IfNotNow and a phone survey

A victory for the delegitimization of Israel???

Earlier this evening I received a marketing research telephone survey on local/national political concerns.

Obviously the call was because of the heated Wallace/Fitzpatrick congressional race, and Bucks County, PA is the epicenter of a national Democratic/Republican contest.

Along with questions on Trump, Governor Wolf, and Wallace and Fitzpatrick, one question shocked me.

This is from memory: “Are you supportive or opposed to the statement that — Decades of Palestinian oppression by Israel has gone on too long, and I support BDS, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.”

While I am shocked at the question, wondering if the Republicans or Democrats paid to put it out, I am also very curious … and fearful, of what my neighbors near and far think of BDS, and of Israel.

Coincidentally, two young 20-somethings came to our door to try to sell us TV-phone-internet service. Making a little “small talk,” they asked me what I do. Mentioning that I work for an Israeli hospital, they were curious, and we chatted for a while.

The complexity regarding the Middle East is too much for most Americans to understand. These young ones thought that Palestine was an existing country, and never heard of Hamas, or of Hamas’s intent to eliminate Israel.

Of course, those of us who are advocates for safeguarding and continuing the miracle of the Jewish State of Israel know that WE live in a bubble. Most Americans have little knowledge, or interest in what is most central to our Jewish identity, or Christian identity — for those Christians seeking the roots of their faith.

My sense is that a significant number of Jews, particularly the younger generations are becoming more estranged from the centrality of Israel to their personal Jewish identity. They have taken the “Cliffs Notes” of the Jewish prophetic tradition. On respect and caring for others, they know of Rabbi Hillel’s “golden rule” – do unto others, and the imperative of action “If Not Now,” … then when.”

Tragically many have bought into a progressive agenda of Bernie Sanders, and of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of intersectionality and ignorance. Bernie with pride relates to his youth experience of kibbutz volunteer work in Israel. Without conscious thought, but perhaps an unconscious desire of retribution for Israel not fitting his moral expectations, he can easily multiply five-fold the number of Palestinian casualties and deny Israel the right to defend against thousands of rockets fired from Gaza. Alexandria displays her self-proclaimed ignorance while parroting the progressive narrative, as a heralded future leading voice for the Democratic party.

Our young adults are being taught to create a moral equivalence, rewarding the violence of those working to eliminate Israel, and denying Israel’s right to self-defense.

Nikki Haley stated Monday night July 23, at the DC CUFI Conference, that more than half the work of the UN is devoted to condemnations of Israel. More than 600 resolutions presented are critical of Israeli actions, without one resolution mentioning Hamas — and its goal of killing every Israeli … and every Jew. She further stated that the Human Rights Council, which has the agenda to protect the world from human rights abuses, has one standing agenda item reserved for only one country in the world – to sanction Israel.

The evil of BDS – the effort to delegitimize Israel, leading to its destruction, has made it into the Democratic progressive agenda. BDS has also made it into the general conversation of political poll taking.

What disturbs me most is that BDS has entered the minds of many of our young adults who have called out “IfNotNow.” Indiscernibly they have accepted a deliberate effort to confuse human rights, with the calculated work to delegitimize Israel’s self-defense, and its right to exist.

Most depressingly, Israel’s enemies, sworn to its destruction, gleefully use their own children as cannon fodder, and escape world condemnation for the ultimate act of child abuse. They know that when a Palestinian child is killed, the world at large will blame Israel.

They also count on Jews, especial young adults and future leaders, to confuse empathy with guilt. Trained in Jewish values to feel the pain of life lost, a leap of logic ensues. What occurs is an inappropriate acceptance of responsibility for life lost.

The tragedy of the Gazan “demonstrations” is that Hamas sets up Palestinians to be killed by Israel’s legal acts of self-defense. The result of the planned and mistaken acceptance of “Jewish guilt,” is in creating distance, especially among young Jews, to call Israel their Jewish homeland.

The solution is three-fold, in young adult critical thinking, understanding the difference of empathy and guilt. Second is peer support, activities where young adults can have positive peer experiences learning about Israel … on their home turf. A third factor is to develop the confidence that what Jews say in shul on Saturday morning rings true – “Kee MiTzion Tetzai Torah” – Jewish values – Torah – comes forth from Zion – the land of Israel, and the Jewish People/Israel. Even as humans we tend to make mistakes, our Jewish values keep us on course.

About the Author
Lou Balcher served from 2004 - 2013 as Director of Academic Affairs to Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region. He also served as Education Director for Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, PA, and as administrator and teacher for Gratz College's Jewish Community High School. He is a former Membership Director for the Philadelphia and Cincinnati regions of B'nai B'rith International. For three decades, he has coordinated post-college young leadership programs for Young Jewish Leadership Concepts. Additionally, he consults as National Director of the American Friends of the Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Israel which serves more than one million Israeli citizens.
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