by Isi Leibler
If one reviews the events of the past year and monitors opinion polls, it becomes abundantly clear that despite the mantras chanted by the far left insisting that most Israelis and Jews are opposed to the policies of the current Israeli government, the evidence on the ground suggests the very contrary.
There is neither a groundswell of resentment against the foreign policy and security policies of the Israeli government nor are there indications suggesting that committed diaspora Jews are becoming alienated from the Jewish state.
In fact, it is undeniable that a far stronger consensus prevails amongst Israelis in relation to the government’s approach towards the Palestinians than at any time since the national schism was created in the wake of the adoption of the Oslo Accords.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has effectively charted a centrist course which is endorsed by most of the nation. This amounts to an end of further radical concessions to the Palestinians in the absence of genuine reciprocity and no additional unilateral territorial withdrawals that could lead to a repetition of Sharon’s Gaza disengagement which merely emboldened the jihadists and provided them with additional staging grounds from which to launch rockets and intensify terrorism. At the same time Netanyahu has repeatedly reiterated that in the event of a Palestinian leadership committing to peaceful coexistence, willing to compromise and recognize Israel’s security requirements, he would make every endeavor to achieve an accommodation which would provide the Palestinians with an independent state. Israelis recognize that this will necessitate a change in the current duplicitous Palestinian leadership which is more committed to terminating Jewish sovereignty than achieving statehood.
Despite the appalling Israeli electoral system with its multiple parties and the excessive leverage by small one-dimensional parties, setting aside the extreme left and right and radical Arab parties, there are no basic ideological differences on issues of foreign policy or security between the leading political parties.
The histrionic media opposition from the far-left is neither reflected in voting patterns nor in opinion polls. The circulation and standing of its flagship newspaper, Ha'aretz, has plunged to an all-time low. The reality is that although the trendy “progressive” politicians and far left academicians continue making headlines, in reality they have been effectively marginalized.
Nothing illustrates this more than the humiliating defeat in the Kadima primaries of former leader Tzipi Livni, which was unquestionably linked to her mindless and destructive opposition to every aspect of the government’s foreign policy and her vitriolic personal attacks on the Prime Minister. In contrast, her successor, Shaul Mofaz is somewhat more circumspect in his criticism of foreign affairs and announced that he intends to primarily direct his efforts towards opposing the government on economic issues. Unlike Livni, he made it clear that after the next elections he would be open to joining a broader coalition.
The same applies to the Labor Party which to some extent had been hijacked by extremists from the far-left. Today, leader Shelley Yachimovich is more selective than her predecessors in criticizing security policies and whilst opposed to settlements, has deliberately distanced the party from its former leaders who engaged in demonizing settlers.
One can point to similar trends amongst diaspora Jewry. As was always the case, assimilated Jews are less likely to display strong emotional ties with Jewish affairs and are inclined to be more aloof from Israel. But the repeated assertions that committed Jews and especially younger people are distancing and even divorcing themselves from Israel have no basis in reality. Yes, the generation which witnessed the Holocaust and the struggle for the creation of a Jewish state is being replaced by Jews who take Israel for granted. They cannot identify with the pre-state Jewish powerlessness and do not experience the emotional fears for the security of Israel as endured by their antecedents. But today’s committed diaspora Jews have certainly not turned against of Israel.
When J Street appeared on the scene two years ago, the left liberal media hailed it as the wave of the future, claiming that its “progressive’, “liberal” and “pro-peace” approach was far more representative of American Jews than the established leadership. Yet, it made little headway and to this day continues to represent the hard core far-left and only attracts naïve even well-intentioned fellow travelers.
J Street’s boastful predictions about supplanting AIPAC turned out to be pathetic. Indeed the last AIPAC conference confirmed the strengthening support for Israel throughout the Jewish community. Moreover the desperate efforts by the administration – initially seen to be supportive of J Street - to ultimately distance themselves and curry favor with AIPAC, speaks for itself.
Peter Beinart, hailed as the darling of the left liberal establishment whose frenzied attacks on Israel received extraordinary coverage in the media, also disappointed supporters of the anti-Israeli left by obtaining only miniscule support from the Jewish community. Indeed his much heralded book was panned by virtually every Jewish reviewer and his call for a boycott of settlements was condemned by all, other than the extreme far left. Even J Street was obliged to distance itself from him in relation to this issue.
Indeed if one observes developments in the diaspora and monitors Jewish public opinion polls especially in the US, it is clear that there is a solid sense of loyalty for Israel amongst Jews who understand the realities on the ground. They display support for the current Israeli efforts to achieve security in a region in which it is the intransigent Palestinians who undermine prospects for peace and make a short-term realization of a two state policy virtually impossible.
This was reaffirmed in the results of a recent poll conducted by supporters of President Obama designed to understate the role of Israel as a factor determining how American Jews vote. But even this poll recognized that 73% of all Jews – not merely the committed ones - considered that Netanyahu, the bête noir of left liberals, represented ‘true Jewish values’.
We should not fall prey to propaganda repeating false assertions that today Jews are less supportive of the Jewish state. The reality is the opposite and that the overwhelming majority of committed Jews continue to fervently support Israel. The only major change is that they are no longer deluded by visions of a non-existent Arab peace partner.Isi Leibler
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