The Israeli government against American Jewry

Israel is supposed to be the state of the Jews, the state for the Jews, and it is becoming on front of our very eyes a nemesis for many liberal Jews in the world, first and foremost in the USA

The latest reaction to the shooting in the Pittsburgh massacre was the saddest and most infuriating illustration ever of this reality.

In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was quick to lecture the French authorities after the Hyper Cacher attack in January 2015, and rushed to Paris to call on French Jews to leave France and emigrate to Israel, did not bother to come to the Pittsburgh (while living himself a part of his youth in Pennsylvania) and, way more problematic, did not say a word about the toxic climate currently happening in the US directly created by the US President who embraces anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories that led to this tragedy.

He actually went further and embraced Trump’s reaction, as if this reaction was proper, dignified, and in line with the expectations of the American Jews, giving him yet another cover to his disgraceful behavior and statements, so overwhelmingly rejected by the American Jews. But given Netanyahu’s embrace of leaders such as Orban or Dutertre, his warm congratulatory message to the new racist and homophobic Brazilian President Bolsonaro, it’s not even surprising.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the US (actually a former operative for the GOP before he made Alya), fully embraced Donald Trump’s lousy explanations about extremism on both sides, and he was able to talk more about the left-wing antisemitism on campuses. Left-wing antisemitism exists, there are anti-Semites at BDS, but what does it have to do with what happened in Pittsburgh? When did BDS, that I strongly oppose, call on to kill Jews or did they chant recently “Jews will not replace us”, like the neo-nazis did last year in Charlottesville? Dermer’s reaction is absolutely horrific, the expression of  “whataboutism” and relativism at their worst.

Naftali Bennett, the so-called minister of Diaspora Affairs, who is also the head of religious indoctrination in Israel (sorry, Minister of Education) and head of the far-right Party Jewish home, expressed his solidarity and travelled to Pittsburgh. But Bennet is both a hypocrite and a disgraceful politician.

A hypocrite because this minister of Diaspora affairs did not find the time to go from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to attend the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations in North America last week of to discuss precisely the waning ties between Israel and American jewry. I guess he did not want to appear in front of a hostile crowd that included Reform and Conservative Jews,  that he probably does not even see as Jews anyway

Disgraceful because in his statement, he was able to create an absolute link between a shooting on Jews and the rockets on Gaza. Muddying the waters, again. This is disgraceful because you can be an Israeli appalled at the rockets that are falling on the citizens living close to the Gaza strip, which I am, and make a full distinction between the 2 situations. In one case, there is pure, evil antisemitism, in another case there is a national struggle, using wrong methods in my view, but still being part of a national struggle. This disgrace serves only one purpose: justifying everything that the Israeli government does, including its actions in the occupied territories, which is rejected by the majority of American Jews.

After Charlottesville, Trump shamefully mentioned there were good people on both sides, and here we are at it again, with the full blessing of the Israeli government.

In the wake of the tragic events in Pittsburgh, many GOP politicians mentioned the extremism on both sides, as if a heckler in a restaurant was comparable to pipe bombs, as if forceful critic of Trump’s lies was comparable to calling all the democrats “evil” and their supporters the mob.

Muddying the waters is a regular tactic used by extremists. Since everyone is to blame, it means that right and wrong, truth and lies do not exist anymore, Fox News and CNN are equally to blame, as if was not a mere propaganda tool and the latter a respected news channel that tells the truth with facts and figures.

Jews in America know all too well what is happening in America. They know too well that their status depends on the absolute respect pf the rule of law, of a free press, of the system of checks and balances and the refusal to find scapegoats.

They understand perfectly what Trump’s rhetoric means for the country and therefore for them, personally and as a community: it means the rule of strong leader, the scapegoating of minorities, conspiracy theories that always, always in History lead back to Jews, they understand that bigotry is against not only their values as liberal and open-minded people, but also against their own personal safety.

When norms and institutions are shattered, they are in danger. When the media is decried, the truth is no longer objective, and it can be manipulated or even created for political purposes, and it gives way to the worst lies, conspiracy theories, and it was always the recipe for disasters for Jews in their history.

There are still around 20% of Jews that support Trump in the USA. This is beyond belief for me. I wonder how they would react if Trump started questioning the veracity of the Holocaust, and at some point I believe he will, if it suits his political interests, or if he needs to change the subject after a devastating news cycle for instance. Will they still be able that the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem justifies that, or that what he says about the Holocaust is mere rhetoric that does not translate into policy?

And in this toxic environment, when the US Jews should seek comfort in the Israeli government, they understand they are alone, dramatically alone. They are not only ignored, they are stabbed in the back by the Israeli government and his spokespeople Dermer, Bennett or Netanyahu.

Their embrace of Trump in this moment of tragedy is an absolute disgrace that may well definitely alienate American Jews from Israel, because this is simply too painful to keep counting on a state that is betraying you so blatantly: your values, but also your sense of security, and until your very existence as Jews with a constant depiction of Conservative and Reform Jews, as illustrated with the Western Wall egalitarian space, or the latest outbreak from the Chief Rabbi of Israel that refused to call the Pittsburgh Tree of Life a synagogue)

The time will come soon enough when American Jews will say loudly to Israeli officials: do not come to our synagogues, we don’t want your sympathy, we don’t want your ministers, just leave us alone, and in any case stop pretending you talk on our behalf, because you don’t.

Being friend of the Jews and friend of Israel are no longer equivalent, unlike what the current  Israeli government wants us to believe, because of its own actions.

Beware of the time when these 2 assertions become contradictory.

About the Author
French-Israeli business executive living in New York.