In blaming Israeli policy for the fact that on many U.S. campuses, the classmates of Jewish students “shun them for identifying with Israel at all,” perhaps American Jewish leaders are overlooking the failures at home, particularly among liberal progressive diaspora Jewish leaders. Many Jewish students are stuck entirely in an American bubble, with no understanding of the centrality of Jewish self-determination (i.e., Zionism) to our survival as a people. So how can they even begin to understand Israel, let alone give us advice?
For two decades, too many American Jews have ignored or downplayed the gratuitous post-colonial Israel-bashing from the supposedly liberal bastions such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and which are echoed in the mainstream media. When Israeli soldiers are repeatedly and falsely accused of being child murderers and war criminals, where is the outrage from the mainstream American Jewish establishment? A couple of years ago, the federations finally established a fund to fight boycotts, but this group is also largely invisible and very timid.
Instead, fringe Israeli voices that polarize and demonize our society under the façade of human rights, democracy and peace are given legitimacy and resources in America, and the Jewish leadership is silent or in some cases complicit. Much of the BDS war — and make no mistake, the goal is the elimination of Israel — involves bogus peace NGOs that received their initial funds and public relations boost via U.S.-based Jewish groups who thought they knew better than the Israeli public. Such groups include the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, Breaking the Silence, Jewish Voice for Peace, and many others.
And now, when the Israeli public finally demands an effective response to the NGOs that lead to this demonization, the American Jewish leadership condemns Israel, repeating liberal pieties about free speech, but without addressing the real issues. In all of the criticisms of the proposed new NGO funding transparency laws, I have yet to see any serious understanding of the threat or alternative strategies. On this, as on so many issues, criticizing Israel from a distance is far too easy.