In 2012, following the conclusion of my MGA degree at the University of Toronto, I set out for a several day tour with my parents in New York City. We crossed Manhattan, ventured into SoHo’s and Little Italy, before venturing north to Toronto for a convocation ceremony.
New York was beaming with life back then. The posh upper class of the United States. A true symbol of the American dream.
Fast forward eight years later, most of the same streets have now been looted. Hordes of protesters march in the background demanding social justice.
The killing of George Floyd was and remains a symptom of greater problems in the United States; however, what it unleashed may change Israel’s greatest ally forever.
Pain, which has only been amplified by the Coronavirus shutdown and people’s day to day hardships, has burst out into the open. These are not only African Americans protesting, but many of nearly every walk of life in the United States. There are Whites, Hispanics, some middle class. The protesters are demanding changes in the topic of police brutality, but this is merely a smokescreen for deeper pain that lies underneath of an increasingly broken system.
The massive destruction seen in Los Angeles, New York and across the country showcase the sudden realization that the American dream, where hard work and ingenuity aspired automatic success, is no longer assured. This is all the more true of my generation, the Millennials, and others after us who increasingly cannot make ends meet. Regardless of our efforts, we will be outfoxed by the 1% elite, who are seemingly only becoming richer. As America descended into chaos, the stock market only made major gains. According to the Stock Market, after 100 000 dead from a pandemic and wholesale protest and looting, the status quo is simply peachy in the USA.
However, as Wall Street continues to disconnect from Main Street, a dangerous bubble is created. Stock Market volatility may be the next blow to hit the United States.
The sudden dark turn of events do not bode well for US President Donald Trump. During the current crisis, he has neither delivered a nation-wide speech calling for healing and unification nor sent in the military. He used his one address, declaring himself the president of “law and order” to push back protesters for a photo up, and then not follow through with his threat. If one could argue that Coronavirus, a lethal pathogen, was outside his control this cannot be said of nationwide protests. He could have used a national address to implore for order and open a commission into police brutality. He could have called in the military over the objections of his generals. He has done neither as of time of writing. Instead he has only fanned the flames with his Twitter account showing poor leadership in a moment that will likely define the next generation. When America burned, Trump was nowhere to be found.
The current events threaten a paradigm shift in American attitudes toward Israel. Trump has been kind to this country moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the Golan Heights. However, his “Deal of the Century”, which seemed generous but violates biblical and religious law trying to strong arm Israel to divide its biblical heartland, showed him as no modern day Cyrus. He has given Israel more declarations and actions than anywhere else and has placed sanctions on Iran. Nevertheless, he failed to confront Iran head on, preferring to rely on the use of threats and bravado to avoid dragging America into another war in the Middle East.
His pro-Israel “gestures” are from an elite that is increasingly estranged from the masses below.
The day after spells danger for Israel. Trump and his supporters are legitimate, albeit sometimes confused friends of Israel. The mass protesters, including American civil society swirling in the United States are far less sympathetic. The Black Lives Movement’s original charter (which has since become inaccessible) included sections which support the Boycotts Divestments Sanctions (BDS) Movement and is strikingly pro Palestinian, calling Israel a state that oppresses Palestinians and commits genocide. Civil society among the left is equally as brazenly anti-Israel with expressions across the country long shifting toward a movement sympathetic to BDS and Palestinian rights. During the recent protests many Jewish shops and synagogues were vandalized with anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian graffiti. While one can claim that everyone was vandalized including Jewish Americans, the love of Israel is not in the minds of many of the people out there protesting.
As America turns to heal, these “progressive” voices will be increasingly heard and Israel will become a less important priority for the US administration. Already the influence of these voices is leading to a major shift among America’s Jews away from Israel. While the shift of American civil society toward a more pro Palestinian stance is a gradual generational shift, it will only be a matter of time until its effects will be felt here in Israel. Annexing the Jordan Valley will likely only exasperate the divide.
America is a wounded country, it needs to reconcile and heal for the good of its future. We as Jews and Israelis should understand the meaning of unity, considering our own Ethiopian protests following allegations of police brutality.
Nevertheless, we as a country should prepare for a less pro-Israel America the day Trump leaves office. In many respects, it is already here.