Religion Magazine

Our Family is Dysfunctional

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
A Guest Post by Dr Harold Goldmeier
My wife kicks my leg under the dinner table whenever guests rail against opponents of Netanyahu and critics of Israel.  The U.N. and college students are also favorite targets.  "Save your contrarian opinions for your articles, not the dinner table," she reproaches me.  I'm pretty black and blue, as you might imagine. This abridged dinner talk reflects the mounting impatience among many Israelis. A siege mentality has set-in following years of political, social and intellectual attacks from Jews mostly living abroad, foreign leaders, artists and pundits. The claque denounces the existence of the State and Jews’ moral character. Yet, take for example, the predictable and routine charge of rape perpetrated by Muslim refugees across Europe, UN troops deployed to protect civilians, NGO workers from Haiti to African villages, and US, British and other Western nations’ soldiers. The IDF has acted with restraint in such matters without the army of occupation accused of such horrendous violations. This siege mentality incubates from the politics of fear resulting in strident outbursts against free speech by elected officials, interrogating visitors at the airport about their political views, and turning away people antagonistic to the current government political policies.  Israelis are moving past denial, anger, bargaining, depression, telling our Diaspora Jewish family this is who we are; recognize and accept our pride and patriotism, our decisions; move here so you can vote and make the changes you want; send your children off to war, suffer the amaranthine words of Palestinian hate and acts of terror, or shut up. Israelis Are So Angry  I have noticed a palpable shift in attitude in the six years since we made aliyah.  For instance, staunch Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz threatens to no longer attend Israel public forums, because audiences, particularly American attendees, boo and shout down critics of Israel. Israelis give shrinking quarter to the likes of Natalie Portman, Peter Beinart, and Jeremy Ben-Ami.  Michael Chabon is now totally a write-off.  One of Israel's most famous Anglo op-ed weekly commentators goes so far to question the loyalty and patriotism of Israel's military leaders and former elected officials who publicly undermine, in her mind, Israel’s government.   Israelis scoff when they hear claims from abroad that we love Israel but do "not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu."  That claim and others like it push many Israelis to exasperation. In Israel, this is code for the country and Jewish people being creatio ex nihilo, led by craven schemers with perfidious policies.  Israelis are flummoxed and turn-off Diaspora Jews when they castigate   Israel's formidable response to Hamas acts of violence and the IDF killings of terrorists dressed in t-shorts and flip-flops.  Israelis believe that Diaspora Jews just don't get it, and Israelis are caring less. Anglo-olim, especially Shabbat-observant vatikiim (antiques or seniors), trend right of center.  They are angry and fed up.  The largest English- speaking synagogue in our community distributes Moshe Feiglin's weekly newsletter.  The rabbi promotes Feiglin's political views from the pulpit. Only Feiglin’s newsletter is distributed every week in the shul. At the risk of overstepping, Feiglin wants to buy out or forcefully remove from all of Eretz Yisroel Arabs unwilling to swear allegiance to the Jewish State.  Pundits predict that Feiglin will be a force to reckon with in the next Knesset election.
Four unshakable principles of faith that Diaspora Jews will never appreciate and about which Israelis will not compromise are:
  • Israel has a legal right to exist as much as any other country recognized in the family of nations.  There is no daylight in definitions of terms "anti-Zionism," "anti-Israel," and "anti-Semitic."
  • Palestinians are treated better and are economically well off more than in any Arab country, and they are happier living in Israel. 
  • Most Palestinians will choose to become Israeli citizens and assimilate if given the choice without a threat of harm or death from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and other roaming gangs of terrorists.
  • Israelis see the secular, Reform, Conservative, domestic, and foreign ultra-Orthodox haredi Jews, and Obama-Clinton liberals, as a claque promoting the Palestinian perspective.  Diaspora Jews are a dying breed because immigrating Muslims are turning their new countries anti-Semitic.  Jewish youths forsake their heritage through surging rates of intermarriage and Jewish education illiteracy.  They are now a non-starter collection of forlorn Jews with no tethers to other Jewish people or Israel despite some keeners.
For all practical political purposes, Jews are members of a dysfunctional family.  For Every Action, There's a Reaction: Kiss Mine Tuchus Living under constant existential threat, all too often exacerbated by politicians for selfish purposes, Israelis are give short shrift to Diaspora Jews moaning and whining from afar. Kinder gentler Israelis are telling them Please don't talk about me when I'm gone 
Oh honey, though our friendship ceases from now on
And listen, if you can't say anything real nice
It's better not to talk at all is my advice

Not so gentle Israelis are telling them KMT embracing a sign memorialized by Michael Steinhardt. He is the co-founder and major funder of Birthright Israel.   Steinhardt, without saying a word to protesters blocking his entrance outside an AIPAC gala dinner, flashed his middle finger at protesters and triumphantly marched into the hall.  Steinhardt's flip of the finger sums up the mood in much of Israel. Don't Talk about Me When You’re Gone Make no mistake: Israelis engage in vigorous debate about Netanyahu's policies and political elbowing.  He holds office by a razor-thin majority.  Israelis want a resolution with the Palestinians, but are largely convinced that land for peace, freeing prisoners for peace, and silk glove actions in Gaza and the West Bank are failed projects. The outcries of Diaspora Jews on these and domestic matters find Israelis caring less what Diaspora Jews have to say, because to Israelis their misology makes these tangential stakeholders sound like wailing keeners. I am extremely proud of two American gap year students I taught in Mideast politics, who for their final project, made a video that in part is poignantly critical of Israel's failings and missteps. But, they claim, they never criticize Israel back home in public. One cited Winston Churchill from 1947: [W]hen I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my own country.  I make up for lost time when I come home[.] ... Abroad and speaking to foreigners I have even defended our present Socialist rulers, and always I have spoken with confidence of the future destiny of our country[.] ... At home we must do our duty, point out the dangers, and endeavour so to guide the nation as to avoid an overwhelming collapse.  But I have no patience with Englishmen who use the hospitality of a friendly nation to decry their own.  I think this is a very good principle, and one that deserves general attention.
I stopped trying to convince Holocaust-deniers and Israel-haters otherwise.  The Steinhardt move, the vaunting finger, is my usual response to Israel-haters. Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker discussing modern Zionism, economic, political and social issues, and making aliyah. He teaches international university students in Tel Aviv, worked for US governors, and is a businessman and consultant.
Social Media Blurb:
Israelis and advocates are increasingly sending a message to critics in Diaspora to Kiss My Tuchus.  Beset with a siege mentality exacerbated by existential fear we’re not taking it anymore. Whatever sense of family remains is now dysfunctional. 
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