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Israelis to U.S. Jews: Stay Out of Peace Process

Poll reveals Israelis don’t want leaders considering American Jews’ positions

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Israel's separation barrier.(AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

A new poll reveals that Israelis would prefer American Jews mind their own business. In the Jerusalem Post, Lahav Harkov reports:

Of the Israelis polled, 31.9 percent think Israeli leaders should not take into account the positions of American Jews on the peace process at all, and 33.6 percent said U.S, Jewry’s views should be considered to a small extent. Only 21.6 percent called for those views to be taken into account to a great extent, and 9.4 to a very great extent.

At the same time, however, 66.3 percent of Israelis think American Jews have a “somewhat or positive” influence on Israel’s national security. American Jews can rally behind laws that promote Israel’s safety, but when it comes to matters of policy, it seems that some of those polled would rather not hear from them at all.

A poll is just a poll. It’s never been a hard and fast characterization of anything, let alone of every Israeli’s feelings toward Jews in the United States. But it’s still interesting to consider—and if Israelis actually don’t want us involved, we’re acting a lot like the ex who doesn’t realize they’ve been dumped. A study by Brandeis University looked into how much money Diaspora Jews actually give to Israel:

For the peak year of 2007, we tabulated $2.059 billion in donations contributed to causes in Israel through American Jewish organizations and foundations.

And, in additional to donations given, volunteers regularly travel to Israel to participate in medical aid programs like Magen David Adom, which depends on support from the American Friends of Magen David Adom. Taglit-Birthright, co-founded by Diaspora Jews Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, has sent 340,000 Jews from around the world to Israel, with over $500 million spent on trips.

Even though millions of Jews do not live in Israel, many—often it feels like most—have something to say about the country’s policies. While the Jewish State is the Jewish State, it’s easy to see why that might be annoying for Israeli citizens. It’s like when your sibling from out of town comes to visit and immediately points out all the things you’re doing wrong. Yes, that’s frustrating. But your sibling has a vested interest in you. She loves you, she cares about you, and she thinks about your well being more often than you may realize. American Jews, and Jews all over the world, have a similar relationship with Israel. A recent op-ed in the Times of Israel laments this hardship—wanting to be a part of Israel, but, for various reasons, not being able to. American Jews might not share soil with Israeli Jews, but they certainly share a common interest.

So when Israel’s Economic Minister Naftali Bennett shot down the viability of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine earlier this week, calling it “hopeless,” the American Jewish Committee had a thing or two to say:

“Bennett contravenes the outlook of Prime Minister Netanyahu and contradicts the vision presented earlier this month to the AJC Global Forum by Minister Tzipi Livni, chief Israeli negotiator with the Palestinians,” Harris said. “Livni stated clearly that a negotiated two-state settlement is the only way to assure that the State of Israel will remain both Jewish and democratic. That is a view we at AJC have long supported.

In an email, AJC Executive Director David Harris told me he wasn’t surprised by the poll results. While American Jewish support is imperative to Israel’s well-being, he explained, that doesn’t translate into “involvement on life-and-death issues in the decision-making structure of a sovereign, democratic country.”

“We are not Israeli citizens, though we have the choice to move to Israel tomorrow and become fully involved in the country’s life, including serving in the military, paying taxes, voting in elections, and raising our children,” Harris continued. “We have to recognize these fundamental differences in the reality of Israelis and American Jews.

At the same time, given our profound engagement with Israel, and with Israel-related issues in Washington and scores of capitals around the world, we have an outlook on pressing issues that needs to be shared and, at times — yes, with appropriate sensitivity — aired.”

Still, to us, Israel is ours too—even if we don’t live there. With care comes interest, which can show itself in frustrating ways. Just like with family, we worry because we care.

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What is not totaled in your $2b figure is the $3b annually allocated to the Jewish State by the US Gov’t, primarily in the form of direct military aid. Without the continued, focused, and determined support for Israel by US based Jewish organizations such as AIPAC the AJC, the UJA and other explicitly American Jewish groups, this figure would not exist, and it’s quite possible that over the past 50 years Israel would have come to an untimely end as well.

There are MANY in American who feel that our lock-step support for Israel is not in our country’s national interest, and these forces are just as passionate in their positions as the Pro-Israel advocates.

Also, in addition to the $3b figure not included is the additional hundreds of millions of dollars in direct political donations made to US politicians by pro-israel advocates who provide financial support politicians who stand with Israel.

While it is likely that most Israelies are unaware of this MASSIVE and ongoing financial support on behalf of American Jewry it certainly sounds like ‘thanks for the help and now go away’ if this poll is right – something that many American Jewish pro-Israel advocates will find very hard to stomach.

    maiaexpat says:

    totally agree. i, for one, have zero interest in my country giving aid to Istael.

      Natan79 says:

      But you do have an interest in your country giving aid to Israel’s deadly enemy Egypt. That’s the real issue here.

    oaklandj says:

    That $3bn in aid is 100% military, and a gift (payback?) to the US arms industry. Trying to decide if all those groups supporting this “aid” are in cahoots with weapons suppliers, or if they’re just useful idiots.

    oaklandj says:

    That $3bn in aid is 100% military, and a gift (payback?) to the US arms industry. Trying to decide if all those groups supporting this “aid” are in cahoots with weapons suppliers, or if they’re just useful idiots.

maiaexpat says:

If Israel wants US Jews out of Israeli business (and I don’t disagree) then the next logical question is: just why is the US financially and politically supporting Israel? In other words, why doesn’t Israel carry out its affairs on its own time and its own dime?

    Natan79 says:

    Excellent point. Now the real question is why is the US giving financial aid to Israel’s deadly enemies – Egypt, Pakistan? Why is is giving costly military aid to Saudi Arabia? That aid combined is more than the one given to Israel. In return, Israel is an ally. In return, Egypt and Pakistan gave the US 9/11, together with Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Evil.

      DoctorZoidburg says:

      Israel’s deadly enemies. Syria. Iran. Hezbollah. Iraq .Libya recognise the connection. Oh yes the MB

William Anderson says:

We support Israel financially, politically, spiritually, lobby Congress. first they won’t recognize us as Jews. Now they don’t want to know what we think

    Natan79 says:

    You don’t serve in the IDF and don’t live in Israel. You don’t put your life in line for israel. Therefore, you should not have any say in existential decisions taken by Israelis.

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Israelis to U.S. Jews: Stay Out of Peace Process

Poll reveals Israelis don’t want leaders considering American Jews’ positions

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