Last May Peter Beinart set off a small firestorm with an article in The New York Review of Books that questioned the future of American Jewish support for Zionism:
Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. …For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.
This morning I had two reminders of how the Zionist establishment, both here and in Israel, are abandoning liberalism. The first came from news of this week’s meeting between Mike Huckabee and Netanyahu, with special guest nutbag, John Voight.
Voight, the sideshow clown, is a notorious “Christian Zionist” and you can do your own search for the many mentions of his mental instability.
Huckabee’s a serious candidate for president whose vision for the region could just about kill any notion of a secular, democratic Israel:
…Huckabee said Tuesday that if Palestinians want an independent state, they should seek it from Arabs – not Israel.
The evangelical minister and Fox News host said Jews should be allowed to settle anywhere throughout the biblical Land of Israel – an area that includes the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
He called the demand on Israel to give up land for peace an “unrealistic, unworkable and unreachable goal.”
It should be obvious that watching these two galavanting around with Bibi will not rouse young liberal Jews to great feelings of love and support for Israel.
The second reminder came when I opened my snail mail and received my invitation to the Miami Friends of the IDF’s gala featuring fundamentalist preacher John Hagee. I have always been a supporter of the Friends of the IDF. It’s an apolitical organization that provides USO-style services for kids serving in Israel’s army.
Now, sadly, with this event it has joined the ranks of the illiberal Zionist organizations by getting all lovey-dovey with one of the most intolerant voices in America. Just because he has a crush on Israel…a crush based on his apocalyptic end times theology.
I’ve spent a significant amount of my career on Zionist education and creating connections between Israelis and Americans. The Israel that I shared with my students and community is a place of tolerance and openness. It is the Israel of freedom, justice, peace and complete equality described in its own Declaration of Independence.
The next time someone in the American Jewish establishment bewails the disappearance of Zionism among young liberal Jews, just recall Huckabee, Voight and Hagee. For many young Jews today, they are the faces of support for Israel.