Smug American Jewry

Arutz Sheva has an interesting article by Orit Arfa entitled, American Jews: Expel Yourselves.

She writes:

The majority of American Jews, if one can judge by presidential voting records and policy statements by AIPAC and other major Jewish organizations, believe that the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict involves evacuating Israeli Jews from Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”) to pave the way for two states: Israel and “Palestine.”

I do not think that Ms. Arfa (what a name!) is particularly interested in seeing the Israeli government kick Jews out of their homes at the behest of American Jewish progressives.  She gives the definite impression that she is rather opposed to “progressive Zionists” from the United States telling other Jews where we may, or may not, be allowed to live in Judea and Samaria.

American Jews can dictate Israeli policy since Israel is the “Jewish” state, and all Jews get a vote on its future, no matter they don’t live in Israel and just come for inspirational, fun vacations. As major funders of Zionist causes, some believe that Israel must answer to them.

Diaspora Jews must always struggle with the question of what right do we have to voice our opinions on what direction Israel should take. Arfa wrote a novel, The Settler, that follows “the rebellious journey of a young woman into Tel Aviv nightlife following her traumatic eviction from her home in Gaza during the 2005 withdrawal.”

Here is a video of her speaking of it:

Whatever the merits of this book, which I have not read, Arfa is clearly not happy with American Jews who seek to impose their will upon the government of Israel because it involves disrupting, if not ruining, Jewish lives.

One of the things that I find most disturbing about progressive-left diaspora Jewry is in its inclination to make demands upon the embattled Jewish minority within the Middle East. This is why, for example, Peter Beinart and J-Street are so reprehensible.  Who are we – in our safe and secure lives within the United States – to tell Israeli Jews where they may be allowed to live?  I find it absolutely disgraceful.

The chutzpah is horrendous.

What’s so ironic is that American Jews who push hard for the expulsion of Jews by Jews are advocating the composition of a state they do not choose for themselves.

Indeed.  “Progressive Zionist” American Jews are telling the Jews of the Middle East that they may be allowed to live over here, but not over there.  Jews, we are told, should be allowed to live within the ’49 armistice lines, but not beyond those lines.  Something like 400 to 500 thousand Jews live in Judea and Samaria and yet arrogant American Jewish leftists want to see those people yanked out of their homes, despite the fact that Jews have lived on that land for four thousand years.

They often justify their permanence in the US by donating large sums to Zionist causes and to the Jewish state. Unless an Israeli is some high tech genius, it’s almost impossible for Israelis to amass in such a small, beleaguered country the kind of wealth one can amass in the US. Israelis work tirelessly just to make the month, which makes them, in fact, feel bound to American financial support and hence their dictates, even if those dictates go against Israelis’ long-term interests.

Her anger at American Jewry is absolutely palpable and for good reason.  This is a Jewish woman trying to build a life in Israel and, yet, she is told by American Jewish progressives that she should not be allowed to live in Gaza (though, G-d only knows why anyone would want to), that she should not be allowed to live in Judea and that she should not be allowed to live in Samaria, despite the fact that those regions represent the historical Jewish heartland.

American Jews by and large don’t want to be inconvenienced or to downgrade their lifestyle, but they’d dare push the Israeli government to cause more than just inconvenience to “settlers.” A two-state “solution” would involve an army turning on its people, the uprooting of families from their hometowns, their livelihoods, their spirits. And would American Jewry pick up the bill for rebuilding lives that, if Gush Katif serves as an example, could never truly be rebuilt?

Although I sympathize and appreciate Arfa’s outrage, she is mistaken when she claims that a two-state solution must necessarily involve Jewish soldiers kicking Jews out of their homes.  A two-state solution in the Middle East can be conducted unilaterally and without negotiations with the hostile Arab majority.  Israel can, if it wishes, annex some version of Area C, and much of Area B, without bringing large swaths of the Arab population into the polity of Israel.

It must be understood at this point that there will be no negotiated conclusion of hostilities with people who revere murderers and suicide bombers.  The Obama administration is an abomination when it comes to the well-being of the Jewish people in the Middle East because it refuses to acknowledge obvious truths.  Foremost among those obvious truths is the fact that the great Arab majority will simply not accept Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land because it violates Islamic supremacism as dictated by the Koran and the Hadiths.

Any solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict must ensure that expelling Jews from their homes is not an option. This might actually involve—and what a concept—Jews living peacefully among non-Jews, particularly Palestinian Arabs, in the “West Bank.” Such a solution demands the pain of creative thought, true tolerance, hard work, and above all, integrity. After all, American Jews have shown that their ultimate value is not a state with a Jewish majority; otherwise, they’d live here.

Arfa rails against an American Jewry that believes it has the right to tell the Jews of the Middle East how to behave, yet refuses to join them through aliyah.   As an American Jew that is not likely to make aliyah anytime in the near future, I nonetheless understand her frustration.

Who are we to tell the Jews of the Middle East where they may be allowed to live on historically Jewish land?  I find it not only reprehensible, and deeply immoral, but entirely unnecessary.  The goal is two states for two people and this can be achieved without anyone having to move anywhere.

Israel could, if it wishes, declare its final borders, remove the IDF to behind those borders, and then, in the words of our friend Empress Trudy, toss the keys over its shoulder.


Mike Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives ( He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at