solution impossible. Israel must belong to all of its residents, including Arabs, not to the Jews alone.

Judaism: Basic Beliefs | URI

Other Jewish Israeli progressives, including former deputy Jerusalem mayor Meron Benvenisti, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy and the activists of the Federation Movement , have followed a similar path. People who care about the moral health of the American left will be fighting this prejudice for years to come. Pro-Israeli protesters with an Israeli flag confront Ultra-Orthodox Jewish anti-Zionism protesters who joined a pro-Palestinian demonstration.

But while anti-Zionist anti-Semitism is likely on the rise, so is Zionist anti-Semitism. Age is also a strong predictor of anti-Semitic propensities. Younger Americans — under 39 — are also remarkably free of prejudicial views. By contrast, Americans under 30, who according to the ADL harbored the least anti-Semitism, were least sympathetic to Israel. It was the same with education. Americans who possessed a high school degree or less — the most anti-Semitic educational cohort — was the most pro-Israel. As statistical evidence goes, this is hardly airtight.

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But it confirms what anyone who listens to progressive and conservative political commentary can grasp: That younger progressives are highly universalistic. That universalism makes them suspicious of both Zionism and the white Christian nationalism that in the United States sometimes shades into anti-Semitism. If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are both conceptually different and, in practice, often espoused by different people, why are politicians like Macron responding to rising anti-Semitism by calling anti-Zionism a form of bigotry? The problem is that, in many countries, Jewish leaders serve both as defenders of local Jewish interests and defenders of the Israeli government.

And the Israeli government wants to define anti-Zionism as bigotry because doing so helps Israel kill the two state solution with impunity.

Conversion to Judaism

For years, Barack Obama and John Kerry warned that if Israel continued the settlement growth in the West Bank that made a Palestinian state impossible, Palestinians would stop demanding a Palestinian state alongside Israel and instead demand one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, neither Jewish nor Palestinian, that replaces Israel. Defining anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism reduces that threat. Which leaves Israel free to entrench its own version of one state, which denies millions of Palestinians basic rights. Overall, majorities of Jews say Israel was given to the Jewish people by God and that a Jewish state is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.

In addition, many Jews in Israel think the Jewish state faces other important, long-term challenges. Nearly seven-in-ten say a thriving Jewish diaspora is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people. And roughly six-in-ten say Jews in the U.

In part because they are more likely to believe in God, more observant Israeli Jews are more likely than their less-observant peers to say God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. But this is not uniformly true across Jewish identity categories.

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  7. Both Yiddish- and Russian-speaking Jews in Israel, although at different ends of the spectrum of religious observance, are less likely than Hebrew-speaking Jews to say the term Zionist captures their identity. For more details on aliyah, see the sidebar below. This view is all but unanimous across a variety of religious and demographic groups. The survey question asked about preferential treatment in general and did not specify what kind of preference Jews should receive. Aliyah, meaning ascent in Hebrew, is a term commonly used to describe Jewish immigration to Israel.

    From the late s until , there were five major waves of immigration to the land that would later become the State of Israel. These waves had distinct ethnic, socioeconomic and historical characteristics, from the largely Russian and Romanian wave that formed the first aliyah to the fifth aliyah — also known as the German Aliyah — which took place in the period leading up to World War II Immigrants to Israel prior to the establishment of the State of Israel were collectively known as the yishuv, or settlement.

    Although the naming of aliyah cohorts largely ended in , the use of the word aliyah to describe Jewish immigration to the land of Israel continued. The survey did not include enough interviews with either Yemeni Jews or Ethiopian Jews to analyze those groups separately. A large wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union began in In this survey, about three-quarters of Jewish respondents from the former Soviet Union made aliyah between and For more information about immigration from the former Soviet Union, see this sidebar in chapter 5.

    Israeli Jews are divided on the question of whether Arabs should be allowed to live in the Jewish state. Datiim are especially likely to favor the expulsion of Arabs. Ethnicity plays a role in views on this issue as well. There is no pending proposal in the Israeli Cabinet or legislation in the Knesset to expel Arabs either from Israel or from the West Bank. This question has been asked 11 times since , with only modest fluctuations in opinion. Emphasis added. Substantial differences in question wording may explain the variation in responses to these questions. But overall, settlers share largely similar views to Jews living elsewhere on the rights of Jews and Arabs in the Jewish state.

    For example, near-universal proportions of Haredim, Datiim, Masortim and Hilonim living in the West Bank say Jews around the world have the right to make aliyah to Israel, compared with similar proportions among these subgroups living elsewhere in Israel.

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    Among other Jewish subgroups, there are no statistically significant differences in opinion on this issue between Jews living in the West Bank and Jews residing elsewhere. While Israeli Jews all but unanimously support the idea that all Jews around the world should have the option to move to Israel, they are divided on the question of whether Jews already in Israel should feel an obligation to stay there.

    In general, members of the more religiously observant Jewish identity categories are more likely to see Israeli Jews as having an obligation to live in — and stay in — Israel. Younger adults are somewhat more likely than older Israeli Jews to say Jews in Israel should feel free to move abroad. And highly educated Jews are more likely than those with less education to say Israeli Jews should feel free to leave Israel to pursue economic opportunities elsewhere.

    Jews were asked, in two separate questions, whether a Jewish state and a thriving Jewish diaspora are each necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people. Yiddish-speaking Jews, however, stand out on this question. Overall, Haredim are closer to other Jewish subgroups on the question of whether a thriving diaspora is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.

    Majorities across the religious spectrum say it is necessary. All Israeli respondents in the survey were asked to name, in their own words, what they see as the single most important long-term problem facing Israel. Pluralities of Muslims, Christians and Druze — roughly four-in-ten among each religious group — name economic problems as the biggest issue facing Israel.

    Despite the fact that by a variety of standard measures of religious observance, American Jews are less religious than Israeli Jews, Haredim in Israel are somewhat more likely than other Jewish subgroups to see common ground between themselves and Jews in the U. It is possible Israeli Haredim are thinking of Haredim in the U.